2 Corinthians 1:24 – “Not that we have dominion over your faith, but are fellow workers for your joy; for by faith, you stand.” NKJV
1 Corinthians 7:17-24 – “But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk. And so, I ordain in all the churches. 18 Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? Let him not be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing but keeping the commandments of God is what matters. 20 Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called. 21 Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it. 22 For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise, he who is called while free is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. 24 Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called.” NKJV
Most people understand that Freedom is an incredibly valuable and often rare commodity. Well, hopefully, most people know that. It is important to understand what Freedom is, what False Freedom is, and what it means to be Free from Law, and Free from Sin. Those are incredibly important topics, but there is one Freedom that must be addressed – “Freedom from Man.” When men become spiritual dictators, it creates an incredibly dangerous and undesirable condition. In 1 Corinthians 7, listed above, the apostle Paul lays down a basic principle that we should not be blindly subject to people, but that we should be subject to God in everything!
That makes the setting of this passage beyond important, it is critical. If we fail to grasp the setting, we will arrive at some false conclusions and develop some false interpretations. As I read and study this passage, I realize that the battles Paul was facing were due to some of the Corinthians abusing their Freedom in Jesus. The Corinthian Church was made up of people who, by and large, had lived in gross sin. Many of them had been involved in extreme wickedness and now they had Freedom in Jesus.
Galatians 3:28 advises us, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” That is important! The Corinthian believers knew this truth, but they were taking it to the extreme. Simply, they were making use of their freedom to the point of license.
They took that passage and argued that marriage was abolished in Christ, nationality was being erased, those in slavery were no longer to obey their earthly masters, etc. When we come to Christ our gender, nationality, ethnicity, as well as our social and economic status does not immediately change. Salvation affords us the potential to make the most out of every situation. Salvation is a spiritual change! It can and should bring about change in the home, on the job, and in society and should. The crucial point to remember is that God does not work from the outside in, He works from the inside out. He changes us and that change results in a changed attitude and actions and that results in changes around us.
Paul offered a foundational principle, “Allow God to make the changes.” As you consider verses 7, 17, 20, and 24we understand that we are to learn to make the most of our present condition and situation. As we allow the changes to come from within, we find that God’s incredible miracle of change comes. Remember we are Free, not Independent.
No believer can be independent of other believers and no believer should be totally dependent on other believers. Our dependency is on Christ, not man! No human is to be a dictator in the lives of others. That is true in politics, economics, marriage, and spirituality. The slaves were still slaves, but they were free spiritually! Paul’s view was not so much about the physical condition one found themself but the freedom of spirit, heart, and soul in Jesus. The masters were to be slaves to Christ but still masters. You and I are free from the dominion and domination of people but that does not make us independent. The change in our lives must begin on the inside.
Paul presented four arguments for us to remain as we are and allow God to make the changes from within. I will get to those, next time but for now, I pray that each of us realizes that we are to obey God rather than man when man’s decrees violate God’s. We are not islands in life but connected to every other believer and although we are Free, we are not Independent.
God, bless you richly is my prayer and desire!