Earlier, I asked the question, What do we do with a freedom that isn’t edifying? What do we do with a freedom that has an adverse effect on us and others as well? In the first of a two-fold response, I pointed out the Biblical prescription for us to voluntarily put restraints on our freedom. You can read all about it in the 6th and 7th installment of this blog on Christian Liberty.

When we put the whole of Scripture together here is a second thing we see. While the Lord expects us to voluntarily place limits or restraints on our freedom, there may come a time when restraints may be placed upon us by the church, that is, the church’s pastors and leaders. This is necessary (a) in order to safeguard the well-being and unity of the whole church. And it’s also necessary (b) in order to preserve the church’s witness of Christ in the world.

We read about this in Acts 15. There were so many Gentiles getting saved that the early Church, which was predominantly converted Jews, was confronted with the question of whether or not these Gentiles were required to keep the Jewish, Old Testament law in order to be saved (verse 1). Evidently, some of the converted Jews in the early Church were still keeping the law and using the law as a means of salvation. They felt that if they had to keep the law to be saved, then the Gentile believers should also have to keep it if they wanted to be saved.

The controversy was so serious and divisive that the believers involved in this conflict appealed to the Lord’s apostles in Jerusalem for a clarification and resolution of this matter (verse 2). A council was held and many of the people present were given an opportunity to voice their opinion.

Finally, when everyone had their say, James, our Lord’s brother who was the recognized leader of the church in Jerusalem, gave his judgment on the matter: And so my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.  (20)  Instead, we should write and tell them to abstain from eating food offered to idols, from sexual immorality, from eating the meat of strangled animals, and from consuming blood.  (21)  For these laws of Moses have been preached in Jewish synagogues in every city on every Sabbath for many generations (Acts 15:19-21, NLT).

Evidently, after James voiced his judgment on the matter, the rest of the church’s leaders discussed the merits of what James had decided. They prayed about it and sought God’s guidance. And God, in turn, through the Holy Spirit let the leaders know what His will was in the controversy (Acts 15:28). When everything was said and done, all the leaders agreed that James’ decision was the right one (Acts 15:25). In other words, James’ decision was not the dictatorial edict of one man, but rather, a binding proclamation that all of the church’s leaders were in agreement about. Most importantly, the judgment was God’s will.

The church then wrote a letter that was sent to, and read in, the churches in Asia Minor and Syria. It read, For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay no greater burden on you than these few requirements:  (29)  You must abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. If you do this, you will do well. Farewell (Acts 15:28-29, NLT).

Now when James issued his judgment, he declared that the Gentiles were not required to keep the Law in order to be saved (verse 19). But because there were Jews in every city who diligently observed Moses’ Law, and even converted Jews who continued to attend synagogue services in addition to church; then James chose what he felt were the most important things that the Gentiles not do in order not to offend the Jews (verses 20 and 29).

Why didn’t James want the Gentiles to offend the Jews? Because the church was trying to reach out to the Jews. The apostles realized that the church’s ministry to the Jews would be greatly hampered and hindered—the Jews would not be won to Christ—if  Christ’s followers were guilty of doing things that were truly abominable in the sight of the Jews.

Now of the many things that James could have chosen to lay upon the Gentiles, he chose only four: the Gentiles must not eat foods offered to idols, not commit fornication, not eat blood, and not eat meats that had been strangled. [When an animal was strangled the blood remained in it and the Jews were prohibited from eating blood, Leviticus 17:10-14].

Note that these four prohibitions were from the Law. But James already said that the Gentiles weren’t required to keep the Law to be saved. That’s right. They didn’t have to keep the Law to be saved.

But as a matter of courtesy or consideration for the Jews and Jewish believers who lived among them, the Gentiles weren’t allowed to do these four specific things. James, you see, wasn’t trying to put the Gentiles under legalism or the law: he was simply setting forth the guidelines, limits, or restraints that were necessary to keep the Gentiles from offending the Jews. In other words, while the Gentiles didn’t have to keep the Law to be saved, they still had to keep these four prohibitions of the Law as a safeguard to keep the Jews from stumbling or taking offense. The Gentile believers were indeed free. But free not to sin (fornicate) and certainly not free to offend the Jews (eating blood, food offered to idols, and strangled meat).

Furthermore, by issuing a judgment that would be binding upon the other churches, James sought to bring peace and unity to a church that had been greatly divided on this issue.

