What is the purpose of your sanctification? Who is it for? (Hint: It’s not for you.) We survey a number of passages from the New Testament to demonstrate the point of our growth in Christ.
Members’ Podcast: Jon and Justin talk about how freeing it is to realize your sanctification isn’t for you.
Justin Perdue: Hi, this is Justin. Question for you: what is the weaker brother? If you have spent any time in evangelicalism, you have no doubt heard the weaker brother discussed. What is Paul talking about when he uses that language? We’re going to go there today in the regular episode. We’re going to talk also about Christian liberty; is Christian liberty really about don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t cheat, or is it actually about something far greater and something much more wonderful? We’re going to talk about that, too. Then in the members’ episode, we’re going to talk about how we would go about setting someone free when their conscience is improperly bound. We hope that this conversation is helpful to you as it is encouraging. Stay tuned.
Jon Moffitt: Today’s a pretty important conversation. I think that we are going to make a lot of people uncomfortable, potentially make some people angry—not purposely, not our goal. The real point of the podcast is to liberate some people from some bondage and burdens they’ve been carrying so that they can be more meek and patient and kind.
Justin Perdue: This conversation is important, even though it took us a while to figure out what we were going to talk about today. We landed on talking about something that I do think, and you agree, is very important for us to discuss—and that is the topic of Christian liberty at a high level. But then also trying to say some hopefully helpful and biblical things about the weaker brother, and what the weaker brother is and what the weaker brother is not. The goal of this conversation is, as always, to encourage people in Christ and to remove clutter that’s often thrown on top of the gospel. In particular, right now, we would be talking about clutter that’s thrown on top of the gospel in the form of hyper, heavy-handed “what can I do?” kind of conversations.
The way that I would want to kick this conversation off is by thinking about what Christian liberty has meant to the saints who lived before, let’s say, the middle of the 19th century. The last 150 years or so, the conversation about Christian liberty is often reduced to matters of conscience. What is it okay for me to do? What should I avoid doing? The whole don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t chew, and don’t go with girls that do things kinds of conversations. That’s a tendency, I think, that exists in evangelicalism, or there is a tendency, I should say, to obsess over behavior. It’s just something that we do.
I think we need to say, before we go any further, that Christian liberty starts with something that is so much deeper, so much greater, so much more wonderful than how we behave. It starts with the fact that we have been set free by Christ and in Christ. We are no longer chained to this life of sin because of what Jesus has done. We are no longer paralyzed by fear of death and fear of the grave—he’s delivered us from that. We are no longer in bondage to Satan and the forces of evil. We’re no longer under the bondage and condemnation of the Law. Christ has set us free from all of that stuff. That’s what saints have always meant when they start to talk about Christian liberty: we are free from all of that stuff and free unto righteousness. We are free to live before God with a clear conscience, knowing that we’ve been reconciled to him through what Christ has done. So now I don’t need to worry and wig out all the time about how I’m doing, because I’m actually free, and Christ has settled that and handled that for me. We would be remiss if we don’t start there.
Jon Moffitt: That’s good. Christian liberty is one of those subjects that is like grace. When you start emphasizing the joy of God and grace, people immediately want to warn you that yes, there is grace, but faith without works is dead. There’s grace, but there’s works. When you talk about Christian liberty, what’s the first thing that you immediately feel? In a word being used as liberation, you feel bondage.
Justin Perdue: It’s like we’re talking about something that supposedly is about freedom, but instead it sounds like slavery.
Jon Moffitt: You just got done describing Christian liberty and I’m more in bondage now than I was before you described it, and yet you’re telling me I’m free. What they say is you are free from sin not to sin. They want to always emphasize that you are free from sin not to sin, which is true and I completely agree. But if we’re talking about Christian liberty, the conversation should lead someone to feel cared for, affectionate, and ultimately should find rest. Because if you’ve been liberated by something—and we’re now titling it Christian liberty—it should have that exhale of relief.
Justin Perdue: And the feeling actually of a burden lifted, not a burden added to my shoulders.
