True Freedom and False Freedom

by Mike Ratliff

Much of the conflict we are seeing in our time between those who are seeking a return to Biblical values in the Church and those seeking “relevance” in every aspect has resulted in a standoff over “freedom.” Those who seek to remain Biblical understand what genuine freedom is while those seeking alternative forms of church are demanding freedom that is anything but. Martin Luther addressed this in his day as well.

by Martin Luther

“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8:35-36 KJV)

“There are two kinds of freedom. The first is a false freedom of false disciples. These people want freedom from satisfying their desires. They become Christians for that reason, just as the people in this passage became followers of Christ because they heard his followers were devout, good, patient, and gentle people, not thirsting for revenge. His followers freely gave to the poor and were generous. They also heard that his followers worshiped a merciful God, not an angry one. When they heard all of this, they liked the idea that believers would give to them and serve them. So they said, “I will gladly have others give to me, serve me, and forgive me. The Lord God will also forgive my sins and help me get to heaven.” They were glad to be on the receiving end of all this.

However, people like this are scoundrels and don’t want to leave their lives of sin and idolatry or give anything to anyone. They want to live lives of sexual immorality and self-gratification as they did before coming to Christ. Yet they still want to be considered Christians. These are false disciples who only want freedom for their physical desires. They praise the gospel and at first follow it earnestly. Soon after, they do what they want, following their evil lusts and desires. They become worse and more indecent than before. They are smugger, wilder, and greedier. They even steal more than others do.

The second type of freedom is the true freedom of genuine disciples. Those who stick to God’s Word and endure, suffer, and tolerate what they must are the ones who will be set free. They will become stronger as time goes on.”

As believers mature more and more there should also be a growing understanding of what real freedom is and that the freedom that our old nature lusts after only leads to bondage to the flesh. Believers should never be in the crowd that demands tolerance for what the Bible clearly calls sin, such as homosexuality, adultery, excessive alcohol consumption, dissipation (partying), lying, and stealing. They should be fervent about God’s glory as opposed to self-promotion, self-elevation, and self-gratification.

What should our response be to the ever-rising voice of protest from the apostate that we should tolerate sexual preference in the Church? We must do as the Bible says. If person does not claim to be a Christian then we do all we can to show them the way to light of God. That includes homosexuals. However, if a person claims to be a Christian, but refuses to reject their former sinful lifestyles then we shun them. We do not include them in our fellowship until and unless they repent.

SDG

28 thoughts on “True Freedom and False Freedom

  1. wow….very strong words, mike.

    of course we don’t want to leave our sinful ways……it’s fun (for a season).

    but that’s no reason to slam the alternative styles of church. when I say “alternative”, I do not mean supporting same sex unions or homosexual leaders in the church, but churches that just do things differently than the traditional church. there is a danger in tradition, don’t you think? it builds legalism and focusing on a different object other than that of showing Christ’s love to those who do not know him.

    is a church that meets in a park and teaches the bible and has a guy wearing shorts and flip-flops teaching straight from the Bible OK?

    I think being able to relate to people who have nothing in common with “traditional church” is a good thing, don’t you? If you cannot relate to the “inked up and pierced” guy at the liquor store, how will you bring him to Christ?

    I’m not sure what your reference to “alternative forms of church” is.

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  2. West,

    When I say “alternative” I am speaking of doing church in a form that is geared towards self-gratification. We must ask if our church model is based on God’s glory alone or if it makes us happy or feel good.

    Your comment seems to indicate that relavance is more important than God’s glory. Instead of relevance we need to be about obedience in declaring the good news and that means we start with the Law and why we can’t keep and why that is bad then move into the good news. What I meant by “alternative” is those church models that DO NOT do this. Why don’t they? They can’t if they stick to their dedication to “gay rights” or “anything goes sexuality” as not being barriers to fellowship.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  3. The mainline churches that do not stick to the Bible will reap what they sow……however, I saw your link on a site that was spreading negativity about a church that teaches out of the bible and has very real people working there. I apologize for not doing my due diligence in finding out more about you and your blog. It just came up after reading the previous post on CRN. It was NOT a Christian post; it was a blatant personal attack on a man of God. Hopefully you will chec it out and let them know that when they are “correcting” people they need to check themselves.

