Christian Liberty

1 Cor 10:23-33

23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. 25 Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26 for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” 27 If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience. 29 I am referring to the other person’s conscience, not yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience? 30 If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for? 31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

Although Paul talked extensively about food offered to idols, the issue regarding Christian liberty is not limited to just food and drink but whatever we do.  1 Cor 10:31.

On one extreme, we have believers that believe they have the right to do anything which may deteriorate to license.  On the other, we have believers with weak conscience which may also lead to legalism.

On talking specifically about the issue of food offered to idols, Paul cited two examples of such situations in which believers might eat such food : the public meat market where food was purchased for home consumption and private meals in a non-believer’s home.  And he continued to explain the issue was not the food itself but the situation in which it was eaten.

Likewise regarding Christmas celebration for an example, we should not focus on the apparent inappropriateness of the background or arbitrary chosen date, but on the situation it is celebrated.

In situation where Scripture is silent on matter of conscience, this saying regarding biblical response is true :

Essentials (matter of truth),  unity;

Non-essentials (matter of conscience);  liberty;

All things, charity.

(On Scripture being “silent” on matter of conscience, I mean Scripture does not mention that it is specifically forbidden and I believe one has the liberty to act or not to act on the matter of conscience.  Allow me to illustrate.  For some countries, if there is no U-turn sign, the cars are not allowed to make U turn.  But in most western countries,  if there is no “No U-turn allowed” sign,  the cars are free to make the U-turn.  It is the latter situation to which I am referring.)

Whether to celebrate or not is up to each believer according to his conscience.  If one chooses to celebrate, he shall do it for the glory of God and shall not stumble a brother with a weaker conscience.  But he will be taking a wrong turn to judge others on whether to celebrate or not.

When the angel announced the birth of our Lord to the shepherds, he said,”…I bring you Good News that will cause great joy for all the people…” I celebrate because it is Good News. And I express my great joy through celebration.

Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. – Colossians 2:16

1 Cor 10:29b-32a summarizes the biblical response for matter of conscience :

For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience? If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for? So whether you eat or drink or WHATEVER YOU DO, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble…

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