Pastor Thomason recently preached from Romans 14 about Christian liberty. The Bible makes it clear that we are not under the law.
“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:14)
We have liberty having been freed from the curse of the law by Christ who was our perfect law-keeper and who met the demands of the law on our behalf. The text in Romans 14 deals with judging others for using their freedom differently then we use ours.
While we are free the Bible also teaches that we are servant to all. We are to serve one another and live our lives for the benefit of the brethren.
“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13)
“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16)
In Acts 15 a council was called in Jerusalem to consider what was required from the Gentile believers. The answer was given by James.
“Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.” (Acts 15:19-20)
The argument was that since they were justified by faith why put them under the law which was a burden that even the Jews couldn’t keep. James said the Gentiles had to abstain from a few things but why?
The answer is unity. There were tensions in the Jewish/Gentile church and many Jews were trying to bring them under the law. James didn’t take away the liberty of the Gentiles but instead affirmed it then advised they abstain from certain things offensive to the Jews.
Often times we boast in our liberty yet we forget that things we enjoy in liberty others cannot and we may weaken the faith of our brother.
“But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. Let not then your good be evil spoken of: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.” (Romans 14:15-21)
We have tremendous liberty in Christ but with that liberty comes great responsibility to act in a manner that conveys love for our brother. The faith of others is more important than the liberty we possess. All things must be done in love looking to the things of others before our own things.