Jon Moffitt: Right. But when I hear Christian liberty talked about, it is a burden. I don’t know where I have been liberated from, because I might step on somebody’s, I would say, theological preference where I am now not at liberty to say, think, or do something because this person’s conscience is bound by it, and if their conscience is bound by it, then I must, too, be bound by it. So liberty is only as strong as the loudest voice in the room.
Justin Perdue: I’ll talk a little bit of Bible here really quick. I’m not going to quote chapter and verse so much, but for the listener, the main passages that we would refer you to, if you want to read about some of these things that we’re discussing today, are Romans 14, 1 Corinthians 8, 1 Corinthians 10:23 and following.
If I could, I’m going to offer just a few high-level summary thoughts about those chapters and verses, and those sections of Scripture and what they contain. One, high-level thought about the Bible’s clear teaching on this topic: only God and God’s Word can bind the conscience. By that, I mean only God and what He has revealed specifically in his Word can tell any human being what he or she cannot do or what he or she must do.
Jon Moffitt: Let me put it this way: only God can determine what should make you feel guilty for and what you should not feel guilty for. Binding the conscience, meaning that’s the only thing that can say that if you step outside that, you should feel guilty for it.
Justin Perdue: If God says we are to do something, or if God says we are not to do something, we are obligated to do as He says. What any human being thinks on his or her own doesn’t matter. Only God can bind the conscience.
Second big, high-level truth is that we are to love one another and seek one another’s good. This is going to be huge because I’m not trying to steal even my own thunder, or yours either, Jon, but there is something that governs our exercise of our freedom, and it’s called our love for each other. Third big truth: there are weaker brothers and weaker sisters who must be considered, and we’re going to define what that means. Lastly, we are not to pass judgment on each other over these issues of liberty. I think it’s a fair summary.
Paul, for example, in all of those passages, he could have said, “Hey guys, under no circumstance whatsoever, in any conceivable scenario, should you ever eat meat sacrificed to idols.” He doesn’t say that. He tells them to do something actually harder. He says, “Love and consider each other.” And we’ll unpack that more.
Jon Moffitt: Going back to the bondage, Paul writes to the church of Colossi. As he’s talking with them for the first two chapters, really chapter one, you have this explanation of the glory of Christ, who Christ is, and who we are in Christ. He uses this transition phrase. He says, “Therefore,” if this be true, this identity, this freedom, this joy that we have in Christ, “let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or whether regards to a festival or a new moon or Sabbath.” So, we need to back up and ask, before we even dare to consider all these lists he’s giving, which I think is a general list. These are things that someone may pass judgment, and judgment meaning guilty verdict. You are guilty before God for doing such things. He says not to let anyone do this, which is a very powerful statement. I think it sounds very much like Christian liberty; you have been set free from the burden of being found guilty, where there is no judgment coming to you from God.
He says, “These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on,” and then he gives a list, “asceticism and worship of angels, going in on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.” I love how he actually ends the conversation with the body being unified together.
Justin Perdue: Even where he goes after that: the body grows together. Then he goes on to say, “If you, in Christ, you died to elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations—‘Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch’—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.” Now, Paul is not saying just do whatever you want. He is saying, very much so here, that we ought not pass judgment on one another for what we’re handling, what we’re touching, what we’re eating, what we’re drinking. We ought not assume that there is inherent merit in this. If you live in an ascetic lifestyle where you just deny yourself constantly, it does have an appearance of godliness, but actually in and of itself has no value.
Jon Moffitt: I love how in the middle of it, he says, not only does it have value, but it is disruptive to our growth as a body. Because he says we are holding onto Christ because Christ is the one who’s liberated us, and Christ is the one who has set us free, and then he says the whole body is being knit together under Christ, not regulations.
Justin Perdue: Right. And he is saying that if, in fact, Christ has done this for you, if Christ has done what he’s done for you, why are you acting this way? If Christ has done everything that we have said that Christ has done, why are we quibbling and arguing and being silly about this stuff, and thinking that what I eat or drink contributes somehow to my righteousness? I think, at least, that’s in part what’s in Paul’s mind there.
