Correcting the Misuse of Christian Liberty
Part 8, Interactions With The Gracious and Loving God Sermon Series
First Corinthians 8:1-13
“12 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.” 1 Corinthians 6:12, NIV.
Many Christians who passionately pursue Christian liberty fall into the trap of undisciplined living causing rifts and discouragement in the church. While those who limit Christian liberty become legalistic which also brings the same effect as with the former. The misuse of rights gives unbelievers more reasons for their unbelief. Paul now writes to correct the problem. He issued several directives to the church.
1. Consider mixing biblical knowledge with Christian love.
“Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge. “2 Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. 3 But whoever loves God is known by God. “We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.” 1 Corinthians 8:1-6, NIV.
· Paul was reacting to a previous letter he received from the Corinthians.
· There seemed to be some members who were twisting his previous teaching on Christian freedom/rights.
· Paul agreed with them on several points:
o There is only One God and thus, the gods/goddesses that the pagan idols represented were non-existent and possess no such power.
o Everything they have enjoyed, including the food they eat, were from the Lord.
o The unity of the Father and the Son prompts them to also display the same unity (which they were failing).
· Knowledge was not the problem but their lack of concern for others.
· Their lack of consideration to new believers, demonstrate their lack of love.
· The Christian behavior, along with the exercise of their freedom, must be founded in love.
2. Consider people’s level of faith.
6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.” 1 Corinthians 8:6, NIV.
· Some of their members were Greeks and Romans.
· The Greeks and Romans practiced polytheism, the worship of many gods.
· They burned their food offerings before the images of their gods and sometimes in front of their sacred trees and bodies of water. And whatever was not burned, they sell them to markets.
· They also believed that evil spirits may have contaminated their food, so they asked their gods to cleanse them.
· It is not far-fetch, that these new believers were coming to church activities to participate in the meal fellowship.
· And since they still have not completely believe that there is no other God that exist, but the Christian God, so there could be some hesitation to join the fellowship. Or if they would, their conscience might have bothered them, causing them to sin.
3. Consider being a brother’s keeper.
“9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols?”
· “Am I my brother’s keeper?” was first recorded in Genesis 4:9.
· God used the event to teach Cain that he was indeed responsible for the wellbeing of his brother, whom he murdered.
· Paul teaches that we are responsible for the welfare and growth of our brethren.
· We are warned against exercising our rights that may negatively affect the well-being of others.
4. Consider the finished work of Jesus.
“11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.”
· Jesus laid down His life, that we may live in Him, and personally experience the power of His Father’s love.
· Only those who knew Christ’s sacrificial love, will also be pleased to sacrifice their rights for others’ sake.
What rights do we need to give up so that others may not be stumbled by us?