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D-Day and the Limitations of Liberty

 David Alan Black

“All things are lawful for me” (1 Corinthians 10:23).

Today is the anniversary of D-Day—a date commemorating liberty. There’s a great deal of discussion today over whether a Christian can be a libertarian. The answer, it seems to me, depends on the definition. If by “liberty” we mean “license” to do whatever we please, then the answer is no.

“All things are lawful for me” was the slogan of the careless Christian. He thought being a believer gave him liberty to do as he pleases. In one sense, of course, he was right, for the law of the Spirit had made him free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2). But this liberty is not license.

Each time the sloganeer parrots his “All things are lawful for me,” Paul answers with a qualifying “but.” (1) “But not all things are expedient.” This is the test of expediency. Some things, though innocent enough in and of themselves, hinder my running well the race set before me. I will therefore discard what delays me. (2) “But I will not be brought under the power of any.” This is the test of enslavement. The avocation easily becomes an obsession. I will therefore not be enslaved by what I allow. (3) “But all things edify not.” This is the test of edification. Not everything builds me up in the faith. I must therefore build with gold, silver, and precious stones and not with wood, hay, and stubble.

My favorite verse in Galatians is 5:1. It is, in fact, the theme verse of the entire epistle: “Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be ye not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Let us stand fast in the liberty with which Christ has made us free. But let us also remember that we are never free to do what is wrong. If the situation in our lives clears the three hurdles set forth by Paul, we may go ahead. But if there is any doubt, let us forsake that path altogether!

June 6, 2003

David Alan Black is the editor of

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