By William Guthrie (1620 – 1669), from The Christian’s Great Interest
How does a converted man’s attitude to “lawful liberties” differ from those who are part of the visible church but who lack the “new birth”? (Lawful liberties, sometimes referred to as “things indifferent”, are those things which are not contrary to the Law of God, whereby men are given “liberty of choice” by the Lord.) Mr. Guthrie, below, suggests that the converted man – the man renewed by the Spirit of Christ– makes use of these liberties with the following concerns:
- That none of these liberties become his idol, holding these things “lightly”, as a stranger upon the earth.
- That his use of these liberties will not cause others to sin.
- That he will be moderate in their use.
- That his use of these liberties is for the glory of God.
This concern extends to all things lawful, including:
- Food and drink.
- Recreations (e.g., sports) and sleep.
He becomes new in the way of lawful liberties.
- He studies to make use of meat, drink, sleep, recreations, apparel, with an eye to God, labouring not to come under the power of any lawful thing.
- “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient; all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” (1 Cor 6:12)
- [He studies not] to give offence to others in the use of these things.
- “For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.” (Rom 14:20, 21)
- “Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.” (Rom 15:2)
- Not using “liberty as an occasion to the flesh.” (Gal 5:13)
- Yea, he labours to use all these things as a stranger on earth, so that his moderation may appear.
- “Let your moderation be known unto all men.” (Phil 4:5)
- And he regards God as the last end in these things, “doing all to the glory of God”; so that we may say of that man, “Old things are” much “passed away, all things are,” in some measure “become new.” (2 Cor 5:17)
He that is so a new creature is undoubtedly in Christ.