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849 1 Cor.8.1-13 The Place of Love, Rights & Freedoms

1 Corinthians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  28:05
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- William Michael Albert Broad is an English musician, singer, songwriter, and actor who achieved fame in the 1970s

The Place of Love, Rights & Freedoms

Date: 22-12-19 849 Echuca
- William Michael Albert Broad is an English musician, singer, songwriter, and actor who achieved fame in the 1970s
- He is known professionally as Billy Idol
- People who are rock or pop stars are often called idols
- They are idols of the music scene
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- Young, good looking kids with fame are called “teen idols”
- Even on the TV you have shows like “American Idol” & “Australian Idol”
- Idol is used here for those who are not worshipped as such as a god, but as someone who is admired, adored & loved
- No doubt, some people have placed such emphasis on the talent of people & the experience they are given, that it runs close to worship in the religious sense
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- What we have in this passage of Scripture is about the evil of pagan idolatry which was very common in these times
- 2000 years of Christianity has all but removed this kind of worship from the western world, although, it is coming back in it’s various forms

1. Rights and Responsibilities vs. 1-3

- Although, this passage speaks about idolatry, the message here is far deeper than merely that
- It’s amazing how “self” often gets in the way of the higher & the more perfect way of the Lord, which is “love”
- In believing they are right, a person will forget love & do wrong
- It is more important for them to be right, than to live righteously
- A righteous person is a person who does right, but entrusts his life to God when wronged
- A righteous person does not pursue vengeance or a vendetta
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- This can happen, when a person believes they are in the right to pursue their agenda
- A person may believe that they have certain freedoms & rights as a Christian & that those freedoms & rights should be claimed
- This claim can be triggered by pride or by a self-first attitude
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- In our passage today, Paul says that it is triggered by knowledge & that knowledge in turn triggers pride & self
- Through their knowledge that idols are nothing, the Corinthians believe that they have the right to their freedoms regardless of the hurt that it may cause
- They are free – indeed have the right – to attend pagan idolatrous feasts regardless of who it hurts
- We have seen this attitude before in previous chapters
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- They have boasted of their so-called freedom from any restraints
- They have boasted over the freedom of the man who was in a relationship with his stepmother
- They have boasted over their freedom to use the body how they like & some have even attended brothels
- They boasted over certain leaders as opposed to others
- They boasted over their spiritual giftedness
- To top it off, they were taking each other to court, no doubt, over what they believed was their rights
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- The knowledge the apostle talks about here is the knowledge of the truth
- There is, no doubt, a power that comes with having knowledge
- In fact, knowledge can be very liberating
- But knowledge, in itself, is a means to an end, it is not an end in itself
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- The Corinthians boasted over the knowledge they had in Christ
- They knew that they were given freedom to know God & have access to God through Christ
- That idols were of no consequence & that nothing was behind them
- The only problem is that the freedom they supposedly “know” is the paganised version of freedom – freedom from restraint
- This meant the freedom to do whatever they like
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- Gospel freedom should never be placed in this category
- The apostle has to tell them that the knowledge they think they have is not really what they have
- In fact, their knowledge is not leading them to God, but away from Him
- If only they exercised love, their knowledge would be truly in accord with the truth
- With a play on words, the apostle puts it this way…
1 Corinthians 8:2–3 NASB95
2 If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; 3 but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.
—2 If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; 3 but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.
- The charter of the Christian life is framed around love
- Knowledge is important, but it is the padding, not the frame
- Even faith, as important & necessary as it is, does not occupy the place that is given to love
1 Corinthians 13:2 NASB95
2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
– If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:8 NASB95
8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.
– Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.
- Love is the charter of the Christian life & it needs to be applied liberally to every area of our life

