Freedom, Responsibility and Personal Liberties - In Jesus
We are free in Christ Jesus .. Free from sin and death .. Free from legalistic rule-keeping .. It Is By FAITH that we are "saved" ..
But, as believers, we are not free from responsibility, and part of that responsibility is to nurture those around us that God puts into our lives that are younger and weaker in their faith, even at the cost of our own personal liberty. Sometimes our actions are absorbed and immulated by others that we least suspect - I heard a story about an all-American football player for Mississippi State who went on to play for the Houston Oilers. One Saturday Mississippi State played, and defeated, the University of Houston, which was no small accomplishment. After the big game some alumni passed out cigars to the winning team, and one man stuck his cigar in his pocket. He did not smoke, so he just saved it .. The next day he was sitting on the front porch at his folk’s house, by himself. He felt in his pocket, and noticed the cigar, opened it, and put it in his mouth. He didn’t smoke .. but he said he sort of shifted it around in his mouth, and thought about that big win the day before.
A little while later a young boy walked up to the porch and said - “How ‘ya doin’?” .. “Come on up here and sit by me a minute.” And the boy climbed up to sit next to his big, football-playing neighbor and the boy began to talk, and he said in a few minutes, he noticed the boy had a stick in his mouth. Then he remembered the cigar in his... as they talked a little more he then reached up, took the cigar out of his mouth, broke it in half, threw it down, and said, “You know, I think I’ll quit smoking.” .. The boy took the stick out of his mouth, broke it, threw it down and said, “Yeah. Me, too.” Our liberty in Christ extends only as far as it does not cause a brother or sister in Christ to stumble .. When it does, responsibility supersedes freedom.
This is most common in our world today .. in our "dress" .. "drinking" ... "smoking" ... "the movies we watch" ... and so many other things we do ..
We live in a pleasure-oriented culture that focuses on the present. God does not want us to sacrifice future blessings for short-term enjoyments. Let's take a look at Esau's story and learn from his mistakes. As Isaac’s elder son, Esau was facing a secure future in the role of spiritual leader and head of the family. Yet he was blind to what was valuable in life an casually sold his birthright - for a bowl of stew? .. He apparently cared nothing about his rights as first born or his impact on future generations and gave it all up for a bowl of stew - think about it? Some of us are a bit short sighted. We spend much of our time working or engaging in pleasurable pursuits of our own own personal choosing. However, God wants our priorities to reflect His purposes, His Character — and to love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind and to love others through a life of service and sacrifice (Matt. 22:37-40).
Esau was ruled by his appetite and emotions - and We Much The Same Today ... our thoughts are centered on the quickest way to satisfy our own needs .. get what we want .. often without thought or weighing the cost. Giving in to our feelings can be a first step toward trouble and regrets .. and all this is prompted by our emotions to act quickly or put ourselves first .. which can result in poor health, financial pressures, and even addictions. We can protect our future by yielding to the Spirit’s control and living out what Scripture considers most valuable: knowing God and obediently serving Him. Make sure that you put Him in charge of your mind, will, emotions, and appetites.
SO YOU .. LIKE ME .. ASK? HOW? .. Learning from Christ's Examples and "Take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17). To wield the sword of the Spirit is to apply specific Biblical principles to specific situations. Jesus gave us the perfect example of skillful and precise use of the sword of the Spirit. Following His baptism, "Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, 'If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread'" (Matt. 4:1-3). Satan was challenging Christ's trust in His heavenly Father's power and provision. God had just announced that Jesus was His Son (Matt. 3:17). Would He now abandon Jesus to starve in the wilderness? Satan urged Jesus to take matters into His own hands and supply for His own needs. ( Satan does this exact same thing with us today ) .. After all, Satan implied, doesn't the Son of God deserve better than this? Jesus might have acted on His own authority or demanded that God give Him what He deserved. Instead, He demonstrated His trust in God and rebuked Satan for his evil intents: "It is written, 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God'" (v. 4). That's a specific verse applied to a specific situation. Jesus responded the same way to Satan's other temptations (vv. 7, 10). Scripture gives many general principles for Christian living, but the sword of the Spirit is a precise weapon. We must learn to apply the appropriate biblical principles to any given situation. That's what the psalmist meant when he wrote, "How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Thy word. . . . Thy word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee" (Ps. 119:9, 11).
Learning where to go in the Bible to defend ourself against sorrow, discouragement, apathy, lust, or pride - IS IMPORTANT! If not, you're attempting to do spiritual battle unarmed.