I Cor. 10:23-11:1 - Christian Liberty

Steve Viars April 14, 1992 1 Corinthians 10:

- we'll be doing some different kinds of things to try to
   summarize, reemphasize, and illustrate how to apply the
   various principles we've learned
- of course we won't do anything that would put someone one
   the spot, but let me encourage you to go through these
   verses and look over your notes for next week so you'll be
   prepared to participate and receive maximum benefit from
   our time together

- a good title for these verses tonight would be - "Paul's
    summary of the Christian liberty question"
- if you had an opportunity to give just one lesson on this
   subject and you were trying to decide what verses from
   this extended section to use, this very well may be the
   best one because it says it all in a nutshell
- we're including chapter 11:1 along with the verses in
  chapter 10 because that verse really completes the thought
- the Bible version you have in front of you probably
    puts 11:1 with chapter 10 and that’s the way we're going
    to do it tonight

- READ 10:23-11:1

- in these verses, Paul gives us three summary principles to
   help us make decisions in areas of Christian liberty

I. Use Your Liberty To Edify

    - INPUT - there are a series of words that are repeated
         twice in verse 23 - What are they?
           KJV - "All things are lawful to me, but..."
           NASB - "All things are lawful, but..."
           NIV - "All things are permissible, but..."

    - that tells us again what kinds of things we're talking
        about when we discuss Christian liberty.
    - we're talking about things that are not directly
        addressed in the Bible.
    - if something is not forbidden in God's word, that makes
        it lawful.

    - but the principle that Paul has given us in many
       different ways throughout these verses is:

    A. Principle - lawfulness is not the issue

        - see, the Lord doesn't want me to looking for the
            minimum standards
        - it's not just a matter of - is it lawful?
        - because this principle's true, what question should
            I not be asking as I face questions of Christian
            liberty?

            - Is it sin yet?
            - what's wrong with this?
            - can I get away with this?

INPUT - instead, what two controlling ideas does Paul give us
    in this verse?

    - is it expedient, and does it edify?
    - we talked about expediency back in chapter six because
        Paul used the same phrase we he talked to us about
        our bodies.

    - let's focus on this second question - does it edify?

        1. meaning of "edify"

            - the word edify is the word "oikodomew"
            - oikos is the word "house", oikodomew is the
               word "build a house"

            - in Acts 7:47 - Stephen was preaching about
              David and Solomon, and he said "Solomon built
              him a house"
            - that's the exact same word that we have here in
              I Corinthians 10:23 translated edify
                - "build a house"

            - another use is Matthew 7:24 where Jesus is
              talking about the wise man who did what? (built
              his house on a rock)
            - "built his house" is the same word as edify in
               I Cor. 10:23

- point is - Paul wants us to do whatever is necessary to get
   construction images in our mind
- a number of you work in construction, or maybe you've built
   a house or watched one go up
- maybe you helped out when this building was being built

- "building" is a picture of what's taking place in the life
     of believers
- we're to be growing, to be built up in the faith

- in this context, Paul wants us to be sure about how our
   life affects the building process of those around us

- let me stop there and ask you this question:
    how concerned are you about the impact you have on the
    spiritual growth of those around you, and what examples
    could you give that show evidence of that concern?
- see, that’s going to be one of the key issues tonight:

   - is it important to you that you have a positive
      spiritual impact on the people the Lord has placed
      around you?
   - is there spiritual house stronger and more robust
       because they rub shoulders with you?
   - do you have an edifying ministry and effect?
- did you know that that’s not automatically true?
- some believers have an impact on others that actually
   leaves them less likely to be built up in the faith.
- some believers have an "anti-edifying" effect on those
   around
- some husbands are holding their wives and their families
   back spiritually
- some wives are making it more difficult for their families
    to grow

- it's like trying to row a boat when the anchor's out
    - you don't get too far
- some people are like that--they're dead weight, spiritually
    speaking

- one of the reasons is what we're talking about here
    - they're not concerned about edifying
    - they're not concerned about effecting others in a way
       that builds up their spiritual house

- on the other hand - some folks are really concerned about
    helping others grow, and they're very effective at it
- they have the "Brookfield kind of growth"

- now I'm not here to comment on the quality of the houses
   - I'm not qualified to do that
- but I'll tell you one thing about some of those contractors
    building over there
- they know how to put a house up

