Faithlife Sermons

Bull's Eye!

Notes
Transcript
Our Scripture lesson this morning comes from 1 Corinthians 10:23-11:1.
1 Corinthians 10:23–11:1 ESV
“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks? So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
May God bless this the reading of His holy and infallible Word.
We are all familiar with a target. It begins with the white ring on the outside; then comes the blue ring; then comes the yellow ring; and finally there is the red circle in the middle. The bull’s eye!
What is the bull’s eye of life? This is the question that the Westminster Shorter Catechism begins with when it asks, “What is the chief end of man?” We all have many goals and purposes in life, but what is the bulls eye? If we do not know the answer to this critical question, we can end up wasting our lives.
If you look up the “proof texts” for this question in the catechism, you will discover that one of those text is verse 31 of our text:
1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
Some of the Corinthians had lost sight of the bull’s eye. There are many important goals in life. One of these is to maintain our liberty. However, as we learned several weeks ago sometimes we can be wrong when we are right. We can miss the mark, in fact we can miss the target all together, even when we are “right”. In our text today, Paul begins with Christian liberty:

The Earth is the Lord’s and the Fullness Thereof

Life and this world are to be enjoyed, because God is the creator of all good things. Christians really should be the happiest people around. The authors of the Catechism understood this and this is why they said the chief end of mankind is to “glorify AND enjoy God.” Think about it. It is impossible to glorify God if we do not enjoy and receive with thanksgiving the good gifts He has given us.
This truth is seen not only in our relationship with God, but other people as well. Is not a chef glorified when people enjoy his food? Is not a band glorified when people purchase their albums and attend their concerts? Is not a gift-giver glorified when the recipients of his or her gifts are grateful and enjoy them?
Ingratitude and joylessness concerning God and His gifts is not a small sin, but reveals an idolatrous heart.
Turning back to the situation in Corinth, we have already learned that idols are nothing in and of themselves. They have no power to “pollute” meat. Moreover, Jesus, as the Lawgiver of both the Old and New Covenants, has declared all food is “clean”. It is as if Jesus has place upon every type of food a “kosher” label on it now, including meat that was once sacrificed to idols.
1 Corinthians 10:25–26 ESV
Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.”
In the time of Jesus, the Pharisees, were notorious for adding to God’s Law and declaring activities and things “unclean” and “unlawful” that God had not. The Pharisees have never gone away, there are so many “unwritten” laws that Christians impose upon one another. One of the reasons the Reformation happened was to free Christians from all these manmade laws.
The applications here are numerous:
First, let us be thankful, happy people. This glorifies God.
Second, let us not come under the bondage of men! Our consciences must be bond by the Word of God, not the word of man. The irony about our society today is that when it comes to God’s Law it is lawless, but when if comes to man’s law it is very legalistic.
With the Christian’s liberty and obligation to enjoy life and the thing God has given us firmly established, we are ready to move on to the second point:

Not All Things are Helpful or Build Up

This is found in verse 23:
1 Corinthians 10:23–24 ESV
“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.
When we consider a life of glorifying and enjoying God, we must consider other people. The bull’s eye is not Christian liberty, but God. Moreover, because God is so loving and outward focused, we cannot look at God and ignore other people.
Have you ever been in a conversation with another person and noticed that their eyes gaze past you looking at something or someone else? When this happens, do we not have an almost irresistible urge to turn and see what they are looking at? This is what happens when we lovingly focus our attention of God. When we gaze upon God, we gaze upon those He loves. This is the way it has always been.
We are told in the Gospels that one day, a group of Pharisees came to Jesus with the intent of entrapping Him. They asked Him which of the commandments was the most important. He replied:
Matthew 22:37–39 ESV
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
What many people do not realize is that Jesus is not giving a new summery of the Law, but rather He is citing the Old Testament. This has been the bull’s eye all along.
God’s glory radiates out to include those whom He loves. We cannot love God without loving our neighbor. Therefore, although we must never allow ourselves to come under the bondage of humanities’ made up rules and regulations; we must exercise our liberty with the good of our neighbor in mind. To understand what this looks like, let us begin with the issue before the Corinthians—meat that had been sacrificed to idols, which was now being sold in the public market.
If you walked into the public market in Corinth to purchase meat, you would have no idea where this meat originated. What you would know is that some of it came from the local pagan temple.
This ambiguity opened Christians to the false accusation that they were eating meat that was “polluted” by idol worship. We see this reflected in verses 28-30:
1 Corinthians 10:28–30 ESV
But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?
From these three verses, we learn three things:
Paul is giving no ground. He is not admitting these idols or even the demons have the power to “pollute” meat.
Second, he will not allow his conscience to be bound by the conscience of another. It is to God’s Word and God’s Word alone that it is bound!
Third, he will not acknowledge their accusations have any fatality.
Finally, for the sake of the unbeliever, we must not eat questionable meat.
How can Paul say we must not eat questionable meat; is he not contradicting himself? No! Not at all. He is saying that he understands the significance of the rings of the target. Guarding our freedom and liberty in Christ is important, but it is not the bull’s eye. The bull’s eye is glorifying God and working for the salvation of those whom God loves. Listen again, to what Paul says:
1 Corinthians 10:31–33 ESV
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.
Paul is not compromising his standards here; he simply has the big picture in mind. In the Korean War, the U. S. Marine general was being criticized for his retreat during the battle of Chosin Reservoir, in reply he said, “Retreat! We’re not retreating, we’re just advancing in a different direction.” Paul is telling us that we need to be wise enough to retreat in the different direction. Not every hill is worth dying on!
Do you see how helpful this is in the cultural climate we live in today? It seems we are surrounded by mobs of both right wing and left wing legalistic busybodies. Both “value signaling and value shaming” dominate the social media. Like Paul, we must not give an inch, we must not acknowledge their legalistic nonsense has any validity. However, for the sake of love, we must strive to be at peace with all men. In other words, we are to be imitators of Christ.

Being an Imitator of Christ

When Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” He is really saying, “Be imitators of Christ.” What Paul has in mind is what he wrote the Philippians:
Philippians 2:3–8 ESV
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Jesus never took His eye off the bull’s eye. “For the joy set before him” the author of Hebrews writes, “he endured the cross.” (Heb 12:2)
Consider how Jesus lived His life.
He glorified and enjoyed God by enjoying life with thanksgiving. In fact, He enjoyed life so much, that the Pharisees accused him of being a glutton and drunkard!
He perfectly obeyed God’s Law and infuriated those same Pharisees by not acknowledging their manmade laws!
Yet in facing such hostility, He freely laid down both His life and His liberty for the salvation of others!
The cross was not a defeat; it was “an advance in a different direction”!
The Olympic Games are just about to start. If you watch the shooting events you will see joy on the faces of those who hit the bull’s eye. I hope that you have experienced that type of joy in your life. There is nothing like hitting the bull’s eye!
Jesus hit it every time!
Why would we want to imitate anyone else?
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