Can I drink, smoke and cuss and still be a Christian? In other words, Christian Liberty …YIBWIB

You know you’re not surprised.

I’m not either. It was due to happen.

It wouldn’t have been right to start this monologue in any other fashion.

After all, Braveheart is my favorite movie. It is stitched inside the bones of my soul. Every drip of sweat that comes from my pores has molecules screaming Freedom every time I ever work out.

So of course, when talking about Christian Liberty, I had to start with the essential, non-relevant, yet fully relevant statement on freedom.

For some people the phrase Christian Freedom/Christian Liberty is contradictory. To be a ‘Christian’ to many people represents bondage and oppression or that you have to live a life held down to rules and regulations that just keep society going. If Jesus has forgiven your life of sin (That’s what I believe, see God’s Got This), then your lack of sinning and enjoying the pleasures of this world is just you wearing a mask of satisfaction over a face of disappointment. You’re just smiling your way towards loneliness and discontentment.

You don’t ever allow yourself to “let loose” and enjoy the earth and your body as it is. Jesus has forgiven your life; why not enjoy the rest of your time. If you have a first class ticket to heaven in the morning, why not party, laugh and indulge until your departure?

But being a Christian is very different than any of that. And Christian Liberty is not a contradiction. In fact, the contradiction would be Christian Oppression or Christian Legalism (Definition:strict, literal, or excessive conformity to the law or to a religious or moral code).

What are we free from?

-The Bondage of Sin

When one comes to understanding the gospel, they’ll understand what the bondage of sin is. Sin has handcuffed all mankind since birth. Man is born into sin and inherits this sin from Adam. This is important to note because Adam represented us in the garden. Like a child born into slavery, we are born into sin. We cannot remove the handcuffs ourselves. They remain on us. And the only way to flee this oppression is through perfection, which none of us have. But what we do have is the finished work of Jesus. His life was perfect. He conquered sin for us. And his power enables us to no longer be in bondage to sin but instead be free to live for him.

-The Law

The law was not a trial run for how to keep order with mankind. Many people look at the Old Testament law and think that God was trying something out and it didn’t work.

The law was to shine light on the fact that with man’s greatest efforts, holiness couldn’t happen. Grace was before the law. The law emphasized the need for grace. The law as well though was a preparing theme to the messiah. You see that it can’t be followed by mere man. A man comes who is not a mere man but is yet a man, and follows it completely. In fact, as Romans 10 say’s,

4For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

The law leads to Christ. But so does freedom. Freedom points us back to understanding that we need Christ. Many of us don’t know what to do with our freedom. Our freedom becomes a burden in a way(will be discussed soon).

Why Freedom and What is it?

Galatians 5:1

1It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

John Piper wrote:

“Your enjoyment of freedom is much more important to God than many of the day-to-day decisions that fill us with so much concern.”

Our freedom that Christ offers us ought to be enjoyed. The struggle here is that people approach this freedom with one of two major flaws.

-The Legalistic Approach

-The Liberal Approach

These are the people who are awkward. They refuse to vote Republican because it’s too liberal. They are appalled at Pat Robertson for commenting on social issues because he knows too much about “the world” (“Go back into the cave Pat, In the world but not of the world!”). They can be noticed because they admire puritans so much that they attempt to live life like the movie The Village, set back a couple hundred years.

When many people think of the legalistic approach to freedom in Christ, in essence, their approach is complete denial of any freedom. The freedom that Christ gives is not to embrace sin and seeking to live enslaved to it. The freedom that he gives is because of the 5-letter word that many of us continue to misunderstand, grace.

The major problem with legalism is that your works are elevated above Christ work on the cross. Christ work on the cross is the only work that can save. None of your works can save you. Legalism is living your life contingent upon your works to hold onto the salvation that was freely given you.

In reality though, the cross was sufficient to save you. Holding onto your salvation is not dependent upon you, Christ has you in his hands. Our prayers should be of thanksgiving for him to grab us, hold onto us and to continue holding us.

John 10:28-29

28and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29“ My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30“I and the Father are one.”

Does this mean that we should keep sinning cuz we got grace????

Heck No!

That was a paraphrase of Romans 6:1. But that’s what I’m getting at, since we got grace, should we live enslaved to sin?

Should we be on the cover of Girls Gone Wild?

Should we be hammered at the bar counting how many shots of Vodka we’ve killed? No.

The second approach to freedom that people often take is the Liberal Approach.

This is the guy that yells “Freedom in Christ” while doing jello shots off the girls chest and holding a blunt. This is the kind of guy that has been hurt and ticked off by fundamentalists who were mad that he “liked” Harry Potter on facebook or wore a hat at church in the middle of the week. He has seen rules applied that aren’t in scripture yet didn’t want to leave Christianity. The problem is, he read some scriptures but hasn’t understood what his freedom is for.

He has taken freedom in Christ and has yet to realize that our works do matter. Though we can’t save ourselves, we live out seeking to honor Christ. We are NO LONGER slaves to our sin.

Romans 6:2b-7

How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7for he who has died is freed from sin.

We are free from sins oppression! We are free from it.
Oh, wait. I see your hesitancy. You don’t think that sin puts people in bondage.

