May 16, 2021 How to Use Our Freedom In Christ Properly
30th May 2021
Relationships – in the church
1 Corinthians 13:5 Love is not self-seeking,
Love does not seek its own.
Love is not self-serving.
Self-seeking/self-serving is an attitude that destroys relationships
We are going to take a stroll through the book of 1 Corinthians – relationships are important – and there are a number of issues in the church – and there are a number of reasons that is happening – and we will focus on one of those today. It may seem out of place to us – they had different issues to deal with, but in some ways, those issues are very similar and have the same results.
In chapters 8-10, Paul is focusing on idolatry and meat sacrificed to idols. That is something we deal with all the time, right?!
In the cities, they would have these festivals that were both civic and religious. During these festivals, you would perform both civic duty and your worship. The way these celebrations would happen – they would all gather at the temple and have a feast. The city would pay for the food and would bring meat in – like a big Thanksgiving feast – but one hitch – the meat was sacrificed to the idol of the temple – so when they participated in the eating of the meat, taking the meat, taking the food – they were participating in the worship of the idol of that temple.
What Paul says - - No! He tells the Christians – No! Don’t participate in that! Stay out of that! Some things are forbidden for Christians.
1 Corinthians 10:23 23 "All things are lawful," but not all things are beneficial. "All things are lawful," but not all things build up.
Paul talks about idolatry – but he also talks about our freedom in Christ – Time for the Bible geek time –
Speaking of himself and other Christians – I am free in Christ – all things are lawful – free to do as I want – however, our freedom in Christ does not give us permission to do anything we want – Sometimes there are things we should not do.
“All things are lawful” – Some versions have this in quotes. Others don’t. Some believe Paul is quoting people in Corinth who have taken their freedom in Christ overboard. Either way – we are free in Christ, but we are not free to do whatever we want – specifically – not to do anything that is harmful to others. And we are to use our freedom in Christ to benefit and build up others – ONLY!
That is why we are free – not just to do what we want
24 Do not seek your own advantage, but that of the other.
So he is talking about our freedom in Christ. He says – basically – take your freedom and lay it down. Set it aside. Empty yourself of that freedom for the sake of others. Do not seek your own advantage, but that of the other.
The freest person who ever lived – Jesus – what did He do? He laid down His freedom and became a slave and servant to all. If we want to really be free, we need to become a servant and slave to everyone.
I believe that this – do not seek your own advantage – is the only way the Church can navigate this divisive time we live in.
SO Paul is talking about idolatry and freedom in Christ – but he is also talking about how Christians should and should not engage in the culture. He is trying to show us what is permissible and what is not.
For us – of first importance is developing a proper understanding of what CULTURE is. I think our view is flawed – Like Culture is everything that is out there – but in here, we’re all Christians. SO somehow, we believe that we are not THAT – out there – and it may be true theologically, but in reality, it is absolutely not the case. All of us are influenced and affected by culture and the world and the reality is – we are blind to it – blind to our own way we are affected by the world.
It has to be revealed to us from the outside – from someone outside of us.
The first thing we need to do is to think that there is one culture out there – the bad evil culture – and we identify it. But there are many cultures out there that can infect us.
There is a wealth culture – a middle class culture – and a culture of poverty. You are in one of those! Whatever one it is – it can infect you, and you bring that into the church.
You might say – I’m in the middle-class culture – it is the others that have all the problems. There is a right/center/and left culture – and we all think the others are wrong.
In all forms of culture, there are things that can infect us.
There is a good test to find out if culture is having a negative impact on you. Ask yourself – does it benefit others or is it harmful? Does it build or tear down? The only way to find out is to ask the other!
NAS: Do not seek your own advantage, but that of the other – the other is translated as neighbor. The one who is not like you!
Think of the Good Samaritan – who is my neighbor? Leviticus 17 – two neighbors are mentioned – your fellow Israelite – your brother or sister – love your brother or sister like yourself. But then it talks about the stranger who dwells in your land – and it says – love THEM like yourself. The guy is basically saying – which is most important?! And Jesus throws out a third category – not your brother – not the stranger – but someone totally different as yourself.
1 Cor. 10:25 – Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience sake – for the earth is the Lord’s and all it contains.
After the festival – all the leftover meat was taken to the market – and the Christians are saying – Hey, we didn’t get to participate in the festival, and now it is half-off and I get fuel perks – and Paul is saying – eat it! IT is just food!
27 If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, Eat whatever is put before you without asking questions of conscience.
He said that twice – what does he mean? I’ve always read this – “Ignorance is bliss”! I don’t think that is right – I don’t think that is what he is saying.
In their context, there were differences of opinions on this issue and it was causing divisions in the church.
And Paul is saying – if this is causing divisions (and let me say this – this is not a gospel-centric issue) – Paul is saying – Just keep it to yourself! Don’t get involved in the division. Don’t engage the debate! Just eat and shut up!
The Bible allows us to have differences of opinions on certain issues – as long as they are not regarding salvation – like things found in the creeds.
The gospel allows for it. Paul allows for it. The false teachers that Paul confronts are the ones who are distorting the gospel. We tend to confront everything. If you don’t believe what I believe, I CONFRONT YOU! But Paul said – I am determined to know nothing among you but Christ, and Him crucified.
When we engage our world, we need to engage with Christ, and Him crucified. Things that are not addressed in the Bible should never be discussed as if they are!
Romans 14 is an entire chapter on this! He deals with food sacrificed to idols – things that are non-essential to the gospel – the core things of orthodox Christian faith.
This thing of eating meat was a splitting thing in the church! We think that is silly! But churches split over silly things today!
Romans 14:22 The faith you have, keep to yourself before God (WOW! We think, no, if I believe something is biblical, then I have to tell everyone that! ). Blessed is the one who does not judge himself by what he approves.
If it is the gospel, Yes – but there is much that would not fit into that.
1 Corinthians 10:28 But if someone says to you, "This has been offered in sacrifice," then do not eat it,
What is going on here? Maybe the host comes in and says – oh, by the way – this is part of the worship of the idol – Paul says, don’t do it!
Or – someone is at the party – another Christian like you – and says – This was sacrificed to idols – we can’t eat it – it would be wrong – so don’t eat.
both for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience. 29 I am referring to the other person's conscience, not yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another's conscience?
It has nothing to do with the food! You are free to eat – but in this situation – you will harm another – that is the only reason you can’t eat it – it will cause the other to violate their own conscience – if it causes that – don’t do it.
What does it mean to make someone violate their conscience? Go to the context. If it would cause a person to do something that is not permissible – that God says, No, don’t cross this line – that would violate their conscience.
If someone is on a diet – and they say – it offends me when you eat ice cream – soooo – when you are with that person, don’t eat ice cream in front of them! That is considerate – but does not apply to these Bible verses! Because eating ice cream is not forbidden in the Bible!
I checked. It is not in there!
31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. 32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God,
So you are to be a witness to the world. As a church – you are to be a witness. Your church relationships will determine the effect
1 Corinthians 10:33 33 just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, so that they may be saved.
1 Corinthians 13:5 Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.
Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.