Christian Universe ™
All Things Are Lawful
March 03, 2007
Jesus died to set us free from a list of rules and ordinances, such as were the Law of Moses. We must not replace the freedom in Jesus with man's rules and rituals. We must be responsible in how we exercise our freedom.
All Things Are Lawful
by Bernie Parsons
Presented to the Load church of Christ 03/04/2007
The last time we took a look at the freedom that we have in Christ. That includes freedom from sin, ignorance, and man’s rules and traditions. Today, let us examine the proper use and restraint of our freedom. Though we be free in Christ, we are constrained through our service to one another, and to our fellow man.
1 Peter 2:11: “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
12: Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
13: Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;
14: Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.
15: For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:
16: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.
17: Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.”
At the same time that Peter writes of the liberty that comes from serving God through Christ, he points out that we have an obligation to do the right thing. We must always be aware of the war between fleshly lusts and the soul, lest we become slaves to our lusts, and thereby lose our freedom.
He also mentions the fact that we, being free, need to be good citizens, obeying the law of the land (insofar that it does not violate the law of God.) We are to use our freedom to willingly and voluntarily make ourselves servants to God. We are never to hide behind our liberty, using it to cloak evil thoughts and deeds.
2 Peter 2:18: “For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.
19: While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.
20: For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.
21: For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.
22: But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.”
In the above passage, Peter also discusses the danger of fleshly lusts. We are set free from ignorance and sin through faith in Christ and diligence in seeking to please God. Once free, we must not again become the servants of those disgusting sins that once held us prisoner. There are hardly more revolting mental pictures than those of a dog eating its own vomit, or a pig wallowing in mud created from its own feces and urine.
1 Corinthians 8:1: “Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.
2: And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.
3: But if any man love God, the same is known of him.
4: As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.
5: For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)
6: But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.
7: Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.
8: 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.
9: But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.
10: For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;
11: And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?
12: But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.
13: Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.”
We have the freedom to do many things, but we must take care that we do not use our freedom to destroy the weak. We have an obligation to support and encourage them. Sometimes, that means that we have to sacrifice somewhat in order to allow that weak person to grow spiritually.
1 Corinthians 10:23: “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.
24: Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth.
25: Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake:
26: For the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof.
27: If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake.
28: But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof:
29: Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience?
30: For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?
31: Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
32: Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:
33: Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.”
Paul said that all things are lawful, but not all are expedient. For example, he said that meat offered to idols was good for food, but only if it did not become a stumbling block to others. If someone were to regard it as idol worship, then a Christian must refrain.
Let us regard his comments in the following chapter:
Romans 14:1: “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.
2: For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.
3: Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.
4: Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.
5: One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
6: He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.
7: For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.
8: For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's.
9: For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.
10: But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
11: For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.
12: So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
13: Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.
14: I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.
15: But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.
16: Let not then your good be evil spoken of:
17: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
18: For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.
19: Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
20: For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.
21: It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.
22: Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.
23: And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”
There is freedom—liberty—in serving God. Sometimes this means that two people can disagree, and both be right. Some things are inconsequential to God, and should not be matters of contention, or become rules or doctrine. The apostle Paul calls forth two prime examples. On the one hand, one may eat meat and not be wrong. If he prefers not to eat meat, he is not wrong. Thank God for the food, whether it be meat, or otherwise.
The second example regards the setting aside of certain days as significant, or even holy—known as holidays. Some argue that it is sinful to place one day above another and regard it as a holy day. However, Paul states that God does not care one way or the other. What He cares about is whether or not we are thankful for each day of life.
In either case mentioned, we are free to choose which way that we regard the food or the day. There are other cases that would fall into line with the teaching of this chapter. There is liberty in Christ Jesus. God is able to hold us up, or to pick us up when we fall. To our own master we stand or fall. It is He who judges us, and we ought not to judge one another in these types of matters.
We must not make rules, rituals, doctrine, or laws based upon our personal preferences.
The main points of this lesson are:
(1) Knowledge of God’s truth and ways sets us free from ignorance.
(2) Obedience to God’s truth sets us free from sin.
(3) Once free, we must not turn back to a fleshly, sinful way of life.
(4) We must not use our freedom to destroy or damage others.
(5) We must not judge and condemn others who might be right in the eyes of God.