So what’s the point in all this? The point is, while we must willingly and voluntary impose restraints on our freedoms, there is nevertheless a place for the church, through its leaders, to put restraints on us; and even prohibit or forbid us from doing some things that are, like the early church, divisive to the church and offensive to those whom the church is trying to reach with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Naturally, this right and prerogative of the church to put restraints on freedom can be abused by carnally-minded, power-hungry, controlling, legalistic pastors and ministers. That is regrettable. God’s people ought to stand fast on their God-given liberty and not allow themselves to be brought under bondage to the whims and fancies of men, regardless of their calling or office in the church.

But, having said that, the misuse of restraints by carnally-minded ministers does not negate the right and prerogative of the church to put restraints on freedom if it is deemed proper and necessary by the will of God for the edification of the entire church and for the success of its ministry in the community or world.


In bringing our study on freedom to a close, here are some general guidelines that I’d like for you to prayerfully consider and observe for your sake and the sake of others.

  • Don’t legislate your liberties over others and compel them to do something that their conscience won’t allow them to do.
  • Don’t exercise your liberties in the presence of the weak or the unenlightened. When legalists are involved, stand fast on your liberty and don’t let their religious laws bring you into bondage.
  • If you’re weak in an area of the flesh and are temptible or liable to give in to temptation and sin, then temporarily forego your liberty. IF YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE LIBERTY, THEN TAKE THAT LIBERTY AWAY FOR THE TIME BEING. For example, if you consider yourself free to drink alcohol, then quit drinking it altogether if temperance isn’t working and you find yourself becoming a drunkard or an alcoholic. If you consider yourself free to watch TV, then turn it off, or get rid of the TV altogether, if you lack self-control and find yourself  addicted to watching programs that aren’t any good for you.  Set your liberty aside until you’re crucified and dead to the temptation. If it takes several months or years, so be it. Join the club. Many of us have had to work hard and long to be free and stay free. Remember, liberty doesn’t force or compel you to do something that you’re free to do. Not everything permissible is profitable! Liberty is the power to not do things that you’re free to do. Concentrate on dealing with the problems that liberties have caused in your life. If you don’t deal with your problems, the Lord will deal with you about them and that’s never a pleasant or an enjoyable experience. Resume your liberty only when you’re in full control of your decisions and actions. May God bless you and help you to be free and to stay free.




In my last post I dealt with the adverse effects that our exercise of freedom can have on ourself or on others. Not everything that we’re free to do is edifying us or others. So what do we do with a freedom that isn’t edifying?

First, the wrong way. For a lot of conservative Christians and churches, the easiest thing to do with freedoms that have undesirable consequences is to deny and confiscate those freedoms, take them away from people, and outlaw them. Dating, credit cards, television, internet, beer, caffeine, meat, sugar, salt, and women engaged in a professional career outside the home, are just a handful of the countless prohibitions that some Christians  legislate over God’s people.

The fact that some liberties can be misused and thereby end up hurting others and ourselves isn’t a valid argument against the abandonment or confiscation of those liberties.

Consider the example of wine. We’re all familiar with alcohol’s tragic and deadly effects. Christ could have come right out and outlawed it. But He didn’t. What He does instead is He limits a Christian’s intake of the stuff (1 Timothy 5:23). Yes, God prohibits drunkenness. But He didn’t prohibit the drink itself.

Just so you know, I don’t drink alcoholic beverages. I can’t stand the taste of alcohol. I’m not advising or encouraging people to drink the stuff. I’m just honest enough to recognize the fact that Christ didn’t outlaw it, therefore, I see no Scriptural precedent to outlaw it myself.

Eating meats is another example. This was a big, divisive issue in the early church. It was causing all sorts of problems among the brethren. So did the Lord forbid the eating of meats? Did He tell His people to become veggans? No. He told them it was alright to eat meat as long as they didn’t do it in the presence of those who thought it was wrong (Romans 14, 1 Corinthians 8-10).

 THE BIBLICAL RESPONSE TO A FREEDOM THAT’S CAUSING PROBLEMS IS NOT TO CONFISCATE OR OUTLAW THAT FREEDOM. Rather, the biblical response  is a command for us to put limits or curbs on that freedom so that the freedom doesn’t lead to problems down the road.

Freedom isn’t the problem. It’s the misuse of freedom that’s the problem and this misuse begins in the heart. It’s called intemperance, not crucifying the flesh, not resisting temptation, and a whole lot of other things.

What do we do with a freedom that’s having an adverse effect on us and others as well? We put restraints on that freedom. This brings me to a fifth popular misconception that many people have about freedom.

