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The End of the Matter

1 Corinthians   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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The final eruption of Mount St. Helens in May of 1980 was not a sudden event. For two months prior to the massive blast—the most deadly and destructive in American history—earthquakes and volcanic activity signaled a major event was underway. Authorities had plenty of time to sound the alarm and warn those living nearby of the looming danger. Yet despite the seriousness of the threat, some people chose to disregard the warnings.
Probably the best known of those who refused to evacuate was Harry Randall Truman. The eighty-three year old man was the owner and caretaker at the Mount St. Helens Lodge at Spirit Lake. He had survived the sinking of his troop ship by a German submarine off the coast of Ireland during World War I, and he was not about to leave just because scientists thought there was danger. Truman told reporters, “I don't have any idea whether it will blow. But I don't believe it to the point that I'm going to pack up.” On May 18, 1980, Truman and his lodge were buried beneath 150 feet of mud and debris from the volcanic eruption. His body was never found.
This story is yet another humble reminder of listening when warnings come. Though different in scope, Paul’s warnings certainly would have echoed the same level of seriousness to the wayward Corinthian Christian. Paul has taken much time to elaborate of the very controversial subject of Christian liberties. He too feared that if something wasn’t done, that the church itself could have its own kind of catastrophic event. Already there was bunch disunity in the church and Paul feared it would only grow worse. So Paul, under the guidance of the Spirit, wrote much to consider and to heed when approaching the subject of Christian liberties. Here at the end of Chapter 10, Paul will conclude the matter and share his final yet most important command to consider when thinking through our Christian liberties.
Let’s begin by reading 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.
Let’s start by looking at the Final Recap.

I. Final Recap

Paul is about to conclude the topic of Christian liberties and He does so by restating what points he has already covered. Why goes Paul or any good Preacher reiterate points already made? It’s because they want what was said to stick. Usually much is said so we don’t want to have the main thing get lost in all of the wording. It’s much like when a preacher says, “If you don’t get anything else out of this sermon, at least remember this”. That what is taking place he. So Paul begins by reiterating common excuses made by those who are not thinking correctly.

I(A). The Excuses of the Wrong (v.23)

The phrase “All things are lawful” is pretty much identical to what Paul shared back in chapter 6:12 “All things are lawful for me”. Remember that Paul was dealing with a much different issue in chapter 6 than he was is chapters 8-10. There he was dealing specifically with sexual immorality. “All things are lawful for me” was a phrase that was commonly used by the Corinthian church. The NIV reads this statement as “I have the right to do anything.” Looking back, it is quite possible that this phrase may have begun to circulate through the Corinthian church because of a message Paul spoke about freedoms in Christ. He may have even said in his message “All things are lawful” but they took it to unbiblical extremely. His use of all things are lawful always refers to questionable practices, the gray areas of Christian living that are not specifically forbidden in the Bible. There in chapter 6, they were using it to justify some sexual cravings. Here in chapter 10, they were using it to justify eating meat offered to idols.
Notice though, what Paul says they failed to identify when exercising their rights. Here’s a side by side comparison.
6:12- “All things are lawful for me”, but not all things are helpful
10:23- “All things are lawful”, but not all things are helpful.
Notice the exact similarities. This thought of helpful applies to both the sexual temptations and the reasoning to eat food offered to idols. It applies to both the same.
6:12- “All things are lawful for me”, but I will not be dominated by anything.
10:23- “All things are lawful”, but not all things build up.
Notice the difference here though. Sexual sins dominate our minds and leave as straggled by its enticing power. Paul shared much in that chapter to avoid this evil. But when talking about eating meat offered to idols, he doesn’t means being dominated by anything, but rather identifies an important reason that “All things are lawful” isn’t correct thinking because in this case, it does not build up
So now Paul will give an explanation of...

I(B). The Explanation of What is Right (v.24)

What does it mean to edify and build up?

The basic meaning of edify (oikodomeō) is “to build a house,” and, by extension, the term refers to the literal or figurative building of anything. It is often used in the New Testament to describe the spiritual growth, or upbuilding, of believers. Whatever contributes to spiritual growth constitutes what is profitable, or beneficial, helpful, advantageous, or useful. Only things that are profitable are able to edify.

