Christian Freedoms and our Fellow Brethren

Christian Freedoms and our Fellow Brethren

Author: Andrew Winters
February 01, 2024

“A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.”       - Martin Luther

The Apostle Paul, when addressing debatable issues between believers, consistently falls back to this principle:

“Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.”

We are not here addressing issues of overt sin. The acts of sin are obvious. Rather, we are addressing issues of strong opinion that touch the conscience. Alcohol, wealth, entertainment, cultural traditions, public swimming, politics, food and drink, style and appearance, and music are only a few examples. Such issues can easily lead to outright sin, if handled carelessly. Therefore, great care must be taken in our exercise of free choices as Christians. We will highlight the following principles as laid out by the Apostle Paul from Romans 14. Pay special attention to the definitions of: “things,” “weak,” and “strong” as explained below:

  • “Things” are physical substances or non-sinful activities that some Christians disagree over.
  • The Bible states that all “things” are pure. Nothing is unclean in and of itself. Evidently, how some “thing” is used determines whether it is sinful or not.
  • Not all Christians consider all “things” pure.
    -“Weak” Believers: Some Christians have a weaker faith, and an overly sensitive conscience. These “weak” believers are stricken with guilt in their conscience by particular “things.” 
    - “Strong” Believers: Some Christians have a stronger faith, and have trained their consciences with the Word of God. These “strong” Christians are not stricken with guilt in their conscience by “things.”
  • “Strong” believers:                                                                                                                                                                    - Must not despise those who are “weak.” 
    - Are sinning if they exercise the use of “things” and harm the consciences of the “weak.”
    - Should be willing to give up the use of “things” for the sake of the conscience of the “weak.”
  • “Weak” believers:
    - Must not judge the “strong” in regard to “things.”
    - Are sinning if they exercise the use of “things” without faith. That is to say without a clear conscience, or in a way that leads to overt sin.
    - Should place a greater value upon a clear conscience, than their own free exercise of “things.”
  • All believers ought to seek to build one another up, to please one another, not to find fault, but rather to seek peace. 
    - “Weak" brethren can pursue peace by actively avoiding legalism, even as they strive to keep a clear conscience.
    - “Strong” brethren can build others up by humbly teaching the Word of God to the weak and building up their faith. “Things” ought not divide believers!

Questions to reflect upon:

  • Am I “strong” in some areas and “weak” in others in regard to “things?”
  • Do I have strong opinions about certain “things?”
  • Do I disregard the sensitive opinions of other believers concerning certain “things?”
  • Have I put up stumbling blocks for those who are “weak” in the way I have exercised my freedoms?
  • Have I judged others for the way they use “things?”
  • Am I seeking unity by avoiding legalism?
  • Am I seeking unity by being willing to give up “things” out of love for one another?

We must tread carefully when dealing with “things” as believers. Do we love certain “things” more than we love our brothers and sisters in Christ? Or are we so proud of our self-imposed boundaries that we judge others who don’t restrain themselves from “things?” I think most believers can say that both faults have been true for themselves at different times in their lives. Like Paul, let our goal be to please the Lord and love one another, not to have conflicts about “things.” Whether you are “weak” or “strong” about a “thing,” determine for yourself to be the first one to take steps to seek peace.



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