Strong Christians?

Posted on Nov 11, 2008 in Blog | 2 comments

Out on the internet, I keep seeing people writing about “strong” faith and “weak” faith Christians. Each time I read about it, I consistently find people talking about weak faith Christians being those that say “You shouldn’t do this or that.” They’re typically described as “legalists.” On the other side, “strong” faith Christians?mainly the ones writing these articles, and therefore describing themselves–are those that say “I have liberty in Christ, so I can.” In the “weak” faith circles, they’re listed as “liberals.”

Well, I’ve decided to throw my own brand of thought on it, based on Romans 14, Rom 15, 1 Cor 8, and 1 Cor 10 (if you’re not familiar with the passages, stop here and go read them first. Seriously. Stop. Go read them. This message will still be here when you get back)

See, what these people are describing as “strong” faith Christians aren’t really “strong” faith. They’re “moderate” faith Christians, a term I have yet to hear from anyone anywhere?with good reason. No one really wants to call themself a moderate. Of course, no one wants to call themself “weak,” either.

I can hear you out there: Then what, Mr. Know-it-all, is a “strong” faith Christian?

First, let’s clarify: Rom 14, 1 Cor 8, and 1 Cor 10 talk about weak faith Christians being those that say, “Don’t eat that meat; it was sacrificed to idols! If you eat that meat, your salvation is in question!” The principle applies to all time periods, including today. I’ll use an extreme example, but unfortunately, one I’ve been directly involved with: “Don’t dye your hair blond! You’re a guy! If you dye your hair, your salvation is in question!”

Seriously. This happened to a 16 year old at a church I attended for a while. Kid was one of the best disciples I’ve ever seen. Made me ashamed of myself. Would go down to the basketball court where the skanks hang out, and read salvation tracts to them in between games. But then the pastor stepped up and said, “That’s a faddish hairstyle. Why do you want to look like you’re living for the world? Are you really saved?” Kid still hasn’t recovered from that.

So that’s a weak faith Christian. Moderate faith Christian? One who ascribes to Paul’s declaration that meat isn’t of the kingdom of heaven, but forgets to take it the extra step (I’ll explain the extra step in a minute). These are the people who say, “I can eat the meat, because it’s no longer denied to me.” Example? The girl who wears short skirts. The weak faith Christian would tell her, “Hey, you have to dress modestly, which means that you need to be covered in 7 layers from head to toe, and only your eyes can peep out–unless they offend me in some way, in which case, you need to cover them up, too” (Yes, I’m exaggerating a bit.) The moderate faith Christian’s response: “Ah, shaddup. If you really knew your Bible, you’d know that Christ fulfilled the law, and those Old Testament laws aren’t required any more!” See, the moderate faith Christian understands that Christ has given us a new liberty, a freedom that was not available under the laws, and they revel in it–as well they should.

BUT, then comes the strong faith Christian. Paul himself was a strong faith Christian. Yes, it’s time to explain “the extra step”: Paul says “through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish?”

Uh oh. The weaker brother doesn’t understand why it’s okay to drink 6-packs until the sun comes up; but hey, you who knows the bible better then him is doing it, so it must be an okay thing to do. Next thing you know, the weaker brother is doing time for robbing a liquor store. His fault? You betcha; we’re each responsible for our own actions. Your fault? YOU BETCHA. Romans 15: “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak.”

Man, you gotta love it. Paul says in Romans 14 that it’s okay to drink, that meat and drink are not of the kingdom. Then he turns right around in the same chapter and says: “It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine.”

Well, either Paul’s got someone else in his head and they’re having an argument, or he’s got a handle on something that we don’t fully understand. And that’s the truth of the matter: The so-called “strong” faith Christian–actually the moderate faith Christian–has missed the ultimate point of Paul’s dissertations in Rom 14, 1 Cor 8, and 1 Cor 10: Being our brother’s keeper. If we do something that makes a brother stumble, we need to be ashamed of ourselves. In fact, Paul goes so far as to say in 1 Cor 10: “Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other.” And in 1 Cor 8: “I am made all things to all men.” Paul’s ultimate concern wasn’t his liberty in Christ; it was for his fellow man.

As it should be for all of us. Our job is not to revel in the glory that God has given us, but to reveal it to others that they might partake in it, too! That powerful principle applies to every part of our lives, with Christ as the ultimate example. Did He care for Himself? Nope, sorry, anyone who cared for themself would not have allowed themselves to be whipped, beaten, tortured, and crucified. If they were focused on “I” they would have run in a heartbeat. Nope, Christ was so concerned with you and I that He endured it all, that we might have the promise of eternal life.

So what does that mean? It means that Paul was NOT being schizo. The liberty that Christ gave us is very, very real–but, like anything else, can be abused. Paul told us in these passages that our liberty shouldn’t hinder others, that we should always be mindful of our brethren and our neighbors. THAT, friends, is a strong faith Christian: One who puts the salvation and welfare of his neighbor above his or her own thoughts, wants, and needs.

The weak faith Christian says, “YOU can’t.”
The moderate faith Christian says, “I can.”
The strong faith Christian says, “I can–but I won’t.”



  1. I really appreciate this post. Thanks!

  2. The liberty we have in Christ is the liberty to do what is right – without being in bondage to sin. We do not have liberty to go against God’s Word, to sin, to be immodest in our clothing, to be liberal or loose in our standards. Biblical grace is God’s power given to use to enable us to live a life pleasing to the Lord our God.

    Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

    Too many people think grace and liberty means we can do what we want – as long as no one else gets hurt. But that is so far from the truth. That is lasciviousness, not liberty.

    Jude 1:4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

    God gives us liberty to eat meat or not to eat meat – He has declared all meats clean. He has given us liberty to keep/observe or not to observe holy days – though the NT clearly teaches we are no longer bound to observe them and we have no right to enforce them on others. The NT still teaches strongly against immodest apparrel. I believe there are enough Scriptures that teach God does not want His children drinking alcoholic beverages – but whether someone disagrees because of some less clear OT passages, it is still pretty obvious God is against the believer being drunk or going to places where drinking feasts (ie. drunken parties) are going on.

    It is not simply a matter of: I can do whatever I want UNLESS it causes another believer to stumble. It is more a matter of: what I CAN do (ie. what God allows me to do based on God’s Word), what I have the freedom to do (because there is nothing specifically against it in the Word of God), I have the liberty to do UNLESS it causes another believer to stumble in the faith. There is a world of difference between these two positions.

    Not saying that you are promoting what I am speaking against, I just wanted to clarify a little bit about what Biblical grace and liberty really means, as too many seriously abuse it.