There is a lot of question of where the line stands between having freedom and liberation in Christ and following the “law” in the Bible. And to be honest, I can see where the confusion may lie. There are two extremes to this view point. There are those who believe that the Law is the only way to life and that anyone who does not follow it is wrong, and ungodly. The other belief is that when Christ came, he gave us freedom to do as we like because we have Christ in us. I’m here to say that neither of these are true. Yes, I said it. Read on if you want.
In Matthew chapter 5 verse 17 and 18 Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” Jesus himself states that he has not abolished the Law.
In John 3:16-18 Jesus says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” Jesus himself states that he was not sent here to condemn people for not following the Law, he was sent for his people to believe in the Son and to save the world from it’s sin.
God’s law is perfect. Why? Because God made it! Duh! He laid everything out for a reason and a purpose. He gave his people the Law for their own good because he knows the best way for a human to live. He knows better than anyone else what the recipe to a fulfilling, truly joyful life is. Here is the thing… when sin entered the world, living this perfect life was impossible because nobody is perfect. That is why he made all of the specific sacrifices for man to give for when the Law was broken. But then, in His perfect love for us, He sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to be the ultimate sacrifice for our sin. Jesus was perfect and blameless. He had no sin and therefore was the perfect blemish free sacrifice for sin. Jesus Christ saved us from our sin by the shedding of his blood on the cross. Now we no longer have to make blood sacrifices to God to atone our sins. Jesus was and is our atonement for sin.
This means that we have the ultimate freedom in Christ. We simply ask for forgiveness of our sin and he intercedes on our behalf, and we are forgiven. We are wiped clean. We are no longer bound by the sin of this world. Even better, he sent a Counselor on our behalf (John 14:15-21). This Counselor lives in us and guides our lives and if we accept Jesus Christ to be the center of our lives, the Holy Spirit lives in our heart and we no longer have to be bound by the desires and sins of this world and can live our lives according to the Spirit and God’s will. That is an awesome freedom, wouldn’t you say? We are free from the chains of this world, and we get the Spirit of the living God to dwell inside of us!! And His Spirit guides us and helps and corrects us. Wow!
Now, does this freedom that Christ gave us mean that we should live our lives the way we (ourselves) choose? Certainly not! God has given us a choice. We can choose to follow His will, or we can choose to follow earthly desires. His Holy Spirit dwelling within us will give us convictions about what is right and what is wrong. It is our job to follow these convictions into living God’s will for our lives. Not only did He give us this Counselor, but He also gave us His Word. And in His Word He plainly lays down the guidelines for what an awesome life would look like. He tells us how we should live if we want to be free from this world and closer to Him. It is all right there for us! To help us and guide us in our daily lives.. not just on Sundays either. So when He gives us a command in the Bible, it is not to hold us back, but instead to give us freedom from being chained down to this world. A lot of people look at these commands as something that Jesus freed us from, when exactly the opposite is true. These commands are there to set us free!
There are, however, quite a few things that aren’t very cut and dry or plainly laid out for us. Topics such as drinking alcohol, what to wear, what to eat, etc. And there are many arguments on which is best to do on these topics. There are a couple verses that Paul wrote that the Holy Spirit has used many times for me to choose what is best to do in my life. Paul says in 1 Corinthians:
“Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”… If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for? So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble… For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.” -1 Corinthians 10:24-26, 30-31, 33b
(I did not quote the whole sections because it would be a HUGE quote, but you can go read the rest for yourselves 1 Cor. 10:23-33)
There are two main points Paul makes in these verses. First, he says that we should do everything for the glory of God and if somebody is doing something and giving the glory to God, then he should not be judged for it. Second, he says that we should not be a stumbling block to anyone and that we should think of others and their salvation above ourselves. So if I have a question in my mind of whether or not something is okay, the Holy Spirit usually brings up two questions for me to ask myself. 1. Does this glorify God? 2. Will it cause a stumbling block for someone else?… Seriously these questions are fool proof! For example, I will not judge another person for having a drink of alcohol if they don’t have convictions over it. But I wouldn’t have a drink in front of somebody who has an addiction to alcohol because I don’t want to cause a brother or sister to stumble and be held back by an addiction. Another example is when I choose what to wear in the morning. I won’t wear something that looks provocative because I don’t want to be the cause of a man stumbling because of lust, and I choose something glorifying to God- like if Jesus was standing next to me (which he is always there), I would feel comfortable and okay with wearing in his presence.
For the things that aren’t as clearly written out for us, it is usually an argument between Law and freedom in Christ. But I say that the true argument is between someone either being judgemental of another person or someone having selfish motives or wanting to do something even though it could cause someone else to stumble. If someone has the conviction from the Holy Spirit to do something that might be seen as “legalistic”, who are we to stop them? It would be sin for them to go against that conviction and they feel that it brings them closer to God, so why would we want to change that? And as for the flip side, if somebody does something that may seem a little bit more “modern”, but has the conviction from the Holy Spirit that this is the right thing and what God wants, then who are we to judge them? They are doing it to glorify God, and that is the whole purpose for our lives.
I really could write a book on this topic, and I practically already have. If you have made it this far, thank you! But I will stop now and save you some of your day. God Bless!