- I'll drive by there in the morning and there's just a
   foundation
- You go by at lunch and they're framing the second floor
- you go by at the end of the day and they're putting tar
    paper on the roof
- they're "flat building houses"

- some folks are like spiritually
- every time you're around them--you're stimulated to grow
   - like the writer of Hebrews said - "you're provoked unto
       love and to good works"

- we're talking about having an edifying effect on those the
   Lord has placed around us
- this is a major Bible theme

    2. how is a person edified?

        a. with God's Word - Acts 20:32 - "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."

        b. through preaching and teaching - I Cor. 14:3-4 -
            "the one who prophesies edifies the church."

        c. love - I Cor. 8:1 - "knowledge puffeth up, but
             love edifies."

        d. obedient service - Eph. 4:12 - "for the perfecting
            of the saints for the work of the ministry for
            the edifying of the body of Christ."
- those are very important passages in God's Word about a
  very important subject, but we need to add one based on
   what we're studying tonight, and that is:

        e. by observing fellow believers who enslave their
           liberty out of love for Christ.

- see, not just--"Is it lawful?", but ""will this edify?"
   - what effect is this going to have on the spiritual well
     being of those God has placed around me?

- you could write the words "focus on others" over this first
   series of verses and really have them well summarized
- the person who approaches Christian liberty questions with
  the mindset of:
    "focus on others, will this edify?, will this have a
     spiritually beneficial effect on those around me?"
       - is in a great position to please the Lord in the
          particular Christian liberty decision they're
          trying to make

- see, focus on others, I'm headed down the road of making
    the right Christian liberty decision
      - focus on self - I'm heading down the road of making
         the wrong one

- what we're talking about right now is a hallmark of
   Christian maturity
- Paul said - "Let all things be done for edification" (I
    Cor. 14:26)
- he said in II Cor. 12:19 - "We do all things, dearly
     beloved, for your edifying."

- Use your liberty to edify

- before we move off of this, let me just ask you-are there
   any areas of Christian liberty that you need to enslave to
   be in a better position to edify those God has placed
   around you?
     - would you be more effective at edifying if you were
         more willing to enslave?

        - illus - dad from another state whose teenage boys
            were accused of molesting a three year old girl
             - person asked - where would these boys have
                 gotten ideas like that?
             - dad hung his head - and said - "over the years
                we've gotten in the habit of watching things
                on TV and renting videos that contained
                things that didn't please the Lord."
- before this happened, that same dad would have proudly said
    - we have liberty, we have freedom, that's not
      specifically forbidden in the Bible
        - in the very act of exercising what he thought was
           freedom, he was tearing down the spiritual houses
           of his own sons

- Paul goes on in this section to answer some of the
   specific questions that the Corinthians were facing
- some of the answers he gives are somewhat surprising
- let's look at them and see what principles we can glean

    B. Answers to specific questions

        - the first one he addresses in verse 25 is - "can I
          buy and eat the cheaper meat that is sold in the
          market?

        1. meat in the market

        - INPUT - what is the answer that Paul gives?  (eat
            and don't ask)

        - in verse 27, he addresses the question of:

        2. meat in a pagan's house where you don't know the
             source

           INPUT - what is the answer that he gives there?
            (eat and don't ask)

            - I dare say that for some of us, those answers
              are surprising.
            - in fact, I think it's safe to say that for some
              of us, if we didn't have these verses, and the
              questions were put to us, we would have given
              an entirely different answer.

- I think understanding what Paul is saying here comes from
   tying it back into the issue of edification
     - it's impact on someone else

- in light of the question of edification, why did Paul say
   it's OK to eat the meat in the two contexts he's just
   discussed
     - because others aren't involved
     - I can eat that and still obey verse 23
     - I can eat that and not detract from the edification
        ministry the Lord wants me to have with others

- now we have to be careful with this:
   - some folks go to seed on this principle and want to
     justify things that are forbidden in other places in the
     Bible, hiding behind this idea "well, it doesn't effect
     others."
      - its OK for me to get drunk privately at home, because
         it doesn't effect others
      - it's Ok for me to get involved in pornography
        privately, because it doesn't effect others

- that’s obviously misusing this principle because it's
   violating other principles in God's Word

- but the fact still remains--Paul says there are some areas
   of Christian liberty that are acceptable in some
   contexts that are unacceptable in others

- I think we need to ask the question "Why?"

