Monday I began a series of blogs about how we should handle it when other people exercise their liberty differently than we do. There are five Biblical principles from Romans 14 on how to deal with differences in the way we exercise our liberty.
The first principle we saw as that there will be differences. We are not all going to exercise our liberty in the same way. Understanding that is the starting point.
Tuesday we saw that we needed to be confident in our own convictions.
Yesterday we learned that we are only accountable for our selves, or we are not the Holy Spirit
This brings us to our principle for today.
Don’t Confuse Differences In Liberty With Legalism Or Liberalism
When it comes to issues of Christian liberty many times we take the same view of those who differ from us as we take to other drivers on the interstate. Those that go slower than us are idiots. Those that go faster than us are maniacs. But those that go the same speed we do, well they are good drivers. Those that exercise their liberty more than we do are liberals. Those that restrict their liberty more than we do are legalistic. But those that exercise their liberty just like we do, well they are truly sanctified. We have to reject this mindset if we are going to Biblically deal with differences in the way we exercise our liberty.
“He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.” Romans 14:6 (NKJV)
Notice what Paul’s argument is in these verses. Those that keep the Jewish Sabbath and follow the dietary laws are doing it to honor God. Those that don’t keep the Jewish Sabbath and eat all kinds of food are also seeking to honor God. Both groups are doing what they do in an effort to honor and please God.
It is important to again notice that Paul doesn’t reprimand either group for violating the Scriptures. Paul had no problem with strongly dealing with the legalistic Judaizers. He also had no problem dealing the liberals who acted like grace was a license to sin. But he doesn’t deal with either group here, because issues of liberty are not issues of legalism or liberalism.
Just because someone feels freer in their liberty than you do, doesn’t make them a liberal. Just because someone restricts their liberty more than you do, doesn’t make them a legalist. We must be careful not to confuse our personal preferences and convictions with Biblical principles and commands. Differences are going to exist. That’s just the way it is. Refuse the temptation to confuse differences in liberty with legalism or liberalism.