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  4. Hi West,

    You said, “If you cannot relate to the ‘inked up and pierced’ guy at the liquor store, how will you bring him to Christ?”

    Is it we who bring people to Christ? I’m sure you believe that it is the Holy Spirit who brings people to Christ. You and I are only responsible to share the bad news/good news, regardless of whether or not we can “relate” to people. We don’t need to look like the world to share the Gospel with the world.

    The Gospel is the Gospel. I am a 41-year-old, divorced, white woman. I have no tattoos or piercings. Yet, I am able to go to the mall and strike up a conversation with a 20-something Hispanic couple covered in tattoos and piercings. You know what I say to them? “Do you know Jesus Christ?” If they look at me funny, I may ask them if they grew up in a Christian home. From there, I can immediately move into asking them more questions like this, to get to the root of their “spirituality.” It only takes a few minutes to get to the “bad news.”

    West, I don’t have to “relate” to the world at all. All I have to do is love my neighbor and tell him about sin and salvation. That’s it. And the last thing I want to do is “relate” to my neighbor in such a way that he is made to feel comfortable about his sin or life of separation from God that he is living. I want him to feel very uncomfortable about his situation! And if that means he runs away from me and wants to have nothing to do with me ever again, praise God, because maybe — just maybe — that means the Holy Spirit is working on him, convicting him of sin. I’m sure you know that that is the first step. Without conviction of sin, there is no hope of true salvation.

    The church that makes people feel comfortable in their sin, whatever that sin may be, is NOT cooperating with God. The Holy Spirit is in the world convicting people of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. Why would you want to participate in, or cooperate with, any other program?

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  5. West,

    I watched about half of the video. I think I understand where you are coming from, but I must tell you that my impresssion of that was of someone compromising with the world. We are called to be separate from the world, not be part of it. We are pilgrims whose home is not here, but in Heaven with our Lord.

    I agree completly with Carol’s comment above. We must evangelize everyone regardless of how they are dressed or whatever. The only folks we are to break fellowship with are professing Christians who refuse to part with their sin, such as wordliness. However, the lost must be given the gospel and we do not have to act like them or play their kind of music or any such thing in order to do that BECAUSE it is the Holy Spirit who works in people’s hearts not us.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  6. I agree with Carroll ….mostly. I’m not saying we need to make people comfortable in their sin. Heck….I know my church doesn’t…nor does the church that gentleman (I mentioned from previous link) came from or is currently employed……like I said to Mike….I think I may have misunderstood his post…..I may have been jaded by the personal attack they took on someone I know to be a Man of God….he’s a Christian leader as well as a human being….he is warts and all a pretty good example of my age group and culture….

    what you can do in the mall with a tattoed couple is a beautiful gift…I wish I had that gift…..but not everyone has that gift and some people need to be able to relate to the world to do their part, dont’ you think? or does it all have to be done one way?

    thanks for the input Caroll….God Bless

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  7. Lesson number one. Don’t ever pass a Christian booklet to a bank teller. I got a no thanks and back to ya. Along with a not nice look. I guess that was to nervy. I think she was offended. I feel bad. Was that wrong?

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  8. If you cannot relate to the “inked up and pierced” guy at the liquor store, how will you bring him to Christ?

    Well said Carol and Mike. I just might add that we can always relate to lost souls, for we were once lost. There is no arrogance in the Christians who –even if they’re wearing suits– remember what they were before Christ saved them.

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  9. West,

    You talk about being jaded. Well, I have had it up to my forehead with these churches who try to be cool. When I became churchless in 2006 I visited more churches in our area than I care to remember. Those that looked just like the one in video were all candy and fun and feel good, but only watered down truth. No thank you. I’m not saying your man is not a believer. I’m just saying that he is doing some things and trying to be that person we see when he does not have to. Why not just preach the truth in love? Why should you go out of your way to resemble the world and its ways when Christ came and died to deliver us from that and God’s wrath which is going to burn all of that up?

