We make decisions all the time regarding what we do with our free time. From what sports to play, books to read, people to serve, house projects to tackle, errands to run, TV shows and movies to watch, and food to eat. The opportunities are seemingly endless and in Christ these are area of freedom.
John Calvin calls these areas of freedom “intermediate things.”
These are “Things that are neither good or bad in themselves, but indifferent, which God has put in our power, but in the use of which we ought to observe moderation, that there may be a difference between liberty and licentiousness.”
In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul addresses the church at Corinth about one of these areas of freedom, eating, and he gives us some guidelines for using our freedom to make much of God. Although the church of Corinth is free to eat whatever food they wished, they were not free to eat meat sacrificed to an idol if that was tempting other brothers and sisters to go against their conscience. Even though it was over something simple like food, the freedom of some in the church of Corinth was leading others in the church to stumble in their faith. Our lesson from Sunday’s sermon was: Walking with God is keeping others on our minds even in our freedom. As followers of Jesus, we get the privilege to use our freedom to build up others even if it means refraining from something we are free to do.
Here are some quotes and helps from Sunday’s sermon:
As we seek to discern how to develop convictions and love our neighbor with our freedoms, it is great to think that we are not alone. God has given us his Holy Spirit that we might enjoy Jesus, fight against sin, and grow in the knowledge of Jesus through His word.
“God knew that the effects of sin were so great it was not enough to forgive us, he also had to unzip us and get inside us by his Spirit.”- Paul Tripp
I love this quote. God in his love forgives and yet takes up residence in us also all because of Christ’s blood shed for sinners. Grace is amazing.
Much of this is adapted from Jerry Bridges book, The Pursuit of Holiness
How to identify issues of freedom and develop Spirit-led convictions
- If it is against the government (illegal) it is not an issue of weakness or freedom but disobedience. (ex. murder, cocaine, marijuana, etc.)
- If it is against God’s standards it is not an issue of weakness or freedom but disobedience. (ex. sex outside of marriage, porn, getting drunk, etc.)
- Developing our Spirit-led convictions. (From Jerry Bridges) Ask:
- Is this activity beneficial? (1 Cor 6:12- ie leading to love)
- Is it mastering me? (1 Cor 6:12- Can I or will I stop?)
- Does it hurt others? (1 Cor 8:13)
- Does it bring glory to God? (1 Cor. 10:31)
- What if our convictions differ with other believers? (Principles from Romans 14 and quotes from Bridges)
- Principle: “We should not judge those whose convictions are different than ours.” (v1-4)
- Principle: “Whatever our convictions are they must be “to the Lord,” that is developed out of a sense of love for and obedience to him.” (v5-8)
- Principle: “Whatever convictions we have developed as ‘to the Lord,’we must be true to them.” (v23)
Regarding Christian freedom here are some areas to think through:
Is your freedom helping or is it leading a brother or sister to stumble in their faith?
Areas to think through: What you watch on TV or movies; Food you eat; Drinks you drink; What you wear, especially regarding modesty and loving our brothers in Christ more than the fashion of the day that reveals too much skin or is too tight for most guys.
Is your freedom mastering you or tempting you not to give glory to God?
Areas to think through: Same as above; also sports, music, work, other hobbies, etc.
Although we must form Spirit-led, prayerful convictions that are reevaluated regularly and carried out with faith. We must be careful not make our convictions law where they are areas of freedom.
Areas to think through: What you eat, drink; restaurants you eat at; schooling for your kids- (homeschool, private, or public); what you watch or don’t watch; what day you choose to worship on; how many kids you have or don’t have; whether you adopt or don’t adopt, etc.
I hope these things stir us to develop Spirit-led convictions that are not laid down as law for others but lived out in faith. I pray we also have such a love for our brothers and sisters in Christ that we will even sacrifice our freedoms for the building up of someone else.
Thankful for His gospel and For His glory