WHAT ARE THE BOUNDS OF A CHRISTIAN'S LIBERTY?
1. This is a very important and relevant question.
2. In the beginning, I think it wise to note some scriptures that deal with limitations, bounds, and freedoms, as far as a Christian is concerned
A. 2 Jno. 9; Jas. 4:8; Heb. 4:16; 10:19-31; Jno. 12:32; Mt. 11:28-30; 1 Cor. 4:6; Rev. 22:18,19.
3. In the religious world today, as it has been down through the ages, some religions are more strict and limited than others.
4. There were many limitations and restrictions under the law of Moses.
5. So, whatever limitations, bounds, and restrictions that we may find ourselves under as Christians, are not near as severe as the law of Moses nor other religions that have been recorded in history.
6. But, to thoroughly understand our subject of discussion today, we need to note the definitions of the major words of our question.
A. The major words are: "Bounds", "Christian's" and "Liberty".
1. BOUNDS. Webster says: "The limiting line; hence that which limits; a confine; boundary; limit."
a. He goes on to say that 'bound' can mean: "Restrained or fastened by a band, bond, or the like; tied; confined." "Enclosed in a binding or cover, as a book."
b. The Greek says: "The fixing of a boundary."
c. So, it would seem from the definitions of this word, we are to discuss what limitations, boundaries, confines or restrictions are placed upon a Christian by the Word of God.
d. In other words, just how far can a Christian go in certain activities without getting out of bounds?
2. CHRISTIAN. One who is a follower of Christ. One belonging to Christ. One in Christ. A disciple of Christ. Acts 11: 26.; 26:28; 1 Pet. 4:16; Jno. 8:31,32; Gal. 3:26,27.
a. This person has become such by meeting certain qualifications laid down in the New Testament. Rom. 10:17; Heb. 11:6; Acts 17: 30; Mt. 10:32,33; Acts 2:38.
b. He continues to be a Christian by adhereing strictly to the rules and regulations laid down in the New Testament.
3. LIBERTY. Webster says: "Freedom from restraint or compulsion; privilege."
a. The Greek says: "A loosing or relaxation." "Release of Freedom". Gal. 5:1.
B. It would seem then, from the definitions, that we are dealing with the idea: "Just how much liberty does a Christian have without violating the boundaries of that liberty?"
I. THESE LIBERTIES HAVE BEEN PURCHASED FOR US BY THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF CHRIST.
A. Freedom from bondage in sin. 1 Pet. 1:18,19.
B. Freedom from the old law of sin and death. Rom. 8:2.
C. Freedom to become children of God. Jno. 1:12,13.
D. Freedom to call upon the Father in prayer, through Christ. Jno. 14: 13,14.
E. For the Jews, freedom from the bondage of the Mosaic Law. Col. 2:14.
II. JUST WHAT CAN I DO OR CANNOT DO, AS A CHRISTIAN, AND STILL BE PLEASING TO GOD?
A. To answer this question acceptably, I think it wise that we should first pose a few questions in our own minds; and keep these questions before us throughout this study.
1. Will what I am now doing, or plan to do, enhance my life as a Christ- ian and thereby bring glory to God? Mt. 5:13-16; 1 Cor. 6:19,20.
2. Will what I am now doing, or plan to do, show others that I am different from the people of the world, and thereby cause me to be an influence for good to all with whom I come in contact? 1 Pet. 2:9- 12; 4:1-5.
3. Or, on the contrary, will what I am doing, or plan to do, be a bad influence on my associates and ultimately bring reproach upon the church, and minimize or completely render my ability to glorify God void or useless? Heb. 6:4-6; Rom. 2:24,25.
4. Is what I am now doing, or plan to do, going to help or hinder me in my obligation to lead others to Christ? 1 Pet. 3:14-16.
5. Will what I am now doing, or plan to do, cause me to be stronger, more spiritual minded, more faithful and more knowledgeable in the cause of Christ, or will it weaken me? Gal. 6:3-5; 1 Cor. 15:58.
6. Would i like to be doing what I am now doing, or plan to do, when the Lord comes? 2 Pet. 3:9-14.
7. Am I fully persuaded in my mind, and is my conscience completely free of doubt, concerning this that I am doing, or plan to do? 2 Cor. 13:5; Jas. 4:17; Rom. 14:23.
III. SOME SUGGESTED AREAS OF ACTIVITY AS EXAMPLES:
A. We could ask many more than the seven questions asked, but I believe that these will suffice to give us something to think about if we will ask them before we begin to do something.
