Legalism, License or Love

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This series has 4 sermons.

Throughout the four sermons, you will learn how to wrestle through and respond to the “gray areas”, the disputable matters among Christians. Is it Ok for a Christian to:

  1. Drink?
  2. Smoke?
  3. Wear pants? (as a Christian woman)
  4. Wear a bikini? (as a Christian woman)
  5. Break the speed limit?
  6. Cuss?

Legalism, License, and Love are all stances that a Christian can take in the area of disputable matters. Primarily based in 1 Corinthians 8, 9, and 10, you will find rich truths to help you in everyday decisions and disputes.   

Two Greek Words - UD


Pastor John Fichtner

  1. 1 Corinthians 8:1; “Now about food sacrificed to idols…” – What does that have to do with me?

  2. Corinthians deals with subjects that are pertinent to today

  3. 1 Corinthians 8, 9, and 10 give clear answers to some of the hardest areas

  4. Answers 6 Questions; IS IT OK FOR A CHRISTIAN TO :

    1. Drink?

    2. Smoke?

    3. Wear pants? (as a Christian woman)

    4. Wear a bikini? (as a Christian woman)

    5. Break the speed limit?

    6. Cuss?

  5. Church at Corinth, Christians dealt with finding meat that had not been sacrificed to pagan gods; a certain group felt that ANY TRUE BELIEVER would NOT have eaten that meat

  6. Other believers at Corinth ate the meat anyway, because meat was just meat and it DIDN’T MATTER who had dedicated it to what

  7. These two groups of believers still exist in the church! They are called the “Legalism” group or the “License” group

  8. It’s easy to recognize the Legalism and License groups, because they are always arguing

  9. Legalism argues about abusing the grace of God

  10. License argues about having too many rules for things

  11. Both groups have lots of positives!

  12. Legalism positive traits:

    1. Hunger to pursue holiness

    2. Tremendous trust on the word, “obedience” in all areas – faithful in little will be faithful in much

    3. Consumed with a witness to the outside world and want to win the lost

  13. License positive traits:

    1. Walk in assurance of grace (1 Cor 10)

    2. Have a real grasp of major and minor issues in the Kingdom of God, and we shouldn’t major on the minor issues – not everything is a big deal to God

    3. Have a grasp on the truth of personal rights and freedoms – know who you are in Christ Jesus


    1. “Gnosis/Gnosko” (noun): knowledge, seeking knowledge

    2. “Oida” (verb): fullness, complete knowledge

  15. There are five Greek words about knowledge/knowing; “gnosis” is the WEAKEST version, “oida” is the STRONGEST version

  16. 1 Corinthians 8:1-3 = quick Greek study

    1. We “oida” that we all possess “gnosis” and “gnosis” puffs up but love builds up (1 Cor 8:1)

    2. The man who thinks he “oida” something does not yet “gnosko” as he ought to “gnosko” (1 Cor 8:2)

    3. But whoever loves God is “gnosko” by God (1 Cor 8:3) – God will begin in a process to reveal Himself to him!

  17. God only uses humble, broken, contrite people; greatest attribute in the Kingdom of God

  18. If you don’t know what you don’t know, then you can’t receive wisdom

  19. Paul is dealing with people who are heavily weighted on the “License” side

  20. Romans 14 has an even balance for “Legalism” and “License” people

  21. The priority of Love is totally different and supersedes the priorities of “Legalism” and “License”

Do Not Look Down On Your Brother - UD


Pastor John Fichtner

  1. 1 Corinthians 8-10 and Romans 14 cover almost the same subject matter: “disputable matters” (the gray/arguable areas)

  2. There are two stances you can take in the area of disputable matters – “Legalism” or “License”

    1. “Legalist” general attitude: “EVERYONE should do this!” – they like to make rules and want to give helpful, practical applications for people’s lives. Legalists are warned to not judge.

    2. “License” general attitude: “EVERYONE can do what they want!” – they have learned about the grace of God and don’t like to major on the minors. Do whatever you feel like the Lord is leading you to do. License is warned to not become haughty/look down on people.

