2020-10-04 – 1 Corinthians 8:1-13 – Christian Liberty
2020-10-04 – 1 Corinthians 8:1-13 – Christian Liberty
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us.
Have you seen yet those funny insurance commercials about Liberty, Liberty, Liberty? I got a short [Video Clip] for you here… Liberty, Liberty, Liberty, oh how I love that word. I have never visited that Statue of Liberty here in America yet but it is on my bucket list. [Show Liberty Knife] Did you know there are actually four Statues of Liberty? Three smaller ones are in and around Paris, and the largest is located on Liberty Island in New York Harbor. Our country was born with Liberty in mind. What is liberty? Liberty is the quality or state of being free; the power to do as one pleases; freedom from physical restraint or control, interference, obligation or restriction. What a great word, what a great idea. That is what we are going to talk about today, but more specifically Christian Liberty.
Please turn now to 1 Corinthians 8:1, page 1015 in your pew Bibles, which is the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God. Prayer..
Again, we are going to talk about this thing called Christian Liberty. All military members know that word Liberty well. Nothing is more exciting and welcoming to the ears than when a soldier, sailor, or airmen hears that word Liberty from their commander at the end of a long week. That means we have a couple days off, and everyone quickly hits the town or goes home to see their loved ones.
The type of Liberty we will see in scripture today has more to do with freedoms as it is related to the food that the early Corinth Christians were allowed to eat. In the past couple of chapters we have read and deliberated about the rules and restrictions for Christian relationships. So it is a bit of a relief now for me that we get to change the tone a bit and talk about our freedoms. Verse 1 starts with:
1 Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “we all have knowledge.” Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2 If anyone thinks he knows anything, he does not yet know it as he ought to know it. 3 But if anyone loves God, he is known by him.
Now, isn’t that an odd statement to start out with. I think this could so easily have been mistaken to mean, “You don’t know anything, and you can’t know anything because if you think you know anything, you don’t.”
And if that were the case, then Amy and I would be effectively wasting our families money by putting our kids through college. Even the last verse 3 is a bit perplexing, “But if anyone loves God, he is known by him.” Where did that come from, you might be asking? We will break those verses down a bit so that we might be able to better understand their intent.
First you should know that the root issue Paul is addressing here now in 1 Corinthians 8 is about food. More specifically meat that might have been offered to idols. The new Corinthian believers had mostly come out of pagan backgrounds. They once had worshiped idols, and they believed that meat was inhabited by demons, so they would offer their meat before their idols. The idea was that the idol gods would cleanse the meat of the demons. They had grown up doing it this way — and some of them were still affected by this way of thinking.
However some of the more mature Corinthian Christians who were more knowledgeable were now telling them that their idols weren’t real, and since they were Christians they could just eat the meat. “Go ahead, it’s not a big deal”. But the weaker Christians who had spent their whole lives thinking another way, having not yet reached Christian maturity in their thinking, were sensing in their consciences, “I can’t eat that meat”. It’s either been offered to an idol god or it’s full of demons. So listening to the informed but unloving counsel, the consciences of the less knowledgeable were effectively being wounded.
So as we will see in the proceeding verses, Paul addresses the problem. But the main point here is that in using their “knowledge”, but not their heart, the mature Christians weren’t showing concern about their brother who didn’t yet feel right in their conscience about eating the meat. And in doing so, they wounded their brother’s conscience. Let me suggest to you today that the “The [unbridled or unloving] use of knowledge against a fellow Christian [or even an unbeliever] amounts to sin”. Paul is now calling them out. What I admire so much about Paul is his knowledge of theology, his understanding of God. But what I admire even more about Paul, is his love for the people. Don’t you see it in his writings? He has a passion for the people, whoever he’s around, he shows them love and compassion. In Romans 9:1–3, he wrote about that, he said “I’m speaking the truth in Christ — I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit — that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.
For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers”. Have you ever loved like that before? I don’t know if I could do that for anyone. And note he starts the passage with, “I am speaking the truth in Christ — I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit.” So he is not exaggerating here. He loves and cares that much for the people God puts in his path, that he would rather be cursed then lead them astray. And that includes you and me as well.
When we look at Paul’s life and see how he went from place to place trying to win people to Jesus by telling them the Good News, and when we see all the persecutions he was willing to endure, when we look at his life, it becomes clear that he believed that knowledge is essential, but it’s not sufficient. It’s not enough just to have knowledge. Paul says even if he had all knowledge but didn’t love, he would amount to nothing. In other words, you can be brilliant and at the same time worthless in the end.
