Summary: Message 23 in our exposition of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. I discuss Paul's admonition to be willing to limit our freedom for a higher purpose. We discuss some probing questions related to decision making.

Chico Alliance Church

Pastor David Welch

“Self-limited Liberty” 1 Cor 8


I. Reproof for fleshly behavior 1-6

A. Reproof for a divided church 1-4

B. Reproof for a defiled church 5

C. Reproof for a defeated church 6

1. Defeated by lawsuits

2. Defeated by misuse of God’s temple (immorality, sensuality)

The last section of chapter 6 introduced three principles on how to evaluate certain behaviors or activities. We will discover six more of them on to the end of chapter 10.

The first question to ask yourself is, “Will it actually benefit me or others?” 12a

The second question is “Will it control me or become additive?” 12b

The third question is, “Will it violate God’s design?” 13-20


Paul moved from reproof for specific issues in the church to responses to specific inquiries of the church. You can tell when he switches questions by his use of the words “now concerning” and sometimes just “now”.

II. Responses to specific inquiries

A. Concerning marriage 7

There is a point amidst all the marriage advice in chapter seven. Paul presented another principle of making decision. This one had to do with weather to get married or not. The point to ponder asks about extreme devotion. Paul argued that remaining single allows us to offer our full undivided devotion to serving the Lord. Those who get married are obligated to serve their spouse and the Lord. Those who get married will have extra trouble in this world.

The decision making question to ponder is, “Will it distract from full devotion to God?”

We live in a self-centered society. Our culture has become dangerously self-focused. What are some of the signs of a self-centered, me first society? We are reaping the consequences of a “Me First!” emphasis. All the way to chapter eleven, Paul presents a case for voluntarily limiting our freedom for the sake of the kingdom.

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

Christ has set us free from the law of sin and death through His sacrifice. Our sin is no longer a factor in determining our eternal destiny. Where sin abounds grace much more abounds. We are no longer under the law of sin and death.

Sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. Romans 6:14

The logical question might come from those with twisted thinking,

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Romans 6:15

Paul suggested here in this section of his letter that though all things may be lawful or nothing is unlawful not all things promote kingdom purposes. There is a place for self-denial for higher purposes. There is a place for discipline for greater gain. There is a place for limiting our liberty for the sake of the Gospel.

Paul used his own choice to relinquish personal liberty in order to further the gospel.

1. Limit liberty to avoid ruining a weaker brother 8:1-13

The first of a list of six areas has to do with restricting his diet in order not to cause a weaker brother to stumble.

a) The case for Liberty 8:1-6

The issue has to do with eating meat that had previously been sacrifice or offered to idols or the gods of the day. When individuals came to pay homage to their chosen deity, they brought a sacrifice of some sort. Sometimes it was produce but generally it was meat of some sort.

1. Part of the offering would be burnt on the altar.

2. Part of the offering would be given to the presiding priest.

3. Part of the offering would be taken home.

Because of the number of people bringing their offering, the priest had more meat than they could eat themselves. Therefore they sold the surplus to the meat markets. The controversy then was whether it was sinful to eat that meat or not. The principles learned here could apply to a multitude of issues that scripture neither condemns, commends or forbids. Paul first stated a case for liberty to freely devour Filet-minion sacrificed to idols based on logic.

What did many of these believers know?


1. There is really no such thing as an idol or a god behind them.

2. There is only one God.

3. Food will not bring favor or disfavor with God.


1. Eating meat sacrificed to idols or gods has no moral consequence.

2. I am free to eat meat sacrificed to idols.

Yet Paul urges them to consider another factor along side of their logic. We may know these facts concerning reality. Such knowledge without love produces arrogance. Love considers factors outside of my right to eat questionable meat.

The focus of knowledge is abundant accurate information that makes me smarter.

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