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Life of Paul Part 25 - Gray Areas Part 2

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
May 10, 2020 7:00 am

Life of Paul Part 25 - Gray Areas Part 2

So What? / Lon Solomon

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May 10, 2020 7:00 am

Christian Liberty.

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Good morning everybody is wonderful to have you here the Bible and open it together all Romans chapter 14 organ to be continuing in our study of Christian liberty. As many of you know I have the privilege of leading towards Israel.

I've done maybe 15 or 20. One of my very favorite places is a place called St. Catherine's monastery. It sits right at the base of Mount Sinai, and it's been there since the early 300s A.D., never been destroyed. It was built by Queen Helene of the mother of Emperor Constantine when she was on a pilgrimage to the holy land. Will the living conditions of this place are positively sparking.

I mean they have no running water, no central heat, no television, no radio, no telephones, they only have an electrical generator that runs part of the day. I mean, this place is out in the middle of nowhere and you are in total isolation. When you live in this place and yet people come from all over the world to live the ascetic life that goes on here. Now the ascetic life. Let's define means a life where people believe that there being more spiritual because they're giving up worldly comforts and I'm here to tell you that as we look in the Bible we never find any of this kind of ascetic thinking in the Bible, meaning that God tells us in the Bible. He does not measure people spirituality by how much we give up by how much we deny ourselves. However, even though God is not interested in ascetic self-denial. God is very interested in followers of Jesus Christ who are willing to limit their liberty because they have spiritually mature and higher goals than just living out their liberty and this is what we want to talk about today. Now before we do that let's going a little bit of background. Last week we started studying Romans 14 we learn a whole new vocabulary.

So let's go back and review, we learned that gray areas are those areas of the Christian life to which God never speaks explicitly. These are areas where there is no bowel shelter or thou shalt not anywhere in the Bible you say like what well like playing cards, going to movies by listening to secular music, dancing by lottery tickets playing the slots in Las Vegas, drinking a beer, smoking a cigar are getting tattoos nose rings, ear rings, wearing a bikini on the beach dying your hair green.

Whatever. There is nothing in the Bible about all of these and we learned that God gives us Christian liberty in all of these great areas of life. We also define the word last week called strong brothers or strong sisters and said these are people who number one understand their Christian liberty and number two God gives them freedom in their conscience to exercise the Christian liberty in one great area or another great area and then we do five-week brothers and sisters and said that the word week has nothing to do with the quality of their faith or their commitment to Christ. They are weak when it comes to their ability to exercise their Christian liberty in one area or another, either because number one they just don't understand they have that liberty for number two, they may understand in their heads that they got it, but in their hearts and in their consciences.

God is not giving them the freedom to live that liberty out in this area or that area. We concluded last week with three important comments number one that to followers of Christ can have a very different conviction on some gray area and it doesn't mean one of them is right and the other was wrong. It simply means one of them may be a strong sister in that area. The other one may be a week brother in that area and that's why they don't see eye to eye number two. We said that no follower of Jesus Christ is 100% strong or hundred percent week that everyone of us have certain gray areas in our life. Where were strong and we can exercise our liberty without any problem. In other areas of our life or we don't feel that freedom and were all some combination of strong and weak and number three. We said that it is not unusual over time. For person who is weak in some gray area to transform into a person to get strong in that area to begin feeling free to do things that a year ago or five years ago.

They never felt free to do as they mature in their walk with God and we finished last week by saying there's a big danger and everything I said last week, and the danger is that strong brothers and sisters would walk out of the meeting last week and go out of my way. Every body I got liberty and here I am, and that is a danger and so were back today to bring some balances like a jury trial you got here the whole thing before you make a decision were been here a bit, bring some balance and say okay let's say your strong brother or sister when it comes to playing cards, going to movies dance and having a beer, smoking a cigar. What ever all right product that's wonderful.

Now what does God say to us in the Bible about considering limits on that liberty for higher purposes and biblical purposes.

That's what we want to talk about today. Now I want to begin by giving us the broad stroke that God gives us on this before we get real, specific, and that's found in first Corinthians 1023 which says all things may be lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. Not all things are beneficial, meaning just because we have Christian liberty in some area and even if we have the freedom of conscience to live the Christian liberty in some area that doesn't automatically mean that doing so is beneficial to us to other people or to the work of God.

Galatians 513 says brothers you were called to be free, and indeed you were but do not use your freedom to indulge your flesh rather use it to serve one another in love.