It would be like a great basketball player who never misses a shot but keeps shooting into the opponent’s basket. He may say, “I was five for five today” but his teammates would respond, “But you’re killing our team! You’re shooting at the wrong basket!” That is the kind of attitude that Paul is confronting here. You might be brilliant, but you’re killing our team. You’re not building up the brothers; you’re making them feel dumb and wounding their conscience. You’re not stirring them up to love and good deeds. You just keep making them feel inadequate. Your brilliance is worthless if you’re not building up your brother. So let me ask, when you look at the people God puts in your path, do you love them? Do you use your knowledge or strength to build them up or break them down?
Then Paul says in verse 3, “But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.” The point here is the power of love, and the key word here is the word “anyone”; not just the knowledgeable and wise Christian, but “anyone who loves God is known by God”. You see when you love God — even when you don’t know all the facts about him, but you actually love him anyways — that alone brings you into this new born again relationship. You are then “known by God.” That’s huge, and what a beautiful thought! I am known by God. He knows me. The Creator and Sustainer of everything, the all-powerful one, knows me personally, and right now in heaven, because of His beloved Son, He sees me as his beloved child. Despite all the junk that is in our lives, He sent his Son to cover all of it. Now He looks at us and knows us and loves us, and He hears our prayers. We are all equal in Christ’s economy, and all I can say to that is, Amen and Amen!
Verse 4 continues on about the topic food. Paul wrote:
4 About eating food sacrificed to idols then, we know that “an idol is nothing 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 there are many “gods” and many “lords”— 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father. All things are from him, and we exist for him. And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ. All things are through him, and we exist through him.7 However, not everyone has this knowledge. Some have been so used to idolatry up until now that when they eat food sacrificed to an idol, their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8 Food will not bring us close to God. We are not worse off if we don’t eat, and we are not better if we do eat.
Again Paul loves his brothers and sisters in Christ so much that if he knew that their seeing him eat meat would cause them to stumble, then he simply will stop eating meat. He’ll go vegan. Eating meat is not that big of a deal compared to that of showing love for his brother. He loves his brother more than his freedom to eat meat. About Food the New Testament is very clear that food does not defile a person. In Mathew 15:11 Jesus said himself, “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”
About that, you might recall that the apostle Peter once had a very strange vision about food as recorded in Acts 10:9, [SLIDE] “About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. 13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” 14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” 15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
This happened three times, and suddenly the object was taken up into heaven”.
Now understanding that Peter’s vision had more to do with salvation for the gentiles, not just for the Jews. However, it also inferred that Christians were no longer under the Law of Moses. That God had opened the door for us, to all different kinds of people and all different kinds of foods. We now have liberty in Christ, and to that I say Amen!
Continuing at verse 9 now Paul gives us a final thought about Christian Liberty.
9 But be careful that this right of yours in no way becomes a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone sees you, the one who “has knowledge” dining in an idol’s temple, won’t his weak conscience be encouraged to eat food offered to idols? 11 So the weak person, the brother or sister for whom Christ died, is ruined by your knowledge. 12 Now when you sin like this against brothers and sisters and wound their weak conscience, you are sinning against Christ.
13 Therefore, if food causes my brother or sister to fall, I will never again eat meat, so that I won’t cause my brother or sister to fall.
Paul’s message here is specifically about food, but it could also be about anything that we Christians have freedoms to partake in. Especially things in the gray areas that are not specifically mentioned in scripture. Watching movies, playing cards, dancing, gambling, drinking, etc. Or even participating in secular holidays like Halloween, Easter or Valentine’s Day for instance. All these things might be considered a sin to some, while maybe not for others. We have freedom in Christ but we must be conscious about the struggles of others. I hope that is clear.
As Christians, we now should be living our lives on purpose, striving to bring others to the saving grace of the Gospels. That Jesus died for you and for me. And in sharing that “Good News”, we should find ourselves going out to all people, other nations even, to people like those in Corinth who don’t know the Bible, and maybe still practice all kinds of strange rituals and practices. And it will be up to us to caretake the knowledge of Jesus Christ well, while showing much love and compassion to the audience that God put’s in our paths, Amen?
Again, we know that we have Freedom in Christ brothers and sisters. But that Christian Liberty, Liberty, Liberty, and knowledge needs to be wrapped in much love.
But all this would mean nothing if you didn’t first accept God’s calling on your own life. Have you accepted Jesus offer of salvation yet? Have you given him your struggles with sin and accepted his grace and mercy yet? Maybe today is that day, maybe this is the hour for you to do just that. God loves you so..
Would you please rise as we prepare for our closing hymn.
LORDS SUPPER – 1 Corinthians 11:27 Paul Wrote: “So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.
23 “The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
“A FRIENDLY CHURCH IN A FRIENDLY TOWN”