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In the world, liberty is misunderstood. But likewise in the church, Christian liberty is often misunderstood because many people in the church hold to a view of liberty that is more like the world’s than Christ’s. According to the world, liberty is being free to identify however you want and to do whatever you want however and whenever you want. That is anarchy, not liberty. This has long been the world’s philosophy, and it shouldn’t be a surprise that the world’s philosophy of liberty is now on full display as the world turns on itself. Though the world seems bewildered at its own anarchy, it has no answers because it has been sowing the seeds of chaos for a long time. This is why the world’s philosophy of liberty will lead to its own implosion. This is both sad and, at the same time, laughable, particularly in light of Psalm 2 and the Lord’s derision at the nations’ raging and the peoples’ vain plotting against Him and His Anointed.

The world’s perspective on liberty has been gradually creeping into the church and into our homes. We must recapture a proper understanding of liberty so that we can exercise it rightly. Liberty is not the freedom to do whatever we want to do. Rather, liberty is the freedom to do what we know we ought to do. And what we ought to do is established by God, for the church and the world. In the church, many have been so deluded by the world’s way of thinking that they have traded anarchy for antinomianism. As a pastor, I most often see this when it comes to Lord’s Day worship and rest, the giving of tithes and offerings, premarital cohabitation, and unbiblical grounds for divorce and remarriage.

Some Christians have rebelled against the world’s perspective and have exchanged it for legalism. There are many types of legalism, but the most predominant form in the church arises when men and women make laws around God’s laws, making their own traditions, principles, perspectives, and rules authoritative as if they were the Word of God. The attraction of legalism is that it gives the appearance of conservativism. Yet legalism is in fact a form of antinomianism, for it goes beyond Scripture and God’s law and makes man the tyrannical lord of the conscience rather than God, who “alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are, in anything, contrary to his Word; or beside it, in matters of faith, or worship” (Westminster Confession of Faith 20.2).

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