The point here is that ministering to all the people is more important than exercising Christian liberty.

That's what God wants us to understand in his thinking, ministering to others comes before exercising liberty in terms of our priorities in life as followers of Christ and the bottom line of this is that God measure spiritual maturity, not by how much of our liberty.

We insist on exercising God measure spiritual maturity by how much of our liberty were willing to defer the sake of our own spiritual well-being for the sake of other people, spiritual benefit and for the sake of the advancement of the kingdom of God. This is how God defines a spiritually mature person who says, for my sake of the people, sake, or the sake of the work of God.

I know I got the liberty is not going to use it. I got bigger things. I'm worried about.

That's a mature person, not a person who goes out just launch their liberty. We look at them, and God says that's not a mature person that's an immature person now let's get specific and say that if your strong brother or sister in some area there are five filters five sieves if you will of the Bible gives us that we need to run every contemplated exercise about Christian liberty through before we do it and if it moves to all five filters fine. Hey, go do it. Have a blast. It gets hung up in one of these filters, God says there's a good reason for us to consider for going that liberty limiting that liberty because it's hung up in one of these filters. Let's look and see what they are in a matter what Christian liberty. It is these are the filters God wants us to run them through okay number one filter number one is this if I do this, will it be harmful to me physically. First Corinthians 619, your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God. You are not euro you were bought with a price and therefore honor God in your body friends there a lot of gray area activities that we have liberty to do but there areas that can damage and and physically harm our bodies and what this verse is telling us as our bodies are not our property. When Jesus died on the cross he purchased off any purchase our body as well as our soul and our body is now God's property.

We don't have the right to damage God's property. So, do you was a follower of Jesus Christ have the liberty to smoke cigarettes because you do with friends. We all know that smoking-related illnesses cause more deaths in America than any other single cause in this damages the property of God do we have the right is a follower of Christ eat as much chocolate pie as we want. Do I have that liberty. Yes, I do. But if I end up weighing 500 pounds with diabetes and heart condition is that treating God's property properly and so my point is, before we do a Christian liberty. The first suit we ought to run it through. It is that one that says hey if I do this would damage my physical body which is owned by the way is not my property to damage. It's the property of God number two if I do this are second of filter. If I do this would be helpful to me spiritually. Hebrews 12 won't let us throw off every weight. The Bible says that hinders us, let us throw all those things that so easily entangle us so that we can run with endurance the race that set before us. As followers of Christ.

The Bible says you need to ask yourself the question, will this gray area action on contemplating have a positive effect on my spiritual life will it make me into a man or woman of God or help me in that process or am I adding just extra weight that I got carried it's going to slow me down to my race with God. We've all been to baseball games and we've all seen baseball bats and we've all watched guys come out on the on deck circle and what they do is they take a doughnut away in a slot on about. We've all seen this and then they stand there without hitting speakers or microphones or anything horse with a warm-up and and and we all know that but have you ever seen a major league baseball player. Go to the plate with the Waitsfield of course. Not that the naughty we've all been the basketball games were sometimes will see professional basketball players come out with ankle weights on in the warm-up and ankle weights, but you will never see a basketball player play the game with ankle weights on why would they want to do that. That's crazy what the Bible is telling us is that in the same way as followers of Christ, we should be careful about doing those things that are adding more doughnuts onto our bath that are adding ankle weights onto our spiritual race.

We need to stay lean and mean so that we can run this race to the best of our possible ability now want to go now if you don't mind from preaching to Midland to do that and I want to say this, that there is no way a follower of Jesus Christ can go to an R-rated movie with nudity and explicit sexuality and then come out of that and claim that that movie was helpful to them spiritually. There is no way that a follower of Jesus Christ can listen to a steady diet of acid rock and gangster rap music and then claim that this is helping fill them in a man or woman of God. There is no way a follower of Christ can sit and read all the articles in Cosmopolitan magazine and then say that these articles are enhancing their focus on God friends we we gotta get smarter than this.

Where running a race.

Here we are investing our lives for eternity here and liberties don't earn rewards in heaven. God never rewards a liberty. He rewards spiritual discipline that teaches lean and mean that helps us run the race well and you know this is another point here to make and that is that some of these things don't to slow us down spiritually. Some of these things can actually harm and damage our spiritual life. Paul says, first Corinthians 612 everything is permissible to me but I refuse to be mastered by anything and there are some gray area activities that are like sirens they they call us on the rocks. Spiritually, they gain mastery over our lives. I mean there is many a wonderful follower of Christ that's been caught up in gambling and been caught up in drinking them and caught up in dabbling with sensuality and pornography been caught up with various kinds of music were these things take over their life.

