Free In Christ Unless You Make Another Stumble.

Church Family:
As a family of believers there is no greater evil that we can do against each other than cause another brother or sister in Christ to sin (Luke 17:2). The end that awaits those who cause others to stumble into sin is horrific. It is so horrific that it is better for that person who leads others into transgression to have a "great millstone" hung around their neck and to be cast into the sea.

Why is the punishment for making others stumble so shocking? First, because God loves us so very much and wants nothing to get in the way of us becoming like Him in Christlikeness (sanctification). Second, when we cause someone to stumble (Rom. 14:13) we are the ones blocking their path to Christlikeness and their great heavenly reward. We must do everything we can to avoid causing others to stumble!

But wait, have we not been given freedom in Christ Jesus to live as free people, not taking up the yoke of the Law to secure our own righteousness? Absolutely yes! However, we can abuse our freedom from the Law’s guardianship over us. Our abundant life of freedom in Christ is not a freedom to do anything we want to do. Instead, our freedom is to lead us into submission to Jesus Christ by the sustaining power of the Holy Spirit. When we submit, in our freedom, to the gentle yoke of Christ we will then prioritize love for our brother/sister in Christ a higher priority than our freedom in Christ.

What does this look like today? One example is that you are free in Christ to enjoy God’s created things. One example are those who enjoy God through the taste of a good wine. They are free in Christ to enjoy wine but they are not free in Christ to get drunk (Eph. 5:18; Prov. 20:1, 23:20-21; Is. 5:22) or drink in any way that makes another believer stumble in sin (Rom. 14:13-23). Therefore, if believer A wants to enjoy a glass a wine for the glory of God, they are free in Christ to do so. Them abstaining or enjoying the glass of wine neither makes them holy or unholy. However, if believer A is drinking wine to the glory of God and then believer B comes over and he has a history of using wine to get drunk as a form of self-medication, then believer A must see that their own freedom to enjoy wine to the glory of God must stop and be replaced with abstaining from wine for the sake of loving and caring for their brother and sister in Christ, believer B. Their freedom in Christ must always submit to loving and caring for each other. But wait, what if believer A is enjoying a glass of wine to the glory of God and believer C comes over who does not struggle with wine as a personal sin issue but they do struggle with their own legalism where they have made drinking a glass of wine a source of unholiness. In other words, believer C has created their own rules and expectations not found in the Bible to feel good about themself and their relationship with God for having obeyed their manmade rules. They then take their own manmade rules to judge believer A and to declare that believer A has failed to live up to their artificial standard of man-made godliness. Must the stronger, believer A, submit to the weaker legalistic believer C? No. Why? We are not called to submit to someone in their legalism, taking up again a yoke of slavery in which we have been freed from in Christ (Gal. 5; legalism is sin and anti-gospel). And yet, even that is to be done with much love and care.

Who are you causing to stumble?
Where have you made your own rules and expectations to determine if someone is holy or unholy?
When do you feel judged because of your failure to conform to what someone else has declared as “holy”?

See you Sunday, loving you more than my personal freedom: Steve

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