Christian Liberty is a word that is thrown around quite a bit in various circles and churches. Sometimes it’s used properly and other times it’s used to justify certain deeds and actions in the life of a Christian.
John Piper coined the term Christian Hedonism years ago and for some it was well received, while others found the term to be cringe worthy. But what is Christian Hedonism? What did Piper mean when he said it?
the ethical theory that pleasure (in the sense of the satisfaction of desires) is the highest good and proper aim of human life.
Was Piper implying that we should pursue seeking pleasure and gratifying ourselves? Some people who were bothered by this term thought so. The answer that he gave was:
God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. Or: The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying him forever. Does Christian Hedonism make a god out of pleasure? No. It says that we all make a god out of what we take most pleasure in. My life is devoted to helping people make God their God by wakening in them the greatest pleasures in him.
So what about liberty? Are we chasing the American dream to do what we want because God has done everything else? No! In fact it’s the opposite. Our liberty in Christ comes from a freeing of the bondage of sin and and the shackles of the law. Does that mean the law is dead and gone? No! As Paul overwhelming stated the law is the standard by which God judges that no man can achieve.
The law is what guides us to realize our sin keeps us from being righteous. The law, in man, is unobtainable but in Christ is fulfilled. He satisfied the law on the cross and paid the penalty for sin. Where sin abounds, God’s grace abounds more but that doesn’t mean we continue in sin that grace would abound. We cannot throw liberty around to justify the things we WANT. Liberty is to justify the freedom we are granted in Christ.
We see time and again that Paul said things like “all things are permissible, but not all things are expedient”. We know that we have a liberty to make mistakes, but if we do nothing to realize those mistakes then we are abusing God’s grace. There’s a fine line to walk where we recognize we aren’t enough vs purposefully committing various sinful indulgences. Our liberty comes in knowing that God’s grace fills in the gaps where and when our works fail. The liberty is finding pleasure in all things that are good, holy, righteous and true. These are the things we should consider, the things we should love and the things we should workout in ourselves as God works them in us.