Some of these things are dangerous to us spiritually because about ability they have to master us and God says before you do these things menu to run it through this filter, make sure it's helping you spiritually fit in. Why do you want to put more doughnuts on your back crazy. Principle three. If I do this will identify me with unrighteous things, even though I may not be doing anything wrong. First Thessalonians 522 says avoid all appearance of evil. Here in Romans 14 where I ask you to look. Verse 16 says do not let your good be evil spoken than what God is saying here is, do not do anything not exercise your liberty in any way that will leave people free to indict you with wrongdoing to indict me with ungodly behavior. Be smarter than that. You may not be doing anything that's really wrong.

Okay, fine. But if people are going to see it and indict you with wrong behavior.

Don't exercise that liberty had a young man in my office wall back with his fiancée and in the process of discussion. He mentioned to me that he often spends the night at his fiancée's house and the youngest is all my eyebrow switch or something because he so he said our hearts are absolutely in the right place. We don't do anything wrong on the couch and I leave in the morning and so I said to him, all right, let's even assume for a minute.

You're telling me the truth is you, maybe that's assume for a moment you are. He jumped and it's a no no no, he said you cannot show me one is in the Bible where it says thou shalt not sleep at your fiancé's apartment. I have Christian liberty. Here is a general what you write. You do let me just say something when you come strolling out of that apartment at 8 AM the next morning there is not one single person in that apartment complex.

Who's going to think you been sleeping on the couch everyone of them little assume you been sleeping with the girlfriend shacking up when your fiancé is that really what you want to communicate as young followers of Jesus Christ is not in the matter where your heart is don't matter what you're doing what's right before God. What matters is your giving people an opportunity to indict you and assume you do what's wrong that's wrong.

Liberty to exercise many of you know I have a disabled little girl and I have a handicap that we use when we have her around and I gotta tell you, sometimes if I'm in a hurry to get the word I'm trying to get home.

You know and I and and she's a she needs my care.

Whatever. It's a real temptation of pulling to the handicap spot, use that sticker running somewhere run out real quick. When my wife is with me. She always says to me don't you dare do that, don't you dare do that because somebody's got to see you do that and they're not going to know we have a handicap little girl at home all their little assume is that you're abusing that privilege. And they're going to see that is something wrong and ungodly and not don't use that liberty. She's absolutely right and post. The point is here that part of the issue is is my heart right before God yes that's part of the issue the other part of the issue and exercising some liberty is in mind and open myself up to be indicted by all the people present wrong. If so, don't know it. Number four. If I do this well I damage a brother or sister in Christ. Romans 14 look right here verse 15 if your brother is distressed because of what you eat not remember the issue here. Romans 14 is eating meat sacrificed to idols Temple and there was strong disagreement between Christians about this if you debt distress your brother because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating and I would expand that to say, do not by your exercising of any Christian liberty damage your brother for whom Christ died. Verse 18 anyone who serves Christ in this way, that is by putting concern for their fellow believer ahead of the exercise of their liberty. Anyone who does that is pleasing to God that will launch, sure I really understand is how can I buy exercising my Christian liberty damage my Christian brother and sister. I don't think I understand what Paul talking about. Well it's very simple friends. By the way we exercise our Christian liberty sometime we can encourage a fellow believer to sin in their heart.

Sometimes we can encourage a fellow believer, to do things that they don't have freedom of conscience to do.

They gotta go home and confess it to God.

Sometimes we can even draw a brother or sister back into things that they got no business getting into that can go on from there to really harm their lives. For example, ladies. Do you have Christian liberty to wear short skirts if you pursue liberty to wear low-cut dress of the dance yes you do you have Christian liberty to wear a thong at the beach. Yes, you do let me just tell you something you go to a dance and address the looks like both ends of shrunk up towards the middle of yours than what I'm saying you wear a thong on the beach and there is not want a healthy Christian male in America is not going to go off like bumper in Bambi. If you understand what I'm saying and and and humans.

These are young men or middle-age men whatever were trying to keep this under control in their life trying to do what God asked him to do. Try to keep your mind in the right place trying to keep their heart in the right place, and by wearing those kinds of things you're not walking in love towards your Christian brother you making life hard for him is you are you are that that's why the Bible says, listen first Timothy 29. I want ladies to address modestly, with decency and propriety.

