Summary: Message 24 in our exposition of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. This message continue an exploration of Paul's admonition to be willing to limit our exercise of freedom in Christ for higher purposes.

Chico Alliance Church

Pastor David Welch

“Self-limited Liberty for the Gospel’s Sake 1 Cor 9:1-23


I. Reproof for fleshly behavior 1-6

II. Responses to specific inquiries

A. Concerning marriage 7

B. Concerning the voluntary limitation of Christian liberty 8-11:1

1. To avoid ruining a weaker brother 8:1-13

Point: Limiting my liberty in Christ for the benefit of others demonstrates genuine love for God and others.

Question: What am I willing to sacrifice for the good of another brother?

All through this section of his letter to the Corinthians Paul answered questions about issues troubling the church. Paul’s answers have to do with the affects our behavior has on others. Am I willing to limit my freedom in order to bring greater fruit for the kingdom?

We unearthed five probing questions so far to help us evaluate our lives in terms of effective witness for the kingdom.

“Will it actually benefit me or others?” 6:12a

“Will it control me or become additive?” 6:12b

“Will it violate God’s design?” 6:13-20

“Will it distract me from full devotion to God?” 7

“Will it adversely affect those around me?” 8

2. To advance the gospel 9:1-23

Am I willing to limit my personal freedom in order to advance the eternal Gospel?

Am I willing to suffer personal preferences in the present so that more may be won to Christ? The presenting issue and the pertinent principle seem to be unrelated in this passage.

The issue had to do with whether ministers should be paid for their ministry or not.

The principle has to do with advancing the gospel by any and all means.

The first question has to do with how my life might IMPEDE others from hearing the Gospel.

The second question has to do with how my life might INTIVE others to hear the Gospel.

a) Limit liberty to impede fewer from the Gospel 9:1-18

The issue Paul addressed focused on how a minister is compensated or should they be compensated at all. Paul first addressed the relationship of the gospel and the pastor who should derive certain benefits for his sacrificial labor.

(1) The Case for pastoral privilege 9:1-11

Paul tackled the issue by asking some basic questions. Paul discharged fifteen rapid fire questions in these eleven verses. The obvious answers to this barrage of questions lead to the conclusion that it is definitely Biblical and proper to provide material support for those giving their lives for spiritual ministry. Those who are taught the word should support those who teach in order to free them up to more fully focus on spiritual matters.

The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him. Galatians 6:6

On the other hand Paul voluntarily sacrificed this privilege clearly allowed in the Scripture in order not to avoid any hindrance to the advance of the Gospel message.

(2) The case for personal sacrifice 12-18

WOW! Even though all the apostles and ministers had a right to compensation for ministry among the Corinthians because of Paul’s vital ministry among them he had even more privilege. Nevertheless, Paul did not exercise his right or authority over them.

Same words as John 1:12 “…the right (authorization, authority) to become children of God.”

In fact, he endured all things. “endure” = silence, roof, cover, bear, suffer

Why? “so that we will cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ.”

“hindrance” = to cut into, block, impede, obstruct.

It was used by the military to cut ruts in order to impede an approaching army.

It was used of a surgeon cutting the skin to impede disease.

Paul gladly did not claim his rightful compensation so as not to hinder the gospel in any way. Paul repeated the principle of ministry compensation for effect. Paul then restated his own commitment to relinquish his right for a greater cause. Paul made it clear that he was not teaching these principles to put a guilt trip on the Corinthians or to persuade them to support him in the future. Paul didn’t want to be accused of having impure motives that might hinder some from listening to the message. Today there are some whose appearance of improper motives cause a hindrance. Paul appears very emotional about this issue. He would rather die and not preach than allow someone to rob him of the satisfaction of offering the gospel without charge.

Paul talked about his own view of ministry. Paul didn’t look for special kudos for preaching. He had no choice. God appointed him and he felt under compulsion to preach the gospel. Since God had so clearly commissioned him to preach, he did not have a choice.

“Woe is me!” “Doomed!” “Undone!” “Miserable!”

Romans 1:14-15; 2 Cor. 5:11,14-15

The passage forced me to look at my own motives. Some go into ministry because it appears to be an easy profession. Right! Our motive must be to serve the Master. We must minister because the God of the universe and the Savior of our souls from an eternity in torment asks us to. He gives us the privilege of sharing this news with others. He allows us to be a part of the cycle of spiritual impact in history. We should expect no special pat on the back for doing what we were assigned to do.

What about you? Why should you share the Gospel message? Is any Christian different?

In one sense, God commissions every Christian. ALL of us are under obligation to share the good news. We have all been COMISSIONED by Jesus who said,

"All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:18-20

This is NOT just for preachers it is the obligation of EVERY believer. It is not for the super spiritual or for those who want reward. It is a stewardship a job, a task, a mission given to us all by the King of kings. In Paul’s mind, preaching was obligatory. Preaching the gospel for free was voluntary and he did it as a sacrificial offering to God and to remove any possible hindrance to the effectiveness of his message. God did not require it of him. In fact, God authorized and even encouraged receiving support for ministry from the ministry. He voluntarily limited his right to compensation in order not to hinder the gospel in any way and to demonstrate his love for God. Such a love for God becomes the engaging music for the gospel lyrics. Paul’s reward was to offer the gospel without charge.

The question we should ask ourselves in regard to our choices in life should be:

“How might our life choices hinder others from hearing or accepting the gospel message?” Sometimes our manner speaks so loud that those around us can’t hear our message. Paul decided to limit his rights in order to remove any hindrances to the gospel. Paul not only refused compensation and endured the hardship of self-support to avoid any hindrance to the gospel message but he also willingly adjusted his personal lifestyle in order to win more to Christ.

b) Limit liberty to invite more to Christ 9:19-23

Paul was not under obligation to any person. Paul did not have to do what people told him to do. Yet, Paul cheerfully conformed to the culture of those he sought to reach in order to gain a better hearing for the Gospel and thus win more to Christ. He considered himself a slave, a servant to all men in order to win them. Remember the story of the slave we told last week. He remained a slave even though he had been set free in order to minister to more.

Paul illustrated what he meant by several examples.

• To reach the Jews he became like a Jew to win more to Christ.

• To reach the legalists he would live as under the law (though not obligated to their law) in order to win more to Christ.

• To reach the lawless he lived as they did (yet still directed by the law of Christ) in order to win more to Christ.

• To reach the weak he lived as weak in order to win more to Christ.

In fact, Paul sought to live in whatever way necessary, to become whatever necessary so that by any and all legitimate means he could save some.

This does not mean that he compromised the message.

This does not mean he compromised his morals.

I do not even think he compromised his methods.

The end doesn’t always justify the means.

Sometimes the means derails the desired end.

Sometimes the means delays the desired end.

Sometimes the means distorts the desired end.

Paul willing refused personal privilege to realize eternal ends. He limited his own new found freedom in Christ. He endured unspeakable hardship for the sake of the gospel.

For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory. 2 Tim. 2:10

His deepest desire was to do whatever necessary to share with others the privilege of advancing the gospel. Listen to his own testimony to the Philippians 1 and 3.

What a passion for the Gospel Paul demonstrated! What about us?

Pray for a burning passion to see others come to Christ.

A point to perceive

Seek to win others to Christ by any and all means possible.

A Question to ponder

What am I willing to sacrifice or willing to become

for the sake winning others?

Personal freedom? Comfort? Money? Pride?

What is God saying to you today? Are you willing to ask God to engage you in the hourglass of involvement?