The Problem Of Abused Liberty
1 Corinthians 8
By definition “Liberty” is the opposite of “servitude” or “bondage”. Liberty is then slaves or captives who are set free from oppression.
Throughout the Bible we can see that the main theme is that God will set His people free from spiritual bondage.
God has never ordained slavery!
It is God who has liberated all who believe by “Faith” from the bondage of sin, by the work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
What did Jesus preach?
Luk 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, “to preach deliverance to the captives”, and recovering of sight to the blind, “to set at liberty them that are bruised”,
Luk 4:19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
What else did Jesus preach?
Joh 8:34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
Joh 8:35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.
Joh 8:36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
Today our lesson is not so much about “liberty” as it is the abuse of our liberty that has been given to us by the Lord Jesus Christ!
The Bible says:
Gal 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; “only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh”, but by love serve one another.
Gal 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Gal 5:15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.
These things are important because as Christians we live in a world of idolatrous practices and where humans make them own selves gods!
So let’s begin:
*****1Co 8:1 Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.
Again we can see that the Apostle Paul is addressing a question that was sent to him in a letter from the house of Chloe.
What we will see is that in all cases of our freedom in Christian Liberty, the main theme of the Apostle Paul rest on the commands of Jesus Christ!
Mat 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
Mat 22:38 This is the first and great commandment.
Mat 22:39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Mat 22:40 “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets”.
For those who think other wise the entire Word of God is based upon the Love of God for His created people!
The message of the Apostle is that every Christian ought to walk so as not to wound another brother or sister in Christ!
This is the way that Jesus walked!
If we remember from the Book of Acts, a question the Jews had was if Gentiles could really be saved if they did not first become a Jew and obey all the laws of Moses.
It was James, the half-brother of Jesus who stated the results of that decision.
Act 15:28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;
Act 15:29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.
Act 15:30 So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle:
Act 15:31 Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation.
It is a fact that there is only one God and His name is Jehovah!
We already know that the church at Corinth was full of “Babes in Christ” who had very liberal views.
We already know that times were hard with famine and increasing Christian persecution.
There were many false temples to idols and false gods in Corinth where animals were offered in sacrifice which usually meant that the remnants of those animals that were slain as sacrifices ended up in the local markets at a discount price or at great banquets in those temples.
Those of Jewish faith who had converted to Christianity would never consider buying such meat nor partake of what they considered unclean meat.
Those Gentiles who were now Christian saw no problems with consuming these things and they were right except for one thing.
This kind of knowledge can cause us to sin!
If knowledge of certain things causes us to place a stumbling block before any brother or sister in Christ then we have forgotten the law of Jesus Christ when He said “we are to love our neighbors as ourselves”!
When we put on an air of superiority over any other child of God we are committing sin not only to that brother or sister in Christ but to Christ Himself!
To edify, is to build upon the “Body of Christ” it is not to tear down!
*****1Co 8:2 And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.
We must realize as Christians that every teaching of God is to be tempered with not only the “Love of God”, but also the “Love For Each Other”!
When we use our “faith” as being superior to anyone, we are not on the right track in search of the knowledge of God.
We all stand on level ground at the Cross of Jesus Christ!
It is easy to see why this church at Corinth was having so many problems:
1Ti 6:3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, “even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness”;
1Ti 6:4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,
1Ti 6:5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
But to be obedient to the “laws of love” the two greatest of all commandments, is to be known of God!
*****1Co 8:3 But if any man love God, the same is known of him.
There are those who have a “think so” religion.
Christianity is not a “think so” but “know so” by “faith in Christ Jesus”!
The Bible says:
1Jn 5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; “that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God”.
The truth is that God knows all those who are His!
2Ti 2:19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, “The Lord knoweth them that are his”. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
Those that know God are known of God!
Gal 4:9 But now, “after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God”, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?
And the truth is that we can only know love because God first loved us!
No one can be acquainted with God who does not love Him and show it in their actions toward all others!
This shoots down any theory of the Ecumenical movement that say all religions worship the same God!
To love God is to keep His commandments!
Joh 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
God gave us His commandments in what is now called the Bible, or the Word of God and these are the commandments that are to be kept.
Those that reject the Lord Jesus Christ and the Word of God will hear these words in the end:
Mat 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Mat 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
Mat 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, “I never knew you”: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Those that cannot love the Lord Jesus Christ cannot know God and therefore cannot be loved of God!
All those that do not know or love the Lord Jesus knows nothing as he ought to know, because all else is nothing in this world because there is no other God but Jesus!
*****1Co 8:4 As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and “that there is none other God but one”.
Therefore since an idol is only a figment of man’s imagination, as is all false gods, then things that are sacrificed to those things cannot in any way harm the Christian!
Some look upon idols and false gods as demons.
Some look upon idols and false gods as evil spirits.
The truth is they all are only figment of man’s imagination except for the One God Jehovah!
Isa 44:8 Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.
An idol or false god is a name without a thing, a mere figment of the human heart!
Isa 44:9 They that make a graven image are all of them vanity; and their delectable things shall not profit; and they are their own witnesses; they see not, nor know; that they may be ashamed
This is one of the trivial things that Christians have a tendency to disagree on, but the pure truth is, it is only how these things affect the conduct of others that is of real importance!
As Christians we are not to consider the lawfulness nor the unlawfulness of these things for we are to always consider all questions of this kind on the grounds of the welfare of the “Body of Christ”!
We are to rate all things as they concern the love of our brothers and sisters in Christ!
*****1Co 8:5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)
We should also consider that these Corinthians to whom Paul was writing, had, before their conversion to Christianity, worshiped many false gods in the heavens and also many lords on this earth!
