10/12/2004

FREEDOM REVISITED

The Bible has this to say about freedom. Read this passage very slowly. There is a lot said here, and many of these verses have been taken out of context over time to prove one point at a time. Look at this passage in full, and think about what Paul is telling the believers in Rome.

Now accept the one who is weak in faith, {but} not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only.

The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, "AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD." So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.

Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this--not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way. I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died.

Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense. It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or {to do anything} by which your brother stumbles.

The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.
Romans Chapter Fourteen NASB


Did you notice that the word “freedom” isn’t mentioned even once? Instead, Paul chooses to drive home his point with the word “faith”, in the very last paragraph. Verse 14 states, “I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.” How does verse fourteen tie in with the last paragraph?

Is it possible that our freedom is limited only by faith? That is just a thought, not a statement I am making about this entire passage. But, so long as the question is asked, what do you think about it?
I find the statement “To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” to be simply amazing, in that it tells us truly that the Lord is able to MAKE us stand. I wonder what that means? Does it mean forgiveness? Does it mean sinlessness? Does it mean no action we undertake is wrong? What really does it mean? What do you think? Read the last seven words of chapter fourteen again.

4 comments:

Technidiva said...

"Is it possible that our freedom is limited only by faith?"

I think this is a backwards statement, it is because of our faith that we are truly free.

As with the "food" reference, I see this as one person being bound and blinded by the "laws" of religion versus the faith we are to have in Jesus. It is not because we eat certain foods or act a certain way that we are Christians. It is because we have faith, and we have the grace that free's us from having to think in these legalistic terms.

Yes, we should not judge eachother or cause eachother to stumble. Just a thought, that perhaps is how our faith limits our freedom? If our actions which we deem just and good cause a brother to stumble in his faith, what good has our actions accomplished?

"I find the statement “To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” to be simply amazing, in that it tells us truly that the Lord is able to MAKE us stand. I wonder what that means? Does it mean forgiveness? Does it mean sinlessness? Does it mean no action we undertake is wrong? What really does it mean?"

My take on this is that is seems like the progression that a Christian goes through in his relationship to the Lord. There are times, in our lives that we will fall, we will fall hard. Those times when we have fallen, we are still with the Lord, our Master, and He is the one that makes us stand again. 1cor 10:13 outlines this promise:

13No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.


Nor sure if this really addresses the questions, but more of my first impressions on this passage.

~Trish

Tom Reindl said...

Hi Trish,

I think those are great thoughts. Obviously, we do not have great faith, yet. At least not anyone I know, including me. Some have strong faith, some have weak faith. I'm not sure where I am on any "scale". But I do know that there is little that bothers me about things we can do. Mainly, it's stuff I have done in the past, stuff that would be a stumbling block for me today were I to be exposed to it. At some point, those things won't be a stumbling block, but for now, they are.

This entire passage just amazed me, the depth that Paul took it all, at one point saying he was convinced that nothing is unclean in itself. Amazing!!

Have a good night, Trish. Still love the blogging name!! :)

Phil Dillon, Prairie Apologist said...

My problem here is me. I like to be free, but I find that all too often I abuse the freedom I'm given.

Of all the things I don't understand about this earth, it's the idea of freedom. I think it's critical both theologically and temporally.

Now I don't believe it's a dilemma to God in the sense that it was something He was indecisive about. But the questions do come to mind as I think about what must have occured to Him. If I give humanity freedom they are going to abuse it. If I don't give them freedom I'm going to create puppets with no ability to respond to Me.

That's about all I can add to the discussion. Not much I admit.

Tom Reindl said...

Hello Phil, and welcome!! :)

I understand the part about abusing freedom. I did not come to this understanding of freedom, however, without first understanding grace a lot better than when I first met Christ. Understanding a little better what my part is, and how much Christ did, does, and will do for us has really helped. I find that when I focus on a fear of stumbling, I stumble. However, when I focus on grace, then freedom isn't something I have to manage.

You have added a lot to this post, Phil, please don't sell yourself short. Your comment provoked some deep thoughts in me, and I love it when people do that. Thank you.