Monday, May 7, 2012

Christian Freedom part I

Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.  These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.  – Colossians 2:16, 17

A big misconception within the Christian community is the idea of Christian freedom.  Christ did set us free, and what He has set free is free indeed.  However, the problem is in how we exercise that freedom.  What exactly does Christian freedom mean?  I would like to explore this concept for a couple of days.  In order to get to the heart of the matter, we need a little history lesson.

One of the biggest problems the early church faced is what to do with Gentile (non-Jewish) believers.  It’s no secret that Christianity first started among the Jews.  In fact, it wasn’t until Peter had a vision and received the command to visit Cornelius that the idea that Gentiles could be saved (Acts 10).

There was a great controversy as to what should happen to these new Gentile believers.  The question was, “should the Gentiles become like the Jews before coming to Christ, or is that all really necessary?”

This even caused a problem between Paul and Peter (Galatians 2).  Looking at the scripture that makes up the Bible, I would have to say that Paul was correct in stance that Gentiles did not have to become like Jews and submit to the law to be saved.

From Scripture, it is a safe guess to say that Gentile believers do not need to be circumcised, heed to the dietary laws, and even adhere to the festivals and Sabbaths that Jews do.  Paul makes this very clear in his letter to the church at Colossae.  Why is that?  Because the dietary laws, festivals, and the Sabbaths point to Jesus.  Jesus declared all food clean (Mark 7:19, Acts 10:15).  The festivals all have a purpose that point to Jesus, for example the Day of Atonement is when Jews symbolically repent of their sins and asks for forgiveness.  The day of Jesus’ crucifixion is our Day of Atonement.  And as far as the Sabbath goes, Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12) and in Him we have rest (Matthew 11:28) which is the purpose of the Sabbath.

We, as Christians have no need to go back to the law, we are free from that burden.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.  For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, - Romans 8:1-3

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