CHRISTIAN LIBERTY PART 6

CLARIFYING SOME COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT FREEDOM

PART IV

In my last post I wrote that there are two times when it would be sinful and wrong for you to do what you’re free to do. I dealt with the first one. Now comes the second.

B) IT’S WRONG FOR YOU TO USE YOUR FREEDOM IN WAYS THAT ISN’T EDIFYING YOU.  Just as your exercise of freedom can have an adverse effect on others, so in like manner, your freedom can have an adverse effect on you.

Paul puts it this way in 1 Corinthians 10:23, All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable; all things are lawful for me, but not all things are edifying, constructive, or good. 

In other words, NOT EVERYTHING THAT’S LAWFUL OR LEGAL IS EDIFYING OR GOOD. NOT EVERYTHING THAT’S PERMISSIBLE IS PROFITABLE.  We may not want to admit it, so I’ll admit it and say it for all of us. Some freedoms have an adverse effect upon us.

Believe it or not, not everybody watches television or movies. Let me go on record here and say that I laud those who have no interest in what Hollywood dishes out. I don’t like the self-righteousness, hypocrisy, and pride that many of these Hollywood abstainers exhibit. But, in the main, I know they’re on to something. It is this simple fact and reality of life, namely, what you watch can affect you the wrong way. Of course, the opposite is likewise true. I’ve been incredibly inspired and encouraged by some of the movies I’ve watched. But since we’re talking about the things that are not profitable or edifying, let me blog about the adverse effects that television programs and movies have on some, if not many, people.

You watch a program that has a lot of cussing and profanity. At first, it offends you because Christians aren’t supposed to talk that way (Ephesians 4:29, Colossians 3:8, 4:6). But the storyline and the humor mesmerizes you, so you continue watching the filth. Before long, you find yourself watching more and more of the same. In time, you get to a point where the profanity no longer bothers you. It’s an acceptable form of speech. And, before you know it, you find yourself cussing. Hollywood’s changed you and soiled a portion of the  righteous garment that you’re supposed to be wearing as a Christian.

No, it’s not Hollywood’s fault. It’s yours. You watched. And kept on watching. And you allowed yourself to be changed and soiled by the freedom you indulged in. You just proved what Paul said. You may be free to do a lot of things, but not everything that you’re free to do is good for you. It doesn’t help or benefit you. It doesn’t make you a better witness, a better Christian, a better person.

We can talk about programs and movies laced with fornication, adultery, sex, and skin. There again, you know that fornication and adultery are forbidden and sinful. But the storyline’s compelling, so you end up watching the whole movie. Then you watch another. Then another. And, before you even realize what’s happened to you, fornication doesn’t bother you anymore. Everybody’s doing it. It’s the new reality. It’s the world in which we live today. What other people do is none of your business. Or anyone else’s business. You dabble in fornication yourself. You like it. I mean, who doesn’t like sex? Who doesn’t enjoy it? We all do. In time, you justify and defend what you once was convinced was sinful and wrong. You’ve taken a stance against God on this point. You’re at odds with His “rigid, puritanical” prohibitions concerning love and sex. You’ve undergone a transformation. What you watch has changed you. You’ve proven God and the Bible right. Not everything that you’re free to do is good for you.

I can talk about a lot of other freedoms that haven’t had a good influence or effect on many of God’s people. I can talk about contemporary music, alcohol, nicotine, credit cards, fads, fashions, and more. I’m not on a crusade to ban, outlaw, or deprive any of God’s people of their freedoms. I’m not a legalist. All I’m saying is what God, the Scriptures, and human experience all testify, namely, while we may be free to do some things, or all things; nevertheless, not everything that we’re free to do is good for us.

Why is that? Because WE LACK THE NECESSARY MATURITY, DISCIPLINE, RESTRAINT, OR SELF-CONTROL THAT’S INCUMBENT WITH EVERY FREEDOM THAT WE HAVE.

Remember what I blogged in my third installment in this series on Christian Liberty. There is no such thing as total, absolute freedom. Every freedom has its limits, restrictions, rules, or laws. For example, we’re free to drive a car and own guns. But, as you well know, there are so many rules and laws that limit or govern these freedoms.

In the spiritual realm, some people don’t like the use of words like rules, laws, or do’s and dont’s because we live in an age of grace, not law. So instead of using these freedom-limiting words, let me say that God has tempered or balanced our freedom with His will. His will is the Bible in its entirety.

