Christian Liberty 101: Romans 14-15
“1) Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. 2) One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. 3) The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. 4) Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 5) One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. 6) He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God.” Romans‬ ‭14‬:‭1‬-‭6‬ ‭
Let’s take a moment and talk about personal liberty “in Christ.” This was very important in the early body of Christ that was made up of both Jewish and Gentile believers.
As you can imagined, radically different cultures and religious traditions clashed in the early church. Let’s briefly examine some of the more common areas of potential clash over personal liberties.
Dress: (Formal or casual) Diet: (Veggies or meats) Drink: (Wine and coffee or water) Schedule (Saturday or Sunday worship) Spiritual disciplines: (Fasting and alms giving) Bible versions: (King James or other translation) Doctrinal Views: (Calvinism vs Arminian; dispensationalism vs covenant theology) Views of the end times: (pre-trib Vs mid-trib Vs post-trib Vs a-mil) Forms of worship: (liturgical vs casual) Music style: (Hymns vs contemporary)
As you can see at a glance, Christian living and expressions of faith have a wide spectrum of what can fall within the bounds of biblical Christianity. The above list applies to area’s that come under a discussion of “Christian liberties.”
So what is the difference between freedom “in” Christ and Christian liberties? Let me provide a basic explanation that distinguishes them from each other:
Freedom relates to breaking the grip of sinful bondage, addictions or strongholds that are clearly defined as sin in the Bible.
Personal liberties apply to non-moral area’s that are not classified as sin in the Bible.
Though the English words of “freedom” and “liberty” sound similar, theologically they carry very different meanings. Below are five characteristics of Christian liberty that may help you build bridges rather than walls between yourself and fellow believers.
First: Personal liberties provide ample opportunity to exercise agape love toward those with different views in the above areas.
Second: Personal liberties must not be applied in such a way as to water down the gospel or the solid preaching of the Word of God.
Third: Personal liberties should not become a standard of spirituality or a basis for judging one another.
Forth: Personal liberties provides for significant cultural diversity without pressure toward conformity.
Fifth: Personal liberties must not be embraced or calcified in such a way as to reject or shun fellow believers.
With this basic understanding of Christian liberty, I encourage you to study Romans 14-15 and come up with valuable principles and applications for this subject. It has empowered me to work both interdenominational and internationally within the body of Christ. It has also enabled me to value, embrace, appreciate and celebrate cultural differences with the body of Christ.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global