5. WHEN YOU PUT RESTRAINTS ON FREEDOM IT’S NO LONGER FREEDOM. Many Christians wrongly believe that freedom must be left free and not subject to controls or restraints. They believe that the moment you put limits on freedom you’re putting yourself and others under legalism or law.

But this is simply not the case–not in the spiritual realm and certainly not in the natural realm.

In the natural realm, we’re free to own and drive a car. But our country puts all kinds of restrictions and laws on that freedom: we can’t drive without a driver’s license, we’ve got to have insurance, we’ve got to register our vehicles every year and pay taxes on them, our driver’s license must be renewed every four to six years and we’ve got to pass the eye test or else wear eyeglasses if we want to drive; we can’t drive unless we’re at least fifteen years old, all drivers who are sixteen years old and younger can drive only if there’s an adult in the car, and if student drivers get caught driving drunk, under the influence, are out past curfew, or get bad grades, their licenses will be taken away from them for a period of time; we’ve got to buckle up in both the front and back seats; infants and toddlers up to the age of five have to be in car seats, we can’t place these car seats on the front seat of cars with airbags, and children under the age of twelve aren’t allowed to seat in the front seat of cars with airbags; there are laws as to how fast we can drive, which lane of the road we must drive on, and when we can pass a slow moving vehicle. In some states, you can’t drive a car unless it passes an emissions test. You see, we’ve got all these restrictions and laws placed on driving. Yet we acknowledge the fact that we’re free to drive in this country.

In much the same way, the Lord puts restrictions on our liberties. Here’s a few.

  • We’re not to indulge in our liberties in the sight of those who are unenlightened to the truth and who would therefore stumble or take offense at our liberties, Romans 14:14, 20-21, 1 Corinthians 8:9, 10:25-29, 32. I wrote about this in my previous blog post.
  • We’re not to give place to the Devil or flesh and use our freedoms as an occasion to sin, Romans 13:13-14, Ephesians 4:27.
  • We’re limited to just a little bit of wine, not a lot, and certainly not so much of it that we become drunk, develop a drinking problem, and become alcoholics or drunkard, Ephesians 5:18,1 Timothy 3:2-3,8, 5:23, Titus 2:3.

We’re not supposed to be enslaved to our freedoms. If we ever come to a point where we’re compelled or addicted to do something that we’re free to do, then at that point we’ve become slaves to our so-called freedom and we’re no longer free.

Paul puts it this way in 1 Corinthians 6:12, All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any (literally, I will not be ruled by any one thing, I will not become a slave to anything that I’m free do to).

You see, THE REASON WHY THE LORD PUTS RESTRAINTS ON OUR FREEDOM IS BECAUSE UNRESTRAINED FREEDOM CAN RESULT IN SIN AND SLAVERY. When our freedoms lead us to sin and slavery we’re no longer free. We’re slaves. And in order to avoid this entrapment of liberty and sin there has to be restraints put on liberty. In other words, THE FREEDOM TO DO SOMETHING ALSO MEANS THE FREEDOM NOT TO DO IT. For us to truly remain free we must apply discipline, control, or restraints on our freedoms. Freedom unrestrained leads to slavery. But FREEDOM RESTRAINED KEEPS US FREE.

We’re supposed to practice temperance, Galatians 5:23. What is temperance? It is self-control.

Now self-control is two things. First, it is control. It’s putting limits, restraints, regulations, rules, or laws on yourself so that while you’re free to do something, the freedom isn’t absolute and unrestrained. YOU PUT LIMITS ON THAT FREEDOM IN ORDER TO SAFEGUARD THAT FREEDOM AND NOT USE IT TO BECOME A SLAVE TO SIN, THE DEVIL, AND THE FLESH ONCE AGAIN.

In the example of wine, you limit your intake of wine, you don’t let yourself get drunk, and you don’t drink wine in the sight of  weak Christians.


Self-control, as I said, is two things. In the second place, it  is strictly personal or voluntary: it’s something you put on yourself, something that you freely choose to do for yourself (1 Corinthians 6:12, 8:13). No one forces you to put restraints on your freedom. No one puts those restraints on your freedom for you. You do it by yourself and on your own because this is something God  wants you to do (1 Corinthians 9:25-27, 2 Peter 1:5-6). You do it willingly because you see the value of putting curbs or restraints on yourself and your freedom.

Some people wrongly interpret not doing something that we’re free to do as a confiscation or abolishment of freedom. They view it as legalism. But that, brethren, is not the case. The restraints that we put on our freedoms are not laws against freedom. They’re not a denial or confiscation of freedom. We’re not outlawing our freedoms, nor are we taking those freedoms away. In no way do I advocate legalism.