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  10. Deb,

    It usually works better if you build up a relationship with a person first then lead into the gospel. That still doesn’t mean they will listen or like what you say, but if you do that as God is drawing them to Himself then God will do His part – I promise. 🙂

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  11. Thanks Mike, Good advice. I got so excited about handing out the tracts and booklets I purchased I wanted to try it out. She wasn’t a bit joyful about the Joy booklet. 🙂

    I did read this article and it is so right on. I have been to churches that you described and there is no accountability for anything. Not even in ones you would expect to be good. 😦

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  12. Some people look as though they are happy in their lifestyle of worldliness but deep within they want out of it. They know they aren’t right with God and many try to ease the grief with denying He exists and living as they please. These people don’t want the world at all anymore. When they come to know Christ as their Lord and Savior they don’t want to go to a church that is like the life they left. Pastors overestimate their coolness and don’t realize that they may lead believers into a life of licentiousness. Heavy metal praise may very well cause a brother to stumble. Things that are done in a church must be carefully examined and questions need to be asked, such as, will this cause stumbling if we implement it. Chances are it will because it isn’t to the glory of God, but to the glory of man. Some churches want to draw people in. God bless those churches that want to draw God’s glory instead.

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  13. Deb,
    Well, you have the right heart about it and I suggest that you pray for God to bring people into your sphere that you can befriend and witness to.

    As far as those “churches” that try to be cool…. That is why I posted the piece from Oswald Chambers and the one by Spurgeon above. 🙂

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  14. “…some people need to be able to relate to the world to do their part, dont’ you think?”

    Hi West, I’m not sure what you mean by that. Perhaps we are talking past each other. Like dec said, I think we all “relate” to the lost because we all were lost.

    What I’m saying is that I don’t need to try to talk like the world or dress like the world or adorn myself like the world to be able to care about the world and have compassion and relate on a deeper level. Do you know what I mean?

    So, this guy in the video that you and Mike are talking about… I haven’t watched the video because I don’t have a very fast internet connection. But from what you and Mike have been saying, I assume that this pastor is “worldly” in his approach in order to try to gain acceptance from the world, thinking that this is the best way to be able to share the Gospel with the world. If that’s the case, then he’s wrong.

    I just saw a news story tonight. A church nearby is trying some different tactics to get people into the church. Two Sundays ago, they had bengal tigers up on the stage right after the service. They advertised this to the community to try to get people to come and see the tigers. Then, this past weekend, they had banners up out at the street in front of the church. These are huge signs that say SEX.

    You know what the neighbors around the church had to say? They’re saying that they think it’s inappropriate for a church to try to lure people in that way! The pastor thinks he’s luring people in, while the unchurched think it’s tacky and silly. Sure, some new people showed up. But why? Because they want their flesh satisfied.

    So, okay, these new people go and the pastor does a sermon series on sex. Are these people going to hear the Gospel? Are they going to hear, week after week, that God is serious about sin? Are they going to hear that they are condemned to hell unless they repent? Well, no. The pastor in the interview was saying that he just wants to get people in the door so that they can know that they are loved. But that’s not the Gospel.

    But what if this pastor was using the sex series to get people in and then he really did preach the Gospel? Would that make it okay? No. That’s a bait and switch, it’s deception, and God hates deception. You can’t try to arouse the flesh and get people all full of lust and then say that God hates lust! What kind of a hypocritcal message is that??

    West, why can’t we stop trying to appeal to the world and, instead, just preach the Gospel?

    The cross is an offense to those who are perishing. And those who live Godly lives will be persecuted. So, why can’t we just trust God that He will save whom He is going to save? If people are offended by the preaching of the cross, that’s God’s issue to deal with. If people hate us for living Godly lives, well, it’s not fun for us, but we have to trust God that He is using it for His glory. Can we just keep our eyes on God and let God take care of the salvation issue?

