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Salvation in Christ delivers us from the bondage of legalism. We are not saved by rules of dos and don’ts but by grace through faith in what Christ did on the cross for us.
I sometimes say that the book of Leviticus is perhaps my least liked book in the Bible. It’s got all kinds of rituals, sin offerings, trespass offerings, offerings for when you touch something that’s unclean, etc. On the other hand, when you read the book of Leviticus as a Christian, you will appreciate even more the fact that Christ has delivered us from the legalism of the Law.
Actually, our liberty in Christ is two-fold. One, we are liberated from the legalism of the Law. And two, we are liberated from the bondage of sin. For whom the Son sets free is free indeed.
We must be careful, however, not to become lifted up about our liberty in Christ. For not everything that’s lawful is expedient (1 Cor. 10:23). In other words, something may be lawful or permissible but not in the best interest of the gospel. Accordingly, sometimes, we must balance the expression of our liberty in Christ with the mandate for us to walk in brotherly love.
To drive this point home, Apostle Paul uses a simple example involving two divergent views on the foods we eat. He writes:
“I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean” (Romans 14:14, NASB).
Liberty in Christ vs Brotherly Love
As an example of balancing our liberty in Christ with brotherly love, let’s say I invite a person to my house for dinner. When he arrives, he sees that I have frog legs, pig feet, calamari and other weird food items on the table. He thinks what I have for dinner is disgusting. But my liberty in Christ says nothing is unclean of itself so I try to persuade this brother to eat what’s on the table.
If my pressure campaign ends up grieving my brother, however, I then fail to walk in love (verse 15). The appropriate action I should have taken is to subject the expression of my liberty in Christ to the expression of brotherly love.
I was walking in brotherly love when I invited my brother over but once I tried to impose my will upon him, I was no longer doing the same.
Though I am convinced that nothing is unclean of itself, I am not doing the work of the Kingdom if I grieve my brother during my attempt to bring him to the same conviction. “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (verse 17).
Paul the apostle uses this simple scenario to shed light on the need for us to find the right balance between the expression of our liberty in Christ and the Lord’s mandate for us to walk in brotherly love.
We can extend this teaching to many areas of our life. For example, how about the interaction between a mature Christian and a young, immature Christian? My observation is that we who are mature and knowledgeable of our liberties in Christ tend to be puffed up, not willing to dial back the expression of our liberty in Christ so we can model Christ before the less mature.
An important message here is that with liberty comes responsibility. For instance, a child newly licensed to drive a car enjoys new liberties. But with that liberty comes new responsibilities. The same is true of a teen going off to college and being free from the supervision of his or her parents.
By a similar token, with our liberty in Christ comes a responsibility for us to not be an obstacle or a stumbling block in our brother’s way (verse 13).
Copyright © 2021 by Frank King. All rights reserved.