05v13 Use Not
We recognize and insist upon the believer's freedom from the law as a rule of life or motive in conduct, and upon the believer's freedom from the rules and regulations of religious custom, tradition, and practice which men try to impose upon our consciences. Our insistence upon this freedom is a matter of obedience to our God (Col. 1:16-23). In all matters of indifference each believer's conscience must be his own guide, being governed by the direction of the Holy Spirit and his love for the Lord Jesus Christ. I refuse to place rules and regulations upon God's children. And I refuse to bow to those which men would place upon me. Yet, three principles of conduct are clearly laid down in the Word of God, by which we must each determine the expedience of any behavior, lest we "use liberty for an occasion to the flesh."
First, LET NO MAN BRING YOU INTO BONDAGE (Gal.5:1). Self-righteous religionists try to impose upon us not only the law of Moses, but also their own customs and opinions regarding specific things. And they make these things a test of righteousness or spirituality. This is pure legalism in its most obnoxious form - sinful men daring to presume that they set the standards of righteous behavior for God's elect! Before such men, we must act as our Lord and his disciples, and do what-ever is necessary to demonstrate that neither we nor God have nay regard for their customs, and that righteousness is not obtained by human works (Matt. 15:1-19; Luke 6:1). Our Lord was not in the least degree bothered by the fact that his or his disciples actions offended self-righteous men. Neither should we be.
Second, BE SURE THAT YOU DO NOT OFFEND A WEAK BROTHER (Rom. 14:1-23; I Cor. 8:9-13). To offend a weaker brother is to lead him by your behavior to do something that is contrary to his own tender conscience. There are some weak brethren who do not understand that "all things indeed are pure" and that nothing in God's creation is evil. In their weakness, they still retain the delusion that the use of some things which God has made are evil in themselves, and the use of those things is evil. Their opinions are wrong and show a poor understanding of gospel truth, such as may be expected from babes, immature believers. They simply need to be taught as they are able to bear instruction in weightier matters. But in the meantime, we must be gentle with them, remembering that not so long ago we were exactly as they are. And if any man violates his own conscience, he sins. We must be very careful not to be the cause of such an offense. We must not cause our brethren to stumble. It is permissible for believer's to use all things with discretion. But it is not always expedient for us to do so. We must not be bound to anything. We must be willing to restrain our personal liberty for the sake of nurturing our weaker brethren, rather than, causing them to stumble.
Third, IN ALL THINGS SEEK TO GLORIFY GOD AND ADORN THE GOSPEL OF HIS GRACE (Col. 3:23; Tit. ). "For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's" (I Cor. ). This must be our supreme priority. Nothing else is important. If I can glorify God and honor the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ best by exercising my liberty to use all things, I will do so. If I can glorify God and honor the gospel best by refraining from the exercise of my liberty in Christ, I will do so. We who believe willingly and gladly submit the use and enjoyment of all things to the glory of God and the interest of the gospel.
I do not need to stress this
fact to you who are believers, but it must be stressed in order to partially
disarm the legalists who are anxious to charge us with antinomianism: WHEN I
SPEAK OF THE BELIEVER'S