Liberty and Holiness
Have you ever been put in a situation where you have to choose between two things that are both good? It can be a difficult situation, especially if there are good people on either side who will form an opinion about you based on your choice. Well, Christians and churches are put in that situation all the time.
Each independent Christian church has its own doctrinal and practical emphases on different topics, and one of these is the emphasis on liberty and holiness. I used the word and there when in practice it’s actually more like liberty or holiness. It seems like each church and therefore each Christian is put in a position of choosing between emphasizing our liberty in Christ or holy living.
The name of our church is Liberty Baptist Church, which puts us in an interesting position because the very name of Baptist brings up images of legalism to some people and our choice of the title Liberty might cause others to think that we promote carnality. The problem with this is that legalism is not holiness and carnality is not liberty, and so long as we keep assigning definitions to words that simply aren’t accurate, then there will always be division- which is to say that there will always be division unfortunately.
What is true Liberty in Christ?
What is it that Christ liberates us from- is it good works, a pure life, or isn’t it sin and the bondage that it creates? Christ came to free us from sin. We must take it a step further though- what is the source of sin? The source of our sin is SELF and Christ came to free us from ourselves by offering himself in exchange- not only for our salvation but for our lives. This is liberty- to be free from the source of sin (me), the commission of sin, and therefore the consequences of sin (because I stop sinning)!
What is true holiness?
If the source of my sin is me, then how does it make sense for “me” to be holy? In other words, you wouldn’t use a dirty oily rag to wash a brand new car, it simply could not make the car clean! Why then would I try to make myself holy by external or even internal struggle and effort? The flesh cannot please God, even after I am saved. The only holiness that means anything is the holiness that comes directly from the person of Jesus Christ who lives in me in the form of the Holy Spirit.
Liberty and Holiness
The simple truth is that you cannot have either one of these without the other, they are not contradictory, they are complimentary. Liberty that does not produce holiness is a fraud, and holiness that is not from liberty is also a fraud. If we say that we are walking in Christ and are living in sin then we are lying, and if we try to separate ourselves from sin and the world by our own good works, then our righteousness is still a filthy rag. Liberty frees us from our own self (our tendency to sin and our inability to do good- Romans 7) and gives us the person of Jesus to live in us instead. Since Jesus is holiness, His life in us can produce nothing but holiness. The internal life of Jesus will produce external fruit- it has to- and with this understanding, the artificial division of God’s nature and commands is eliminated.
As the pastor of Liberty Baptist Church, it’s my position that if we preach Christ and guide our congregation into the knowledge of and obedience to the person of Jesus, then holiness is an inevitable fruit- Liberty and Holiness!