I Corinthians 10:13-15

Steve Viars March 24, 1992 1 Corinthians 10:13-15

- we're studying the book of I Cor. together and these last
  several weeks we've been looking at "Paul's instructions on
  Christian liberty"
- this is a discussion that goes on for three chapters, and
  we've been trying to trace Paul's argument as he's moves
  along and communicates truth about this subject

- I'd like to do two primary things tonight
  1) we're at a place now where we can begin drawing some
     important conclusions about Christian liberty.
       - there's enough out on the table for us to be:
           "tying things together" or
           "boiling down the major points"
     - I'd like to take our first 15 minutes or so and lead
       us in making some critical observations about this
       subject based on what we've studied so far.
  2) Secondly, I'd like us to study one of our favorite Bible
     verses which comes up next in this passage, I Cor.
     10:13 and see how that verse fits into this overall
     discussion of Christian liberty.

Introduction:

    What I'd like to do in this introductory time is address
     five major questions.  Some will be review, some will
     be additions to what we've studied.

1) What does Christian liberty involve?

    - diagram - right/gray/wrong

    - the question in Christian liberty is always - "How far
      do I travel down the liberty trail?"
        - in other words, how far do I move into areas that
          the Bible does not specifically address, and
          therefore get involved in questionable things?

2) What are the two great dangers of Christian liberty?

    1) its effect on others       2) its effect on you

      - don't be insensitive        - don't be overconfident

3) How can we summarize Paul's argument?  (draw the
     "sideways V"   (liberty bell out front)

    a. don't let the way you exercise liberty cause others to
        stumble - chap.  8

    b. enslave liberty - chap. 9 (cf. Paul not taking a
         salary)

    c. control your body - 9:24-27 (cf. the runner)

    d. order your heart

- I wanted to put that on the board to help us think about
   this next question:
4) Why has Christian liberty been such an issue in or
    generation.  (churches have split and believers have
    argued almost incessantly over these issues.)
     - I think we need to talk about why:
    - I'd like to suggest at least two reasons:

    a. We've majored on the external instead of majoring on
       the heart.

       - isn't this true - often when you hear someone
         talking about an area of Christian liberty, the
         focus of the discussion is often on the behavior.
          - (the front of the "V")

    - the discussions often go like this:
       - those kinds of clothes are wrong
       - that kind of music is wrong
       - going to that place is wrong

       - see, the emphasis is sometimes exclusively focused
          on the behavior
       - I think the question we need to ask is: "Is the
         problem in Christian liberty issues waht is 'out
         there'?"
           - the answer to that is no
           - the problem is in here

- let me give you an example
   - Sketch Erickson has had a very effective ministry in
     this area of music.
   - we've had him here several times and his ministry has
       been very effective.
   - you may remember, when Sketch comes, he plays shorts
      clips from songs and TV shows while he shows slides of
      these people on a screen.
   - his goal is to help us wake up to what's going on around
     us, and be sure that we're not drifting ourselves, or
     that we're not allowing or children into getting
     involved in things where we haven’t taken time to find
     out what that's really like

- now that is very important--understanding the behavior (and
    I don't want to minimize that)

    - but what Paul is arguing here is--the biggest problem
       in Christian liberty is not what's out there--it's
       what's in here

    - the problem is not exclusively the "immodesty of the
      clothes" -- its what the person wants to get out of
      wearing those kind of clothes
    - the problem is not exclusively with the "wickedness of
      the music" --  its what the person is desiring in their
      heart that is fulfilled by listening to that kind of
      music
    - the problem isn't exclusively with the drink or the
      drug or the food--it's with the idols of the heart that
      are being worshipped by being involved in that
      behavior.

    - that's why Jesus said - "its not what a man puts into
       his body that defiles him, but what is there already"
    - that's why Paul has put a major emphasis in this
        argument on the place of the heart.
          - on the place of what you and I are wanting to
            accomplish by the way we exercise our liberty.