It put YOU in bondage. You made plans based on what sins you preferred. You drove down certain roads because of bondage of sin. You went certain places because you were in bondage. You committed more sin to cover up the sin you had originally made. Sin has had you wrapped around it’s finger.

Like Usher said, “You got it bad”. And it’s true. Sin has you like a puppet going from one place to the other doing what it wants and when it wants to.

But my friend, Christ has cut off those chains. Christ has taken you out of the back of the cop car, taken the cuffs off, and given you the keys to the car. He’s told you that it no longer has to control you. You can have victory over sin through Christ.

Romans 8 beautifully tells how free we are. I wish I could post the entire chapter  but here is an excerpt:

37But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We conquer through him who loves us. And his love can’t be separated from us.

You are free in Christ. He has conquered sin for US, because he LOVES us. If you wonder how much he loves us, check verses 38-39 above.

You are free because he loves you.

Love That!!!!! Enjoy it.

But your freedom isn’t to embrace sin. You are to conquer sin.

The Legalists approach elevates your works above Christ work on the cross.

The Liberal approach removes your works as being relevant at all.

But you are free in Christ, not to sin but to enjoy him forever.

How Now Should We Live

(For all of you that skipped everything and scrolled to this)

Since I am free in Christ can I??????

Before I go into the hot topics, I want to show how important the conscience is.

1 Corinthians 8 lays out this topic perfectly:

1Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. 2If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; 3but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.

4Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one. 5For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, 6yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.

7However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. 8But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat. 9But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols? 11For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died. 12And so, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.

Paul is talking about things that cause people to stumble because they are weaker people. There are things that I am free to do in my house that I won’t do out in public because some people are too weak and can’t handle being around certain things.

This article by Mars Hill Church Seattle gives some helpful questions for those juggling whether or not something is acceptable as a Christian:

1.What does my bible say?

2. What does my conscience say?

3. What does my weakness require?

4. What does my friend need?

The rest is at:

http://cdn.marshill.com/files/2006/05/28/20060528_the-weaker-christian_document_9252.pdf

____________________

I listed some controversial issues. I didn’t go into great detail but I wanted to lay out some good understanding of these topics and what scripture gets at. These are all topics I would be willing to lay in more detail about if needed.

Alcohol: Jesus did not spike the punch at the wedding. He turned real water into real wine. Wine being mixed with water is mentioned 1 time in scripture and God condemned it because people were taking something good (wine) and weakening it (with water). Alcohol is a conscience issue. But drunkenness is not. That is straight sin.

Smoking: Smoking is dumb. It is not good for you. It tears your body up. It stinks. But in the same token, I can’t say it is a sin. I can say that being addicted to it is because being enslaved to anything besides Christ does not honor him. At that point, it’s idolatry.

Tattoos: If only people understood the book of Leviticus. This would make this one easier. But people trip because they confuse the carving of worship towards pagan gods in Leviticus to Mike loving Stacy and having a tattoo to prove it. Though I don’t see anything against it in scripture, it is there forever. Don’t do anything stupid.

Music: What makes music Christian? A label? A Band? Lyrics?

I believe that we are free to enjoy certain music. I do believe that some music is extremely vulgar and unhealthy for the spirit. I also believe that some music encourages the spirit. And I believe that some music is entertaining.

Just because you listen to the local Christian station does not mean that you got a bigger mansion in heaven.

Language: Why is it I can say “crap” in a church and be almost kicked out but I can gossip and slander certain people’s names and be laughed with as long as I am somewhat tactful? Living in America, you realize that words are defined by the people using them. If I say “crap” in some circles I am condemned while in other circles, it’s completely acceptable.  The bible does use strong language to describe horrible things. But it also tells us how our language should be:

Ephesians 4:29

29Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

The word in greek for unwholesome means, “of poor quality, bad, unfit for use, worthless, rotten”.

You shouldn’t be cussing people out for cutting you in line at the store, but as well, you should focus on your speech edifying and being honest.

Drugs: Their illegal. I do believe that certain people might have to use certain drugs due to extreme pain. But if illegal, it is unacceptable and not beneficial. Sorry stoners.

All of this is tough to swallow but I wanted to get to the understanding that the bible it the ultimate authority for these issues. Next is your conscience. After that you think about those around you and what areas they are weak in. If someone can’t handle seeing violence because of a rough past, flee from watching Training Day with them because you love them.

Lastly, you have to consider the needs of those around you. That is why some might have a drink at home. That is why some people in certain crowds will have a cigar on occasion. That is why some people listen to Rage Against the Machine or Tupac sometimes.

Regardless, our freedom Christ brings is to be embraced and enjoyed with his kingdom in our minds and our flesh in the rearview.

2 responses to “Can I drink, smoke and cuss and still be a Christian? In other words, Christian Liberty …YIBWIB

  1. Marbara Stivers

    Good work 🙂 The older I’ve gotten, I have had to examine issues more; I really like lists of things that are “right” and “wrong” because it is easier that way. However, deciding what is actually “sinful” and what is just outside the Christian culture I was raised in (and feel very comfortable with) is much harder. There are a number of things I don’t do…but I have realized they aren’t necessarily sinful, just not for me.

  2. Pingback: YIBWIB Series is complete…ck out the links… « Empty bottles of 8…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s