-the answer is - "so that we don't make 'liberty enslavement'
   an end in itself
- see, isn't this true, we tend to fall into "pendulum
    living"

- some might be tempted to enslave all liberties at all times
  as if that was spiritual in and of itself
- there are contemporary examples of folks who self-
   righteously enslave all kinds of liberties

- we've been talking a lot about enslave, enslave, enslave
   - but the other side of that is, there is freedom in Jesus
        Christ
   - we're not subject to dietary laws and all the rest
   - in these verses, Paul's putting these principles in
       balance

   - "eat, and don't ask"
   - in other words, some (maybe not many), but some need to
       loosen up on this subject

- he ties this back in though, to:

    3. meat at a pagans house where it has been offered to an
        idol

       - Paul says - don't eat that
          - for the conscience of the one offering, don't
             cause him to stumble
          - don't lost your edifying ministry to him by
               exercising that liberty

- so the first principle is - use your liberty to edify--
    focus on others

- now Paul's going to give us another place to focus in verse
   31 (READ)
- the second summary principle regarding Christian liberty is

II. Use Your Liberty To Glorify God

    - I think it's important here to:

    A. Note the context

       - verse 31 is one of our favorite Bible verses
       - in fact, if you've ever been to the Wilds, you know
          that every meal begins with the campers standing
          and reciting the camp verse - I Cor. 10:31

       - a lot of folks would say this is a verse they've
         known a long time
       - but I wonder how many of those folks would know the
          context in which it was given
            - sure there's some general truth that is
              applicable to many situations, but the first
              application that must be made from this verse
              has to do with Christian liberty

- so when Paul talks about "whether we eat or we drink", he's
   talking first and foremost about the way we exercise
   Christian liberty
- his point is - even this area of our lives ought to be
    focused on bring glory to God
now,
    B. What does it mean to glorify God?
        1. meaning of glory
        "something that is worthy of praise or exaltation,
         brilliance, beauty, renown"

- when we talk about God's glory, there's:

        2. 2 important aspects of God's glory

            a. inherent

                - another way of saying that would be his
                  intrinsic glory
                - God is the only Person in the universe who
                   has inherent glory
                - No one gives Him inherent glory-it already
                   belongs to God by virtue of who He is

            b. ascribed glory

               - Psalm 29:1-2 - "Ascribe to the Lord, O sons
                  of the mighty, ascribe to the Lord glory
                  and strength.  Ascribe to the Lord the
                  glory due His Name; worship the Lord in
                  holy array."

- when we talk about glorifying God, we're talking about
   living in a way that shows others our opinion of Him.
- we're not adding to His glory, but we're living in a way
   that recognizes His glory,
     - and shows others that we recognize it in hope that
       they will join us in that opinion

- The Westminster shorter catechism says - "The chief aim of
    man is to glory God and to enjoy Him forever."

        3. how can we give God glory?

            a. confession of sin - Josh. 7:19
            b. trusting God - Rom. 4:20
            c. bearing fruit for Him - John 15:8
            d. thanking Him - Ps. 50:23
            e. suffering for Christ - I Peter 4:14-16
            f. being content - Phil. 4:10-20
            g. praying - John 14:13
            h. spreading God's Word - II Thess. 3:1
            i. enslaving liberty - I Cor. 10:31

- now let's push that a little further and ask:

    C. How can we glorify God with our liberty?

        - the point we want to make here is - enslavement
          alone does not automatically guarantee that God
          will be glorified

        - at least 2 things have to be true

        1. right motivation

            - INPUT - can you think of some wrong reasons a
               person might have for enslaving their liberty?


            - the point is - while their behavior might
               satisfy some of the other principles we've
               studied--their heart would fall short right
               here

             - in the previous point we said - focus on
               others -- we need to add to that, focus on God
               and his glory

        2. "conscious redirection"

            - here's what I mean
            - when others seeing us enslaving our liberty,
               there are not automatically going to give God
               glory--unless we help "redirect" their
               attention

            - illus - Jerry Spencer  (working on the
                electrical system - why are you doing it)
                - Jerry's "liberty enslavement" only
                   satisfies
                   this point as he consciously looks for
                   opportunities to glorify God

III. Use Your Liberty To Be Like Christ

    - read I Cor. 10:32-11:1

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

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