July 5, 2020
Freedom In Our Fellowship
1. We have seen that the Lord intends for us to enjoy a fellowship together in the church of Christ which has...
a. The intimacy of a family
b. The interdependence of a body
c. Opportunities to be nourished and strengthened in our assemblies
d. An acceptance of one another despite differences in many things
2. That fellowship may truly flourish in a local congregation, it is
important to understand certain concepts that can have a bearing on
a. The proper use of our freedom in Christ is one such concept
b. Failure to understand the nature and proper application of liberty has ruptured the fellowship of many churches
3. In this lesson, we shall examine the nature of our freedom in Christ
and how it affects our fellowship with one another
[Let's begin by defining...]
I. THE NATURE OF OUR FREEDOM IN CHRIST
A. WE ENJOY "FREEDOM" IN CHRIST...
1. Jesus offered freedom to His disciples - Jn 8:31-32,36
2. Paul taught that Christ has made us free, and we should be careful to stand fast in this liberty - Ga 5:1
3. James refers to the "perfect law of liberty" - Jm 1:25
B. THE NATURE OF THIS FREEDOM...
1. Does this mean we are totally free from any sort of obligation?
a. That we are free to "do our own thing"?
b. That we have no responsibilities to anyone?
c. That we are free from having to be concerned about others?
-- Of course not!
2. We should be careful to understand the context of freedom in Christ
a. Jesus was promising freedom from sin - Jn 8:34-36
b. Paul had reference to freedom from rudimentary elements of the Old Law - Ga 4:3-5,8-11
c. The "perfect law of liberty" is a blessing only to those who are "doers of the word" - Jm 1:21-25
3. The truth of the matter is that we have been set "free" in order that we might "serve"!
a. Set free from the slavery of sin, that we might be servants
of righteousness - Ro 6:17-18; cf. 6:12-16
b. We are now free to "serve one another" through love - Ga 5:13
[As Paul reveals in Ga 5:13-15, there is a very real danger of abusing our liberty to provide an opportunity for the flesh. Christ died to give us freedom "from" sin, not to give us freedom "to" sin! Freed from sin, we need to be careful how we use this freedom, especially in our fellowship with one another...]
II. HOW THIS FREEDOM RELATES TO FELLOWSHIP
A. THE CHURCH AT CORINTH: A CASE IN POINT...
1. The situation:
a. Brethren were claiming to have true knowledge about eating
meat sacrificed to idols - cf. 1Co 8:1-6
b. By their example and influence, they were encouraging
others to violate their conscience - 1Co 8:7
c. Those who so violated their weak conscience were sinning . Ro 14:23
2. But even if there was liberty in Christ to eat such things, Paul counseled against it
a. Because it was a stumbling block to those weak in faith - 1Co 8:9-10
b. Because this abuse of knowledge and liberty was causing brethren to sin, which in itself is a sin against Christ! - 1Co 8:11-12
3. Paul provides himself as an example of the proper use of freedom
a. He is willing to go to extremes in service to his weak
brother - 1Co 8:13
b. Though an apostle, enjoying freedom in Christ - 1Co 9:1
c. He is willing to place limitations on his freedom to save
others - 1Co 9:19-23
4. He concludes his treatment on this subject with a command for
us to follow his example - 1Co 10:31-11:1
B. PAUL GAVE SIMILAR COUNSEL TO CHURCH IN ROME...
1. The strong in faith are to be considerate of those weak in faith
- Ro 14:1,13
2. Even if it means giving up things that are right within themselves
- Ro 14:14-23
3. Bearing with the scruples of the weak, seeking their edification, follows the example of Christ Himself - Ro 15:1-3
C. IMAGINE THE FELLOWSHIP WHERE THESE PRINCIPLES ARE FOLLOWED...
1. Rather than just trying to please ourselves, there would be serious efforts to build up one another
a. I would not just think of the value of assembling for my own personal benefit
b. But I would also be concerned about the impact of my absence on others!
2. Brethren would be patient with those weak in faith, willing even to forego liberties in Christ in order to serve
a. I would not be desirous to press issues or ideas on those
whose consciences could not allow them to participate
b. Instead, I would seek other ways where we could accomplish
the same goals
3. An atmosphere of love, service, and unity would exist, in which fellowship could truly thrive to the glory of God!
1. The fellowship we enjoy in Christ is a "precious" thing, made possible by the work of Christ on the cross - cf. Ep 2:13-22
2. Yet, that fellowship is also a "fragile" thing, easily disrupted through our misuse of the freedom we have in Christ!
3. The solution? To have that "mind of Christ" in our dealings with one another - Php 2:1-8
a. Fellowship in one accord is possible, but only when we heed the
admonitions given by Paul to the Philippians
1) To do nothing through selfish ambition or conceit
2) To esteem others better than one's self
3) To look out for the interests of others
b. Only by following Christ's own example humble service, can we
insure that fellowship in one accord will continue! Will we follow the example of Christ in how we use our freedom in our fellowship? Remember:
"For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another."
- Ga 5:13