In our scriptures this morning, Paul moves now to a heated Corinthian dispute over an issue of doctrine. Should Christians eat meat from animals that have been offered first to pagan deities, and can they take part in a dinner party the host dedicates to a god or goddess?
Doesn’t it seem peculiar, that in a faith that claims to possess truth, Paul insisted on protecting the right of brothers and sisters to be wronged?
In 1 Corinthians 8 Paul concluded that the Corinthians, rather than taking pride in their knowledge of the truth, really should have been ashamed of their lack of concern for others.
Paul says that what we eat is irrelevant—but how our actions affect others in the body is not irrelevant.
Now,we don’t face this same problem today of eating sacrificial meat, but the basic situation is still with us: does a Christian, because he is set free from the Law, have the right to live any way he pleases? There are many practices that we know from Scripture are definitely wrong, but there are also many borderline problems about which even dedicated Christians disagree.
This is an issue of freedom, our freedom we have through our Savior Jesus Christ.
It was the Corinthians thinking like many of ours,that since it is not directly forbidden in Scripture, then it is allowable.
But this attitude has caused a tension here that has existed since the beginning of the church.
I ask you this mrning, how far does freedom go in regard to behavior that is not specifically forbidden in Scripture?
Thank the Lord we don’t have to tend to deal with issues like food offered to idols,but we do find Christians divided on issues of freedom like…
Drinking alcoholic beverages;
Smoking or chewing tobacco;
Playing and/or watching sports on Sunday;
Styles of music (I grew up hearing how evil rock music was);
Going to the theater;
Going to the movies
The practice of meditation;
Styles of dress;
Playing the lottery
Having Christmas trees; telling your children the story of Santa verses the birth of Christ
Making Easter eggs; telling the story of a bunny verses Christ death, burial, and resurrection
worshiping on Sunday verses Saturday
All of these are in the gray areas in Christian living.
So what is right and wrong? This morning I want to present to you four questions that I hope will assist you in making that determination for yourself.
I. Consider Your Own Attitude (8:1–3) read
How many of us have been like the young man that had finished his first semester in college, and was spending the weekend at home.
Somewhat bored with the old place, he was regaling his father with the wonders of his campus and the enlightened people there.
After getting up a head of steam and warming up to his subject he said, “Why, Dad, in our chemistry lab at college we have made an acid that will dissolve any known substance.”
The father turned and looked at him and slowly said, “That’s mighty fine. What do they keep it in, son?”
Paul says, “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” Everyone posses knowledge, but what does knowledge do without love?
I guess my first question this morning is does our knowledge companied with our actions in the gray areas of your life...
1.Does it promote edification?
"So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up." – Romans 14:19
You see the word for edification in the Greek means “to build up; the act of one who promotes another’s growth in Christian wisdom, piety, happiness and holiness” (The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon – Strong’s number 3619).
Remember, in the context of our passage here, Paul is addressing the issue of “gray areas”.
Remember that Paul told us in Romans,
"For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God. And other people will approve of you, too." – Romans 14:17-18
In essence, don’t get wrapped up on the “gray area”. Instead, ask is this building or burning the Kingdom of God? Is what I’m doing contributing to unity among the saints, or is there a possibility it could divide it?
II. Consider Your Brother’s Knowledge (8:4–8)read
We have to acknowledge if we are the weaker or stronger Christian.
Now Paul turns to their question in these scriptures. It is important for us to look at verses 1-3 because, they are an introduction as to how he was going to answer their question. The answer to their question about eating food sacrificed to idols has more to do with love, than it has to do with what’s right and what’s wrong. The answer to their question has more to do with love than knowledge.
In verses 4-6, Paul addresses the knowledge side of their question. Paul says that there really is but one God. However, anything that takes priority over God in a person’s life is what Paul is calling a ‘god’ or ‘lord.”
If we allow any person, such as a spouse, a child, a boss, or anyone else to supersede the one true God as first priority in our life, then that person has become our god.
If we allow anything (doesn’t have to be a wooden idol)-anything such as a car, a boat, a computer, a job, horse shows, sports, sex, cell phones or anything else to replace God as most important in our life, then that thing has become our idol.
2.So our next question is can your gray area lead to bondage (addiction)?
Does our life away from church have you trapped, limiting you from your fullest potential in Christ?
You may say, “I am allowed to do anything.” But I reply, “Not everything is good for you.” And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything. – 1 Corinthians 6:12 NLT
The word Addiction or Bondage can be captured in this statement, “when you want to say no, but can’t”. Friends’ addiction doesn’t have to be drugs and alcohol; it can be pride, arrogance, anger, lack of patience, hypocrisy… “When you want to say no, but can’t”. We look to things, substances or behaviors to make us feel good. This could be an emotional or physical need. But sadly, the thing that people turn to, hoping to make them feel better often turns into bondage. Remember Paul said that we are to be enslaved to righteousness (Romans 6:18). So if the “gray area” in your life could possibly place hooks in you that will bind you to itself, rather than allowing you to be bound to righteousness, maybe you should walk away from it.