Self-control is what keeps us from becoming enslaved to sin. Brethren, what kind of restraints or laws do you have on your freedom? What sort of guidelines or limits do you observe when engaging in your freedoms? Can you name them? Can you write them down so that you know what they are? Do you have any at all?

Coming Up On My Next Blog Post, Part 8. This final installment of freedom looks at the sensitive, if not controversial, issue of other people applying restraints to our liberties. Is that legal? Stay tuned for this exciting, eye-popping finale.




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.


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.




4. JUST BECAUSE YOU’RE FREE TO DO SOMETHING DOESN’T AUTOMATICALLY MEAN YOU SHOULD DO IT.  You see, our natural minds tell us that if we’re free to do something, then we can do it and we wouldn’t be wrong for doing it.


  • Even though you’re free to do something, there are times when you shouldn’t do it.
  • There are times when it’s wrong or inappropriate for you to do it.
  • And there are times when it’s a sin for you to do what you’re free to do! There are two times in particular. We’ll look at the first one here and the second one in my next post.

A) DOING WHAT YOU’RE FREE TO DO IS WRONG WHEN YOU CAUSE OTHERS TO STUMBLE BY DOING IT.  Some believers don’t have the freedom, knowledge, or light that you have. They don’t see the Scriptures the way you see them. Consequently, they have different convictions about the freedom involved.

Now when you exercise your freedom in the sight of these believers and they take you to task, being offended by your conduct; then that’s the time when doing something that you’re free to do becomes wrong.

Romans 14:13-22 reads, Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.  (14)  I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.  (15)  For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.  (16)  So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil.  (17)  For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  (18)  Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.  (19)  So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.  (20)  Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats.  (21)  It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.  (22)  The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves.

1 Corinthians 8:4-13 similarly reads,  So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.”  (5)  For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”),  (6)  yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.  (7)  But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled.  (8)  But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.  (9)  Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.  (10)  For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols?  (11)  So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge.  (12)  When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.  (13)  Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.

1 Corinthians 8:4-13 echoes the same truth as Romans 14:13-22, with one exception. In Romans 14, the weak take offense at a free person’s exercise of liberty; they make a big stink about it. But in 1 Corinthians 8, they copy it in violation of their conscience. That is, they exercise a liberty that they don’t really have as yet.  Their conscience tells them it’s wrong. But they do it anyway because they see you doing it.

When we put these two passages of Scripture together we see that WHAT MAY BE ALRIGHT FOR YOU TO DO IN ONE INSTANCE (WHEN YOU’RE BY YOURSELF OR WITH LIKE-MINDED BELIEVERS) CAN BE WRONG FOR YOU TO DO IN ANOTHER INSTANCE (WHEN THERE ARE CONTRARILY-MINDED PEOPLE AROUND). It may be the same freedom and the same act (for example, you’re eating meat in both instances). But where, and when, you exercise your freedom makes all the difference in the world and it’s what determines whether you should exercise your freedom at any given moment.

Let’s look at the word embolden in verse 10 for a moment. The word comes from the Greek root word oikodoméo which means ‘edify’. In other words, when a weak brother or sister sees you doing something that you’re free to do, but they themselves don’t think they’re free to do it because their conscience is still unenlightened to the truth regarding this freedom; they’ll go ahead and do it, in violation of their conscience, because they see you doing it. They’re using you as a justification for their doing the same thing. Your example is edifying, building up, or strengthening them to do what you’re doing–even though their conscience is still unenlightened and therefore it’s telling them not to do what you’re doing.

Conscience isn’t enlightened by practice or by imitating the example of others: it’s enlightened only by the truth of God’s Word. It’s God’s truth that sets conscience free to do what it formerly forbade or prohibited (see John 8:32). If some believers don’t know the truth of God’s Word about a particular freedom and their unenlightened conscience forbids them from partaking of that freedom, when they disregard their conscience and do what they see you doing, they’re violating their conscience. And when they violate their conscience they sin.

Now we can argue that we weren’t meaning to set a bad example. We were merely doing something that we were free to do. Therefore, since we weren’t meaning to set an example for others to follow, we shouldn’t be held liable when other people copy what we do.

But that’s not how the Lord sees it. Your example, though unintended, was an occasion for the weak to sin. And when they sinned, you sinned too. Note verses 10-12, For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols?  (11)  So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge.  (12)  When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 

We can argue that it’s their fault. A person shouldn’t do anything in violation of their conscience. And that’s true! It’s their fault! But the Lord, brethren, holds you at fault too for setting the example by an indiscriminate exercise of your freedom. Your exercising your freedom publicly in the sight of the weak was the impetus for the weak to sin against their conscience. Therefore, their sin is also your sin.

