Grace For The Journey
Freedom in Christ never means freedom to do as we please, but the power to do as we ought in accordance with the character of Christ as His life is reproduced in the believer by a Spirit-filled, Word-filled life. In today’s blog, I want to look at five biblical principles that should guide every believer as they seek to live for the glory and honor of the Lord.
1) The Principle of Love
Though convinced that I have liberty to do something, nevertheless, out of love for the weaker brother, I will limit my freedom when necessary to avoid being a stumbling block (Romans 14:15; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13). If my actions cause a believer to stumble by influencing him or her to follow my example, the question is, “Do I really have liberty to follow my own conviction regarding the doubtful thing?” The answer is an emphatic no – not if I am walking by love! Listen to the warning God gives us in Romans 14:15-21, “For if your brother is grieved (hurt) because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; for the king of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the thing by which one may edify another. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.”
2) The Principles of Profitability and Edification
While all things that are not specifically forbidden by Scripture, particularly the New Testament, are lawful to me as a believer, the question I must ask is, “Is it profitable to my spiritual life, to God’s goals for me, to my health, to my testimony to the lost and my life as an example to other believers?” The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 6:12, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable” and in 1 Corinthians 10:23, “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.”
3) The Principle of Enslavement, of Who and What is in Control
An understanding of this principle becomes a determining factor as to whether we really should or should not do the thing in question. The Bible succinctly states it this way, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” Believers are to walk under the control of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18; Galatians 5:16). By means of the Spirit, we are to have control over all aspects of our lives rather than be under the control of dominating influences in our lives. The body is a wonderful God’s instrument in God’s service, but it is a poor master. The questions we must ask are, “Will it enslave me? Is it something that is known to be habit forming or addictive so that it could enslave me?” This does not automatically exclude something and anything can become a habit that controls me, but this principle does pose a warning.
4) The Principle of the Temple
The New Testament teaches us that our body is the temple of God, the very dwelling place of the Holy Spirit and should be cared for accordingly. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple f the Holy Spirit who is in you whom you have from God, and ou are not your own? For you were bought at at price,; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”) The body is an instrument used by the Spirit of God . . . a vehicle of service by which we can glorify God. A weak body becomes a weak instrument, so we need to care for it and protect it. This means proper rest, diet, exercise, and the elimination of those habits which are unhealthy and harmful.
In my college days, I was eating breakfast with a fellow student. As we talked he asked if I preached against sin. Knowing something about him and being a bit suspicious about the question, I asked him to clarify his statement. He said, “I am talking about things like dancing, wearing makeup, smoking, drinking, and things like that.” This young man weighed at least three hundred pounds, was under six feet tall, and was eating a breakfast big enough to feed a small army. Maybe it was unkind of me to say, but I replied, “Yes, I preach on sin. And that includes things like gluttony and life dominating sins.” How easy it is for us to major on the sins of others and ignore our own sin habits!
5) The Principle of Exaltation
Here we must ask the question, “Will it glorify or exalt the Lord and His glory?” In a context dealing with doubtful issues, we are told to act on this principle, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31). The Bible also says in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”
This principle applies to all Christians, but it is especially vital for Christian leaders such as pastors, teachers, elders, deacons, etc. One of the characteristics so necessary for a leader is that of self-sacrifice, of giving up our rights for the benefit of others and for the glory of God. Why? Because our lives are so determinative and influential on others. Christ, our supreme model, said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). This means the need for sacrifice and living for the glory of God at all times. (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:1-23; 2 Thessalonians 3:7, 9; 1 Timothy 4:12; Hebrews 13:7; Titus. 2:7).
Let me sum up the grace principles that should guide us when seeking to make decisions as we live our lives:
(1) Liberty is constrained by our love of Christ. If you do not love Christ forget all the rest of the principles and do what you want.
(2) Liberty should not cause another person to stumble, be made weak, or turn from Christ. This is a major point. It is the only one that says that a person sins against Christ.
(3) Liberty should be edifying. Does your liberty build up the body of Christ?
(4) Liberty should not be enslaving. Can someone be enslaved by their liberty?
(5) Liberty should glorify Jesus. Does your liberty bring glory to Jesus?
(6) Liberty should help you toward your goal God has set.
(7) Liberty should be worthy of the gospel. Does your liberty hinder the gospel of Christ?
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”