“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience.
For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. 1 Corinthians 10:23-33 (ESV)
There is a fine line between seeking to live a sanctified life, a life that reflects one’s faith in Christ, and full blown pietism, which hearkens back to the holier-than-thou position of the Pharisee in the temple that Jesus speaks of in Luke 18:9-14.
Paul reminds us that our focus needs to stay on Jesus. Our faith and trust need to be in Jesus rather than on whether or not we follow specific rituals or eat certain foods or hang out with certain people.
Our culture, our dinner plates, and even our habits and friends do not determine our status in the sight of God. We have no righteousness in and of ourselves, and nothing we can do (or fail to do) can justify us in the sight of God.
Our righteousness- our standing and validation before God – is outside of us. Our Redeemer- Jesus- stands in our place. He gives us all we need to stand. (see Romans 14:3-14)
We are reminded in the classic hymn “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less” that Christian freedom is trusting in Christ alone- not in how good we appear to be on the outside or by what we do or don’t do.
Our freedom doesn’t mean we just do whatever we want, but that we act based upon what is best for those around us and on what brings glory to God.
When we pray do we make a display for others to see how holy we are, or because we know how much we need Jesus and that He listens to our prayers?
Do we do devotions and study so we can prove how much we know, or do we study so that through hearing and consuming God’s word we are transformed by the Gospel and filled with the Holy Spirit?
When our trust is in Jesus He purifies our motives. The Holy Spirit gives us the discernment and the concern for others so that we can love and care for others in a way that glorifies God.
There is freedom in knowing that as imperfect as we are that Jesus stands in our places. As we confess our sins to God, we know that our sins- every single one of them- was paid for by Jesus on the cross of Calvary. He has done it all. All we can do is respond to Him.
Lord, Jesus we are poor tools in your hands, but by your grace you hold us up and we stand in You. Thank you for your sacrifice to save us from our sins, so that we can live in freedom, to your glory.