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sf183 - The Limits Of Christian Liberty (1 Corinthians 8 1-13)

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1 Corinthians 8:1-13

Introduction

Paul is answering their questions.

How far does Christian freedom go in regard to behavior not specifically forbidden in Scripture?

Scripture is very clear on some issues.

However, there are many behaviors that are not directly dealt with in scripture.

Christian liberty is a central truth of the New Testament.

John 8:31-32 “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.  And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’”

2 Corinthians 3:17 “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

Galatians 5:1 “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”

We must avoid license (anything goes).

1 Peter 2:16 “as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God.”

We must avoid legalism (rules rather than relationship).

Ø      Legalists live by rules rather than by the Spirit.

Paul presents two principles that are to govern our liberty.


1A.      The Principle of Love over Knowledge (8:1-6)

1B.      The problem with human knowledge (8:1a, 2, 4-6)

Human knowledge tends to reinforce arrogance (8:1a)

Knowledge (gnosis); knowledge acquired by learning, effort, or experience.

Ø      Sacrifices were offered to idols for two reasons:

(1) To gain the favor of the god

(2) To cleanse the meat from demonic contamination.

Ø      Many of the Corinthians knew that neither of these reasons represented reality.

Human knowledge tends to encourage self-confidence.  (8:2)

Ø      They had become self-confident and arrogant.  They had knowledge without love.

Ø      Paul did not oppose knowledge.

Romans 15:4 “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”

Colossians 1:9 “For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding”

Ø      Paul opposed knowledge for knowledge sake

“Ignorance does not know that it does not know.  True knowledge does not know and knows it.


2B.      The power of godly knowledge.  (8:4-6)

Ø      The more we know about God the less we believe in idols.  (8:4; Psalm 115:3-8)

Ø      Although we know that demonic powers exist they are not match to our God.  (8:5-6; Ephesians 4:4-6)

Ø      We must seek to balance knowledge with love.

3B.      The preeminence of love (8:1b, 3)

Love edifies others.  (8:1b)

Philippians 2:4 “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”

Love experiences God.  (8:3)

John 14:21 “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me.  And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”

1 John 5:1 “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him.”


2A.      The Principle of Neighbor over Self (8:7-13)

1B.      We must be aware of the weakness of some believer’s conscience.  (8:7-9)

Not all believers are mature in their knowledge and understanding of spiritual truths.  (8:7a)

Some believers struggle with past sins that we do not have to deal with.  (8:7b)

If those believers ignore or violate their conscience, they commit sin.  (8:7c; Romans 14:23)

Doing things not forbidden by God has no significance in our relationship to Him.  They are spiritually neutral.  (8:8; Matthew 15:17-18)

We should never influence a fellow Christian to do anything that the Holy Spirit through that person’s conscience forbids him to do, because in doing so we may cause him to stumble in his faith.  (8:9)

2B.      We must be aware of the witness of our conduct.  (8:10-11)

Our behavior alone may influence other weaker Christians to go against his conscience.  (8:10)

By our example a weaker believer may become involved in behavior that would cause them to sin.  (8:11)

3B.      We must not wrong Christ.  (8:12-13)

When we cause a brother to stumble, we sin against our Lord.  (12)

We who are strong should change our behavior in order not to cause our brother to stumble.  (13)


Application

1.             Excess.  Is the activity necessary?  Or is it something we need to lay aside?

Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us”

2.             Expediency.  Is what I want to do helpful and useful or only desirable?

1 Corinthians 6:12 “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”

3.             Emulation.  Is what I am doing what Christ would do?

1 John 2:6 “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”

4.             Example.  Can and should other, weaker, Christians follow my example?

1 Timothy 4:12 “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

5.             Evangelism.  Is my testimony going to be helped or hindered?

Colossians 4:5 “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.”

6.             Edification.  Will I be built up and mature in Christ?

1 Corinthians 10:23 “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.”

7.             Exaltation.  Will God be glorified?

1 Corinthians 10:31 “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”


1 Corinthians 8:1-13

1A.      The Principle of Love over Knowledge (8:1-6)

1B.      The problem with __________________ knowledge (8:1a, 2, 4-6)

Human knowledge tends to reinforce arrogance (8:1a)

Human knowledge tends to encourage self-confidence.  (8:2; Romans 15:4; Colossians 1:9)

2B.      The power of _____________ knowledge.  (8:4-6)

3B.      The preeminence of _________________ (8:1b, 3)

Love ______________ others.  (8:1b; Philippians 2:4)

Love experiences God.  (8:3; John 14:21; 1 John 5:1)

2A.      The Principle of Neighbor over Self (8:7-13)

1B.      We must be aware of the weakness of some believer’s conscience.  (8:7-9)

Not all believers are ___________ in their knowledge and understanding of spiritual truths.  (8:7a)

Some believers struggle with past sins that we do not have to deal with.  (8:7b)

If those believers ignore or violate their conscience, they commit sin.  (8:7c; Romans 14:23)

Doing things not forbidden by God has no significance in our relationship to Him.  They are spiritually neutral.  (8:8; Matthew 15:17-18)

We should never influence a fellow Christian to do anything that the Holy Spirit through that person’s conscience forbids him to do, because in doing so we may cause him to stumble in his faith.  (8:9)


2B.      We must be aware of the witness of our conduct.  (8:10-11)

Our ____________ alone may influence other weaker Christians to go against his conscience.  (8:10)

By our example a weaker believer may become involved in behavior that would cause them to sin.  (8:11)

3B.      We must not wrong ________________.  (8:12-13)

When we cause a brother to stumble, we sin against our Lord.  (12)

We who are strong should change our behavior in order not to cause our brother to stumble.  (13)

Application

1.         Excess.  Is the activity necessary?  Or is it something we need to lay aside?  (Hebrews 12:1)

2.         Expediency.  Is what I want to do helpful and useful or only desirable?  (1 Corinthians 6:12)

3.         Emulation.  Is what I am doing what Christ would do?  (1 John 2:6)

4.         Example.  Can and should other, weaker, Christians follow my example?  (1 Timothy 4:12)

5.         Evangelism.  Is my testimony going to be helped or hindered?  (Colossians 4:5)

6.         Edification.  Will I be built up and mature in Christ?  (1 Corinthians 10:23)

7.         Exaltation.  Will God be glorified?  (1 Corinthians 10:31)

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