2. Knowledge Is Important vs.4-6

- In elevating love, the apostle is not disparaging knowledge
- To do that would be counter productive since it is through the knowledge of our Lord & Saviour is a person led to Christ ()
- It concerns me that some Christians set knowledge against their subjective experience of the Lord as if the latter can stand on its own without knowledge
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- I have heard people say that we should not be concerned about doctrine because all we need is love
Q. So where does this person get the idea that all we need is love?
- Oh, that’s right, it’s a doctrine (a teaching) of Christ
- We may elevate one without devaluing the other & it is foolish in the extreme to do so
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- In vs. 4-6, Paul acknowledges that they are quite right about what they do know
- There is no such thing as an idol & there is no such thing as other gods – the likes of Zeus, Hermes, Baal, Ashtaroth & the like
- They are but figments of the imagination of men & women, but there is no reality behind them
- The Corinthians knew this & were happy to flaunt it
- Nothing wrong with that, except, that they forgot that some of their brothers in Christ had come out of that very idolatry & had not sufficiency distanced themselves from it, in the conscience
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- Every now & again, we get these gems from the apostles & Paul gives us one here
- v.6 is structured to show us the unity of the one God—Father & Son
—6 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.
1 Corinthians 8:6 NASB95
6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.
- The Father from whom are all things
- The Son, Jesus, through whom are all things
- Jesus is the agent of creation & of the same substance as the Father
- Jesus is the Son of God & one with the Father, yet there is a functional subordination of the Son to the Father
- Further, we exist for the Father & we exist through the Son
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- The OT is full of the denial of the existence of other gods
- Jeremiah likens them to a scarecrow
—5 “Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field are they, And they cannot speak; They must be carried, Because they cannot walk! Do not fear them, For they can do no harm, Nor can they do any good.”
Jeremiah 10:5 NASB95
5 “Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field are they, And they cannot speak; They must be carried, Because they cannot walk! Do not fear them, For they can do no harm, Nor can they do any good.”
- The Corinthians knew all these things & were greatly enriched by God to understand the truth
1 Corinthians 1:5 NASB95
5 that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge,
that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge,
- Let’s be impressed here – these, largely, ex-slaves or even current slaves had come from the background of idolatry & that would have been a hard thing to escape from
- Idolatry had it’s hold because it was associated with the activity of demons
- They were, in their pagan past lives, fellowshipping with demons says Paul in...
—19 What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons.
1 Corinthians 10:19–20 NASB95
19 What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons.
- So they truly were converted to Christ in escaping the trappings of idolatrous worship
— You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led.
1 Corinthians 12:2 NASB95
2 You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led.
1 Thessalonians 1:9 NASB95
9 For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God,
— For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God,
- In the Corinthians minds, then, they were wondering how they could be faulted for eating meals at the temple feasts since the gods represented by idols do not, in fact, exist!

3. Our Brother Is More Important Than Our Rights vs. 7-8

- One thing that these Corinthians failed to understand was that not everyone was like them
- Some Christians who have come from certain backgrounds have certain weaknesses that are derived from their past
- An alcoholic that ditched the alcohol for Christ has a weakness there that could draw him back into his alcoholism
- The same can be said for any sort of sinful addiction a person had prior to coming to Christ
- The thing is, we all have different backgrounds, strengths & weaknesses
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- Some Christians can be told that idols are nothing at all, but if they were so accustomed to the idol, they may not have made the break in their conscience
- Sure, they may think an idol is nothing, but the conscience has trouble in accepting the new reality
- When we gave thought to homeschooling our kids, it was almost unthinkable
- Why? Because our past life taught us that public schooling was the norm – all that their was – never considered anything else
- Homeschooling was like a Star Trek mission – to boldly go where no man had gone before – that’s what it seemed like!
- Even our parents were concerned at the time
- Having home schooled now with experience, we’d do it all again
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- The conscience is a fascinating device
- What you inform your conscience with, will continue on for years to come
- I liken the conscience to a template
- Once the template has been cut, it is used to make the end product
- Like a word document template - all the other documents come off that original
- A child that is taught things at a young age will generally revert back to that teaching throughout their life
- The ethics you implant in your children while they are young is written on the template of their hearts & consciences
- That is why educating the young in the ways of the Lord is so vital
—6 Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6 NASB95
6 Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
- It’s a proverb, not a promise, but it stands true in the general sense
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- If it is true, then, that some Christians coming out of idolatry cannot get their head around the fact that idols are nothing & that if they eat meat sacrificed to idols it is a sin against God, then these Christians are in trouble
- Paul says that their conscience becomes defiled
- In their conscience, these Christians are associating their eating sacrificial meat at an idol’s temple with eating & celebrating the idol (that they used to worship)
- In their conscience then, they think they are violating their relationship with Jesus – committing spiritual adultery
- So even if they are not – and an idol is nothing – they are because they think they are – they have doubts about whether they are doing right or wrong
- The conscience is not strong on the matter but wavering!
—23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.
Romans 14:23 NASB95
23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.

