Summary: In today's lesson we learn some practical directions regarding the proper use of our Christian liberty.
We continue our study in The First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians in a series I am calling Challenges Christians Face.
One of the challenges that Christians face is the issue of Christian liberty. I smiled recently when I read about Charlie Brown, the main character of the Peanuts cartoon strip. Charlie Brown is contemplating life, and he says, “Sometimes I lie awake at night and I ask, ‘Where have I gone wrong?’ Then a voice says to me, ‘This is going to take more than one night.’” Well, my section on Christian Liberty has taken more than one sermon! But, I am happy to tell you that today we come to my final message on the challenge of Christian liberty that Christians face.
Let’s learn about this in a message I am calling, “Do All to the Glory of God.”
Let’s read 1 Corinthians 10:23-11:1:
23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. 25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 26 For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” 27 If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— 29 I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? 30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?
31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.
1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:23-11:1)
The tsunami of December 26, 2004 will be a lifelong memory for anyone old enough to remember that a total of 227,898 people died in that tsunami. One bright spot of that tragic day was highlighted on the cover of the French children’s magazine, Mon Quotidien. Tilly Smith, age 11 at the time, was featured as the publication’s selection for “Child of the Year” in 2005. The British schoolgirl saved about one hundred tourists because she acted upon what she knew. While walking along a Thailand beach during her family’s vacation, she recognized the warning signs that a tsunami was coming because her geography class had studied tsunamis just two weeks before. Because of her actions, the beach was evacuated and it was one of the few places on Phuket where no one was killed or seriously hurt. Tilly Smith’s heroics model what Christians are called to do each day—take the knowledge of the gospel and implement it into our routine, wherever that may be, so that lives can be saved for all eternity.
The apostle Paul has been helping the Christians in Corinth understand how the gospel fit into their daily routine so that their knowledge of the gospel could save lives for all eternity. He was specifically concerned about the way in which some of the Corinthian Christians understood Christian liberty. There was a great deal of confusion about eating food offered to idols.
In our lesson today, we learn some practical directions regarding the proper use of our Christian liberty. Let’s learn about this as follows:
1. Seek the Good of Others (10:23-24; 32-33)
2. Eat Marketplace Food (10:25-26)
3. Eat with Unbelievers (10:27-30)
4. Do All for God’s Glory (10:31)
5. Follow Paul’s Example (11:1)
I. Seek the Good of Others (10:23-24; 32-33)
The first practical direction regarding the proper use of our Christian liberty is to seek the good of others.
Paul said in verse 23: “‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up.”
You may recall that Paul used the slogan “all things are lawful” earlier in 1 Corinthians 6:12. Apparently, some of the Corinthian Christians were asserting that their Christian liberty enabled them to do anything they wanted to do. So, they believed that they were able to eat food offered to idols.
Now, there is a measure of truth to the slogan that for the Christian “all things are lawful.” Christians have great liberty in Christ. However, Paul reminded them that Christian liberty is qualified by two further statements. Although “all things are lawful” for the Christian, “not all things are helpful” and “not all things build up.” Liberty in Christ should be governed by a desire to do that which is helpful and builds others up.