Summary: Our greatest loyalty and love is to God and others.
Title: Guidelines for Gray Areas
Text: 1 Corinthians 10:14-11:1
Truth: Our greatest loyalty and love is to God and others.
Aim: to live in such a way we put God and others first.
On December 1, 1955 at 6 p.m. James Blake complained to the bus driver that Rosa Parks, a black lady, refused to give up her seat in the white section and move to the back of the bus. She was arrested, tried in court four days later, found guilty within 30 minutes, and fined $10 plus required to pay $4 in court costs.
Interestingly, those laws of segregated seating were only three years old. Previously, the transportation system was in the hands of private enterprise. Private companies didn’t segregate, even in the Deep South, because you don’t want to offend a significant clientele. To private enterprise everybody’s money is green. That was their preferred color. It was only when the government got into the transportation business and private business couldn’t compete, that the prevailing philosophy of government enforced its opinion, which was segregation. If we only knew our history how wise we would be.
That began a boycott of the bus system in Montgomery, Alabama. Black citizens at great sacrifice walked instead of riding the bus. On November 13, 1956, the Supreme Court outlawed segregation and the yearlong boycott of the bus system in Montgomery came to an end.
Something of that same dynamic is occurring in the church at Corinth. When do you live out your rights and liberties, and when do you restrain those rights and liberties? That’s been the discussion of chapters 8-10. The Corinthian’s were asking if it was right to eat meat offered to idols. Some Christians had no qualms about doing so. They knew idols were just hunks of wood and stone. Other Christians were convinced they were sinning because they believed they were compromising their loyalty to Christ. They asked Paul to resolve this issue for them. Christians still debate over what is right and what is wrong for them to do. For example, in the past we debated over women wearing pants to church or men wearing shorts. Can you go to the movies, can you play cards, what length should be a man’s hair, can you listen to rock and roll music, and should you eat out at restaurants on Sunday? Those subjects have been replaced with debates over the style of music in a worship service or to have or not to have evening services on Sundays.
Does Paul give us any guidelines in these gray areas? Yes. In essence our loyalty to God and love for others guides our decisions.
Paul deals with our loyalty to God in verses 14-22.
I. LOYALTY TO GOD (1 CORINTHIANS 10:14-22)
Previously, Paul reminded the Corinthians that Israel had all these incredible privileges in the Exodus, but despite all their advantages they fell into the sin of idolatry. Even though they were tempted to sin against God, He always gave them a way out of sin. What was true of Israel was true for the Corinthians. They too have great privileges and are tempted to idolatry. They too will be given a way out of sinning. Now read v. 14---.
The way out of temptation from idolatry is to forcefully reject other gods, and stay as far away as possible from making something else our god. He is emphatic and urgent in this prohibition. The Corinthians may have been saying they weren’t really worshiping those idols when they joined in the banquet to that god.
In v. 15 he says that sensible, right thinking people will recognize this is the right decision. Next Paul gives two examples that prove this is the right decision, and that they are to take seriously the issue of idolatry and reject it with great energy. The first example is the Lord’s Supper and the second example is the Jewish practice of offering meat sacrificed in worship.
Read v. v. 16-17.
Paul says that when we participate in the Lord’s Supper we share in the body and blood of Christ. The Roman Catholic Church uses this verse to teach that the bread and juice literally become the body and blood of Jesus when a worshiper takes it. It is transformed or transubstantiated into the physical body and blood of Jesus. The Lutherans are not far from this understanding. They don’t believe it literally becomes flesh and blood but somehow His physical presence is there. Of course, that would have been ludicrous and abhorrent to a first century Jew. They understood Jesus and Paul meant this symbolically. It’s like when Jesus called himself the Great Shepherd or the Door.
When a person receives the Lord’s Supper they are professing that they have received Jesus Christ as their Savior through repentance and faith. That’s why you heard me instruct the children a few weeks ago to not take the Lord’s Supper. They need to receive Christ as Savior first.