Summary: We may have our rights, but our freedom to exercise them are governed by their impact on a weak brother
1 Cor 8:1-13 – Sacrificing our Rights
Ministry Breakup Party
Here’s the scenario – true story
Our ministry network had a breakup lunch at the Gulls Restaurant last month
At the luncheon are Baptists, Pentecostals, Uniting Church, and Church of Christ ministers
I like to have a glass of wine with my meal. Would I be within the bounds of scripture to order a glass of wine? Of course
What if I told you within the group was a one woman who has strong feeling against alcoholism because of her experience with her father’s abuse of alcohol
Would I still be within my rights to order a glass of wine? Do I exercise my liberty and order a drink?
This is the scenario we find in our section of scripture we are looking at today
Instead of wine being the issue, it is eating meat offered to idols
Not the usual run of the mill situation we faced this past week, but the principle is more relevant than we might think
1 Cor 8:1 Now let’s talk about food that has been sacrificed to idols.
This phrase comes up a number of times in this letter and it is a result of the Corinthians writing a letter to Paul and he is responding point by point to their questions
You think that everyone should agree with your perfect knowledge.
What do you think was happening in the Corinthian church to generate this type of sarcastic comment from Paul?
Isn’t it the way we are. Instead of just asking the question and waiting for Paul’s opinion on the matter, we like to pre-empt and give our opinion on the matter to impress with our superior knowledge
Paul’s response cuts to the heart of true Christianity
While knowledge may make us feel important, it is love that really builds up the church.
How many churches do you know that have split over showing too much love to one another?
How many churches do you know who have split over superior knowledge?
What is the underlying issue Paul raises with those who supposedly possess superior knowledge? Pride
2Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much. 3But the person who loves God is the one God knows and cares for.
What was the mistake the some in this church were making? What did they view as being the most important aspect of Christianity? Knowledge
But as Paul goes on to say here, those who claim to have all this knowledge have misunderstood the true purpose of Christianity
The one God cares for is not the one who can accumulate the most knowledge, but rather the one who shows love
Paul comes back to the question
4So now, what about it? Should we eat meat that has been sacrificed to idols? Well, we all know that an idol is not really a god and that there is only one God and no other. 5According to some people, there are many so-called gods and many lords, both in heaven and on earth. 6But we know that there is only one God, the Father, who created everything, and we exist for him. And there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom God made everything and through whom we have been given life.
Makes the distinction between the pagans belief in many gods and the Christians belief in the One true God
Paul makes a distinction here between God and Father and Jesus as Lord
He did this to contrast the pagan Roman system where they regarded their deities as gods, and Caesar as Lord
For Christians there is only one God, the Father, and One Lord, Jesus Christ
7However, not all Christians realize this.
This is the whole point of the passage. There is the distinction made between those who are immature in their faith and those who are mature
By using the word “immature” we are talking about it in the sense of new Christians who are still wrestling with old concepts and beliefs of their past life
“Old habits die hard”
the point to remember is people need to be given time and space to sort through and overcome these old habits
none of us make the transition from old understanding to new truth overnight
we have had our own experience with this with our doctrinal changes
the journey has been different for everyone
Some are accustomed to thinking of idols as being real, so when they eat food that has been offered to idols, they think of it as the worship of real gods, and their weak consciences are violated.