Freedom from rules.
Freedom from regulations.
Freedom from expectations.
Freedom from the past.
Freedom from bondage to bad habits.
Freedom from the consequence of sin.
Freedom to think.
Freedom to be who we were meant to be.
The same thing happens within Christianity when people first get the revelation of their true freedom bought for them through Jesus.
There are certain doctrines within the Church that seem to promote this freedom in a way that scares many believers.
For instance, the doctrine of Eternal Security or the doctrine of Ultimate Reconciliation or the doctrine of Election are each challenged by those who do not adhere to them as giving license to the flesh.
The standard rebuttal goes something lie this: "Oh. So, if I'm eternally secure no matter what I do, then I can just go out and get drunk and it won't matter. That's just wrong. You teach that and people will just forget about holiness." Or, "If everyone is going to be saved eventually anyway, then it doesn't matter what I do. Why, I don't even have to accept the Lord. That's just wrong. You teach that and people won't get saved."
The underlying thought of these people is that the flesh is stronger than the Holy Spirit.
We tend to forget that God is much more powerful than any of us.
We also tend to forget the Scriptures and what they teach about this subject and its related aspects.
Is there a danger that people will "get stupid" as the result of a doctrine that promotes freedom? Absolutely.
Is that sufficient reason to not teach about the freedom we have in Christ? Absolutely not.
We have witnessed in recent years what happens when a dictator is overthrown and the people of the country get that first whiff of freedom. Wild parties, dancing in the streets, drunkeness, riots and looting. Would you then say that they should never have been granted their freedom?
They need to learn the responsibility that freedom brings.
Simply because people make mistakes and errors in judgment while learning is no reason to quit teaching. We teach our children to walk (freedom of movement) even though they keep falling down or reverting to a crawl. We continue to grant driving privileges to teens who think it's all about speed.
The problem of "too much freedom" was tackled by the apostles when Paul began his ministry to the Gentiles. The apostles in Jerusalem were bothered by his presentation of the gospel to the gentiles. 1) They were not Jews; and 2) they were not being required to obey the law. A debate was held, Paul presented his case, and the Jewish brethren saw the validity of his ministry.
But, bondage to the law is in the Jewish DNA, and they followed Paul to various cities, teaching that in order to be "completely saved," the new believers had to practice certain Jewish rites.
This became especially prevalent in the churches of Galatia. Paul wrote a letter to those churches scolding them for their willingness to be brought under Jewish bondage.
He begins to summarize his thoughts in chapter 5: "Stand strong in the freedom that Christ has bought for you, and do not get tangled up with rules and regulations again." (Hill's paraphrase)
Paul recognized the possibility of believers going astray with this idea, so he addressed it just a few verses later: "For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh,..." (5:13).
That's it. That's all he said about the matter. To him, it is no big deal.
Probably because he understood the power of God to save people from that which would destroy them.
He goes on to write about how this all works when he compares life guided by the flesh and life guided by the Holy Spirit. That's where his faith was--in God.
The church of today has lost that faith, and put it more into rules and regulations, thinking that is the path to true holiness. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The law is designed to bring us to faith in Christ (Gal. 3:24), and once there, we shed the law (v. 25).
Will people use these teachings as an occasion to the flesh? You bet they will. When someone is looking for an excuse, any excuse will do.
Does this prove the teachings are wrong or in error? No. In fact, it probably proves their validity, because this result is a counterfeit to the real thing. (No one ever made a counterfeit $3 bill.)
So, if you are opposed to any teachings on the freedom we have in Christ, I suggest the following:
- Don't oppose it based on some hypothetical experience you dream up.
- Don't oppose it based on something you saw someone else do.
- Find the scriptural support you need for your position and present your case.
- Trust the Spirit of God to guide us all into the truth, regardless of what we say, think, or do (John 16:13).
Please feel FREE to post your comments, questions, or criticisms.