Jon Moffitt: What’s so hard for them is that in Jewish culture, there were certain things that were absolutely simple for them to eat and wear and do and mark on their bodies underneath the regulations, underneath the ceremonial Law. Paul comes now and says you cannot be held underneath that because Christ is. Those are but shadows.
Justin Perdue: Christ has abrogated and has abolished the ceremonial Law. We don’t need to get into a conversation about the Law here, but when it comes to that aspect of God’s Law delivered in the old covenant, this is no more. All of those ceremonial laws were pointing us to how God would make sinners righteous, how atonement was made, etc., and Christ has fulfilled all of that. So, it is no longer binding on the Christian.
Jon Moffitt: There’s a part of it here that goes into the Christian liberty, meaning that we have been set free from two things: the condemnation of the Law and the requirements of the Law. We are not going to be condemned for our sins. There’s no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. That is the liberty of the Christian. But there are also no requirements to maintain. A joke we were having earlier was there’s no return policy on God’s adoption. If He purchased you, you can’t be returned. That means that you are now set free to obey without fear. Christian liberty means you cannot be bound by anything outside of what Christ has handed to us.
Justin Perdue: You are no longer bound by the requirements of the Law for righteousness, because Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness, and that matters. The Law, as we have said many times on this podcast, and I think it’s fine to say it again, we do uphold the third use of the Law, meaning the Law guides our living in Christ. But we are in no way under the Law as a covenant of works that we must keep in order to be in right standing with God. And that matters in terms of our day to day, and my own conscience, and what I perceive about my freedom and my peace before the Lord.
Jon Moffitt: I come from the independent, fundamental Baptist background, and there was much that was handed to me that was theologically correct and helpful. I learned a lot from many of the pastors. My dad was a pastor. I learned a tremendous amount from him and my father-in-law, who is also a retired pastor whom I love and respect. There was a confusion between Christian liberty and the weaker brother, which is kind of where we’re going to go here, and that confusion was really hard for me to navigate. How is it that if this is wrong to an individual, at what point am I set free from them, and their confusion of what God’s Law says or what the Bible says, and my ability to participate in such actions?
For the sake of argument, Justin, we don’t have to beat around the bush. You and I are drinking beers at the moment, right? For many, that is a very complicated conversation. It’s highly emotional, and I understand why it can be so hard for people to really stomach the fact that two pastors are drinking something that seems to be very offensive.
Justin Perdue: Maybe, if in the regular episode there’s time, but certainly in the members’ area we could talk about alcohol, in particular, and why there is such a stigma around it.
Jon Moffitt: It is the number one topic, I think, when you’re talking about Christian liberty. This probably is one of the ones that come up on top.
Justin Perdue: It’s certainly in the top.
Jon Moffitt: I’m going to use the audience involvement here. Can you guys think of anything other than alcohol that becomes at the top level of Christian liberty?
Justin Perdue: I think the next closest one would be media, like what kind of movies you watch, what kind of entertainment you engage in.
Jon Moffitt: Yeah. It’s like, “Did you cancel Netflix? Because if you didn’t, then you don’t really love Christ.”
Justin Perdue: While we’re here, what kind of establishments we go to, what kind of food we like, how we think about our diet, fashion, clothing, modesty, schooling for our kids. Is it sin to send my kids to public school? Are we required to homeschool? Is private school an option? Can we go trick or treating? We can do this all day. There are all kinds of things. In saying this right now, it’s incredible how worked up we get about this stuff that is peripheral. It is in no way central to the Christian life. Before anybody objects and says, “But God is God over all things and Jesus is Lord,” amen. We need to keep the main things the main things.
Let’s talk about the weaker brother. This really is important in terms of what the weaker brother is and then what the weaker brother is not.
Jon Moffitt: And then in relation to Christian liberty.
Justin Perdue: Oftentimes, the way that the weaker brother is defined is incredibly unhelpful. I’m going to offer a definition and then I’m going to maybe offer something that’s not helpful. I think the weaker brother, biblically, is a person—a real person, not a hypothetical person, but a real person—in my midst with whom I have a relationship, who would or will be pulled back into a lifestyle of sin as a result of being exposed to something that I’m doing. It is a very concrete, specific situation. The weaker brother is not a hypothetical person out there who might be pulled back into sin by what you’re doing. That doesn’t help. I’m living a life in the context of a particular local church, with particular groups of friends, in particular relationships. Is there a weaker brother or sister in my midst with whom I have a relationship that is going to be brought into sin by what I’m doing? If the answer to that question is no, then I don’t think we’re talking about a biblical weaker brother situation.
