The Bondage of Things
Dr. Joe Temple

Independence From The Moral Law

Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Galatians, chapter 5. We want to look at a passage of Scripture which we will use as a springboard, so to speak, for the subject we are discussing. We will read from verse 1:

Galatians 5:

1Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
2Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.
3For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
4Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
5For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
6For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
7Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?
8This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you.
9A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.
10I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be.
11And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.
12I would they were even cut off which trouble you.
13For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

Notice the first verse of this chapter again:

Galatians 5:

1Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

Now down in verse 4:

Galatians 5:

4Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

Now down in verse 13:

Galatians 5:

13For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

Loss Of Liberty

For quite some time, we have been talking about the security of the believer—his security in the love of God. We have suggested that on the other side of the ledger there is a matter for consideration—that though we cannot lose our salvation, there are a number of things we can lose.

We have been looking at those things. We have found that we could lose our fellowship. We discovered that we could lose our rewards. We discovered that we could lose our health, our money, our property, and our material things.

We have been looking of late at the suggestion that we can lose our liberty in Christ. That is suggested by the phrase, “falling from grace.” Time and time again, folks ask, “Do you believe you can fall from grace?” Well, of course, your answers are varied on that, and the answers do not all mean the same thing.

For example, if I were to be asked the question, “Do you believe in falling from grace?”, I would say, “Yes, I do.” If someone else were asked that question, “Do you believe in falling from grace?”, he also would say, “Yes, I do.” “Oh, you and Joe Temple believe the same things.” But when we get into the discussion, we would find that we do not. When I say I believe in falling from grace, I believe in the thing that we are going to be discussing. I believe it is possible for us as believers to lose our liberty in Christ. When the other individual talks about falling from grace, he means he believes you can lose your salvation. You see, there is a difference.

On the other hand, the negative answers might be given in just the same sense. Here is an individual who believes strongly in the security of the believer, and if you say to him, “Do you believe you can fall from grace?”, he will say almost indignantly, “I do not,” because he doesn't believe you can lose your salvation. But he would not be scriptural if he said that he didn't believe he could fall from grace because you can fall from grace. From a scriptural standpoint, you can lose the liberty that is yours in Christ. And that is the reason the first verse of this chapter says:

Galatians 5:

1Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free…

We have begun to examine some of the liberties that are ours in Christ, some of the liberties that many of us lose, liberties we don't realize we lose, liberties that we can be in danger of losing.

The liberty that we looked at was exemplified in detail in chapter 7 of the book of Romans. By the grace of God, we have been freed from the bondage of the law, the bondage of the Ten Commandments, the bondage of working out our salvation and working for our salvation. What liberty there is in realizing that our salvation has been bought and paid for by the finished work of Christ, and that there is nothing left for us to do but enjoy the salvation which was given to us at so great a price. And yet, so many people want to lose their liberty. Many people do lose their liberty and go back into what Paul calls the bondage of the law.

Lawful But Not Expedient

I want us to look at another kind of liberty that we are in danger of losing. In order to look at that liberty, we will have to look at the bondage. So the thing I want you to think about with me is the bondage of things.

Do you know that many of God's dear children who are saved (There is no question about their salvation; their relationship to Christ is real.) are today living in the bondage of things? They have lost the liberty of the children of God. Does this sound like strange language to you? Well, I think we will be able to understand what we are talking about if we examine the Scriptures.

So will you turn, please, to I Corinthians, chapter 6, verse 12, and notice a principle enunciated for every Christian:

I Corinthians 6:

12All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any [I will not be brought under the bondage of any thing].

Let the words of this verse filter through our thinking. First, notice what Paul says. “As a Christian, all things are lawful for me.” That is, all things are permissible, but all things are not expedient for a Christian. The word expedient , of course, means “best.” All things are not best for me as a Christian. And then he emphasizes the verse by saying, “All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”

There are two questions, then, that every child of God ought to ask in relation to things. Not, is there any harm in doing this? Is there any harm in that? That is what a great many Christians do. They go about saying, “Is there any harm in my doing this as a Christian? Is there any harm in my doing that as a Christian?” And pretty soon, they have so circumscribed their lives by danger and by harm that their lives are made up of a series of legalistic practices that rob them of all they have in the Lord.

In place of asking the questions, “Is there any harm? Is it wrong?”, there are two questions that every Christian ought to ask concerning anything that comes up in his life. First, “Is it best for me as a Christian? Is this the best thing that I can be doing with my time? Is this the best thing that I can be doing with my talent?” You may ask, “Is there something wrong?”, and you may be able to say, “No, there is not anything wrong with it,” but it still ought not to have any place in your life. You are God's child. You are meant for higher things than other people are. What might not be harmful at all for an ordinary person would have no place in your life because it is not best. So the question that you ask is, “Is it best for me?” And you make your decision on that.