We are shown in scripture many ways in which we can be built up. Here are just a few.
His Word- Acts 20:32
Acts 20:32 ESV
And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
Preaching and Teaching- 1 Corinthians 14:3-4
1 Corinthians 14:3–4 ESV
On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church.
Love - 1 Corinthians 8:1
1 Corinthians 8:1 ESV
Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up.
Obedient Service- Ephesians 4:12
Ephesians 4:12 ESV
to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
Furthermore, it is not just a request that we be built up but a command.
2 Peter 3:18 ESV
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
Colossians 2:6–7 ESV
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
Desiring the spiritual benefit and edification of ourselves is a hallmark of Christian maturity. But it shouldn’t just be for ourselves but for others as Paul so thoroughly states here in verse 24.
1 Corinthians 10:24 ESV
Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.
This is in exact parallel to what Paul shared in Philippians 2:3-4
Philippians 2:3–4 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.

Even if something will build us up we should not do it if it is not also for the good of others. Our primary concern should be for the good of our neighbor, a principle contrary to basic human nature.

This Paul has thoroughly explained in chapter 8 and 9.
A good final way to define what is right regarding our actions/convictions is to examine it through these questions. First ask the question if we have the spiritual right to do it. That is, does scripture forbid it, most importantly and is our conscience clear on it “whatever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23)” Paul will mention more of conscience in an illustration later in this text. But the next question is just as important. We should ask, is it profitable, edifying, and upbuilding for ourselves and for others? If the answer to both is yes, then we likely can feel at liberty to participate in that activity. If the answer is questionable to either than we should avoid it.
But even after saying all this, perhaps Paul still felt unsure that the Corinthian believer would understand, so he gives them a very vivid illustration of how to this live principle and command out.

I(C). The Example of How to Live It (v.25-29a)

Notice again, Paul makes mention that there is absolutely no need to worry about eating meat that may have once been offered to idols but is now sold in the market, why because the earth and everything in it is the Lord’s. However, as was stated earlier. Eat on the grounds of conscience. God did give us a conscience and His Holy Spirit. If you feel uneasy about it, don’t do it.
I’ll share that recently, I did a study of words. Swear words and slang words in particular. Some of this is very much a grey area. Scripture doesn’t contain a do’s and don’ts section for what is right and wrong words to say. We do have the command to not take the name of the Lord in vain. We do have the commands in Ephesians 4 that tell us to avoid corrupt communication, evil speaking, and malice. Further in chapter 5, it tells us to avoid filthiness, and foolish talking, and course joking. So after evaluating that word to scripture and in the setting we typically to use it, seeing that it didn’t violate scripture nor did it tear down but it might even be said to build up. Even after all that, my conscience still didn’t feel it was right, so we have ceased from using it. It’s better to avoid something that may be sin, than to explore it and face God’s judgment. I would rather know that I am in the right than play around with sin.
So going back to Paul’s illustration, he continues in verse 27, by saying that if one of the unbelievers invites you to a dinner, go and eat the meat without asking questions.
I will say it is super important to see why comparing translations is important. In the KJV, the version of the Bible that I use alot because of my sentiment to this particular Bible, it reads, “If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, whatever is set before you.” At first glance, it would appear that Paul in contradicting his own words last week, we discussed in chapter 10 that believers should’t be going to partake of the temple feasts because that would be engaging them with idolatry. This however, is not talking about temple feasts, but as the ESV reads, “invites you to dinner.” This would likely be some kind of house party where meat was offered probably from the market. Again, Paul shares that it is completely fine to go.
But now Paul will share how this illustration connects to his point of seeking the good of this neighbor. In his illustration, there is a dilemna. verse 28
1 Corinthians 10:28–29 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?
Who is this someone who shared specifically with you that this meat has been offered to idols. Two possible options emerge.
The first option is that of the host who is using this meat to test his guest on whether he will eat this food or not. But how would this affect his (the hosts) conscience?
It is also possible and probably the more likely option is that that of the informant being another believer who also was invited to the dinner party. This brother or sister is one who still avoiding eating meat offered to idols and has done some investigating. They have come to find out that the meat has been offered to idols and have come to share that with you. What should you do? Paul tells them that they should not eat it for the sake of the one that informed you and for his conscience, not yours.
Paul shares that we should modify our actions but not necessarily our convictions. The legalism of the weaker brother in this case should not make us legalistic, only more gracious.
So if we both avoid the meat of the host, wouldn’t that look bad?

But our brother’s conscience’ sake is important, more important than the feelings of an unbelieving host. It is better to offend the host by not eating the idol meat than to offend a weaker believer by eating it. If we have to choose between offending a Christian and offending a non-Christian, we should offend the non-Christian. The profit and edification of our brother or sister in Christ is of greater importance. Not only that, but our testimony will be harmed more by arguing with and condemning fellow believers than by standing by them in love. Unbelievers will be inclined to respect us for showing loving concern for the convictions of a fellow Christian.