    - see, like Calvin said, the human heart is a factory of
      idols, and I can't think of many areas of the Christian
      life where that factory would be more potentially
      productive than in this are a of Christian liberty.

- the point here is that one of the reasons this issue has
  caused such division in the church is that we haven't
  always done a good job of majoring on the heart.

b. the church historically has not been effective at teaching
    this truth across the generations.

    - Dr. Doug McGloughlin, the president of Pillsbury
      Baptist Bible College, has done a lot of thinking and
      writing on this subject.
    - he's experienced some of the arguments on these
      subjects firsthand, and tried to analyze the problem
      from a biblical and historical perspective.

    - his analysis is this:

       - two generations ago, (roughly back in the twenties
         and thirties -- there was a resurgence of emphasis
         on the purity of the Scriptures.
       - of course that was the liberal/fundamentalist
         controversy.

       - out of that came a group of leaders and church who
         sought to understand God's Word and live according
         to God's Word because they were absolutely convinced
         that it was inspired--it was the very Word of God.

       - what grew out of that was a real purity of heart,
         where men and women were growing on the inside, and
         developing genuine walks with the Lord.
           - they were, as Paul said, being renewed in the
             spirit of the inner man.

       - As a result, they took strong stands on issues of
         personal separation.
       - there were many things happening in their time
         period that they would not get involved in, because
         they were seeking to obey principles that we've been
         studying.
       - (draw a "V" going from the heart out)

- but then that group had children, a new generation was
   coming on the scene
- McGloughlin's observation is
    - while the first generation was strong on "purity of
      life flowing out of purity of heart," they were weak at
      transferring that truth across the generations.

- As a result, a generation grew up, knowing the behavioral
   standards, but who did not understand the "why's behind
   the standards."
- the standards of purity weren't a natural outgrowth of a
    pure heart.
- they became standards in of themselves.
    - instead of being the "result of purity" they became the
        test of purity.

- so they conformed to the standards, but their hearts were
   not pure
- so hypocrisy became rampant
- you have people who conform to the lists of do's and
   don'ts, but their personal lives are a shambles

    - so you have a husband, who may not smoke, chew, go to
       movies, play ball on Sunday's
         - but he treats his wife like dirt
         - he abuses his kids
         - he gets caught in adultery

     - see, the standards were there, but they weren't the
       outgrowth of a pure heart--and many time hypocrisy
       was the result

- well, at the same time, they were having children
- those children often times observed the hypocrisy in the
   home, and they decided
     --the standards are the problem
     --the standards have made my parents hypocrites, I don't
        want anything to do with that kind of religion
     - I'm going to learn to genuinely serve God and worship
        Him without all these legalistic standards

- so now we've got a generation who was turned off by
   hypocritical standards
     - and swung the pendulum all the way over and have
        decided
     - the answer is exercising liberty
     - the answer is enjoying my freedoms

- and so now, we may have a generation that is less
   hypocritical, but they're also more proud, they're
   overconfident in their ability to handle liberty
    - and as a result, to a large degree, our generation of
      believers has fallen into both dangers Paul has been
      warning about:
        1) a less effective ministry to others
        2) a effect on us of falling into sin by failing to
              be cautious.

- MrGloughlin's point is - the current Christian generation
    saw the problem of hypocritical living and legalistic
    standards that had no power
      - they had the problem right
      - but they misdiagnosed it, and therefore came up with
         the wrong solution

- they rebelled against the standards, the rules, the
   enslavement of liberty
      - when that wasn't the problem at all
      - the problem was the heart
- point is - you and I must be growing in our effectiveness
   of transferring this truth across the generations.
- not just emphasizing the do's and don't
     - the yes's and no's
     - the wrongness of what's out there

- we must be emphasizing the issues of the inner man
- we must be working ourselves, and teaching our children to
   to work on their desires, their lusts, their hearts

- and when our hearts are right--issues of Christian liberty
    will fall into place

- that leads us to this fifth question:

5) What kind of heart is required to handle Christian liberty
     in a way that pleases the Lord?