Now get this. You’re doing something you’re perfectly free to do, that is, eat meat offered to idols! But doing it in the presence of the weak is sin! THERE ARE TIMES WHEN EXERCISING YOUR FREEDOM IS WRONG! IN GOD’S SIGHT, IT’S SIN! Said another way, THERE ARE TIMES WHEN IT’S SINFUL AND WRONG FOR YOU TO DO WHAT YOU’RE TRULY FREE TO DO!

The freedom to do something doesn’t automatically mean you should do it, nor does it automatically mean you would be right in doing it. The freedom itself isn’t what determines whether you should exercise it or not.


Brethren, don’t exercise your freedom in the presence of those who might object to it: you’d be wrong in God’s eyes for doing it.

Consider the people around you before you publicly engage in a freedom that you have. Be considerate of the brethren. And be sensitive with regard to their convictions and their present spiritual state or maturity.

When using your freedom is all that matters to you, when you don’t care about how other people would be affected by your exercise of freedom; you’re wrong as wrong can be.

You need to seriously consider camping out on Romans 14:13-22 and 1 Corinthians 8 until you get the message that the Lord is wanting you to get. What is it? THE WELL-BEING OF THE BRETHREN MATTER MORE TO GOD THAN YOUR FREEDOM TO DO A CERTAIN THING. THE WELL-BEING OF THE BRETHREN IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOUR FREEDOM. In the words of Paul, Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall, 1 Corinthians 8:13.

Coming Up On My Next Blog Post, Part 6. I’ll look at another instance where it’d be wrong for you to do what you’re truly free to do. Golly! These posts are really crucifying. But, then, freedom has never been cheap or free. Drop by and I’ll leave the light on for you.




2. JUST BECAUSE YOU HAVE THE FREE WILL TO DO SOMETHING DOESN’T AUTOMATICALLY MEAN YOU HAVE THE FREEDOM TO DO IT. This is another difficult concept to grasp and I pray God help you understand and accept it. If you understand the difference between freedom and free will you’ll be better able to understand the truth I’m trying to present here.

As a free moral creature, endowed by God with free will, you’re free to fornicate. Free to cheat on your taxes. Free to rob a bank. Free to do a million and one things because you’ve got the power and ability to choose for yourself and make your own decisions.

But as a Christian who knows God’s Word, you realize you’re not free to do these things because God has prohibited them in His Word. He commands you not to do them. Consequently, as an obedient Christian, you don’t do them.

You see, you can go ahead and do these forbidden things if you want to: you have the free will to do them. But you don’t do them because God forbids it. And since He forbids it, you understand that you don’t have the God-given freedom to do them. You have the free will to do them, but you don’t have the freedom to do them.

God’s commandments, you see, restrict the freedoms that humankind and flesh would otherwise love to have. While we don’t have the freedom to do a million and one things that self and flesh would love to do, nevertheless, the greater and more precious freedom that we do have is the freedom not to give in to sin, self, and the flesh.

Brethren, we’ve got the greatest freedom of all and that is the freedom to obey God and do the right thing. Without Christ in our lives we wouldn’t have that freedom. We would be enslaved to sin. We would spend our eternity in hell. Praise God we have the freedom to do what we couldn’t do before, and that is, obey and please God–not ourselves.

3. Another hard concept for people to grasp is the fact that EXERCISING YOUR FREEDOM DOESN’T AUTOMATICALLY MAKE YOU RIGHT. You see, in the natural realm, if you’re free to do something, then it isn’t wrong for you to do it. For example,

  • If you’re free to own a car, then you can own a car and you wouldn’t be breaking any law to own your own car.
  • If you’re free to adopt the religion of your choice, then you can practice whatever religion you want to without interference or persecution from the State. You wouldn’t be doing anything illegal to practice whatever religion you want to practice.
  • If your parents give you the freedom to date, then you wouldn’t be breaking your parents’ rules when you go out on a date because your parents don’t have any such rules against dating. You wouldn’t be doing anything wrong as far as they’re concerned.

Do you see what I mean? The freedom to do something in the natural automatically presupposes you would be right in doing it. You wouldn’t be breaking any laws. You wouldn’t be wrong for doing something that you’re free to do.

Brethren, no matter how you define freedom, when you use your freedom and/or your free will to disobey God, then what results is an act of sin and disobedience. Even though you were free to make that choice, you would be wrong for disobeying God.

