Doubtful things—biblical principles
Liberty, love, sacrifice, profit, restoration, and burden bearing are principles that guide believers’ actions and attitudes toward self, others, and doubtful things.
- Sometimes there are gray areas that, if not answered from a biblical point of view, can become either legalism or license. The biblical principles for doubtful things help us here.
- Liberty, love, sacrifice, profit, restoration, and burden bearing are principles that guide believers’ actions and attitudes toward self, others, and doubtful things.
- We have liberty to do things or to not do things.
- 1 Corinthians 10:31-33 summarizes how we are to live: 1. to the glory of God, 2. do not give offense to others, 3. act in a way to profit others.
- There is some overlap in the principles, especially with liberty, love sacrifice, and profit. In order to bring out the variations and specifics I have separated the principles into six categories.
- See the doctrine and the chart.
The six principles
- The principle of liberty states that every church age believer has complete freedom from servitude to religious taboos. This principle says, “I can do it if the Bible does not forbid it.” For example, he may eat meat offered in the temple or ignore religious festivals. God has freed every believer to live according to Bible doctrine, in grace, by the Holy Spirit, by faith, and in fellowship with God showing forth the fruit of the Holy Spirit and the virtues of faith, hope, and love. New and weak believers do not understand this or the right application of their liberty (Romans 14.1-12; 1 Corinthians 8.1-13; 10.23).
- The principle of love states that a stronger or mature believer, when accompanied by a weaker or more immature believer, ought to refrain from activity that the weaker believer does not understand he has the freedom to do. This principle says, “I can do it, but I won’t do it around a weak believer.” Paul noted that believers had the right to eat meat that had been sacrificed to idols. But believers who were new to the faith might see this and think it was sinful. In this case, Paul said, the stronger believer should refrain so as not to create a false issue for the immature believer (Romans 14.13-15.1; 1 Corinthians 8.1-13; 10.32).
- The principle of sacrifice states that a believer, under certain circumstances, may set aside his normal rights and expectations so that false issues do not prevent the reception of the gospel and Bible teaching. This principle says, “I have the right to this, but I set aside my right so people will listen to God’s word.” Paul did not take pay for witnessing to and teaching the Corinthians, though he had the right and expectation (1 Corinthians 9.1-27).
- The principle of profit states that the believer should set aside a correct action if it prevents gospel hearing or understanding by the unbeliever. This principle says, “I can do it, but I won’t so the gospel will have an audience.” This principle is similar to the principle of love; in 1 Corinthians 10.32, profit to the Jews or Greeks and love to the church of God. The law of profit emphasizes the profit to the unbeliever; the profit being that he hear and understand the gospel and have nothing that might hinder his faith in Christ. Under the principle of profit we specifically do all to God’s glory (1 Corinthians 10.23-33).
- The principle of restoration states that a spiritual believer ought to be willing to guide a carnal believer (living by the sinful nature) back to the status of spirituality (living by the Holy Spirit). This principle says, “I am privileged to help one recover spirituality.” The purpose is to bring about spiritual recovery—that is, living by the Holy Spirit and in fellowship with God—and help the recovered believer gain spiritual strength (Galatians 6.1).
- The principle of burden bearing states that a spiritually strong believer ought to help a spiritually weak believer bear up under or stand strong under a pressure (health, discouragement, money, children, work, guilt, the future, and so on) that seems to be overwhelming the weaker believer. This principle says, “I am privileged to take something he cannot handle until he gains spiritual strength to do it himself.” The strong believer gives encouragement, doctrine, prayer, and physical help so that the weaker believer may recover spiritual strength and stability (Galatians 6.2).