    - so far, we've seen two important ingredients, and we're
      going to add a third one tonight

    a. the right desires

        - what we said last week is critical here
        - I can and must choose to want to please God, to be
           His kind of person, to live for Him...
            - in the way I exercise liberty

        - not worshipping any of the host of possible
          "Christian liberty idols"
           - I'm going to do that so I can feel good
           - I'm going to wear that so I'll be popular
           - I going to drink that to get my high
           - I'm going to listen to that to sooth my
               conscience
           - I'm going to say that to be one of the guys

        - instead of that, I'm going to do what verse 14
          says: "flee from idolatry"
        - like verse 6 says: "to the intent that we should
            not lust after evil things."

    b. the right humility

        - Paul is stressing here: don't be overconfident
        - in our hearts, there ought to be a real
           understanding of the weakness of our flesh
        - verse 12 - let him that thinketh he standeth take
             heed lest he fall
        - Prov. 16:18 - "Pride goeth before destruction, and a
            haughty spirit before a fall."

        - the Bible is filled with examples of people who
          fell because of their pride
            - because they believed they could handle it when
              in fact they could not

 


        - I've listed some examples in your notes in case
          you'd like to do some extra study on that:

           1) Haman - book of Esther
           2) Sennacherib - Isa. 37:36-38
           3) Peter - Luke 22:33-34, 54-62
           4) Israelites in wilderness - I Cor. 10:1-15
           5) Church of Sardis - Rev. 3:1-3
           6) Church of Thyatira - Rev. 3:17

- see, making the right decisions about matters of Christian
   liberty requires having the right kind of heart
     - a heart that has the right desires
     - a heart that has the right humility

- now, we're going to study I Cor. 10:13 for one more
   critical component of the heart--that is "A heart that has
   the right hope."

- now, I Cor. 10:13 is a verse that is dear to most if not
   all of us
- READ

- because, we're studying this verse as part of a series on
   this book, I'm probably going to handle the verse
   differently than if we were just studying it in and of
   itself
- normally, when we talk about this verse, we talk about some
   of the general truths it contains that are very helpful
   and encouraging
- in fact, in counseling, I'm sure I've talked about this
   verse hundreds and hundreds of times

- but, I'll be honest with you, I'm not sure how much time
   I'd spent thinking about how the context of Christian
   liberty should affect our understanding of the verse, and
   how our understanding of the verse should affect the
   subject of Christian liberty

- let's do that in the moments we have left
- Paul's telling us three things in this verse

I. We Must Understand Temptation

    A. What are temptations?

        1. 2 kinds in the Bible

            - the word temptation is not intrinsically evil

            a. temptations from God to prove the sincerity
               of our faith

               - that’s why James told us to rejoice in
                 trials (same word translated temptation in
                 other places in that chapter and in the
                 Bible)

            b. temptations from Satan to solicit us to evil

              - that’s what Jesus had in mind when he taught
                the disciples to pray "Lead us not into
                temptation." - Matt. 6:13

        2. what differentiates them?

            - in one sense, they are different in the source.
            - James 1:13 makes it clear that God never tempts
                us to evil.
            - however-that doesn't mean we should go around
              trying to figure out who's tempting me, the
              Lord or the devil.

            - the reason is - it very well may be both.
            - in the temptation of Christ, the Bible makes it
              clear that Satan was tempting our Lord, yet He
              was led into the wilderness by the Spirit of
              God.
            - in fact, Mark's gospel says the Holy Spirit
              "drove Him into the wilderness"
            - so was it a solicitation to evil from satan, or
              was a test from the father to prove the
              genuineness of His deity

- bottom line is, it was both
- the Bible has other similar examples
- both Satan and God the Father were involved in the testing
   of Job

- so while temptations can be differentiated by the source,
  that’s not a very practical way to make a distinction
   because you and I have absolutely no way of knowing

        3. ultimate difference - how I respond.