Then the other question you ask is, “Is it something that will get me in its grip? Is it something that will get me in its power? Is it something to which I will become a slave?” I dare not be engaged in anything as a Christian that will be entangling for me. I belong to the Lord, and since I belong to the Lord, I must avoid all entangling alliances. Now keep this in mind. I am not talking about anything that is necessarily evil. I want to keep that before you. We ask a question, “Is there anything wrong with this?” We say, “No.” “Well, it is all right for me to do it, then.” No, it isn't. You have got to ask this other question, “Is it best for me?” And then you have to ask another question, “Will it entangle me? Will it occupy my time over much? Will I become a slave to it?” I dare not be engaged in anything which will bring me under its power because I belong to the Lord.

Moral Law Obeyed By The Power Of The Holy Spirit

Will you turn with me, please, to I Corinthians, chapter 10, keeping in mind that the Lord has set us free from things. We need to be very, very careful that we do not get back into these same things again:

I Corinthians 10:

23All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.
24Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth.
25Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake:
26For the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof.
27If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake.
28But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof:
29Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience?
30For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?
31Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
32Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:
33Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

Keep in mind that we are talking about our liberties and the danger of losing them. We are talking about the danger of losing our liberty in the slavery of things . And we are suggesting to you these passages of Scripture which indicate to us that our attitude toward things ought to be so that we can maintain our liberty. We have established one or two principles thus far.

First, the basic principle is that all things are lawful for me as a Christian. I have been delivered into the glorious liberty of the children of God. I am a child of grace. Yet that does not mean that I use my liberty carelessly, and it does not mean that I use my liberty without thought of obligation to my own experience in the Lord.

And so I have a little test to which I put all things. First, “Is it best for me, this particular thing? Not ‘Is it bad?', but ‘Is it good?' Even if it is good, is it best for me?” And then the other, “Is it something that will get me in its power? Is it something that will make a slave out of me?”

Let's pause for a moment and think about something because I want you to get the emphasis. If I were talking to you about liquor this morning, you could understand what I am talking about, and you would say, “Yes, I don't want to have anything to do with liquor.” If I were talking about dope, you could understand what I am talking about. You would say, “Yes, I don't want to have anything to do with dope, either, because it might get me in its power.” That is not a hard decision to make because you have a basis upon which to make a decision about dope. One is that it is not good for you. Certainly it is not best for you, and it will get you in its power. It has no room in your life.

But let's think about something that is not bad. Let's think about something that is good. Just because it is good does not mean that it ought to be in your life because you are God's child. Even that good thing can get you in its power. And if that is true, you must eliminate it from your life.

Will It Edify Me?

In I Corinthians, chapter 10, the portion of the Word at which we have been looking, notice verse 23:

I Corinthians 10:

23All things are lawful for me, [There is our principle. That is the principle of freedom we have in Christ.] but all things are not expedient: [“Best,” and there again is the second basic principle that we looked at.] all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.

I have another test to which I put things. Is this going to be edifying, this thing that I want to do? There may not be anything particularly wrong with it, but is it going to edify me? Now the word edify means “to build up.” Is it going to build me up as a Christian? Am I going to be a stronger Christian because I am putting forth my effort and my time in relation to this particular thing? Is it going to edify?

I am sure, without our going into detail and into examples, that you can recognize that there are many things that are perfectly within the law that do not edify. There are many things that may be morally all right that do not edify and do not build up. You see, we are Christians. We are not under the same law as other people. We are not under the same manners as other people. We are not under the same customs as other people. We are different! What other people can do with perfect freedom, we cannot do. We are Christians. We have got to make decisions on the basis of these things: “Is it something that will build me up? Is it something that will make me stronger?”

You will notice that the word edification refers not only to the individual in question, but it refers to his associates. All things are lawful to me. I will do anything I want to do. But if I do it, will it be a source of blessing to other people? Will it build them up or tear them down? How many times have you said to yourself or heard someone say, “Why, I can do that. It doesn't bother me.” You may be right. We won't argue with you about it, but does it bother someone else? Does it hurt someone else? If it does, you have no right to do it. “What?” you say. “Do I have to pattern my conscience after someone else?” Yes, you do, if you are God's child. “What?” you say. “Do I have to surrender some of my liberties just because someone else doesn't have as much light as I have?” You may have to.

Illustration Of Meat Offered To Idols

That is what Paul says in this passage of Scripture. He gives the problem that was very, very evident in the day in which he lived. We have often referred to it by way of illustration—the problem related to eating meat offered to idols. You find Paul referring to it in Romans. You find him writing about it to the Galatians—about meat that was offered to idols.

Why was that such a problem? Let's get a little background so we will all understand what we are talking about. These were Gentile churches: the church at Corinth, the church at Galatia, the church at Rome, etc. The cities, of course, were filled with idol temples, and the people brought sacrifices to these idols. Of course, the idols could not eat anything, and though the priests were religious, they were business men, too. They said, “It is a shame to let all this meat go to waste.” So when the folk had laid the meat in front of the idol and had gone, the priests reached out and pulled it in, and when they got a load of it, they took it down to the market place.

