Free but Responsible

MEMORY SELECTION: “Though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.” —I Corinthians 9:19

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: I Corinthians 10:23 – 11:1

THE admonition to be “free but responsible” is an important one, especially when considered from the standpoint of present-day opinion. There are many people in the world today who believe they are restrained by the various laws of society or by the laws of God which have been imposed upon them. Much of the unrest that we see growing around us is a direct result of those who would pursue their own selfish course with little or no regard either to their obligations toward their fellow man or, more particularly, to their responsibilities before God.

Such ideas of liberty have grown quite rapidly in recent times and are progressively leading to riot, destruction, and loss of life in many places. We know, of course, that the present social structure is based largely upon the inequities of fallen men, in which liberty to one class of people means slavery to another class. This must inevitably give way to the glorious reign of Christ, which will be established over all the earth. None, however, should believe themselves to be infringed upon by the arrangements provided by God for the regular process of maintaining order as expressed in the divine law.

In the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian brethren, he discusses the subject of Christian liberty and thereby provides us with some sound instruction in the matter. We note his exclamation concerning his own liberty (I Cor. 9:1): “Am I not free?” Although he was free from the traditions and superstitions of fallen men, he did, nevertheless, give his life in dedication and service by working to bring others to a knowledge of God and of the plan of salvation which so inspired his own life.

In Paul’s day most cities had temples that were dedicated to various deities. Part of the religious service involved placing before those deities food, especially meat, which was consumed as a burnt offering on an altar. In the event that some of the dedicated meat was left over, it was, in turn, sold on the open market. The question arose among some of the early Christians as to whether or not meat that had been offered to idols should be eaten.

Paul sought to explain the matter by saying, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient [profitable, Rotherham]: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” (I Cor. 10:23) The point being made is that it is necessary to be governed by the spirit of a sound mind in everything that we do. Although we are no longer bound by the laws of the old Law Covenant, we are nevertheless, admonished to do those things that would be profitable and edifying to others in connection with our Christian walk.

In regard to the question about eating meat that had once been offered to idols, the apostle continues, “Whatsoever is sold in the shambles [market, Rotherham], that eat, asking no question for conscience’ sake: for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof. If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience’ sake. But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that showed it, and for conscience’ sake.”—vss. 25-28

It is a matter of conscience in respect to everything that we do. And, we are not to judge the actions of others. “Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man’s conscience? For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?” (vss. 29,30) As consecrated children of our Heavenly Father, we should do all things to the honor of the Most High. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God.”—vss. 31,32

We have been made free by the marvelous grace of God, to be testified to all men in due time. It is our responsibility to grow in his likeness, for “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”—II Cor. 3:17

Dawn Bible Students Association
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