This would be like much like the time I was invited to see a movie, Lord of the Rings.
This is where Paul leaves it before he shares his final command.

II. Final Command

Before Paul shares the command, He mentions some complicated questions that the Corinthian believer may have posed on him. Ones they couldn’t understand.

II(A). The Mention of Complicated Questions

“For why should my liberty be determined by someone’s conscience? This question has been answered in many a way throughout the last chapters, and it also emphasizes a rather selfish approach.
“If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?”
What is the meaning of this? Their response was a knowledgeable one.
1 Timothy 4:1–4 ESV
Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,
They believed that by eating what God has made and being thankful in it, they were in the right. Being thankful for your rights and liberties is good but something was more important than that.
Paul doesn’t share an immediate response to these 2 questions in verse 29-30, but immediately shares the most important command in verse 31, probably as a response to their question.

II(B). The Most Important Command

1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
This verse was specifically written to address the issue of food offered to idols “whether you decide to eat or not, but Paul also opens up the boundaries of this command far beyond just this issue. The glory of God is at the very heart of everything we should do.
It is why we have been created. Is. 43:7
Isaiah 43:7 ESV
everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”
And it is what is required of us as the redeemed
1 Corinthians 6:20 ESV
for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
So it is not just another important point but it is the most important point. This is the all-inclusive principle concluding the discussion that began in chapter 8:1. We are to test all conduct by whether or not it manifests the characteristics of God in our life!
1 Corinthians: The MacArthur New Testament Commentary Chapter 25: Using Freedom for God’s Glory (10:23–11:1)

The word glory means “something that is worthy of praise or exaltation; brilliance; beauty; renown.” God’s glory has two aspects. First is His inherent, or intrinsic, glory. God is the only being in all of existence who can be said to possess inherent glory. No one can give it to Him; it already completely belongs to Him by virtue of who He is. If no one ever gave God praise, He would still be the glorious God that He is, because He was fully glorious before He created any other beings to worship Him.

The second aspect of God’s glory is ascribed glory. “Ascribe to the Lord, O sons of the mighty,” the psalmist says, “ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to His name; worship the Lord in holy array” (Ps. 29:1–2). Obviously, we cannot give God glory in the sense of adding to His glory, any more than we can add to His strength. The psalmist is simply urging us to recognize and acclaim the glory God already has.

We do this by the way we live, and act, and speak, and think.

II(C). The Model of the Command

Paul modeled this well. He did all that he could to please men.
1 Corinthians 9:22 ESV
To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.
No compromise to doctrinal purity or disobedience to God was made, but anytime he could sacrifice what were his rights, he would would do this for the sake of God’s glory. Some might accuse Paul of being wishy washy or inconsistent. At times he would eat meat with Gentiles and other times he would only eat the “kosher” food with the Jews. But he was living consistent with the principles laid down in this passage. A weather vane seems inconsistent, first pointing in one direction and then in another, but a weather vane is always consistent: it always points toward the direction where the wind is blowing. Paul wished to be that example of consistency and sacrifice. Those following him would see this and imitate his sacrifice. An example that the Lord Jesus himself laid down. He is the ultimate example of living for the glory of God and humbly offering himself as a sacrifice. He is the model of the command.
John 17:4 ESV
I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.
So the question is, who do we live? Are we a model that points people the right way, or do our actions actually give greater excuse for others to do wrong?


Will they lead to freedom or slavery? (1 Cor. 6:12)
Will they make me a stumbling block or a stepping-stone (1 Cor.8:13)
Will they help win lost to Christ or turn them away (1 Cor. 9:19,22; 10:33)
Will they build up me up and others or tear down me and others down(1 Cor. 10:23)
Will they they only please me or will they glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31)
Will it lead me to be an example of Christ-like character or selfish endeavors (1 Cor. 9; 10: 33-11:1)
I close with this thought. I read of a pastor who closed his service after preaching this text and asked for people to share testimony of how they give up something for the sake of someone else. All except for one man, no one responded. After the service, a number of the people told the pastor, “For the first time in my life, I realized that I don’t really give up anything for the sake of others.” Much of our talk regarding liberties has to do with how it relates to others and to God. How are we in making those sacrifices? Let us make sure that no matter what we do that we do all to God’s Glory and not our own.
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