1 Corinthians 8:8-9 “But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.”
Christian liberty. It has been the excuse of weak-minded saved folk to think that they can actually do what they want because all sin is forgiven and eternity settled. Yet, so much of the New Testament tells me of a greater responsibility to my words, thoughts and my actions.
Matthew 5:27-28 “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”
The outward act of adultery was dealt with severely in the law. But when Christ came, He took it a step further. To THINK about a woman in such a way as to lust after her – it is like I have already committed the very deed for which I am thinking.
1 John 3:15 “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.”
Holding secret hatred in my heart for someone is like committing murder? That seems a bit harsh, don’t you think? But in light of the liberty given to every person who is saved, there are principles that we often miss when trying to make sense of such truths.
Every thought, word or deed originates in my heart.
Proverbs 4:23 “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”
Proverbs 23:7 “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.”
Matthew 15:17-18 “Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.”
Every sin I commit is a heart issue. So, if I deal with the heart, I can effectively cut it off at the root. Liberty given to the child of God whose heart is clean and pure, will reflect the nature of Jesus Christ. It will bear fruit that resembles that which only the Holy Spirit can bring about:
Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
Liberty does not allow for drunkenness. Some think to apply the verse of ‘moderation’, when in fact there is so much in God’s Word against the use of alcohol. “Liberty” the exclaim! But what of:
1 Thessalonians 5:22 “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”
If I, a director for a faith-based addiction program, were to walk into a bar one night, belly up to the bar and order a soda, I could, in good conscience, know that I am not doing anything wrong. BUT… what I cannot control is what I may not even see. That one who saw me enter, stay for a time and come out – just like any other patron who would be there to drink and get drunk.
My actions ‘appeared’ evil and could very well have caused that one to stumble – and I would not even know it. I am living unto myself any longer. I am living as a window dressing for the work of God in me.
At the end of my career in a workplace whose manufacturing was being tore apart and sent overseas, many of my fellow coworkers and I had been together for a very long time. I had purposed in my heart to witness to all who worked close to me and yet, at the end, there were still some who had not made a decision.
One in particular was a man who when I asked him of his desire to trust Christ said this: “I trusted Christ a while ago – and here is why. I heard of your conversion and thought, ‘This is just a flash in the pan’ so I waited to see what would become of it.” He told me how he had watched me for years and through my consistency, he sought out his own relationship with Christ and found salvation… all because he watched another person live out their faith.
What if I had taken liberty to swear? To drink? To sleep around? I believe the results would be very different; but I would have never know until the Great White throne of judgment where he would point to me and use me as the excuse as to why he saw christianity as fake and unworthy of his trust.
Think on your path. Reflect on just how others will perceive what they see outwardly and decide accordingly.
1 Corinthians 8:9 “But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.”