One of the limiters that God’s placed on our freedom is self-control. It’s one of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:23 (KJV temperance). Self-control is the power and ability to restrain oneself. To be temperate. Moderate. Self-control doesn’t rob you of the freedom to do something, assuming, of course, that sin isn’t involved. We’re talking about legitimate freedoms, not sins. Self-control doesn’t rob you, deprive you, or prevent you from doing the things you’re free to do. It simply tells you that if you’re going to do something that’s legitimate or permissible, then you’ll better do it in moderation. You’d better be able to stop when you’re going too far and the freedom’s becoming unhealthy, unedifying, and unbeneficial for you.

Paul puts it this way in 1 Corinthians 6:12, All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but I will not be enslaved or controlled by anything. Paul was free. But he had something that was greater than freedom and it was this thing that kept him free, namely, self-control. Paul wouldn’t let anything, any freedom, control him and adversely affect him.

Why is that? Because he knew that unrestricted, unrestrained freedom can lead you back into slavery and sin. Freedom without controls can make you a slave to sin.

SELF-CONTROL IS WHAT KEEPS THIS FROM HAPPENING: IT’S WHAT KEEPS YOUR FREEDOM FROM MAKING YOU A SLAVE OF SIN. Paul knew when to engage in a freedom and when not to. We’ve got to learn this for ourselves.

In summary, what I’ve been trying to say in this post is,  just because we’re free to do some things doesn’t automatically mean we should do them. Why not? Because not everything that we’re free to do is edifying us. Not everything has an edifying effect on us.  Some freedoms have an adverse effect on us. And we’ve got to have enough sense, and power or strength, to personally and voluntarily abstain and refrain from the freedoms that don’t do us any good. It’s called self-control…for the sake of edifying ourself. 

When Paul says all things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but I will not be enslaved or controlled by anything; he’s telling us in no uncertain terms that edification is everything. It’s greater than freedom. Whatever we do, or don’t do, has got to edify us.

Brethren, there’s something greater, something more important, than freedom. It’s called edification. EDIFICATION TRUMPS FREEDOM. And self-control is the vehicle, the power, the limiter, that enables us to be edified without being adversely affected by our freedoms.

Coming Up On My Next Blog Post in this series, Part 7. Another misconception about freedom that many of us have. This one deals with restraint. If you lack it or hate it, this next one’s for you. So don’t go playing hooky on me. I’ll be looking for you. And so will God.

2 Comments

  1. queenlorene said,

    February 15, 2013 at 9:34 PM

    I grew up in a legalistic fundamentalist right wing sect. And I hated the restraint it imposed upon me. But they had a point. There is little on the TV that is edifying. In fact, even “decent” shows and movies have underlying themes that creep into one’s mind, hypnotizing us into a laize-faire mentality. My husband studies symbolism, you would be horrified to know the ancient evil symbols that have been resurrected and are rampant in shows and movies. It is all a deception. And it takes away from our time evangelizing, building relationships and devotions. I am as bad as anyone. I love Harry Potter, one of the best series ever written. But while it is an amazing journey, I know Jesus would not have read it. I think this topic is my toughest battle.

    • gaylorddiaz said,

      February 18, 2013 at 1:57 PM

      Overall, legalism is a very sad thing and it must grieve the Lord terribly so, considering the fact that He died, among other reasons, to set us free from bondage to men’s religious or spiritual laws. The legalists that I’m familiar with mean well in their desire that all God’s people be righteous. But legalism has never been God’s way of making His people righteous. Having said that, I think it would be a grave mistake on our part to throw the baby out with the bathwater and disregard everything a legalist says just because a legalist is saying it. Legalists have some very good, valid viewpoints. TV is a prime example, as you pointed out. People who’ve been set free from a legalistic background will often times go overboard and go to the opposite extreme and become libertine, that is, live without moral restraints. Both extremes are equally reprehensible in God’s sight. The key is to find the middle ground where we want to be righteous and pleasing to God without being forced by people to be that. This is where grace, the Spirit of God, and the use voluntary use of free will and liberty to be holy unto the Lord come in. It’s a journey that each one of us must make on our own, with God beside us. I pray you win this battle. If I can be of any assistance to you don’t hesitate to ask. [Your husband should do a blog on symbolism. I would be interested in following it.]


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