Last week, we briefly looked at the conscience. Specifically what it is, how it is impacted, and that the Holy Spirit can use our conscience even as a separate entity. As we continue, we must recognize daily opportunities to add rules to our conscience that God’s Word clearly teaches and weed out rules that God’s Word treats as optional. The believer has the Spirit of God, the Word of God, and the church of God to help determine right and wrong — but what about those “gray areas?” You know…the Christian liberty areas? How can we interact with the broad category of evangelical Christians who have placed their faith in the same Jesus that we worship daily? More specifically, how do we interact with fellow believers in our Baptist circles? Perhaps more personally, how do we interact with believers within our own geographic expression of the body?
Christian Liberty involves practices that are not governed by Scripture. These are places in which scripture is silent. Some Christians consider playing cards morally indifferent as long as gambling is not involved. Some Christians have no problem with playing video games, while others reject the entertainment. Some are starkly against going in debt, while others see it as a stewardship advantage. How about the tooth fairy, Lord of the Rings, Christian rap, multiple services/sites, “secular” music, capitalism vs socialism, or fair trade coffee. What determines these decisions and how do we deal with differences within the body?
The Biblical Response…
Fortunately, Paul discussed Christian liberty in Romans 14-15. The practices discussed in those chapters are eating meat offered to idols and observing one day in higher esteem than another. The principles Paul teaches cover morally indifferent practices in general. His resulting point is that no one has a right to impose his conscience on others in these matters. Those who eat must not despise those who do not, and those who refrain must not judge those who eat (Rom 14:3). He concludes that if there is any judging at all, it must be done by each individual concerning himself and by Christ who judges (Rom 14:4, 10–13). The conclusion is that each person should decide with the Spirit’s help what practices are right for him and which are not.
- Pastor Jordan