1 Corinthians 8
It’s not nice to trip someone. It’s illegal in football. It’s the stuff of grade school playgrounds, and unfortunately, many churches. We cause others to trip by being a stumblingblock. It’s cruel, because often it’s the more mature tripping up the less mature.
Who are the mature? Not always necessarily the elder or those saved longer, and not always those with the higher standards.
Three L’s: Legalism, License, Liberty
Legalism makes strict rules that aren’t Biblical and imposes preferences of one on another.
License says I can do whatever I want, I don’t answer to anyone, it’s between me and God.
Liberty says I’m free in Christ, and that makes me want to do right by God and my fellow man.
PS - There are many gray areas in life that the Bible doesn’t speak directly to, so I’m going to view my liberty as freedom to err on the safe side for God’s glory, and since I love my fellow man, and I don’t want to trip him up, I will carefully consider how they may view my life.
We need Christians who have some convictions. Any dead fish can just float downstream and go w/ the flow of the course of this world. We need to stand for some things! When everyone is running toward the cliff, the guy going in the opposite direction looks like a weirdo.
Our text has 3 key words:
v. 1-2- ‘knowledge’
Albert Einstein said: “Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” Just because you know something, doesn’t mean you really understand it.
Proverbs 9:10 "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Just because we *can* do something, doesn’t make it okay to do it. All our actions should be tempered by our fear of the LORD – of knowing Him – and being known by Him. It’s not just a bunch of do’s and don’ts – but belonging to God means becoming like Him in character.
We need to make sure we have the right knowledge and the right convictions, and not as just a ‘pride thing’. Some get too smart for their own good. We need Biblical reasons for what we do, and if the Bible doesn’t speak directly to something there’s a good chance that some Bible principles will impact it.
v. 3- ‘love’ is the right motive in dealing w/ others about what is right and wrong. To be sincere in your own convictions is one thing, but how we deal w/ others should be tempered with love.
v. 4 and following- ‘conscience’
Don’t offend and trip up a ‘weaker’ brother who feels differently about a gray area issue. Err on the side of caution, not of offense and Christian liberty.
Here’s several types of convictions we can have:
I. PERSONAL CONVICTIONS.
Paul said, "I will eat no flesh while the world standeth." (vs. 13) "I will not do anything that will cause my weaker brethren to stumble." I will not offend my brother. The growth and attitude of his brother was important to him.
True convictions are not just worth fighting for; they are also worth sacrificing for.
1. Salvation is personal. God will speak to your heart personally. Your experience in grace may be different than mine but that makes one no more or less real than the other.
2. The call to service is personal. Your field of service is a personal calling and conviction between you and the Lord.
The Bible is filled with men and women who left evidence of their convictions:
1. Joseph -- He preferred purity to popularity. His convictions cost him his coat of many colors but not his character. (Gen. 50:20) -- "You meant it for evil but God meant it for good, to bring to pass as it is this day, to save much people alive."
2. Daniel -- Purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the king’s meat or drink.
3. 3 Hebrew Children -- They would not bow, bend, or budge from their convictions.
4. Joshua -- "Choose ye this day whom ye will serve, but as for ME and my house, we will serve the Lord."
5. John the Baptist -- Before Herod, John stood for the convictions that marked his ministry: "It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife."
6. Simon Peter -- "We ought to obey God rather than men."
7. Apostle Paul -- Refused to do anything that would hinder a brother. Are you a hinderer or a helper, a stepping stone or a stumbling block?
I. PERSONAL CONVICTIONS…
II. PERMANENT CONVICTIONS.
Some folks have convictions that are like the so called, "permanent waves" [perms] for hair. They are nice to see for a while but they are not permanent. They have to be renewed. We need convictions that will stand throughout our lives. As Paul said, "while the world standeth."
1. Preachers quit because of weak convictions - missionaries, evangelists, workers, and teachers.
2. Many saved people quit coming to church, stop teaching, doing nursery, or giving, because of weak convictions.
3. But strong convictions will not let you stop. (Jer. 20:7-10) He tried to quit preaching but he couldn’t, his convictions would not let him.
4. We need strong convictions that will stand to sustain us. Like Job said, "I know that my redeemer liveth."
I. PERSONAL CONVICTIONS…
II. PERMANENT CONVICTIONS…
III. PRACTICAL CONVICTIONS.
Convictions that deal with daily living.
IV. PLEASING CONVICTIONS.
Not man pleasing but God pleasing. (Gal. 1:10) - "For do I now persuade men or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men I should not be the servant of Christ.”