All these things are only manifestations in the mind that are energized by Satan and his demonic spirits!
It is sometimes hard for the “Babe in Christ” to free their minds from the power of false religion!
It is even harder today for the new Christian to free their minds from the teaching of evolution, they been forced to grow up with!
It is a fact that our youth are being brain-washed by evolution and it’s false theories that cannot even be proven.
1Ti 6:20 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of “science falsely so called”:
1Ti 6:21 Which some professing have erred concerning the faith.
BUT, It is not other humans themselves that are our enemies but it is the rulers of darkness that are our true enemy!
Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
It is only “the truth” that make us free from all these things!
*****1Co 8:6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.
The testimony of the Scriptures reveal that their is only one true God!
All true science points to only one Creator who is One God!
We are all God’s creation, created by His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ!
Col 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
Col 1:17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
In contrast, evolution is the teaching of pantheism and ancient pagans, evolutionary atheism put together by modern, so-called, intellectuals.
All idols are nothing!
All false gods are nothing!
All teachings other than the Word of God will lead to nothing but sin and eternal damnation!
Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
It is only Christ Jesus who can make a New Creation!
Joh 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be “born again”, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Rev 21:5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, “I make all things new”. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
All those that seek something new must come to the Lord Jesus Christ!
Baby Christians still struggle with some of these things and we must not ever place a stone of stumbling in their path to the truth!
*****1Co 8:7 Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.
Some of these Corinthians just could not fathom eating meat that had been sacrificed to some idol or false god with a clear conscience.
Many of those were probably converted Jews but not all.
That had found freedom from all these things and they certainly did not want to fall back into their old false beliefs.
Those things simply did not have the taste of freedom and seemed in their conscience to be unclean.
To be quite honest once you have been removed from the filth of this world through Jesus Christ, you will simply not want to ever know that feeling of uncleanness again!
To be washed in the blood of Jesus is to feel a clean that only the Christian can know!
The truth is that no matter what God makes clean can never be soiled again but only in our own conscience!
But God says, all those with a weak conscience, weakness as a result of a past habit, are entitled to the respect and the exercise of patience from the strong Christian!
God says in fact, it is the strong Christian who is unrighteous to ignore the truth of these things!
These are all trivial matters that have no real importance to our Christian walk but we can allow them to ruin our testimony and harm the work of the Church!
*****1Co 8:8 But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.
The truth is that the food we eat to sustain our flesh does not affect our standing before God!
Food like anything else can only harm us if we allow it to control our actions toward others.
Our liberty is forfeited when we allow anything of this world to be our master!
We have only one Master and He is the Lord!
Rom 14:6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.
Rom 14:7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.
Rom 14:8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.
*****1Co 8:9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.
When we allow the trivial things of this world, that have no affect on our standing before the Lord but that thing may tempt another brother or sister to act against their own conscience, then that thing has become a sin to us!
What did Jesus say to the Church at Pergamos?
Rev 2:14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
The Christian is to have patience, and not privilege!
The Christian is to show love, not knowledge!
When sin came into God’s world, God did not first respond with wrath “but with love”!
For our redemption, God’s wisdom made a plan!
God’s power put His plan into action!
But it was God’s love that made all these things possible!
All that Jesus Christ did and suffered was because He loved us!
1Ti 2:4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
*****1Co 8:10 For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;
1Co 8:11 And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?
Corinth had many temples to false gods and each one had great banquet halls where the meat that was sacrificed to idols could then be consumed.
For a “Babe In Christ” to witness a fellow brother or sister at the banquet table, how could they not think that this person was not bowing to that false god!
We would have that same problem today if a member in good standing, decided to witness in a place of ill report and some “Babe in Christ” or some other member, drove by and saw his car in that parking lot, they would only think the worse!
If the Church is the hospital for lost souls, and it is, then we are to build up our brothers and sisters and not tear them down!
The Church’s job is to make disciples who will then make more disciples and on and on, until the Lord returns!
When we mingle with this lost world, we must be aware that all eyes are upon us, not only the lost but those of the church who may not yet possess the same knowledge we have and even though we are anxious to do right, we may in fact do more wrong by our actions, than good!
It is only God who can bring the lost to the point of salvation but if our actions cause a weaker brother or sister to loose their faith and not recover it, for whose sake Christ died, then we have sinned before the eyes of Christ!
If Jesus Christ died for our sins then we should also be willing to die for the sins of our own brothers and sisters and never allow our actions to harm the family of God!
Jesus Christ died even for all those that remain lost by their own choice but in the end even they will recognize the love of God when they all will bow before Him!
Any time we jeopardize the salvation of any soul we have pronounced the death sentence upon them if they never repent!
*****1Co 8:12 But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.
As Christians how much we are willing to give of ourselves for another, shows the value of that other person!
Paul told husbands these things:
Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
Jesus Christ gave Himself for the Church. He gave it all, including His life!
When we are so caught up in our own faith in Christ that we ignore that one who is weaker in faith, then we are not willing to give all for the “Body of Christ”!
The only thing we must not do is to allow the preferences of that weaker brother or sister to cause us to go against the will of God for us!
The important thing for each Christian is to set the proper example for others in this life just as Jesus Christ did!
*****1Co 8:13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.
Christian liberty is a wonderful thing but we must not insist on our own rights at the expense of injury to others!
We must not allow trivial things that have no basis on salvation to ever make another Christian stumble!
1Th 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
1Th 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.
We must in no way allow ourselves to give anyone the appearance that we will do evil!
Our testimony is the greatest resource we have in this world that is dying before our eyes!