Sunday, January 5, 2014

the gospel and our liberty in Christ

We have liberty in Christ. It is a beautiful thing. We don't have to follow a set of man-made rules, shun the secular, participating only in the "Christian", instead we are free to serve God and bring Him glory. Only sometimes it is harder that way. I want someone to just tell me what to do and what not to do. What to wear, watch, drink, listen to, eat, and laugh at. But it's not that easy.

Lately, I have been asking myself a few questions about choices I make; Is indulging in this worth it? Does this glorify God? Why do I want to do that? Am I using the short time I'm given here on earth wisely?

Christians enjoy speaking of their liberties quite loudly and proudly. 

Did God save you from your life of sin so you could indulge in this world once again, under the guise of liberty? 

Are your liberties pulling you closer to Christ or pushing you farther away? 

Is your lifestyle a testimony to the radical change the gospel has wrought in your life?

We have to be humble enough to admit when some of our liberties are making us slaves. Because, they do, way more often then I care to admit.

I know what you want to say this. I say it to myself all the time as I way to justify my decision. Yes, we have liberty in Christ. And yes, there is definitely a danger of falling into legalism. 

Legalism is doing or not doing things that the Bible doesn't explicitly tell us what our stance should be and then projecting our beliefs onto others. 

But I am not addressing legalism in this post. I am address our liberties and the commandment to "Set your mind on things above, not on the things that are on earth." Colossians 3:2

The world we live in is a cess pool. Do we think of the world as it really is? Why would we want to wade in it, even just a little? 

What is our goal here on earth? To indulge in our liberties and boast about them? Or is it to glorify and serve our Saviour? 

"....showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in every respect. For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds." Titus 2:10b-14

We are to live sensibly, righeously, and godly, zealous for good deeds. I wasn't saved so I could spend my life pleasing self.

"For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is their shame, who set their minds in earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ...." Philippians 3:18-20

Am I using my liberties to set my mind on earthly things? 

The only way to view the world correctly is to gaze at our Saviour. Our salvation should necessarily effect the way we live. We are no longer slaves to sin. Why would we want to return? Even just for a little bit? It's easy to justify things, "It's not as bad as something I used to do." "I know Christians who do things that are way more borderline than this."  "All is lawful." "God has called us to live in this world." 

"...we were once foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Saviour and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." Titus 3:3-7 

How great a salvation! What a Saviour!

"Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that.... I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit...." Philippians 1:27

" out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain." Philippians 2:12c-16

Our purity speaks much more loudly, than a group of people that say they are different, that the gospel has changed them, but they act the same as the world. Our goal as Christians isn't to look like everyone else. It's to be fruitful and ready to do good deeds. 

Transformation must take place in a believer. If you don't allow God to change your heart, you are necessarily denying Him. We should see a difference between you and the world. When we are transformed, we show off the beauty of our Saviour and His gospel.

How important is my pleasure? I should be eager to give up my liberties for the sake of the gospel. 

Let us not forget the weaker brother spoken about in Romans 14. Your liberties could cause him to stumble. We should be careful about how often we speak of our liberties. 

It grieves me when I spend time with other Christians and their only topic of conversation is their liberties, as though that is the best thing their salvation has given them. What about Jesus? What about our Saviour? How is He changing your heart?

"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." Philippians 1:21

"But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him...." Philippians 3:7-9a

I don't want my life to marked by my liberties but by my service to my Saviour. Life is so short. Is my comfort that important to me? It shouldn't be. My pleasure should be caught up in God, not this world.

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!" Philippians 4:4

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