There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Why is it when we talk about having freedom in Christ, it always ends up being a conversation or debate about how far we can push the boundaries in the direction of the world before we get called “worldly”?
Hi, @James_Fagaragan! Interesting question…
First off, what’s wrong with being considered worldly? Wasn’t Jesus accused of being that? Seems like fairly ok company to be in. And, secondly, what kind of people are you talking to that always have that reaction to Christian freedom? Sounds to me like you keep company with a number of Pharisees.
But seriously, would you contend that ‘worldliness’ and ‘godliness’ exist as extremes on a spectrum that a person slides along in life? Meaning, the closer I slide by my actions towards godliness, the further away I get from worldliness. (This would, presumably, be the ideal state of being.) The opposite then also applies: the more I ‘push the boundaries’, the more I move away from godliness towards worldliness. And, going back to your question, there would seem to be a line that one crosses on that spectrum where one ceases being in the realm of the ‘godly’ and is only in the ‘worldly’. Similarly, we could also get stuck in the middle (i.e. a ‘lukewarm’ Christian).
Does that ring true to you?
Because I would seriously challenge that understanding of life, as it’s founded on the idea that we (humans) actually have the ability to do good and earn God’s grace.
I mention the Pharisees because wasn’t it mainly the teachers of the law who were scared of freedom? Freedom is too loosey-goosey. They wanted to know exactly what they could and could not do so that they could make sure to remain on the Godly end of the spectrum. Isn’t this what your friends are doing in a way? Jesus goes for the jugular on people like that. (I would know; I’m a recovering Pharisee!) He didn’t care about how good and righteous they appeared to be, He was concerned with their hearts…and He made it abundantly clear that, though their actions may seem noble, their hearts were far away from God and were far from being right.
So what’s really at the heart of all that talk about moral boundaries? In my mind, it’s the very human desire to feel in control, to be self-righteous, and to enjoy one’s life. (Sidebar: Not all of those things are bad.) I believe it’s right and good to ask, ‘Is it permissible for me to do this?’ as long as one also asks it alongside this question: ‘Why am I asking for permission in the first place?’ What is it about this thing that makes me question it’s acceptability?
Maybe ask your friends that question the next time this comes up? Then be sure to celebrate the freedom you have in Christ!
@James_Fagaragan Who are you having these conversations about freedom in Christ with? Are they all part of the same denomination or do they all follow a particular teacher? I have had many conversations with godly people on this topic that do not drift to pushing the boundaries to see how far you can go without crossing the line. I know plenty of people who recognize that we are set free in Christ for holiness - that the strength to obey God by the power of the Holy Spirit is part of the great treasure we have been granted in Christ.
Romans 6-8 is one of my favorite passages on this topic.
Romans 6:1-2 - What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
Romans 8:9-13 - You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.