Why don't I have Christian liberty to wear a bikini yes you do, but are you really helping, and walking in love toward your Christian brother are you making life harder for another way that we can damage people like this is to invite a Christian brother over our home whom God is rescued out of a severe gambling addiction and the first thing we do when we invite them over sitting down at the table to buy some gin Rummy friend Deborah has no business in the world. Plan gin Rummy has no business being anywhere near a deck of cards or we invite somebody over to my house to watch the football game was in AA as soon as they get. There was soon down the front of the TV and break brewskis out. No no no, that brother has no business being near a beer and if he drinks one in your house who knows where that may lead in his life. The point of all this is to say that a mature follower of Jesus Christ is a person who has the attitude that says hey I care so much about spiritual well-being of my Christian brother I care so much about the spiritual well-being of my Christian sister that any liberty I have to forgo in order not to damage that fellow Christian. I'm willing to forgo verse 21 Romans 14. It is good not to eat me or to drink wine and let me say or go to the movies or play cards or were miniskirts or smoke cigars or play the lottery or anything if it causes my brother to stumble and makes him fall people in their spiritual lives are more important than our Christian liberty.

Number five, and finally, if I do this will hurt my platform with nonbelievers you know in the beginning of first Corinthians chapter 9.

The apostle Paul lists all the liberties and all the rights that he has as an apostle and you know what is going to basically indicate is that I have the liberty to do all kinds of but he says verse 12 first Corinthians 9 verse 12 he says, but I have used none of these rights.

I have used none of these liberties rather than hinder the message of Jesus Christ to go down verse 19 and says no I am free very to do all these things I have made myself a slave to the expectations of all the people so that I may win as many people as possible to cry. Paul says hey I'm so passionate about reaching people for Christ that no liberty of any time is worth it if it gets in the way of people coming to Christ you know I came to Washington Erie 1971, one of the first people I met here with a wonderful man named Bob Porter, Bob Porter grown up in Fairfax County and had a reputation. It was known all over this county as a brawler, a womanizer, a gambler and an incredible breaker mean this man was known all over the county will he gave his life to Christ in 1970 and he started the Bob Porter evangelistic Association. He spent all day and all night down on the streets of Alexandria handing out tracts talking to people about Christ. I fell in with you and did this to help them for a while and I know the story is true because I was working with Bob when it happened.

He had a friend who knew him and his old drinking days, calling up and say hey Bob I heard you got religion man. I heard that you are a new person and boxer will that's true.

He said you know what I really like to hear more about what happened. You cannot buy you lunch and boxer was universally went out to lunch set down had little chitchat and then at the end of little chitchat of the friends and now have a beer call over to the bartender he said about what you will… I really don't want anything and his friends to come on Bob on the all-time say, your whole body now all times they just have one sponsored no honestly I really don't drink anymore and the guy got a little bit upset with him and said Bob you really your offending me.

I'm an old frenemy we go way that Bob just one for old time sake. Bob said he sat there and he thought will know beer is not sin. Well, you know you got the Christian liberty to do this in. I don't really want this guy walking out here and thinking the Christian that Christianity is all about you can't do this and you can't do that so I finally said alright, alright already said I'll take a draft and immunity said that he said this guy stood up to him.

I said I know I knew I knew it. He said all these friends told me Bob Porter, Bob Porter gave up drinking for God and he said I said. He said I said I'll see.

I'll believe it when I see it with my own eyes.

And I've seen it with my own eyes. You're a liar you are fraud your hypocrite. I want anything to do with you or your religion, and he stormed out.

Bob was pretty depressed when he got back from lunch actually tell you the truth, and I learned a really important lesson from watching all that unfold.

I learned friends that once we go public for Jesus.

People start watching and they have expectations about how followers of Christ are supposed to act on that matter whether their expectations are right or wrong to make any difference. The important point is that those expectations are real. The people taken seriously and when we by the exercise of some Christian liberty step across some of those expectations, we lose our platform to share Christ, we blow our credibility right out the water. May I say that if you're here and you've never trusted Jesus in a real and personal way that I'm sure you know followers of Christ who have gone past her expectations of the way a Christian ought to act and let me just say that if that's true, that doesn't surprise me. The lease because Christianity is not based on us being able to perform perfectly in our walk with Christ friends Christianity is based on Jesus Christ, his trustworthiness, his veracity, his integrity, and until you can find something wrong with him.