Take Eve for an example. Eve was free to either eat the forbidden fruit or not eat it: it was her choice to make. The moment she ate that fruit she disobeyed God. The act of eating was an act of disobedience, she freely chose to disobey, and that act of disobedience was sin. In other words, an act of free will or freedom can also be an act of disobedience.

The same thing can also be said with respect to genuine Christian freedom. An act of freedom can also be an act of disobedience. For example, when you use your freedom to drink wine to become drunk or become an alcoholic and a drunkard, then you’ve used a legitimate freedom to disobey God’s prohibition against drunkenness. Do you see how you can use your freedom to disobey God? Brethren, WHEN YOU USE YOUR FREEDOM OR FREE WILL TO DISOBEY GOD, YOU’RE NO LONGER RIGHT. YOU’RE WRONG AND YOU’RE IN DISOBEDIENCE TO GOD.

Brethren, DON’T BASE THE RIGHTNESS OR WRONGNESS OF AN ACTION ON WHETHER OR NOT YOU’RE FREE TO DO IT. Just because you’re free to do something doesn’t automatically mean you’re right to do it. An act of free will or freedom can also be an act of disobedience.

Coming Up On My Next Blog, Part 5. More food for thought as I discuss another misconception of freedom. It’ll be crucifying, so bring your cross. God’ll have the nails and hammer.



1. THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS TOTAL, ABSOLUTE, UNRESTRICTED FREEDOM IN THIS WORLD. I hate to burst your bubble, but this is the real world, not a dream world. No one is totally, absolutely, 100 % free. Everyone has free will. But no one has total, absolute freedom.

We live in a democracy that is the freest nation in the world today. Yet, we’re governed by so many specific laws that it’s obvious we’re not free to do anything or everything that we jolly well please. The laws, police, court system, and penal institutions, are proof that no one is free to do whatever he wants to do.

As goes the nation, so goes the church. No Christian is totally free to live and do as he or she pleases. No Christian lives without Divine Law or restraint. We all live under God’s Law. Just like living in a free nation, we’re free even though we have laws—including God’s laws—that  govern us. We’re free. Just not as free as we’d like—that is, 100% free without any kind of restraint, law, or threat of punishment. There is no such freedom in the created order. Only God is totally, absolutely free. Everyone else—from Satan, to demons, to angels, to mankind—live free, but under God’s laws.

2. FREEDOM FROM MEN’S RELIGIOUS LAWS OR THE LAW DOESN’T FREE YOU FROM OBEDIENCE TO GOD’S WORD.  Since Christ set us free from the Law and from men’s religious laws as a basis for salvation or righteousness; so many people automatically think or assume that they don’t have to obey God’s Word. They equate obedience with bondage to law, legalism, and works salvation.  Freedom thus becomes the freedom not to obey God; the freedom to do as they please. Obedience, whenever it’s undesirable or inconvenient, is explained away and disobedience justified with the oft-repeated, tired refrain, “I’m free. I’m not under the law.”

CHRISTIAN FREEDOM, BRETHREN, IS NOT THE FREEDOM TO DISOBEY GOD. Just because Christ set us free from the law as a means of salvation or righteousness doesn’t mean we don’t have to obey the Word anymore. FREEDOM DOESN’T RELIEVE US OF THE DUTY TO OBEY GOD.

The Old Testament Law required obedience. When we come to the New Testament, we find that God still requires obedience of His people. What did Jesus say to the rich young ruler who wanted to know what he had to do to inherit eternal life? If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments (Matthew 19:17).

This theme of obedience runs throughout the entire New Testament and it’s one of the very last things God warned us about in the Bible: Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city (Revelation 22:14). You see, obedience is required of all those who would enter into Heaven.

Disobedience, even in the guise of Christian liberty, disqualifies us from Heaven. Jesus made this quite clear when He said in Matthew 7:21-23, Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. {22} Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? {23} And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.


It all goes back to the failure of people to see the distinction between freedom and free will (see Christian Liberty Part 1). Free will is the liberty to make our own choices or decisions. We can choose whatever we want to choose.

But freedom is the power or ability to obey God. You see, when we were enslaved to Satan and sin we couldn’t obey God. We lacked the willingness and power, or ability, to obey God. The sin nature of the old man had no desire for godly obedience. But when Christ saved us, He set us free from Satan’s power and He changed us. He made a new man out of us. He washed the old  sin nature away. He gave us a new nature of righteousness and holiness (2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 4:24). He gave us something we didn’t have before and that is the desire to obey God.

