Day 86: Freedom for All!

Acts 15:22-29 :

Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole assembly, to choose men out of their company, and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas: Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, chief men among the brothers. They wrote these things by their hand:

“The apostles, the elders, and the brothers, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: greetings. Because we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, ‘You must be circumcised and keep the law,’ to whom we gave no commandment; it seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose out men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who themselves will also tell you the same things by word of mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay no greater burden on you than these necessary things: that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality, from which if you keep yourselves, it will be well with you. Farewell.”

Here we see that the letter is written and the men are chosen to deliver the message to the various churches. We get to read the contents of the letter and in it we see that is clearly stated that circumcision and keeping of the law was not required.

Pay careful attention to the fact that this letter said that by keeping the rules that “it will be well with you.” It didn’t say, “so that you don’t go to Hell” or “so you don’t die.” It appears that, at this point, there is still some confusion about what the new rules are supposed to be. Unfortunately, the food rules ended up upsetting believers later. Here’s what Paul eventually writes to the churches into the Bible:

1 Corinthians 8:7-9 :

However, that knowledge isn’t in all men. But some, with consciousness of the idol until now, eat as of a thing sacrificed to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. But food will not commend us to God. For neither, if we don’t eat, are we the worse; nor, if we eat, are we the better. But be careful that by no means does this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to the weak.

The problem isn’t that the food is bad to eat, but the conscience before God is so very important. The bad conscience is among the worst prisons of all. Not only that, how we treat our brothers is also very important. It isn’t “well with us” when our freedom is used to harm our brothers. This is the righteous limit of freedom. As we seek to regain freedoms in the United States, it is important for us to remember these things. Let’s not avoid regaining our freedoms, but let’s make sure that those freedoms keep us all free. Slavery is not the purpose of these rules, rather the rules preserve freedom for all!