Article 104-4 – Christian Liberty

Biblical Principles for Living

104-4.1 Christian liberty is the freedom of the believer to practice everything that is not sin; it is the freedom of the believer to serve God without human restraint.1 This privilege is obtained by the obedience of Jesus Christ.2 The believer’s authority for faith and conduct is the Holy Scriptures,3 revealing the unchanging holiness of God. With Jesus Christ as Lord, every thought and action of the believer should be submitted to Him.4 Christ’s death has broken the believer’s slavery to sin5 and has freed the believer to yield obedience to Christ in all things.6 Though all things apart from sin are permissible, the believer should direct his actions according to what will please the Lord and what will benefit others.7 Liberty should not be used as a cover-up for evil!8

104-4.2 Believers will find that there are issues of lifestyle and worship not clearly addressed in scripture. On these issues they may disagree due to differences in spiritual maturity, varieties of cultural or economic backgrounds, personal conscience or associations with their past.9 In these instances, believers should come to their convictions through studying the scripture, prayer, and godly counsel, knowing that they will give an account to God.10 They must not look down upon or withhold acceptance of those who differ.11 In love they must be willing to limit their actions for the sake of building up rather than harming their brothers and sisters.12 In so doing, they follow the example of their Lord who laid aside His rights for their good.13

104-4.3 Occasionally, concerns may arise that will trouble the life and witness of the church. Clear and consistent teaching of the scriptural principles that govern the life of the believer should prepare the church for a peaceful consideration and resolution of these issues. The particular church or the fellowship of churches may counsel concerning that which is beneficial and that which may well be avoided in a particular setting and time.14 Church leaders must be careful to avoid unnecessarily burdensome rules, communicate clearly this counsel and provide the biblical basis for their thinking.15 They should be ready to acknowledge and accept the sometimes temporary nature of such decisions.16

104-4.4 Secular notions of freedom imply unlimited exercise of desires and rights. Christian liberty, on the other hand, includes submission to divinely established authorities and to the needs of others. Obedience to God’s appointed overseers17 does not limit freedom but is an active exercise of it. Great care must be taken to discern what are rightful directives of authority under God for good18 and what are improper attempts to curtail Christian liberty.19

104-4.5 Christian liberty may be set aside voluntarily for the sake of others or the exercise of one’s own spiritual discipline.20 Glorifying God,21 edifying fellow believers,22 growing in grace23 and avoiding all sin24 justify yielding up one’s rights and desires in keeping with the call to servanthood in the Christian faith.25

1. Gal. 2:4; 5:1; Col. 2:20-22
2. Col. 2:13-14; 1 Pe 2:24
3. Deu. 6:1-3; Mat. 5:17; 2 Tim. 3:16-17
4. 2 Cor. 10:4-5; Eph. 4:1; Phil. 1:27
5. Rom. 6:5-7, 11; Col. 3:3-5
6. Rom. 6:11-14, 19
7. 1 Cor. 9:15, 23; Phi. 2:4-5; Col. 3:1-2
8. Gal. 5:13; 1 Pe 2:16
9. Rom. 14:1, 2, 14, 23; 1 Cor. 8:7; 10:27-30
10. Rom. 14:5-12; 1 Jn. 3:21-22; Col. 3:16
11. Rom. 14:1, 3, 4, 13; Rom. 15:7
12. Rom. 14:13-21; 1 Cor. 8:9-13; 1 Cor. 10:32, 33
13. Phil. 2:5-8; 1 Pe 2:21-25
14. Mat. 28:18-20; Acts 15:13-30
15. Acts 15:19-21; 28-29; 1 Cor. 11:14, 15
16. Acts 15:29; 1 Cor. 7:25-28; 8:4, 8
17. Heb. 13:7, 17; 1 Pe. 5:1-4
18. Acts 15:19, 20, 28; 2 Cor. 1:12
19. Mark 7:7, 8; Gal. 2:3, 4
20. Rom. 14:15; 1 Cor. 8:9-13; 10:23, 24
21. 1 Cor. 10:31 – 11:1
22. 1 Thes. 5:11
23. James 4:6; 2 Pe. 3:18

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