With a new nature and with freedom itself, God gave us the liberty and power to do what we formerly couldn’t do, and that is, obey Him. Romans 6:18-22 reads, Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.  (19)  Because of the weakness of your human nature, I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this. Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy.  (20)  When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the obligation to do right.  (21)  And what was the result? You are now ashamed of the things you used to do, things that end in eternal doom.  (22)  But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life.


In the world in which we live, a person is either free or slave. He can only be one or the other. But the paradox of Christian freedom is, A CHRISTIAN IS INDEED FREE, BUT HE BECOMES, AND REMAINS, A SLAVE TO GOD AND RIGHTEOUSNESS. It’s a paradox to the natural mind, but a spiritual truth nonetheless. A Christian is both free and a slave at the same time, Romans 6:22.

Now if you understand the truth that you were a slave of sin even though you had free will, then you will have no problem comprehending the truth that you are now a slave of God even though you still have free will. Brethren, NO ONE IS TRULY FREE. WE ALL BELONG TO SOMEONE, EITHER SATAN OR GOD. A PERSON IS EITHER A SLAVE OF SIN OR A SLAVE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. HE’S EITHER A SLAVE OF SATAN OR A SLAVE OF GOD. WE ALL—BOTH SAVED AND UNSAVED—ARE SLAVES. NO ONE IS TRULY FREE FROM DOMINION, OWNERSHIP, OR RULE. We all have free will, both saved and unsaved alike. But we’re all still slaves–either of Satan or of God.

You see, when Christ set us free from Satan and sin, He set us free to become His slave. Romans 6:18, ye became the slaves of righteousness.;  Romans 6:22, ye are become slaves of God. Whereas once we were slaves of Satan and sin, Christ set us free and now–even though we’re free–we’re slaves to doing the right thing and living the righteous life. FREEDOM, BRETHREN, IS NOT THE FREEDOM TO DO AS WE PLEASE: IT’S THE FREEDOM TO OBEY GOD AND DO THE THINGS THAT PLEASE HIM.

Does your freedom make you obey God or does it make you disobey Him? After you’ve exercised your freedom, are you in obedience to God or are you in disobedience to Him? Brethren, no matter how you choose to define and use your freedom, freedom is not the freedom to sin: it’s the freedom to obey God and not sin.

Coming Up On My Next Blog Post, Part 4. More misconceptions about freedom. Thought-provoking. Controversial. But right and true. Pop in and I’ll prove it.



What, then, does it mean to be free? What are we freed from? What are we free to do?

1. CHRISTIAN FREEDOM IS FREEDOM FROM SATAN’S POWER OR CONTROL. When we were unsaved and without Christ Satan was our master. We were under his rule (Acts 26:18). But when Christ saved us He freed us from Satan’s power and rule. Colossians 1:12-13 reads, giving thanks to the Father for having made you fit to share in the inheritance of his people in the light.  (13)  He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son.

Christian liberty is freedom from Satan’s rule or domain. It’s like being rescued out of an oppressive, freedom-robbing, life-threatening country and being taken to a free country where you can live in peace and security. Spiritually speaking, you couldn’t escape the devil’s country on your own. He had you locked up in his domain of imprisonment. What Jesus did  is, like the Rangers and Seals of modern times, He came in and rescued you from your imprisonment. Then He put you on His chopper out of the devil’s country and brought you to His country of freedom, peace, joy, and love.

You see, as Christ-rescued souls, we are in Christ’s country now. We are free from Satan’s tyranny, rule, and imprisonment. We don’t have to listen to the devil and do as he says. Why? Because he’s no longer our master! He doesn’t have authority over us anymore! We are free from his dominion, power, and rule.

2. CHRISTIAN FREEDOM IS FREEDOM FROM OUR SLAVERY TO SIN.  Without Christ we were enslaved to sin. We couldn’t rise above sin. We kept on sinning.  We couldn’t help sinning (Romans 3:10-12).

But when we gave our lives to Jesus, He freed us from sin’s mastery and power over us. Sin can no longer force or compel us to sin! We can choose not to sin. Romans 6:17-18 reads, Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you.  (18)  Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.

Freedom from sin is like being set free from an addiction, let’s say an addiction to drugs. When you’re set free from a drug addiction you’re no longer addicted to the drugs. You lose your interest in drugs. You don’t find any more pleasure or enjoyment in drugs. It’s no longer a temptation to you, at least, it’s not the strong temptation that it once was in your life. You have the power and willingness of heart to overcome or resist the temptation to use drugs once again.

Freedom from sin, brethren, is the same way. When Christ set us free from sin He did something to us. He changed us. He delivered us from the captivating power and appeal of sin. And He took that longing or urge to sin away from us. Sin is no longer the problem or the temptation that it once was in our lives. It isn’t our master anymore.