III. Consider Your Brother’s Conscience (8:9–11)
We must consider our brothers conscience, but to do this we must have the correct perspective.
We must recognize that knowledge and love are two important factors, for knowledge must be balanced by love if we are to use our Christian freedom in the right way. But there is a third factor, conscience.
The word conscience simply means “to know with,” and it is used thirty-two times in the New Testament. Conscience is that internal court where our actions are judged and are either approved or condemned (Rom. 2:14–15). Conscience is not the law; it bears witness to God’s moral law. But the important thing is this: conscience depends on knowledge. The more spiritual knowledge we know and act on, the stronger the conscience will become. Now we need to understand that our conscience is not necessarily the Holy Spirit.
Everyone has a conscience, but not everyone has the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit indwells within us when we come to Christ. There are many “good” non-Christian people who have a sense of morality, but not a clear conscience about God and the very gray areas of their life.
3. Do you have any uneasy conscience about gray areas in your life?
One indicator that you may have an unclear conscience about your gray area is that you try to hide it. A good test to give yourself is this: Whenever you are doing something, from watching TV to eating, ask yourself, “If someone knocked on the door right now, could I open the door without scurrying around or checking the peep hole?” If you are afraid that someone whether inside the fellowship or even outside were to find out, odds are it isn’t right for you to do.
IV. Consider Christ (8:12–13)
We must consider Christ in all things, in what He has done for us as well as others.
What Paul is saying is,when we consider Christ, we make sure that our spiritual knowledge is tempered by love, and that we do not tempt the weaker Christian to run ahead of his conscience. Where knowledge is balanced by love, the strong Christian will have a ministry to the weak Christian, and the weak Christian will grow and become strong.But when this is out of balance in regards to anything to do with growing in our Lord, we must ask ourselves, will my actions or my understanding of my liberty in Christ...
4. Can it cause someone else to stumble?
Just because we are free in Christ, doesn’t mean we can do whatever we want. For example, I have the freedom and the right as an American to go out on the street corner and burn the American flag. While doing so, I also have the right, under the first Amendment, to shout obscenities and racial slurs to every one of other ethnic groups. But just because I have the right, doesn’t make it right.
Paul instructs the saints of Corinth to “be careful with the exercise of your freedom” (v 9). Underline this is your Bibles.
I have heard many people say, “I am free to do whatever I want to. If other people don’t like it, that’s their problem.” I am here to inform you that is not a Biblical perspective to maintain in your Christian walk. We are to always be mindful of others. If Jesus was self absorbed, we’d be in bad shape. Be very mindful, that our “freedom” can cause someone else to sin against Jesus Christ. Our “freedom” could lead someone else to be bound by addiction and sin.
Looking at these four questions, if you can say yes to one or all four of them, then you shouldn’t be involved or partake of the “gray area” in your life.
Jesus taught His disciples and Paul tells the Corinthians and us that we should let love always be the rule.
It is a well-rounded Christian that is able to think both conceptually and relationally.
The Christian is always to be growing in our understanding of biblical truths.
There is no prize for being ignorant.
God wants believers to think and act intelligently.
Our job as Christians is NOT to convince everybody that we’re right!
Our job as Christians is to LOVE everybody!
Our job is not to debate people into the kingdom of God!
Our job is to LOVE people into the kingdom of God!
People will not know that we are Christians because of how intelligent we appear.
They will know that we are Christians by our love.
But that is not all, and it is not the most important.
The Christian is always to be growing in our ability to relate to people.
We are to practice loving one another, over and over.
Jesus commanded us to “love one another” as He has loved us.
We are to let that be the aim of our faith.
Love is always to be the rule.
And it is love that brings us to the table of the Lord. The bible says that God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. This is true love, the love we celebrate in remembrance of our Lord and Savior through the elements of this juice and the bread.
We practice communion because we are to remember the love of Jesus through His death.
We take the bread to remind us that it was by the body of our Savior that our salvation came.
He died in our place. He became our substitute. And likewise we take the cup to remind us that it was by the blood of our Savior that our salvation came. He died for our sins. He became our sacrifice.
Read 1st Corinthians 11:23-29. Prayer
Wiersbe, Warren W: Bible Exposition Commentary
Richards, Lawrence O: The Teachers Commentary
Wiersbe, Warren W: Wiersbe Expository Outline for the New Testament
Dealing with the gray areas, Rick Adams
But I Love Steak, Paul Decker
Knowledge vs. Love, A. Todd Coget