„One way I’ve been taught to think through these gray areas is to ask yourself the question „Is what I’m about do a passive avoidance of sin, or an active pursuit of Christ-likeness?””
Andrew makes a good summary, but I think we can see a few more specifics from Scripture.
If you stop and think, both the Legalist and the Libertine are really two sides of the same coin. They both ask the same question, and they both use the same „methodology”, yet arrive at two different answers. In effect, they are both looking for a list of do’s and don’ts. The only difference is that the Libertine’s list is considerably shorter than the Legalist’s.
But what does Scripture have to about the
„gray areas”? Let’s examine Rom. 14, 1 Cor. 8-10, Gal. 5, and Col. 2-3 as the commonly cited passages on „Christian freedom”. Let’s begin by listing out the conclusions that Paul reaches in each of these passages:
Rom 14:13–„decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.”
1 Cor 9:12–„we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.”
1 Cor 10:31–„whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
Gal 5:13–„Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
Col 3:2–„Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”
Col 3:5–„Put to death therefore what is earthly in you”
When we look at these passages, we see Paul laying out some principles of living an „active pursuit of Christ-likeness”. We can sum those up by asking:
1–Does this bring God glory?
2–Is this an opportunity to deny myself?
3–Is this an opportunity to consider others ahead of myself?
4–Will this hinder or spread the gospel?
Sound easy? Actually, these principles demand far more. Rather than simply formulating some kind of list, they demand, in the words of Isaac Watts, „my soul, my life, my all”.
And just so we know what those principles look like when lived out to their fullest, they were demonstrated for us by Christ Himself, „who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
May it be so with us.