4. Love Is About Your Brother, Rights Is About You! vs. 9-13.

- Here is the situation down at the local shrine in Corinth
- Sacrifices would be made & offered to a god – a god represented by the idol itself
- The worshippers would gather to eat the meat of the sacrifice with a banquet & become sharers of the meal with the god
- Those who participated were often the upper crust of society – an elite group of people – at other times, others may join by being sponsored by a benefactor (a generous person)
- Dining in an idol’s temple, probably, was a “status” thing that drew the Corinthian Christians there
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- After the meal, there may have been a lot of meat leftover & they dispensed with it by selling it to the suppliers of the local meat markets – that is, the likes of butchers or supermarkets
- This meant that the meat you bought for your family may have been originally sacrificed to an idol & that was an issue that Paul addresses in the coming chapters – we’ll look at that in the coming weeks
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- However, the Corinthians had knowledge – that was their boast – that idols are nothing at all & there is no God but One so what’s the problem in enjoying a good piece of juicy steak at the local pagan shrine?
- After all, it’s only meat & its only a building – the idol thing is all in the minds of the pagans
- True enough, but the apostle Paul argues that there is a bigger picture that we Christians should have in mind
1 Corinthians 8:10 NASB95
10 For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols?
—10 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?
- Let’s say you know a brand new Christian who is very unfamiliar with the truths of Christ
- He is looking for answers to his new found faith
- He has his eye on the men & the women in regard to the choices they make & the things they do & also the words they say & use
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- They have no idea how to live & behave as a Christian
- Certainly in this day, they had the OT; a previous letter or letters from Paul; teaching by Apollos & Cephas, but you could say precious little in comparison to what we have today with our complete NT Bibles
- As much as a new Christian learns from the word of God, he learns by observing other Christians in what they do
Q. Would we be comfortable with letting new Christians emulate our lives?
- Paul instructs them to follow his example as he follows the example of Christ
1 Corinthians 11:1 NASB95
1 Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.
—1 Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.
Q. Would we be comfortable with letting new Christians emulate our lives?
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- The bigger picture is that many believers in Christ have come out of that idolatry scene
- They are susceptible to it & could be drawn back into it
- I’ve mentioned this before, but I have witnessed first hand a new Christian – a guy who had escaped the grip of alcoholism – get drawn back into it by Christians who thought they had the liberty to drink alcohol at a hotel
- There may not be a problem as only drunkenness is forbidden, but there is a bigger picture here too
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- This poor fellow, who exclaimed “I thought Christians were not allowed to drink”, was encouraged to drink at a hotel with these Christian guys who had “knowledge
- The knowledge that only drunkenness is the problem, so we have liberty to drink, but not to get drunk
- But they were too young in the faith themselves to realise that the bigger picture was love & this guy needed to be kept away from the booze, period
- I hope he is in the faith, but the last I saw of him was 36 yrs ago after he left the faith for the alcohol
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- The bigger picture is the advancement of our fellow believers in the faith
- Whatever we say, or do, we should be confident that we are saying & doing what will build up our brother or sister in Christ
- Instead of putting yourself first, you put yourself last
—31 “But many who are first will be last, and the last, first.”
Mark 10:31 NASB95
31 “But many who are first will be last, and the last, first.”
- If not, the end result is that they be drawn away from Christ because we were only thinking of ourselves & not them
1 Corinthians 8:11 NASB95
11 For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died.
— For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died.
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- There is a further problem as well
- To disregard the good we can do & be to another Christian because all we care about is having our way, we are confronted with the sober truth that to sin against a brother in this way, is to sin against Christ
- We are not only ruining this person’s relationship with the Lord, we are ruining our relationship with the Lord
- Because the Lord has created a family & the church is His family
- To sin against one of it’s members is to sin against the head of the family because we all belong to Him
Romans 14:13 NASB95
13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.
—13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.
—6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
Matthew 18:6 NASB95
6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
- I know what a millstone is – I have seen it first hand in America
- Going back centuries, they would grind grains of wheat & the like to get flour
- These millstones would take about 4 men to lift them – that gives us an idea of the intensity Jesus means in regard to this matter
- Love trumps our rights & freedoms!
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