So often people w/ very high standards do it to impress others, themselves, or God. They want to feel superior, and they have their reward.
1. Paul told Timothy, "Thou therefore endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." We are commanded to please the commanding officer.
2. We mostly think we must please mom, dad, preacher, school mates, employer, husband or wife.
1 Thessalonians 4:1
Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.
3. It is said of Enoch (Heb. 11:5) that he was translated so that he would not see death because He pleased God.
4. If your convictions please God that is all you need. "When a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him." (Pro. 16:7)
In our text, it was about meat offered to idols. What is it today? Give me examples of gray areas. And let’s avoid the ridiculous…
• Christmas trees [pagan roots]
• Easter eggs [pagan roots]
• How about the days of the week? They have pagan roots. Moon Day, Thor’s Day, Saturn’s Day, SUNday, etc.
Ill.—How about traveling on the Lord’s day or skipping church for the reunion or whatever? In the former case I think it’s a grey area so I try never to do it. In the latter the Bible answers the question for us, telling us not to forsake the assembly. Besides, how are you going to reach your family if you are not a good example for them?
Ill.—How about mixed bathing. My dad said he thinks all races should be allowed in the same pool. [That’s a joke! It’s about males and females!]
In some cultures co-ed swimming is sinful. It is for me if it will subject me to immodesty and tempt me to lust. Now that might not stop me from going to the
beach where there are lots of people – but I’m not going to have someone over who feels the other way and cajole them into a co-ed swimming situation if that makes them uncomfortable.
These are all things that some people would assume are connected with sin – even if they are not. You have the freedom to do them (and not sin yourself) – but if the other person can’t get over it and it trips them – again, then what is more important?
1 Thessalonians 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.
I’m not saying that we should walk on eggshells – always worried we’re going to offend someone. What I mean is that we should know our younger brothers and sisters in the Lord – know what stumbling blocks are out there for them, and take that into consideration – be mature enough to let go of something for the sake of someone else. Err on the safe side, the Lord is worthy of that consideration!
Perhaps we should ask some practical questions in the grey areas:
2. Can it lead to bondage (addiction)?
3. Do you have any uneasy conscience about it?
4. What does the Bible say about it?
Here’s 6 scriptural tests to apply to anything questionable/gray area, not specifically mentioned in scripture: [should I or shouldn’t I?]
*This test asks, “Has God clearly proclaimed it to be wrong in His Word?”
Many believers approach the Bible “cafeteria style”. [Take what I like/leave the rest!/exposure to God’s Word doesn’t change our lives/nor does hearing or reading it/…it is obeying God’s Word that changes our lives (James: be ye doers/not hearers only!)
If it’s in the Word, there’s no question…you don’t have to pray about it!
*This test asks, “Is it forbidden in God’s Word in principle?” [mature Christians live by principle/spirit of law…not just letter] examples:
Gambling—violates God’s work principle/something for nothing/not work/not eat [lottery]
Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.
Also God’s greed principle/love principle—love for God and neighbor—remember where gambling winnings come from: gambling losses [hoping others lose as you hope to win]!
We’re supposed to love people and use things, but gamblers love things and use people!
[lottery is gambling in every way/stock market is different, benefits everyone]
Look for principles in other areas like smoking/dancing/tv viewing/movies/dress, etc.
And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
*This test asks, “Could I invite Jesus to do this with me?”
God is my co-pilot?/pilot!
Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit! He does go w/ you!
Ill.—little boy told to go down the street, over the bridge, and straight to school…ok/but on the bridge he saw a fish, then a butterfly, wandered, couldn’t find the bridge!/only knew 2 prayers, now I lay me down to sleep/and Lord’s prayer…tried that one: Our Father…[yes son, he heard from behind him…his dad had followed him that day!] He goes w/ you even when you do wrong!
*This test asks, “Would I be ashamed to be found doing it [thinking it/saying this] upon Christ’s return?”
According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed…
Looking for that blessed hope/watch ye therefore!
*This test asks, “Is there any glory for God in it?” or
“Can I honestly ask God to bless it?”
Pray: “God, bless this movie I put in the vcr now, it has some cursing and sexual content”
And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
*This test asks, “After praying about it, is there the least bit of doubt in my mind about it?”
We need to learn to give God the benefit of the doubt…if it’s doubtful, don’t! Not, “How close to the line can I walk?” “How close can I get to the fire without getting burned?”
Then, with love for our fellow man, let’s do our best not to be a poor example, or cause a weaker brother to fall.
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