If you have ever been in any cities that are similar to those cities, you know what kind of butcher shops they had then. They did not have the meat all wrapped up nicely in little packages with plastic over it so it looked nice and fresh. They did not have it like that. They had it hanging up on hooks, covered with flies and so forth, and when you came and wanted some meat, they just sliced off a hunk and gave it to you.

These people who brought the meat knew that the idols could not eat it, but it always disappeared, so it was down at the market place. And then Christians who were born again and were delivered from idol worship began to be a little bit alarmed, and they began to do a little thinking. They said, “You know, if we eat that meat which was offered to idols, (We don't go to the temple any more, and we don't have anything to do with that.) but if we eat that meat that was offered to the idols, could we be aiding in the worship of idols? Could we?”

They said, “Those priests don't give that meat to the market place. They sell it. And if the man down at the market place gives the priests the money, that keeps the temple going. Now are we supporting idol worship, or are we not?” They were really concerned about it. Here was one brother who said, “Let me tell you. I have been saved, and everyone knows I have been saved. They know I am against idol worship. I am going to eat all the meat that I can eat, and it does not bother me one bit.” And here comes another brother who says, “If you knew about idol worship as I know about it, and if you have been involved in it as I have been involved in it, you wouldn't want to have anything to do with it at all. You would not even eat any of that meat for fear you might be supporting that idol worship.”

So you see what the problem was. One could, and another couldn't. The Apostle said that if anyone invites you out to dinner, and he has meat on the table, don't you be so concerned about the meat that you say to your hostess before you pick up your knife, “I have got to know something. Has this meat been offered to idols? If it has, I don't want to have anything to do with it.” You don't need to do that. You are free. Go ahead and eat the meat and forget it.

But if someone else is there, and he says to the hostess, “Has this meat been offered to idols?”, and she says, “Yes, it has,” and he says, “I wouldn't think of eating that,” you had better not eat it either because if you do, you make that brother to stumble. If you do, you won't build him up. You won't make him stronger. You will cause him to wonder how real your faith is. He sees you eat that meat, and he says, “Mr. Brown is a good Christian, and I cannot understand about that. Well, maybe I am just an old narrow-minded fool, so I will just go ahead and do it.” And he does! And he stumbles spiritually.

Will It Offend Others?

You have got to make your decision about things, not always on the basis of whether or not you can do it, but on the basis of whether or not it is going to cause someone else to stumble. Notice verse 30 of this chapter, where Paul says:

I Corinthians 10:

30For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?

That is, I am saved by grace, and I even asked the Lord to bless this food. Why do people criticize me for it? Well, look at verse 31:

I Corinthians 10:

31Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

Meaning what? It will be to God's glory if what you do does not give offense either to the Jew or to the Gentile or to the Church of God.

This phrase, “give offense,” does not mean “to make someone mad.” You cannot live without doing that. If you are going to move, you are going to create friction. The only people who are not disturbing anyone are the people out in Memorial Park or down at the other end of town. Those are the only people who are not disturbing anyone. You are going to create friction when you move. We are not talking about that. To give offense here means “to stumble.” You have no right to do anything that is going to cause another Christian to stumble.

Let me give you a concrete illustration of what I am talking about. One of the biggest problems today which has a great realm is the problem of association with modernistic elements—teachers, preachers, and churches. I do not know how many people will say, “I can go to such and such a church. I know they do not believe the Bible, and I know that they deny the deity of Christ. I know all of that, but I believe the Bible, and I know that Christ is real, and it gives me an opportunity to witness. It gives me an opportunity to serve. Therefore, I am going to do it because I am free from all those things.”

Well, we will not argue with you. Maybe you do have an opportunity to witness. You do believe in the deity of Christ. You do believe in the inspiration of the Word. We will not argue about that. But have you stopped to consider how many people you are causing to stumble by your association? Have you stopped to consider how many people do not know what you know? The Bible calls them weak because they do not have as much knowledge as you have, and all they can do is follow you. Your very association in that place lends to them the idea that it is all right or you would not be there. They don't have enough sense to discern between what is good and what is bad. All they know is that you are there. Many times, the things they hear in those places cause them to stumble.

Conclusion

So you have to come face to face with the test which I am speaking about in relation to things if you are to maintain your liberty in Christ.

First, recognize that if a child of God is saved by grace, all things are lawful. Second, is the thing best for me? Will it bring me into its power? Will it make me a slave? And third, will it build me up, and will it build other people up? Fourth, whatever I do, whatever thing I permit in my life—if one time that thing takes away from the glory of God by causing someone else to stumble, that thing must be put out of my life. You have not lost your liberty. You are exercising your sovereignty, and there is a big difference.


Home Contact Us Bible Studies Books King James
Abilene Bible Church Living Bible Studies
Dr. Daiqing Yuan Tim Temple Dr. Joe Temple
Some icons on this site used courtesy FatCow Web Hosting

www.livingbiblestudies.org