“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.
You have heard it said that “freedom isn’t free.” Freedom for a nation cost the blood of its patriots. Freedom for Christians required the blood of Christ.
Freedom earns rights and privileges not previously enjoyed. But there is no such thing as freedom without responsibility.
If you are or have been the parent of teenagers, you are familiar with the anxiety you feel when they learn to drive. You hope they will take to heart the responsibility that goes with their newly acquired freedom.
When the Lord gives new Christians the keys to the Kingdom, He expects us to use His gift responsibly. It is true that we have been set free from the law and the penalty for sin. But Christian freedom has boundaries.
Apparently, some of the believers in the Corinthian church had adopted the saying, “I have the right to do anything.” Their slogan reminds me of the old Outback Steakhouse mantra, “No rules. Just right.” However, the Apostle Paul took exception to their indulgent interpretation of Christian freedom.
Paul emphasized the importance of choice within freedom. We should make choices that honor God. Strive to do those things that are “beneficial.” Refrain from sinful behavior that leads back to the slavery from which you were freed. “I will not be mastered by anything.”
So what happens when we abuse our Christian freedom?
If you violate the laws of the land, you pay a fine or end up in jail. If that teenage driver of yours abuses his driving privileges, you can take away the keys to his car. But what does God do when you live outside the boundaries of godliness and righteousness.
Christians are equipped with an onboard monitor that sounds the alarm when we engage in sin. The Holy Spirit pricks our conscience with pangs of guilt intended to lead us to confession and repentance.
But when we fail to respond to those God-sent nudges to keep us on track, our hearts grow cold and desensitized to the prodding of the Spirit. That’s when we become “mastered” by the thing from which we were freed. And that’s a dangerous place to be, where the consequences can be painful and severe.
Recently, I watched a news report about young people celebrating on public beaches during Spring Break. Much of the behavior depicted was reprehensible, but more disturbing was the perilous situation in which they had placed themselves.
A few years ago, during Spring Break in Alabama, an intoxicated teen girl fell from a hotel balcony to her death. Careless and reckless conduct can have devastating results.
So it is for the child of God who engages in that “I can do anything I want” behavior. True enough, God forgives, but there are consequences for indulging in the sins of the flesh.
In Ephesians 4:30, Paul warns, “… do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” The Spirit of God that lives within you is grieved by ungodly behavior. And IF you are truly in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5), that means the Spirit’s task is to keep you unto “redemption.”
Finish this statement. “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody ______.” The same is true with the indwelling Spirit. The grieving Spirit will bring you to your senses. Better to settle sin matters quickly than to allow them to get out of hand. You won’t get rest from your troubled conscience until you acknowledge your sin, confess it, repent, and flee from the sin that has “so easily entangled.” (Hebrews 12:1)
Yes, Christians have gloriously wonderful freedom, but with it comes great responsibility.
For more on this topic, check out this article: How We Misuse Christian Rights
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 3 (July – September) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.