Christian freedom, brethren, is all about the power and willingness we have to rise above sin and not sin. THE LIBERTY WE HAVE IN CHRIST IS THE LIBERTY NOT TO SIN.

Brethren, Christ didn’t set us free to sin: He set us free from sin. While we still have the free will to sin because we’re still morally free creatures, we nonetheless don’t have the freedom to sin. The freedom we have as Christians is the freedom not to sin.

3. CHRISTIAN FREEDOM IS FREEDOM FROM USING THE OLD TESTAMENT LAW OR MAN’S RELIGIOUS LAWS AS A MEANS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS OR SALVATION.  Many people try to earn their way into Heaven by keeping some set of laws. For the Jews of Jesus’ day, salvation was by the keeping of the Old Testament Law, as well as the rabbinical law of Judaism’s rabbis. For heathens past and present, diligent observance of a moral, religious, or cultural code of conduct  supposedly ensures one of eternal bliss after death.

But Christ is the end of all of men’s attempts to try and earn salvation or righteousness. Men no longer have to work for salvation because they can never work for it or attain it. Salvation is a matter of God’s grace and it’s received by faith–not works.

  • Romans 10:1-4, Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. {2} For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. {3} For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. {4} For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
  •  Galatians 5:1-4  Christ has set us free! This means we are really free. Now hold on to your freedom and don’t ever become slaves of the Law again.  (2)  I, Paul, promise you that Christ won’t do you any good if you get circumcised.  (3)  If you do, you must obey the whole Law.  (4)  And if you try to please God by obeying the Law, you have cut yourself off from Christ and his wonderful kindness. See also 4:9-11,
  •  Colossians 2:20-23  You have died with Christ, and He has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as,  (21)  “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”?  (22)  Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them.  (23)  These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.

Christian freedom is freedom from using the Law or men’s laws as a means of salvation or righteousness; it’s the end of our working to be saved. Brethren, you don’t have to keep the law–any law, be it man’s law or God’s law–in order to be saved. You can’t work for, or earn, your salvation. If you believe in Jesus and have received Him as your personal Lord and Savior, then you’re already saved, Christ has set you free from trying to work for, or earn, your salvation.

Coming Up On My Next Blog Post, Part 3. I’ll clear the air about some misconceptions that a lot of us have about freedom. What an eye-opener! Get ready to see some things you may never have seen before.



Freedom is one of the most precious things that we human beings possess. God created us as free moral creatures. That is, He created us with the ability to make our own choices in life, to make our own decisions without being forced or compelled to do anything against our will. In theology and philosophy, this precious freedom to choose or make our own decisions is called ‘free will’.

To be sure, God makes all kinds of demands on our lives. The Bible is filled with laws, rules, principles, commandments, exhortations, admonitions, do’s and don’ts that God wants us to obey and live by.

But the bottom line is, none of us have to obey God if we don’t want to. God doesn’t force us to obey Him. If we don’t want to obey Him, God honors that. He lets us disobey Him. He doesn’t stop us from disobeying Him. He  abides by the decisions we make.

God, I am saying, gave us free will. He  lets us make our own decisions. He doesn’t force His will upon us.


Freedom is defined and understood in so many different ways. We all have our ideas about what we’re free to do.

What exactly is freedom? What is Christian liberty? Is freedom the God-given right to do as we please? Undoubtedly, this is how many of God’s people understand freedom. For them, freedom is the right to do as we please. The right to live any way we please.

But this, brethren, is not how the Bible defines freedom!

Before we get to the Biblical definition of freedom, I think it’s helpful to make a very important distinction between freedom and free will. The two terms are often confused and used synonymously, which is the reason why so many of God’s people have liberties that we know aren’t right or aren’t theirs to have.

Free will, as I said earlier, is the power or ability to make our own decisions. This includes the decision to disobey God and do whatever we please. For example, let us suppose that we choose to fornicate. We want to fornicate. Now if we equate freedom with free will, then what we have as a result is the freedom to fornicate. That is, since we’re free to choose; and since we choose to fornicate; then we automatically conclude that we have the freedom to fornicate.

But instinctively, for the true child of God, we know that this isn’t what freedom is all about.  There’s something perverted about this kind of logic or reasoning.


What, then, is freedom? What does our liberty encompass?

Coming Up On My Next Blog Post, Part 2. I look at the Biblical meaning of freedom. Chances are, it’s not what you think. So drop by and find out. I’ll save a chair for you.