Jon Moffitt: Can I clarify one thing, too? They may be brought into sin, but it has nothing to do with you. In other words, if they’re falling into judgmental pride, bitterness…
Justin Perdue: Sure. But then let me say this, and this might sound controversial. It isn’t around this table in this room, but someone, the weaker brother is not the most sensitive conscience in the room, because that is generally how Christians talk about it. That it’s the weaker brother is the person who is going to be offended morally by the fact that you’re drinking a beer. That is not at all what Paul is talking about in the New Testament, because that person being offended in his or her conscience, but not being tempted in any way or led in any direct sense into sin, Paul’s word to that person who is passing judgment on you is actually to stop doing that. Don’t cast shade either direction would be the exhortation of the apostle. Those who exercise our liberty, we ought not cast shade on people who don’t. But then, those who don’t ought not cast shade in the other direction: like “If you were really godly, you wouldn’t drink that.”
Jon Moffitt: Yeah. According to Paul, your conscience can be misled.
I grew up in a context where there were people who were convinced if you used any other version of the Bible than the King James version of the Bible…
Justin Perdue: If he isn’t on it, he isn’t in it.
Jon Moffitt: I know people who, legitimately, in their conscience, they feel that when they read the ESV or the NASB, it bothers them. Those are the kinds of people that I can look at and say, “Dear brother, dear sister, I don’t want to make fun of you. I don’t want to bash you. But you have been bound in ways the Bible never intended you to be bonded. You’re not supposed to feel that burden.”
Justin Perdue: And God didn’t speak Old English. God doesn’t speak Hebrew either. He gave us His word in such a way where it could be translated. The New Testament is recorded in Greek; Jesus didn’t speak Greek. You could go all day. Or, when people talk like that, Jon, talking about bondage, Muslims understand that Allah speaks Arabic and that Revelation can only be in that language since the Quran can’t be translated. We don’t believe such things. Anyway, back to the topic at hand.
Jon Moffitt: In all honesty, what I mean by this is that if you have a context where they convince you it’s not a preference, but it is a conscience issue, that if you do something, you are violating God. I would say that there are many people who grow up in Christianity and music, drugs, and alcohol are one of those situations where you do not have to participate. Let me put it this way: you weren’t the weaker brother at that moment just because you choose not to drink alcohol or maybe think alcohol is… there are so many different levels, right? Like it’s sinful, or it’s okay but not helpful. Then it goes down. I will say that if you think that drinking alcohol is sinful, and that basically you have violated God, and you are guilty before Him, you are, I think, confused scripturally.
Justin Perdue: I want to be a little bit punchy about alcohol. I really like to read the Bible and try to edify people. Just a brief word on abstention from alcohol because it is a thing in the minds of many people. To abstain from alcohol as a high watermark of righteousness is not a Christian idea. Now, there are Muslims around the world who would say that. Mormons will come in and shame us all because they’ll tell us we’re in sin for drinking coffee. If we’re going to use, as the high watermark of sanctification, abstaining from alcohol or something, I think our definition of holiness is whack. I’m saying something that a Muslim or a Mormon could hardly agree with, and it is not inherently Christian, but yet I am elevating this to some level of being, like the arrival of an individual to a godly place.
Jon Moffitt: Can I jump in? This is like getting in the weeds a little bit, but I think it’s okay to do. People will say the alcohol in the New Testament, or even in the Old Testament, isn’t as high, which is fine. It doesn’t matter what level the alcohol was at because the command to not get drunk was still legitimately an option. They had the option to do it.
Justin Perdue: Even Jesus is accused of being a drunkard, and so obviously what he was drinking had alcohol in it.
