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June 2 Be careful about your liberty

1 Cor 8:9 “But be careful ~~that this liberty of yours does not become a hindrance to the weak.”

Can selfish humans be trusted with liberty? The transition from dictatorship to democracy in many countries often breeds vice and corruption.

Democracies depend on the honesty, work ethic, and integrity of their constituents.

It can take generations for a people to become mature enough to successfully handle political liberties. It is the same with the church.

Spiritual liberty from the guilt of sin is not always the same as practical liberty. Paul is telling us, “Stop letting sin reign in your mortal body, that you should continually obey it in its lusts” (Rom 6:12,  with author’s expansion of verb meaning).

An invisible God supervises Christian liberties, so it is easy to think we can get away with sin and selfishness. But as believers, it is foolish to self–destruct and lose your liberty by becoming enslaved again to sin.

First Corinthians 8:9 deals with food offered to idols and then sold on the open market. It was believed that this food remained affected by the false gods and thus should not be eaten.

Young believers were still weak in their biblical understanding and felt that eating it would draw them back into perverse, demonic temple worship. The believer with more biblical understanding was at liberty to eat the food; he knew this was all imagination and no harm could result, since those gods did not exist—-there are no gods other than the one true God.

The issues differ in other cultures, but the principle is the same. The command to “be continually being careful” means “to discern or understand.” Paul is saying, “Be guided by a higher principle.” The word used here for liberty means “permission or right.” A person has a right to do things, but it may not be wise to do so.

In the next verse, Paul discusses the “conscience” of the “weak” brother, which might be overcome by witnessing a “strong” brother’s liberties. Since the Holy Spirit exercises His conviction is in the realm of the conscience, which in turn is guided by our personal biblical understanding, we must allow time for the weaker conscience to mature by giving up some of our liberties for their benefit. This is love!

“Father, sometimes my freedom as a believer can make me indifferent to some who are strict in their convictions. Grant me Your love even for those who might criticize me, and give me the grace to adapt my life to not offend them.”

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