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Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

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christian freedom

Just a Thought

Romans 6.1.JPG

Freedom in Jesus doesn’t mean freedom to live life acting like a fool

This is where the Christian’s growth and maturity is to be measured.

Grace. law, legalism, Christian freedom, and living our lives for Jesus. Some great thoughts on these matters from my friend Dan Ledwith. Blessings and enjoy! Also, enjoy the great Music!

Paul wrote the letter to the Galatians upon hearing that they were being heavily influenced by a group of people claiming that salvation was not solely by grace. This group was teaching that being a Christian also meant submitting to the Jewish Law—including circumcision. Paul does not hold back in his critique of these false teachers he refers to in 2:12 as “the circumcision group.” As soon as Paul dispenses with the customary greeting, the first thing he says is, I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel (Galatians 1:6, NIV).

The reason the legalism of the circumcision group was so tempting is the same reason any kind of legalism is tempting—it offered to its adherents a standard for discerning visible proof of one’s salvation.

Paul points out two fatal flaws in the message of the circumcision group. The first flaw was thinking that one’s position before God hinged on what we do, not on what Christ did. The gospel Paul and the Apostles preached was that salvation was by faith in Christ alone. That’s it. Nothing else. It is all of grace. It is a gift to be accepted, not a prize to be awarded. The second fatal flaw was that these false teachers completely misunderstood the purpose of the Law. The purpose of the Law was not to show what to do to get into God’s good graces. The point of the Law was to show that we are unable to get into God’s good graces. Living by the Law dooms you to failure and judgment because our selfish, self-centered, and self-driven nature keep us from wanting to obey it.

There is nothing we need to do to earn or keep our salvation, we are free from that burden of the Law. We are nonetheless, supposed to be living the Law in our freedom….read the rest of the post here: This is where the Christian’s growth and maturity is to be measured.

What Does the Bible Actually Say About Smoking, Drinking, and Getting Tattoos?

Here is an interesting post about “gray” areas, Christian freedom, and possibly being a stumbling block to another from the Rethink Blog. Blessings and enjoy.

There are many hot-button topics that Christians like to debate their freedom in today. Smoking, drinking, and getting tattoos seem to be near the top of that list. Many people have dug their trenches and are planted firmly in their camp. But what does scripture say about these topics? What if there is a better question to ask than are these things acceptable?

Smoking 

Scripture Talking Specifically About Tobacco: None

I have heard many Christians quote 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 to say why you should not smoke (or drink or get tattoos). The verse says Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

But there’s a couple problems with this argument. First, there’s a massive inconsistency in this argument. We like to argue that smoking is damaging God’s temple, therefore it’s a sin and we need to stop. But what about sugar? If this argument is true shouldn’t we cut that out? How about driving, fast food, dangerous hobbies, and whatever the last cancer causing thing is? Our lives are full of things that are killing us; in fact one day we will all die.

The second problem is the context of this verse. There is a huge danger in looking at one verse and applying it to our lives before we look at what the surrounding context says. In 1 Corinthians 6 Paul is talking about sexual immorality. He is telling us to honor God with our sexual choices. Not our diet, whether we smoke, or put tattoos on our body. It’s about honoring God with our sexuality. The argument with this verse is invalid because it’s not even close to what the verse is actually pointing to.

So is it okay for a Christain to smoke? Well there is nothing in the Bible that points one way or the other. Is it a sin? No. Let’s not add rules that God did not put in the Bible.

Drinking

Scripture Talking Specifically About Drinking: Ephesians 5:18, Proverbs 20:1, Galatians 5:19-21, 1 Corinthians 6:10, 1 Timothy 5:23, Proverbs 23:20-21, Romans 14:21, Isaiah 5:22, Leviticus 10:9, Ecclesiastes 9:7, 1 Timothy 3:8

The above list is far from exhaustive, but it shows a good variety of the various things scripture says about drinking. If we were to sit down and read every verses that talks specifically about alcohol you would find that scripture dances around the issue never giving a straight answer.

Let’s look at a few examples. 1 Timothy 3:8 says, Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. Paul here is giving instructions to Timothy on how to choose leaders in the church. And he says that they should not drink “too much wine.” He doesn’t say they cannot drink wine, just not too much.

In Ephesians 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit. Here Paul seems to be condemning the drinking of wine. And instead of drinking to focus on God.

Now at first glance you might think that the Bible is saying contradictory things about drinking. However, I think the better way to think of it is to see the Bible as pointing us to do the wise thing in every circumstance.

So is it okay for Christians to drink? Yes, when you read the verses about drinking in context it doesn’t say that we cannot drink. However, I think there is a warning for those that drink too much too often. There’s no verse that says Thou shalt not have more than 3 drinks a day. We’ve probably all heard Christians say drinking is a sin. But Biblically that claim cannot be backed up. And we ought to be very careful to not add rules to the Christian life that God did not put there.

Tattoos

Scripture Talking Specifically About Tattoos: Leviticus 19:28, Isaiah 49:16, Revelation 19:16

Again this is a gray area in scripture with only one verse pointing directly to tattoos and a few others that indirectly talk about tattoos. Some will again point to 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 claiming that tattooing is damaging our body which is God’s temple. But the same problems with this argument come up that came up in the smoking section. We don’t apply this to our lives anywhere else, and it’s ripped out of context.

In order to fully understand what the Bible says, let’s look at the one verse that stands against tattoos: You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:28

The tattoos that are being spoken of in this verse were part of a pagan ritual. Not like the tattoos we get today. I have several tattoos, with plans for more, and all of them point to something with my relationship with God. They remind me of something good, not pointing to something bad. To take this verse and apply it to say it’s a sin to get a tattoo you would have to rip it out of context. It’s just doesn’t mean that.

So is it okay for Christians to get tattoos? Yes. Scripturally I can see nothing, that is in context, that points us to steer away from getting inked up.

Better Questions to Ask

I think the above questions are ultimately the wrong questions to ask. Often we like to figure out how close we can get to sin without sinning. But that’s the wrong way of viewing our life choices.

Here’s two better questions to ask:

Is this the wisest thing for me to do? 

I hate this question because it challenges me. When you are trying to decide if you should or shouldn’t do something ask yourself this: In this circumstance what is the wisest step for me to take? I think that is a much better question to ask. Life isn’t all black and white, right and wrong; there’s a lot of gray. This question will help you discern and navigate that gray.

Will I lose influence over someone if I do this?

In my time in leadership I have learned that I may have the freedom to do something, but if I do it I may lose influence, in other words my leadership will suffer. The further I go into leadership, the more freedom I must give up so that I can gain more influence. So while some things might be okay, not a sin, I must choose to not do them if I want to make an impact.

You might be saying that’s not fair! or I have the freedom to do that! And you would be right in saying so. But listen, you will never change the world around you if you just hold onto your freedoms. Sometimes you have to give up some thing so that you can gain influence in someone’s life to help them see the change they need to make. You will never change someone’s mindset by yelling that you have the freedom to do {fill in the blank}. That’s why Paul said I will become all things to all people so that I may win a few (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). In order to change someone you must first gain influence in their life which often requires you to give up your freedoms.

So are these things a sin? Within reason no, they are not. However, we must each look at our lives and decide if it’s the wisest thing for us to do. We must look at who we are influencing and decide if it will gain or lose us influence in their life. We might have the freedom to do something, but that doesn’t always make it the best thing for us to do.

Read more posts at the Rethink Blog

Just a Thought

romans 8.jpg

The law of sin condemns us, but the law of the Spirit sets us free

A teacher

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