Jon Moffitt: Right. Not only that, Paul says that the elders, those who are looking at the qualifications, should not be drunk with much wine, which is a very easy for Paul to say flat out, “Just don’t drink it.” I understand it’s pretty visible, but here’s the second argument in that it was saying that they needed it back then because drinking sources were: water is polluted and all this kind of stuff. You are making argumentations that Scripture is just not going after. This is why he says do not let them pass judgment on you regarding what you eat or drink. Why do you think he mentions drink here? Because you could see very well how someone could be passing judgment on how it is you’re drinking something that could cause intoxication.
Justin Perdue: It’s a slippery slope. Like if you drink too much, you’re in sin, so why would you ever touch it?
Jon Moffitt: I encourage the listener to go read a section of the Bible which you will not believe is in the Bible, but it is in the Bible: Proverbs 31:6. I’ve seen many times in the Bible where people use Proverbs to explain why you shouldn’t drink, which I understand. It just reads this: “Give strong drink to the one who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress; let them drink and forget their poverty, and remember their misery no more.” That is in the Bible. The Proverbs 31 woman, by the way, that’s the prequel. That’s what’s going on before.
Justin Perdue: 1 Corinthians 10: 24. This is in the context of Paul’s writing about these issues. “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” That verse alone is incredibly helpful in thinking about Christian liberty and Christian freedom, because somebody could listen to us right now and say, “You guys are contending for freedom in Christ, and you’re making it clear that we’re not bound by these kinds of silly things that people often want to shackle us with. Okay, great. So does this mean that we would then just act however we want to act, and do whatever we want to do, like how the world says I’m just going to do me and then everybody needs to be okay with it and celebrate it?” No. We are saying something, like the apostles said, like Paul wrote that, as I alluded to earlier, is actually much more difficult than a broad sweeping prohibition could ever be.
We do well, as human beings with extreme positions, to go all in this way or abstain completely this way. We’re good with that. But when we’re told, no, actually you are free to eat and drink as you see fit in the Lord Jesus Christ, but you need to love your brothers and sisters, and you need to consider one another, that’s something that we just lose our minds over. I think it’s astonishing that the thing that regulates the exercise of our freedom is not some kind of heavy handed law; it is, in fact, the exhortation to love your brothers. God said that because He says it all the time, all over the New Testament: love each other. It’s what we’re called to do.
We were joking a little bit before we hit record on this, about how when we began to discuss the fact that our good works are not ultimately for God; they are for our neighbor and God is glorified. Our neighbor benefits from our good works and we are called and appointed to love each other. People get all kinds of nervous. They think that we’re somehow trying to cheapen the glory of God, or they think that somehow we’re making a slide into the old liberalism—the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man, we just need to love each other and it’s all going to be great. It’s not at all what we’re saying. But if you were thinking about what the Christian life is characterized by, and what marks a Christian, if you’re going to answer that question biblically and love for the saints is not at the top of your list, you’re not reading the same Bible I am. That conversation about love for one another needs to govern how we think about the exercise of our freedom. I’m going to consider who I live with—the brothers and sisters that I am in community with, in particular, at Covenant Baptist Church for me—and I’m going to make sure that I love and consider those people in everything that I do, including what I drink, or what I eat, or what kind of music I listen to, or how I might speak or frame something. I’m not bound by some law that’s going to condemn me before God, but I’m encouraged because Christ has done everything for me. Now give your life away in love for your brothers. This isn’t complicated. That’s what drives and motivates us.
Anyway, that’s just not the tone and tenor that I hear in any of the conversations about this topic. And that saddens me.
Jon Moffitt: It does. I will say people are definitely concerned about obeying God, they are concerned about what it means to be holy and righteous.
Justin Perdue: Which are good concerns.
Jon Moffitt: Right. I don’t want this to come across as I’m patting on the head, but there has culturally been a handing down to Christians of a certain standard of living that isn’t necessarily biblical. My desire for this podcast is actually to help people be liberated in your thinking. We often feel this binding in our own conscience, where, because you don’t think this is biblical, and yet I can’t find it in Scripture, I’m now bound to it.