    West, I don’t have to gain someone’s trust through some extensive relationship before I can share the Gospel. First, it’s not me they have to trust; it’s God they need to trust. I need to get out of the way so that they don’t see me; they need to see God. Second, people will “trust” you enough to listen to what you have to say if you tell them that you care about them. It only takes a few minutes to look into someone’s eyes and talk to them about eternity, life and death, and a relationship with God. They very quickly realize that you care for them deeply.

    If people reject you, it’s not really you they are rejecting; it’s God they are rejecting and that’s something God knows all about. Think about it, West. The lost reject God every day. They are already rejecting Him and they are already condemned. So, what difference does it make if they voice that rejection to you? It’s not like you sharing the Gospel with them has suddenly caused them to reject God. They have already rejected Him. You have nothing to lose by just going straight at it and letting the chips fall where they may. Let God sort it out.

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  15. Hi Mike,
    It all come down to compromising the truth to reach the world. In time past we applauded those who stood by the Word and their principles no matter what the cost was to them, those men and women are few and far between today. Today, “The Church” is applauding those who compromise the Truth because then, they don’t have to answer to God for everything. I sometimes wonder why we think we have the right to play God? What gives us the right to listen to Him when WE want to, and ignore Him when WE choose to? Who do we think we are, when we change the Gospel by saying it’s just another way to Jesus? Then there is Tolerance. I guess that goes together with Compromise because we change the Gospel not to offend anyone. Christians need to wake up and face it, the Truth offends, it’s a fact.

    This is a quote I just love, Spurgeon was quite a defender of the truth…
    “Constantly we hear of proposals for union, and truly these are welcome where mere technical matters divide true Christians; but what is the use of pretending to create union where there can be none? There is another matter which needs to be thought of as well as union, and that is TRUTH. To part with truth to show charity is to betray our Lord with a kiss. Between those who believe in the eternal verities and those who constantly cast doubt on them there can be no union. One cried of old, ‘Is it peace?’ And the answer was a sharp and true one. We render it thus — ‘What hast thou to do with peace while departures from the truth of God are so many?’ The first question is, ‘Are we one in Christ?’ And are we obedient to the truth revealed in the Scriptures? If so, union will necessarily follow: but if not, it is vain to clamour for a confederacy which would only be an agreement to aid and abet each other’s errors.” — C.H.S., The Sword and the Trowel, February 1887

    PS I like your new format Mike.

    Cristina

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  16. Yesterday I read an article that talked of true men of God compromising with the false teachers and promoting false teachings. They, even if unknowingly, are aiding and abetting the false in churches. I thought about how this brings in worldly ways in the church as a draw card to bring people in. The article brought up the young girl who was demon possessed and shouting to everyone to listen to Paul’s words for they were the words of God showing the way to salvation. Paul rebuked the spirit. Why not let her speak and help the Gospel along? Because God does not employ demonic means. He will never allow for it. And many of the worldly ways being employed in churches are demonic in its nature. Like using the world’s music and creating a concert atmosphere in the praise and worship time. There are many more examples I could state. May God have mercy on the leaders of these churches who employ worldly ways in their services. God surely is patient if He hasn’t abandoned these leaders altogether.

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  17. West,

    Why am I not surprised that you made that statement? Well, let me see if I can shed some light on my stance here. Sin is sin no matter how anyone tries to paint it. Also, only those who repent of their sins can be saved. Therefore, it is critical that we understand what sin is. What is it? It is disobeying God. All outside of Christ, the unregenerate, have no ability to repent and, therefore, obey God. Who can repent then? Only the regenerate can repent. It is through the washing of regeneration that we are cleansed of the penalty of our sins and changed so that we can obey God. Do you honestly beleive that God wants those He has saved to remain in their sinful lifestyles? That means that those whom God saves will progressively grow more and more Christlike as they shed their fleshly ways. If that isn’t happening in a professing Chrstian’s life then I suspect there will be no spiritual fruit there either and that means that there is no salvation because there is no regeneration…

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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