What is Christian Liberty?

by Dr. Ken Matto

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

(Gal 5:13 KJV)

It is another created term!!!
 What exactly is this liberty? Is it a license to sin? Does it mean we have the freedom to engage in activities which others cannot because we are free? When speaking of this liberty it is necessary to go back to Scripture and define the term as it is portrayed in Scripture, not in our minds.
What This Liberty is Not
There are Christians which I personally know who feel it is okay to smoke and drink alcoholic beverage. One pastor who lived close to me feels it is fine to drink beer or highballs and if women wear short skirts, it is okay because they are exercising their liberty. This pastor I heard on the radio on a Sunday morning and it nearly jolted me out of bed. Is it possible to smoke or drink to the glory of God?
We can also include in the arena of evil, lotteries and gambling. Let us not leave out football pools and on the job lotteries. If a Christian partakes in these, they have compromised their testimony to their co-workers. Where then is the separation of the believer? Sunday morning with a bunch of head knowledge? A method I adopted years ago when someone came around the office with a little league raffle or a boy/girl scout raffle, I would just give them the dollar and refuse the ticket. Two things would become evident: There was no gambling and it showed the Lord’s people are not cheap.
(1 Cor 10:31 KJV) Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
(Col 3:17 KJV) And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
These verses explicitly teach that our whole lives are to be exemplary since whatever we do, we are doing it in the name of Christ and to the glory of God. I personally would have a hard time going into a liquor store for beer or tobacco products but if a person walks in the flesh, I guess there is no conscience about it. God commands separation of the believer from the ways of the world. God never leads us into evil, but from evil and God does not teach us to engage evil in moderation either.
How can a parent teach a child about biblical things when there is always a six pack in the refrigerator or a pack of cigarettes or cigars on the table in the living room? That sends mixed messages to the child and will stunt their spiritual growth. I wonder how many parents are spiritual enough to tag their children as weak believers so as not to weaken their faith with their "enjoyable" sins. (1 Cor 8:12 KJV) But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. If you have a believing child, then they are brethren and when you fulfill your lusts of the flesh, you sin against them. This liberty is not license to begin a life of self-pleasing actions but this liberty is the beginning of a dedicated life of service to God. Worldly actions like smoking and drinking are a bondage, so how can one classify it as freedom? Very simple, from a point of biblical illiteracy and ignorance of God’s perfect law of liberty.
What This Liberty Is
When we begin to speak of this liberty, we must define the term associated with it. The term "liberty" in the New Testament is the Greek word "eleuqeria" (eleutheria) which means freedom or liberty. It is used 11 times in the New Testament:
In the following verses it refers to freedom from sin:
(Rom 8:21 KJV)
Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
Since the Christian has obtained freedom and liberty from corruption, so when the believers are glorified, then the creation shall be freed from the corruption it now suffers because of man’s sin.
2 Cor 3:17 (KJV)
Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
If any person does not have the Holy Spirit, then they are unsaved and still in bondage to the law to which they must give account on the last day.
Those who are saved have the Holy Spirit living within them and because of grace, they are freed from the law.
Gal 5:13 (KJV)
For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
God is warning us that just because we have been freed from both the keeping of the ceremonial law for salvation and its eternal penalty for not keeping the law, we are not to turn that into a "free thinking" Christian lifestyle. We are still bound to be obedient to God’s word
1 Pet 2:16 (KJV)
As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.
The word "maliciousness" may also be translated "evil, badness, wickedness, trouble." God is again warning us to use the freedom of Grace in the proper context in which He has given it and not to use it any way we feel like.
2 Pet 2:19 (KJV)
While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.
Here God is warning the Christians that false teachers always promise some form of liberty. The type of liberty they teach is not the liberty which God has given to His children. The liberty the false teachers bring is freedom from God’s law with the intent of a life of self-absorption and independence from God in the ultimate sense.
In the following verses it refers to freedom from the requirements of the law:
Gal 2:4 (KJV)
And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:
Here God is warning us about false brethren who tend to come into the flock and once again desire to enslave the Christian in ceremonial law keeping. The unbeliever comes into the modern church and attempts to bring rituals so people only think they can worship God through some formal liturgy.
Gal 5:1 (KJV)
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
Here God is again warning the Christian to stand in the liberty of Grace and not to be entangled in the yoke of bondage. Since Christ has come and paid the penalty for His elect, there is no more need to become involved in the sacrifice system of the law.
James 1:25 (KJV)
But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
Here God is telling us that those who are truly saved will continue in the work which God has given to each believer. The idea of intentional effort to look into the law of liberty is conveyed.
James 2:12 (KJV)
So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.
Here we are being warned to walk properly in our Christian walk or else God will judge our actions and it will bring consequences in our lives. The true believer will never come into judgment for any sins because they were all atoned for by Christ but there is always divine chastisement for our misdeeds in our Christian walk.
When I speak of verses which say we have freedom from the law, it does not mean we are independent of the law of God rather it means that we need not fulfill the requirements of the law for salvation because the penalty for sin demanded by God’s holy law was satisfied by the vicarious atonement of Christ on behalf of His elect. So far we have looked at nine verses and not one of them hinted that we have the freedom to engage in evil. (Smoking and drinking are evil!) For those Christians who feel this liberty means they can partake of the ways of the world again, here is the verse which applies to them:
Prov 26:11 (KJV)
As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.
Where did we ever get the notion that Christ went to the cross to die for our sins so we could go right back and enjoy sin again. There is no such thing as a "redeemed sinner" in the biblical sense. Either you are redeemed by the blood of Christ and walking in His statutes or you are still a sinner on your way to hell. You can’t have it both ways.
Freedoms the Christian can enjoy:
Freedom from the penalty of eternal damnation
Freedom from the fulfillment of the demands of God’s holy law for salvation
Freedom not to sin and entangle ourselves in evil again
Freedom from the fear of death
Freedom from not having to face the judgment of God
Freedom from religious rituals
Freedom to be part of the Great Commission without guilt of past sins
Freedom to worship God without traditional or religious overtones
Freedom to approach the throne of grace boldly
It is a terrible shame that so-called Bible believing Christians take a beautiful term like "liberty" and completely redefine it in diametrical terms to the Scriptures so they may partake in their pet sins. It is ironic that these same sin seeking Christians will be the first to point out the sins of someone else while justifying their own pet lusts.
Smoking and drinking are as incongruous to the Christian walk as fornicating and murder. After all, if God had granted the liberty to engage in sins again, then how come there are still consequences attached to those sins? Can one drink alcohol and not expect liver problems? Can one smoke and not expect oral or lung cancer? Can one gamble and not expect to go broke? Pick your sin and then try to convince yourself there are no aftereffects.
Liberty is a gift within the gift of Free Grace and not a sin propellant!