Actually, there are two things: I’ve been set free to love you and not feel that. But also, I know a lot of people who don’t think drinking is a sin, or watching certain movies isn’t a sin. There’s a great friend of ours and deacon in our church who cannot watch violent movies. It legitimately messes with his head. He doesn’t think it’s sinful though.
Justin Perdue: Sure. He just doesn’t like it.
Jon Moffitt: His wife does.
But the reason I mentioned that is there’s a “I’m refraining from participating because it’s not beneficial for me” dialogue versus “No one else should participate in this because it’s not beneficial for me. So if it’s not beneficial for me, how can it be beneficial for you?” And that is what we’re trying to say. We need to be careful we’re not making those two connections.
Justin Perdue: Agree. It’s a very myopic perspective.
Jon Moffitt: I’m going to just round something back around. I hear this a lot: the potential of hurting, and what I want to go back to the hypothetical weak brother, there could be someone out there that we could offend. I will tell you that I offend people all the time because of things that I choose or choose not to do, but those people aren’t in my church. I have not seen where Paul binds me to the culture that surrounds me, whether it’s a Christian culture or not. We could even talk about masks and all kinds of things like that, to go along with that.
Justin Perdue: But do we really want to do that?
Jon Moffitt: Nope. We’re not going to do that.
But the point of it is that I have been called to the local body and I need to be considerate and concerned about them. If I am going to lead someone in, what I would say, legitimately trapped in sin—not critical, not judgmental sin—but they need to be rebuked of that. We’re talking legitimate enslavement to, at the time Paul does have mentions of falling back into idol worship when he’s talking about the weaker brother, and he’s talking about meat offered to idols, there’s a long, strong pull that’s going on there. Paul is trying to be conscious of what’s going on in the context, but it doesn’t bother him, but there could be a pull that ends up going back into that direction.
Justin Perdue: I might put the pastor hat on for a minute. I’m going to talk as a pastor right now. Jon, we say this all the time. We love Theocast and pray the Lord continues to grow this platform, and we are unashamed about being pastors first. We pastor local churches. I know for our own elders at our church, and I’m sure that you guys at Grace Reformed would say the same thing, I’m sure for Jimmy, even, at Christ Community, his guys would say the same thing. A few things that guide us in our thinking about these matters in our church: one, if the Bible calls something sin, we call it sin. It’s not an option. Two, if the Bible doesn’t call something sin, we will not call it sin. Not negotiable. Don’t really care how you feel about it. If the Bible doesn’t say it’s sin then we’re not going to call it sin.
Jon Moffitt: We were having a quick dialogue beforehand, and we have to clarify. Someone may say name something illegal drugs or something like that it actually fits within—
Justin Perdue: It fits within a biblical parent.
Jon Moffitt: Right. Because if it’s illegal, it’s immoral. Because we’re called to obey the authority that we’re in unless it contradicts Scripture. Almost anything can fit underneath the category of Scripture. It does a broad brush. It doesn’t have to literally say heroin is wrong.
Justin Perdue: A few other things that matter here, we will not, like we said earlier about binding the conscience—we’ve already defined that—we will not bind consciences where the Scripture doesn’t. That’s a big deal in a local church.
Next, this is controversial perhaps, we will not allow the conscience of a single person or a group of people—that includes the pastors—to dictate terms for the whole church. There won’t just be this one person or this group of people who have really strong convictions about said issue that is then going to determine for the entire church how we’re going to set our trajectory on this matter. Including the elders. We’re not going to do that.
Another thing: we will seek to destroy self-righteousness that flows both directions. The one direction is obvious, where people who don’t participate in liberties and exercise freedoms can be self-righteous toward those who do. But it’s also true that those who exercise freedom, and understand that they’re free to do something like drink a beer, can be very self-righteous about their understanding for those who think they can’t. So, it flows both directions. We want to destroy self-righteous freedom.
Jon Moffitt: We could be accused of doing a podcast with a beer in hand as flaunting our liberties.
Justin Perdue: But we’re not casting shade on people who don’t drink.
Jon Moffitt: No. I don’t think only strong Christians do particular things, like drink wine or watch certain movies.
