Can Liberty Enslave? - Todd Grover
Can Liberty Enslave?
I Corinthians 10
Watching God mold and fashion one of His children is a marvelous sight to behold. Observing the scales of the “old man” fall one by one as the “new man” takes shape brings joy unspeakable to the believer. God’s tools for molding and refining the human condition are so infinite and precise one cannot but stand in awe of our Lord. One cannot help but wonder, if this is indeed the case, why then does this spiritual transformation seem to take so long and so often hampered with setbacks? The answer to this question is long and varied. I would like to focus on one possibility: Christian liberty.
The lengthiest section on Christian liberty in your Bible is found in I Corinthians 8,9 and 10. The chapters are broken down this way. Chapter eight deals with my liberty and the impact it may have on “the weak” believer. “The weak”, is simply a designation given to a believer who registers sin regarding an action before I would, e.g., eating meat offered to idols. Chapter 9 is the Apostle Paul’s underlying philosophy of how he handles his own liberty. Paul’s “Christian Liberty” was never used to place an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ (I Corinthians 9:12). This noble endeavor will seem unattainable unless it is also accompanied with Paul’s mindset as described in I Corinthians 9:19 “I have made myself a servant of all.” Liberty causing one to become servant to all, almost unheard of these days. Which leads to chapter ten, a warning regarding your Christian liberty and spiritually failings (10:12).
The Apostle Paul does not argue for the fact that you have personal liberties in the Lord. The Apostle is more concerned with the impact these liberties may have on your spiritual condition; namely Christian liberties have the great potential of causing a spiritual fall (V.10). For definition’s sake, a Christian liberty is an action or activity that God does not provide explicit direction on. Painstaking meditation by the believer regarding the topic at hand is needed at this point. Mistakenly interpreting God’s silence on a subject as a green light, has the potential to be very detrimental, spiritually. I can be in God’s presence as Israel experienced God’s presence (VV 1-4), exercise liberty and find myself in the same predicament as they did, “with most of them God was not pleased (V.5).” Please observe carefully the admonition in verse 6, “ Now these things took place as examples that we might not desire evil as they did.”
God, knowing that there would be situations, when we would make the wrong choice in exercising our liberty, placed this very reassuring verse in this chapter. “ No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it (v. 13).” What a safeguard. What if I get my “Christian Liberty” choice wrong, which were bound to eventually? God will provide a way out of it. An honest believer will confess, my exercising “Christian Liberty” has the potential to enslave me in sin. We must not turn a blind eye to what God is revealing in this passage. Therefore, we as believers may do well to focus less on the scope of our freedom and more on the impact. Let us pray for one another that we would not be enslaved in our liberty.
All bible references of from the ESV.