Legalism and Licence under Grace

Discussions amongst Christians about life issues, walking with Christ, and general Christian topics that don't fit under any other area.
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RGeeB
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Legalism and Licence under Grace

Postby RGeeB » Wed Nov 17, 2004 3:20 am

With reference to justified Christians:

What are the commands that God wants us to obey now? Has He not written the law on our hearts? So, do we do what is right as long as we do not cause others to stumble?

We have inherited the knowledge of good and evil. So, we cannot commit things like incest in total innocence, like animals can. How do we differentiate between a seared conscience and living under grace? For example, I refer to the brilliant discussion on masturbation on this forum.

Not everyone is in tune with the Holy Spirit but they do want to walk right before God - What commands do we give them? The 10? The listings of Jesus, Paul and other apostles? Things like anger, pride, adultery etc.

Please don't start a discussion about whether these commands are a requirement for salvation! For the purpose of this topic lets just call them 'sanctification requirements'.

Felgar
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Postby Felgar » Wed Nov 17, 2004 10:23 am

Hmm... Interesting concept RGeeB; I'm game. First let me say that we are certainly provided with the knowledge of Good and Evil. In addition to that, the Holy Spirit dwells within us. So if we are walking properly with Him, I'm confident that our own conscience in conjunction with the Holy Spirit will guide us properly.

When it becomes interesting is when a fellow believer claims to have a free conscience on a specific matter, yet the actions seem wrong. In this case we're compelled to examine the Word; for the Holy Spirit will NEVER direct us against the Bible, it would simply be impossible. If our actions as believers contradict the Word then we can conclude that we are deceiving ourselves (ignoring our conscience) or else we are being deceived by Satan. So then, out of the vast material in the Bible that directs us how to live, I'll get us started (in no particular order):

- First there are the Ten Commandments. These are the direct result of what are universal truths about right and wrong - the very nature of God and also the knowledge of which we each have. To break a commandment is to do evil.

- Second, we have Jesus' owns words as he answered a man who asked the very same question as you just did:

Mark 12:28-31
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"
"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."

- Naturally having a prayerful attitude will enable us to fight spiritual battles with the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-20) and we also have a miriad of what is wrong and immoral to do. (Romans 1:28-31)

- And not coincidently, the polar opposite of what we find in Romans 1 are the fruits of the spirit found in Galations 5:16-26.

- And last, we're told to go out into the world and share the message of Christ.

Oh, in closing I should mention that in the little things we have substantial freedom. The rules for the Jews were put away with. Hence we are free to eat whatever we want, to drink, etc provided that they don't take precedence over our walk with Him. Same goes for working on Sunday and I'd probably extend that to things like friendly gambling too. These things can become dangerous but are not in and of themselves evil. On these smaller issues we're to be guided by our own conscience according to God's calling. For some, they are called not to drink for instance, and they will be held accountable to that calling. And for the rest, we must be sure not to cause anyone to go against that calling (causing our Brother to stumble).

Romans 10:2-6
One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.
... (verses 21-23)
Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall. So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

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RGeeB
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Postby RGeeB » Thu Nov 18, 2004 5:43 am

Yes, Felgar, I pretty much agree to all you have stated above. Its personally a tough one for me to distinguish between a seared conscience and walking free in the Spirit. You could say that a conscience ignored is a conscience seared but then let me quote an illustration to prove a point:

A sister believer from Indonesia comes to a pentecostal church in the UK. In her church in Indonesia, she has been told to cover her head, arms and ankles and be silent in the service. OK, now during the English summer in August, women tend to wear as little as they can get away with, even in a church service. For the English men and women that's not a distraction (so men claim) or even an issue. The women are also having a free reign with prophesying and singing in tongues. However, my Indonesian friend is now scandalised and her convictions are shaken. She believes it is bordering on immorality for women to have this freedom. So, now, does the church change just to cause one person not to stumble? Does our sister now become more liberal and 'compromise' her 'strict' standards? Does she look for another church which shares her convictions? Does she redefine her conviction of the freedom found in the grace of God? How do you explain to her that wearing a mini skirt is not being a slave to sin. She has been led to believe that it does lead to men being lustful - and hence causing them to stumble. Also, how do you prevent her Indonesian husband from being distracted by these 'fleshly' issues?

Also, I find it difficult to tell a believer when his actions go against our Bible - The whole casting the beam out of my eye clause - but then I feel I don't do my Christian duty by being ignorant of a brother's actions (I mostly tend to do it in love ;))
Maranatha!

Felgar
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Postby Felgar » Thu Nov 18, 2004 9:06 am

Good points...

Not really sure. Certainly cultures change over time and that will affect our personal convictions. We can agree though that many actions are only issues if they cause yourself or others to stumble. I think in your example both parties have to be mindfull that what is wrong for one can in fact, not be wrong for another. So yeah, perhaps looking for a more conservative church would be a good idea for the Indonesian.

On the flip side, at some point we could find Biblical support about flaunting physical appearace, so we should be mindful of taking the whole concept too far. In the same way there are those things that are ALWAYS wrong and that remain wrong regardless of societal values (i.e. homosexuality for one, being in the spotlight these days)


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