Christian Liberty: What it is and what it isn’t

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"Christian Liberty: What it is and what it isn’t " | Watch this episode on Vimeo

Christian Liberty: What it is and what it isn’t

Christian liberty flows out of our Christian freedom, which comes from being set free in Christ. In Christ, we've been liberated, and that liberty/freedom is given to us to serve Him and others, not to indulge in our personal preferences. Many things fall into the realm of Christian liberty. Some modern-day issues concerning Christian liberty include the drinking of alcohol, smoking, education of children, music choices, media choices, etc. What are the principles in the New Testament that guide us in understanding what Christians are free to do and those that we are not? How should we interact with other Christians who disagree with us in terms of what Christians are free to do? Join us this week on the Straight Truth Podcast to hear the conversation between Dr. Richard Caldwell and Dr. Josh Philpot regarding Christian liberties and how our love for God and others should be the ruling principle for our decisions concerning our freedoms of choice.

Dr. Caldwell says we first begin with determining what belongs to the realm of liberty. Anything the Bible doesn’t expressly forbid is one way to think about it. He expands on that, saying we also need to consider things forbidden by Scripture in principle. For example, the Bible does not expressly forbid the smoking of marijuana. However, the Bible expressly condemns drunkenness/inebriation; being under the influence of some substance. Here now is a principle for how to think about smoking anything, not just marijuana. If our desires are right and our hearts are in the right place, we want to honor the Lord in how we think about these things, which, in turn, will affect how we choose concerning them. So it’s not just asking what can we do, but what should we do. So this is another way the New Testament would direct us.

The principle that rules over our Christian liberties is love. It is love for God and love for others. It's in this realm in which we operate and exercise our freedoms. Within this realm, we also need to remember the Apostle Paul says just because all things are lawful for him, not all things are helpful. Some things may not be the most profitable choice. It may not be the best for us, which extends to our love for God and whether the choice will benefit us. Is it going to be the most helpful in our relationship with Him and our relationships with others? Is it going to be beneficial and edifying? Is it the wisest choice we can make? So, we want to ask ourselves these questions and use these same questions when talking with other Christians about the realm of liberties.

Dr. Philpot tells us that the classic case discussed regarding Christian liberty is the Apostle Paul’s discussion regarding food sacrificed to idols. What is going on in these passages, what does Paul mean, and what conclusions does he come to regarding these things? And then, how do they relate to our modern-day questions about Christian liberties?

Dr. Caldwell gives us a brief exposition of Paul’s discussions on idols, food sacrificed to them, and whether Christians can or cannot eat that food. These discussions are found in 1 Corinthians 8-10 and Romans 14. The issues involve Christian growth and maturity, freedom of conscience, and weak faith versus strong faith. Those with a strong faith or conscience are those who are rightly informed about the food sacrificed and about the idols as well. Those who are weak in faith or conscience are those who have not grown in their maturity and understanding of these things yet. Paul's argument and conclusions are that we don’t flaunt our freedom and liberties in these situations. Instead, we are to let love rule over them. We must never encourage each other to violate our consciences. Often, our consciences are misinformed. We can feel guilty over things we shouldn’t, but we can also feel free over things we shouldn’t. The conscience can be rightly informed, and we can grow in maturity and understanding our freedoms, but we never want to violate the conscience.

Dr. Caldwell provides an example of how to inform our consciences regarding drinking alcohol. The Bible doesn’t say that drinking alcohol is a sin, but it does say drunkenness is a sin. Most people understand this and take no issue with the direct clarity. However, most people then don’t see the need to discuss the topic further, let alone consider what was taking place in the first-century world, not even wanting to hear the Scriptures in their historical context. They just want to say drinking is not a sin; therefore, I am free to drink. So he asks us, when it comes to all the issues of freedom and liberty, are we willing to really examine the matter and study the issues? Do we want to justify our behavior and choices, or do we want to do what’s most pleasing to God? Is love for God and others ruling over our choices; is it our aim to please the Lord? Are we mindful of stumbling blocks that we can set before others? Are we concerned about the spiritual well-being of others?

So, while many of these so-called freedoms or liberties may not be expressly prohibited or forbidden by God’s Word, they can be detrimental to our spiritual growth and Christian testimony and may even cause other Christians to stumble. Our aim as Christians should be to glorify God in whatever we do, edify and build up fellow believers, and be honorable in our conduct before outsiders. As Paul says in Galatians 5:13, we have been called to freedom, but we are not to use our freedom as an opportunity for the flesh to please ourselves. But through love, we are to serve one another.

About The Straight Truth Podcast

The Straight Truth Podcast: Christian Opinions in an Increasingly Secular World. Join Dr. Richard Caldwell, Dr. Josh Philpot, and their guests as they discuss news events, current affairs, and cultural issues from a Biblical point of view. Find the truth at www.straighttruth.net

The Straight Truth Podcast is a weekly opinion show hosted by Dr. Richard Caldwell and Dr. Josh Philpot. Straight Truth is available as an audio podcast on iTunes or as a video podcast through YouTube or Vimeo.  The duration of the podcast is approximately 10 minutes. We release new episodes every Thursday.

The topics discussed in the Straight Truth Podcast are current events, matters that challenge traditional Christian values, and questions submitted by audience members. Dr. Caldwell, Dr. Philpot, and their guests seek to answer these questions with Biblical truths and from a Christian conservative point of view. The Holy Bible is the inspired, infallible, and inerrant Word of God; it alone is and will be the basis and authority of
answering any and all questions.

The Straight Truth Podcast is the perfect podcast for those seeking to strengthen their faith, to be informed on how to broach difficult topics with a Christian point of view, to share their faith with unbelieving friends, to challenge the status quo of their own beliefs by viewing them under the lens of the Scriptures, to interpret current news events from a Biblical point of view, and more.

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Season 28 Credits

Produced by
Juan Carlos Claveria

Executive Producers
Joshua Philpot
David Anders

Hosted by
Joshua Philpot

Social Media Descriptions by
Michele Watson

Graphic Design
David Navejas

DP / EDITING / COLOR
JUAN CARLOS CLAVERIA

SPECIAL THANKS TO THE
FOUNDERS BAPTIST CHURCH
MEDIA TEAM VOLUNTEERS

Special Thanks to
El Centro Network

Music by
LynneMusic

Motion Graphics
The Media Stock

Set Decorator
Molly Atchison

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