Justin Perdue: We’re not saying, “Oh, well, if you watch R-rated movies, you must really understand that your righteousness only comes from Christ.” That’s not what we’re saying.
Jon Moffitt: Or if you can have foul language and drink a beer, then you are the truest of the free Christian.
Justin Perdue: That’s ridiculous.
Jon Moffitt: That is actually sinful.
Justin Perdue: It is. Brief plug here: that kind of lawless living, where you think that the more you can just go crazy or out of control, that is driven by the same legalistic spirit that you lambast other people for.
Jon Moffitt: You’re creating a new law.
Justin Perdue: You have. It used to be legalism in the formal sense of the word, and now, we are being legalistic in terms of who can exercise their liberty the most. It is so ridiculous when it goes that direction. As a pastor, the biggest things that I would want to do from a cultural perspective is we want to love and consider each other, and we want to be charitable. We want that flowing both directions from the stronger to the weaker, as Paul would phrase it. And also from the weaker to the stronger.
Jon Moffitt: I would say, just on this, before we lose a thought, Paul says we are to consider how to build one another up. If someone chooses to refrain for whatever reasons in particular, it could be for dietary purposes, there’s a thousand reasons why people may say they’re not going to participate in that, and it’s not because their conscience is bound. They’re just saying they prefer not to. I know people who have family members who have horrible backgrounds in alcoholism and all kinds of other reasons. I never want that person to feel less than. If Paul calls me to say that I am to give up my preferences, I’m to set aside, I am to make them feel loved, and so I want that person to always feel loved and cared for. I never want them to think they’re just not at the top level echelon of Christianity, because once they are, that won’t bother them. That is just not helpful at all.
Justin Perdue: Last couple of things I’ll say, as a pastor, in thinking about a culture in a local church. We would want to seek to establish a situation where we are going to all aim to love one another and legitimately consider other people as more important than ourselves. If we have that as our goal, then we are already disarming this whole conversation before it even gets started. Because my aim is to love and edify those around me, and their aim is to love and edify those around them, we’re going to be just fine if that’s what’s governing us.
Last thought: we all should seek to train our consciences according to God’s Word.
Jon Moffitt: And that takes work.
Justin Perdue: It takes a long time.
Jon Moffitt: If you’ve grown up in a pietistic background.
Justin Perdue: Yes. It takes a long time, which means what? Patience is required. What does this mean? We say this all the time, we always come back to the same stuff: we live with one another in love, patience, charity, humility, bearing with one another in meekness. Sounds like Ephesians 4 to me. It’s how we live together in the church. That’s the way forward in this conversation for the benefit of all.
Jon Moffitt: What if you, one, you know your conscience is bound, but you know how to get free from it. Let’s just remove let’s remove alcohol for the moment. We’re talking about particular Christian actions: things they should do or shouldn’t do, places they should or shouldn’t go. I think some people’s consciences are bound by particular religious actions—I’m just going to say this: how often you particularly read a book or not, a.k.a. your Bible. Your conscience can be bound by many things that basically says, “Unless you do this, you’re in sin,” when the Bible never says that is sinful. You were binding the conscience in such a way. So, how do we set people free from that? That is a conversation I really want to have in the members’ podcast.
Justin Perdue: I don’t know that I have anything else to add to set that up.
If we are going to have a conversation worth listening to, that’s yet to be determined. But if you would like to see how this conversation goes about Christian liberty and things that Jon has talked about on how to set people free from this kind of bondage in their thinking. We may talk a little bit more specifically about alcohol.
Maybe you’re thinking, “I would love to hear Jon and Justin riff on that a little bit.” You can do that by going to our website, theocast.org, and you can find more information there about our membership. The name of that is soon to change. We’re just going to keep saying that every week.
Jon Moffitt: It’s more about what you’re giving than what you’re getting.
Justin Perdue: So true. You’re not purchasing a good, this is not a commodity that you’re buying, you are partnering with a ministry, you’re partnering with a movement to spread this message of rest in Christ and the sufficiency of Christ for sinners like us. He is our only hope and righteousness.
We’ll talk with a number of you over in the members’ area, and we will talk with all of you, we hope, next week.