Christianity still stands the test, even if some of us. His followers can always live up to your expectations. So if you're here and you started to wonder whether this thing called Christianity has credibility friends until you find something wrong with Jesus.

Believe me, it does. But that's not an excuse for us as followers of Christ to take this lightly. I lived in my wife's hometown it in her hometown. Good Christians don't go to movies they don't drink they don't smoke, they don't play cards little by lottery ticket and God help them if they dance.

I mean it'll do any of this stuff and if I lived in that town. If I were serious about reaching people for Christ.

These are areas where I would have to limit every single one of my liberties or I would have no platform to reach people for Christ, Donna Sam, glad of the family. That town but if I did live in that town I have to live like this and use it will. That's not really fair. I mean why should I let some nonbeliever out there placing their limits on my Christian liberty will work. You listen to what Paul said the answer simple because their soul is more important than your liberty then coming to Christ is more important than us having a beer or going dancing were talking about somebody so let's summarize what we learn we learn if your strong brother sister that's wonderful.

If you have the liberty to exercise your freedom in Christ and some gray areas. That's wonderful, but there five filters. God wants us to run that contemplated action through before we do it number one if I do this will harm me physically number two if I do this will help me spiritually. Number three.

If I do this would cause people to think I'm doing something wrong, even if I'm not number four. If I do it will damage the spiritual life of another Christian brother sister and number five. If I do it will I compromise my evangelistic platform with people you say lawn if I follow all five of these filters I never do anything well I don't know where the woody wooden but you know there's some Christian liberty even in how you apply these. For example, the Bible says ladies are dressed modestly. I guarantee if we took a Foley or not.

Every lady here would agree with what modest is you have to reply that according to your conscience. All I can tell your friends, is that I've gotten cards, letters, phone calls, so was the chairman of our elders about this series going what is Juan doing Peter turning people to go be wild men and women all over Washington making libertines that every body friends I thought what's going on here. I want us to think biblically and whatever we do. I want us to have biblical reasons why we do it we are free in Christ we have liberty in Jesus and you say why did any other preacher. Any other time tell me that I don't know, but the wrong we have liberty in Jesus.

Now if we limit that liberty. God wants us to limited voluntarily because we want to enter limited knowing why were limiting it and in the right reason to limit our liberty is not some preacher told me not to do this at the wrong reason. The correct reason to limit our liberty is because we have higher priorities that were committed to bigger priorities than just doing our liberties and those priorities are my own spiritual well-being the spiritual well-being of other people and the advancement of the work of God, and God wants us to be in the position if somebody says why don't you do this liberty. Why don't you do that liberty to defend our position and say oh no you don't understand it's not because some preacher says I can do it is because I got some higher priorities and I voluntarily gave this liberty up and frankly I'm not whining about it and I'm not complaining about it is up to me God and make you give it up.

I gave it up because I wanted to consider other things more important to me than just doing my liberties. This is maturity and I want you guys to be spiritual midgets want to grow up. The men and women of God in this is how God wants us to approach liberty so if you going to give up a liberty. That's wonderful, but know why you're doing it, do it because you understand what maturity is and you can defend it before God and before people will next week when we can talk about close it up next week to talk next week about this question, how should a strong and weak brother relate to one another in gray areas where they passionately disagree this. All kinds of churches this box up all kinds of friendships.

If you and I passionately disagree about one of these areas what's God tell us about how to get along without our convictions changing another words if I if I really feel very passionately the Christian shouldn't go to movies that I drive by the Multiplex and my pastor is walking out of the multiplex.

What should I do, and God help that dear brother there's walking out the Multiplex.

How many congregational meetings can he skip and say he's sick. That's were to talk about next week so you guys call and I will talk more about that (Lord Jesus, thanks for a chance for us to talk about this very very practical subject, Lord everyone of us here knows that there's conflict both in churches and in personal relationships between Christians. All because of disagreement on how we should live out these great areas in our Christian life Lord we need you to mature us as individuals. We need you to mature us as a church family that we might be able to exercise our liberties in a godly, mature and responsible way so that we might be able to respond to others who see little differently than we do in that same harmonious and godly way so help us to grow as a church and as individuals through this and got thank you that this church will allow me to be intellectually honest in dealing with these issues. Even though it sounds a little risky at point. Thank you for churches willing to be biblical even if there's some risk involved, and we pray this in Jesus name, amen

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