1. WORSHIP. What can I do or not do? Jno. 4:24; Acts 2:42.
a. Preaching and teaching: How? What? When? Who? Where?
b. Singing: How? What? When? Who? Where?
c. The Lord's Supper: How? What? When? Who? Where?
d. Giving: How? What? When? Who? Where?
e. Praying: How? What? When? Who? Where?
2. WORK: What can I do or not do to gain my livelyhood? Eph. 4:28.
a. Is it honorable in the sight of God and men? 2 Cor. 8:21.
b. Does it allow me time to serve God? Mt.6:33.
c. Who's primary responsibility is it? Husband or Wife? Titus 2:4,5 2 Thes. 3:7-12.
3. PLAY: What can I do or not do? 1 Tim. 4:7,8.
a. It must be wholesome recreation, having no evil inclinations nor that which woud provoke evil.
1) This would eleminate dancing and mixed bathing.
b. It should never conflict with the stipulated hours of worship and service to the Lord.
c. It should not become an obsession with us.
d. It should not be of a nature that would cause a weak brother to stumble.
e. It must be decent and done in decent, modest dress.
f. It should never become the major topic of our every conversation.
4. SPEECH: What can I say or not say/ Jas. 3; Eph. 4:29.
a. Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth.
1) Lies, Cursing, Reviling, Filthy or Smutty Jokes, Obscenities, Euphemisms, etc.
b. We should be swift to hear and slow to speak. Jas. 1:19.
c. Should be words that edify. Eph. 4:29.
d. Speak as the Oracles of God. 1 Pet. 4:11.
e. Not as the children of Ashdod:
1) My church. Your church. Our Denomination. Our Pastor; I'm a Church of Christ. Church of Christ Doctrine. etc.
5. DRESS: What can I wear or not wear? 1 Tim. 2:8-15.
a. Modest, as becometh children of God. 1 Pet. 3:1-6.
b. Not as a person beside himself or one that has lost his mind. Mk. 5:15;Lk. 8:26-36.
c. Not for show, allurement nor enticement. Mt. 5:27,28; 18:7; 1 Cor. 8:13.
d. Decently, fully, and cleanly.
6. ASSOCIATES: Who are to be my social companions?
a. Not evil people. 1 Cor. 15:33.
b. Not drunkards, liars, gamblers, carousers, drug addicts, revellers.
c. Not brethren that have been withdrawn from by the church. 1 Cor. 5:11.
d. Not with any person that would destroy my effetiveness as a Christian.
7. PLACES: Where can I go or not go? Prov. 15:3; Psa. 139:1-12.
a. We cannot escape the eyes and knowledge of God.
b. Not to places of ill repute, one that is even questionable. 1 Thes. 5: 22.
c. No place that would in any way suppress our influence for good as a Christian.
8. HABITS: What can I practice or not practice in my life? 2 Pet. 2:22
a. Is the habit of a filthy nature?
b. Is it offensive to others?
c. Is it detrimental to my physical health or well-being? 1 Cor. 6:19,20 Eph. 5:29.
d. Is it detrimental to our mental alertness and awareness?
e. Does this practice do me or some other person a positive physical or mental good?
f. Does this habit have a great tendency to control to some degree, or to cause me to become addicted to such?
1) In other words, can we very easily quit this habit at any time without any serious physical or emotional side effects?
g. Is it possible and in many cases highly probable that this particular habit might grow in intensity until finally it becomes a very serious problem in our lives?
h. Will this habit, especially if intensified, have a detrimental affect upon my family?
i. Can we be definitely sure, without any shadow of a doubt, that when we take up this habit; we will be able to control it.
j. From the experiences of those that have come under the intensity of such habit, do we find them very pleased and happy that they have done so and are very willing to continue in such habit?
B. There are other specific areas that might not have been named, that are just as important as the eight mentioned. But I feel that these will suffice to show the limitations and prohibitions to be considered in every walk of life.
1. Remember, take each activity and look at it through the seven questions we have suggested.
2. Take note of everyting that has been said about each activity.
3.By doing this, I believe that you will be able to answer the question: "What are the bounds of a Christian's liberty?"
4. We, as American citizens, living in this "land of the free", have privileges and rights granted to us by the Constitution.
A. But no man has a RIGHT, civilly, or spiritually, to do WRONG.
By Jim Sasser
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