Of Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience.
Chapter 21, Paragraph 2.
“….So that to Believe such Doctrines, or obey such Commands out of Conscience, is to betray true liberty of Conscience; and the requiring of an implicit Faith, and absolute and blind Obedience, is to destroy Liberty of Conscience, and Reason also.”
1 Corinthians 3:5
2 Corinthians 1:24
The modern evangelical woman is the target of so much “Biblical” advice. Just consider some popular topics: working vs. staying at home, having a great marriage, raising godly children, celebrating holidays (sometimes through embracing Lent or Advent), and various lifestyle choices (“essential oils! social media! sustainable, natural…whatever!”) There is an opinion to go with every part of a believer’s life.
Now seeking advice is not wrong: “Without consultation, plans are frustrated,
But with many counselors they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22) We see someone who seems to have something we want, whether it be a happy family, a successful career, or a nice pair of shoes. We look to them for advice, and they share it. But it is just the advice of men and women. Their “steps”, “guidelines”, or “how-tos” are not commands of God.
The subtle pressure to conform with whatever manifestation cultural Christianity takes on is nonetheless strong. You may grind your own grain to grow in godliness one year, only to find grain out of the diet altogether the next. When such advice is given, we have to ask ourselves: who is the Lawgiver? God alone determines how we are to obey Him. If anyone tells you that you should obey a certain doctrine, make sure that it is defended from Scripture. Don’t take famous so-and-so’s word for it – “to the law and to the testimony” (Isaiah 8:20)!
When we are in a position to give instruction, we must not bind another’s conscience with our own commands. It’s always thrilling when someone asks for advice, for it implies they think you contain some wisdom. In our zeal, we may place a burden on someone, rather than persuading them from Scripture that this is so. We may even go so far as to require blind obedience to our traditions. Without making a case from Scripture, we deny the reasoning ability of our brother and sister in Christ. The Holy Spirit utilizes the Word to enable the believer to obey God’s commands. Let us not stand in the way of His work, but point our fellow believers to Scripture.
With all the pressure thrown upon Christian women to make every aspect of their lives “missional”, it is high time this doctrine of Christian liberty was once again proclaimed. Believer, you are free from the doctrines and commandments of mere humans. You are answerable to God alone. Pursue His commands diligently, and be settled in your own mind (Romans 14:5).
Questions to Consider
- Are you searching the Scriptures to see what God has commanded? Are you pointing others to Scripture when they seek your advice?