  3. The third/highest stance in disputable matters is “Love”

  4. Romans 14:22 is the definition of Love – “I’d rather not argue about it”

  5. The person who walks in Love would “rather not argue about” any of the gray areas (drinking, smoking, bikinis, etc…)

  6. Paul knew that the “License” people knew that there are things that are not worth arguing about

    1. Rom 14:7 – “BUT” not everyone knows this!

  7. For people who are not as steady/strong in their walk with the Lord, they are not able to handle too much freedom in the “gray areas” (drugs, alcohol abuse, etc…); it’s hard to break out of these areas

  8. When you wound your weaker brothers, you sin against Christ

  9. “Love” says, “I won’t do anything that causes my brother to sin!” 

The Intoxicating Wine of Changed Lives - UD


Pastor John Fichtner

  1. 1 Corinthians 8, 9, 10 have some juicy implications for our lives

  2. Romans 14 – goes specifically into the disputable (arguable) areas of Christianity

  3. The “is it ok”/disputable areas; more examples: Celebrate Halloween? Listen to secular music? Believe in Santa Claus? Watch ‘R’ rated movies?

  4. Three stances on the area of disputable matters:

    1. Legalism: everyone SHOULD DO this; a rule for every occasion/disputable matter

    2. License: these are disputable areas, so get off my back! Everyone can do whatever they want, wherever the Lord is leading them

    3. Love: (Romans 14:22) “I’d rather not argue about it!” Don’t try to tell everyone what they should do, just you personally don’t be so argumentative; I won’t do anything that causes my brother to sin

  5. There’s a difference between “causing your brother to sin” and causing your brother to be irritated; we can’t go through this world friction-free

  6. 1 Corinthians 9 has five separate sermons on five separate subjects, full of rich truths. Central truth: Paul GAVE UP HIS RIGHTS because he had a BURNING DESIRE TO MINISTER.

  7. Key that unlocks 1 Corinthians 9: “Rights” and “Freedoms” (underline every “right” and “freedom” in 1 Corinthians 9)

  8. Know what it means to walk in your freedom and rights as a Christian

  9. I make myself a slave to everyone to win as many as possible

  10. If you don’t desire to minister to people, then you don’t love

  11. People who don’t love never admit that they don’t want to minister to anybody; they say that they’re “selective” about the areas where they want to minister, very particular and picky about who and where they minister

  12. Love says, I’ll do ANYTHING if I can just minister!

  13. How to get a BURNING DESIRE TO MINISTER (3 Truths):

    1. (1 Cor 9:23) The incredible reward of changed lives for Jesus Christ

    2. (1 Cor 9:25) The worthlessness of worldly achievements

    3. (1 Cor 9:24-26) Evaluate everything you do from a death bed perspective; perspective becomes clearer when you suddenly have 15 minutes left on earth – how much did I do on earth have worth for eternity?

I Would Rather Not Talk About It


Pastor John Fichtner

  1. 1 Corinthians 10

  2. LOVE is the highest stance that anyone can take in the area of disputable matters

  3. Paul has three main points of Love (in order of priority):

    1. “I won’t have anything in my life that would cause my brother to stumble” (1 Cor 8)

    2. “It’s easy for me to give up my rights and freedoms, because I have a burning desire to minister” (1 Cor 9)

    3. “Beware of sin” (1 Cor 10)

  4. Using more ‘legalism’ or ‘license’ doesn’t make you more spiritual

  5. Having a special relationship with God does NOT mean that you don’t have to be aware of sin

  6. Don’t become a “sin chaser” – just deal with what sin smacks you in the face

  7. Chase the heart of God!

  8. If you think you are standing firm, be careful

  9. Don’t get presumptuous and think that you can do anything and it won’t affect your walk with God

  10. 20th Century disputable matters:

    1. Drinking

    2. Smoking

    3. Breaking the speed limit

    4. Wearing a bikini

    5. Cussing

    6. Halloween

    7. Santa Claus

    8. Christmas trees

    9. Movies

    10. TV

    11. Secular music

    12. Necking/petting while dating

  11. Conclusion: 1 Corinthians 10:23-24, 31-33