Summary: The reality of our lives in Christ is this: we have been set free! We have been set free from our old way of life. We have been set free from the power of sin. We are no longer in bondage to it. And we have been set free to enjoy life and to enjoy it more
The Limitations of Love
Text: I Corinthians 8:1-13
Introduction: The reality of our lives in Christ is this: we have been set free! We have been set free from our old way of life. We have been set free from the power of sin. We are no longer in bondage to it. And we have been set free to enjoy life and to enjoy it more abundantly.
But I ask you today, just how free are we free to be? Are there any limitations to our freedom in Christ? Are we totally free to do anything we like? Many of you have heard the line of reasoning that says, "I am free to do anything I please as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else." It sounds good, doesn’t it? The only difficulty with this kind of reasoning is that it assumes we can be totally independent of other people. It assumes that the decisions we make and the actions we take do not impact anyone else.
There is a basic problem here. That problem is that "no man is an island unto himself." The poet John Donne made this line popular in a literary work where he made the point that we do not live in isolation. Whether we like it or not, whether we accept it or not, each of us is a part of the whole of humanity. What impacts you affects me. My actions impact and affect you. The reality of our situation is that we are all interconnected. And this is especially true within the church.
The church is a picture of the basic unit of society, the family. We are the family of God. Just as when we were born, we were born into a family, so when we were born again, we became a part of the church. Others in the church are our brothers and sisters. We are part of this community, this fellowship, this family, and what we do and how we live directly impacts all of us.
The church in Corinth was facing an issue of Christian liberty. The questions we asked earlier, they too were asking. How free are we free to be? Are there limitations to our freedom in Christ? For them, it had to do with food sacrificed to idols. None of us has probably ever had to think about that specific issue. But the general issue applies to us as well. It is the issue of how exercising my Christian liberty affects others. Does my behavior help or hinder my brothers and sisters in Christ?
The apostle Paul points out several important considerations that should guide our behavior. In determining how free we are free to be, there are three important people to consider.
I. Consider Yourself
- vv. 1-3 - "Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God."
A. First consider youself.
1. Before you can look outward, you need to look inward.
2. You need to take a good long look at yourself to determine your own situation.
B. Two specific areas to consider: knowledge & love.
a. As we grow in our relationship to Christ, we also grow in our knowledge of Him and of His ways.
b. Growing in our knowledge of Him is a good thing, an essential thing.
c. It can also be a dangerous thing if we come to rely too heavily on our knowledge alone.
d. While knowledge is essential, it is not all-sufficient.
e. Too much trust in what we know can cause us to become puffed up or proud, self-sufficient, and arrogant.
f. We begin to look down on others who do not have the same level of knowledge.
a. Who do you love? Do you love Jesus? Are you passionate for him?
b. Paul tells us that while knowledge puffs up, love builds up.
c. He goes on to tell us that "the man who loves God is known by God."
d. Love is the foundation of our relationship with God and the essential building block of the healthy life.
C. How do you know you love Jesus?
1. Too many people evaluate their love for God by how they feel inside.
2. While feelings are important, feelings can be fickle.
3. Too many people think they love God simply because they have a sentimental feeling toward God.
a. But many of those same people can’t even get out of bed to come to church.
b. Many of those same people never give of their time, or talent, or resources to the work of the kingdom.