This week, our young adult pastor Adina Olson continued in our sermon series through the book of 1 Corinthians. In our text, Paul is speaking to the believers in Corinth about their Christian liberties. As Christians, we have been provided great freedom in Christ, but we must keep the commandments to love God and love others as we exercise those freedoms. We must demonstrate the knowledge we have in love to those who don’t know Christ, and not become a stumbling block to those within the body of Christ.
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
Liberty defined: the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views.
Synonyms for liberty: freedom, self-government, independence, autonomy, self-rule
Matthew 22:37-39 NIV
Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.
1 Corinthians 8:1-3 ESV
Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. 2 If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. 3 But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.
1 Corinthians 8:4-6 ESV
Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
Paul is addressing the church about their Christian liberties that are confusing among the people:
• Accepting food from Idols
• Not being a stumbling blocks for your brother or sisters
Paul then answers the question about food offered to Idols by saying that idols carry no power, no authority. You’re not bowing or pledging your allegiance to the idol or calling upon its name. You may eat because you know that these idols are worthless.
Why is Paul addressing this? What were the believers in Corinth doing? Shop owners were pagan, and Christians would purchase their food to eat. However, the food from the pagan people was offered to idols and then sold. These believers in Corinth were confused about what to do.
We all possess knowledge of Jesus Christ’s power, authority, and dominion over all on the Earth, under the Earth, and above the Earth.
Matthew 28:18 ESV
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Jeremiah 10:10a NLT
But the LORD is the only true God. He is the living God and the everlasting King!
1. Our knowledge of Christ once we are around pagans can puffs us up.
Our knowledge is accurate, yet our posture can be haughty and prideful. Paul is looking to remind the Corinthian believers that they were once without this knowledge. We were pagan gentiles before Christ found us.
Romans 5:8 ESV
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners
2. We are a part of a body of believers
Our liberties of freedom in Christ come through a foundational condition that we would follow the commandments to love God and love our neighbor. Paul addresses how us being one in Christ carries weight for what we would freely do. This is where Paul is engaging with the knowledgeable believer with knowledge and asking whether you are willing to do what is needed for a time period for the health of others.
1 Corinthians 1:7-8 ESV
However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.
1 Corinthians 9-13 ESV
But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.
What is Paul trying to say to the Church? For the sake of the health of the believer that is weak in knowledge, it is the best option to place your liberty, autonomy, independence, self-rule, and self-governance aside not to be a stumbling block while the believer is maturing in their knowledge of God. In the Kingdom, we are responsible for the spiritual well-being of one another.
We are called to do these with one another:
- Confess sin
- Walk in unity
- Offer high praise & worship to Jesus
Proverbs 6:16-19 ESV
There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.
From the remaining scripture versus, Paul was exhorting the believers to understand:
• There is great calamity when we use our freedom without thinking of others
• We are in relationship with everyone – we’re one body in Christ
• We should always identify with the weak
• Get use to dying to yourself, that’s when Chris is glorified
The indulgence of your will has more destructive than the momentary delight you may experience. Destruction always outlasts delight. We must use our Christian liberties to walk in the opposite spirit with humility, kindness, moderateness, generosity, virtue, diligence, and patience.
Isaiah 6:3 ESV
And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”
- What were the two areas that Paul was discussing with the Corinthian church? What did Paul have to say about these areas?
- What are some common idols in our culture today?
- What is the knowledge that we have in Christ? How can we guard ourselves against being puffed up in pride around nonbelievers?
- Adina said we all have had moments where we were a part of “being a stumbling block to the weak.” Share one with the group.
- Are you in a relationship with someone weak in the area of envy? Do you have a friend trying to keep up with the neighbor, or social media influencer just to be seen, validated or liked? How can you call this person higher this week?
- Can you grow in loving your neighbor as yourself? As the Lord to expand your heart in this area, humbling your heart so that you may do so.