            - if I give in to the temptation, I have bought
              up the solicitation to evil.
            - if I don't give in, I have proved the
              genuineness of my faith and the power of God.

- now, Paul adds an important concept to our understanding of
   temptation in this verse.

   B. What important truth does this verse add to our
       understanding of temptation?)

       - answer is this - they are not unique

       - see, this issue of Christian liberty can be
          incredibly complex.
       - we live in a sinful world.
       - we have hearts that are far from pure

       - as a result, some of these Christian liberty
         questions are so twisted and knotty that at times
         you just want to throw up your hands and say
           - "I know I'm going to fail--no one has ever had
              to face this one before.  I'm the first...and I
              know I'm going to blow it."

- Paul is saying, wait a minute, "you need something else in
   your heart."
     - yes you need to have the right desires (and thats a
        sobering thought)
     - and yes, you need to have the right humility (and that
        adds additional weight to the issue)

- and you leave these first twelve verses thinking:
   - "I know I'm going to mess up"
   - "I can't handle this Christian liberty business"

- Paul says - the third component you need in your heart is
   hope

- these temptations are not unique
- others have gone before you and faced difficult issues, and
    questions, and come out victorious
- Hebrews says "We have not a high priest who can't be
   touched with the feelings of our infirmities, but he was
   in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."

- Paul wants us to factor that kind of thinking into our
   understanding and come away with hope.

- sure these are hard issues
   - sometimes they seem incredibly complex

- but they're not unique

- Paul also says:

II. We Must Exercise Belief in the Faithfulness of God

    A. The foundation of our hope in matters of Christian
       liberty is the faithfulness of God

       - these have been sobering messages
       - but Paul does not want us to leave this subject
           discouraged
             - challenged--yes
             - determined--yes
               - but discouraged--no

       - because of the faithfulness of God

        - "It is because of the Lord's mercies that we are
           not consumed because His compassions fail not.
           They are new every morning, great is thy
           faithfulness." (Lam. 3:22-23)

        - and how does he demonstrate that faithfulness in
          the context we're studying?

  (B. How that faithfulness is demonstrated in this context)

    - by not giving us more than we can bear

    - see, there are times where these issues seem
       overwhelming
    - how can I please the Lord in these areas?
    - how can I possibly have hope in my heart when I think
       about Christian liberty?
- because of the faithfulness of God - who has promised not
   to give us more than we can bear

- now, this is going to require some willingness on our parts

III. We Must Be Willing To Take His Way Of Escape

    - we must note "who determines the way of escape"

  (A. Who makes the way of escape?")

        - the answer is - our Lord does
        - yes, we can escape--we can handle these situations
            without sinning
            - but the Lord decides how we get through

        - that’s one of the essential issues in Christian
           liberty
        - Is Jesus going to be the Lord even in this area of
           life?

    B. What is that escape like?

        - I think we need to say - God's way of escape is
          generally not "out of", but "through"

        - see, we'd be making a great mistake tonight if we
          said, "I'll have hope in this matter of Christian
          liberty if God will just take me out of the office
            - out of that school
            - out of that town
            - out of that family

        - God's way of escape is seeing us handle liberty
          correctly so we can go through the situation in a
          way that pleases Him, and shows the genuineness of
          our faith

       - the verse says--so we can "bear it"

        - one of the bottom lines of this study is-generally
          speaking, God's way of escape in matters of
          Christian liberty is to enslave it
           - see, I don't have to go there (I can enslave it)
           - I don't have to listen to that
           - I don't have to drink that, wear that

        - there's hope in these matters of Christian liberty
          if I'll follow God's plan for escape
        - its interesting that the word for escape is also
          used in the Bible of men in great peril who threw
          useless things overboard in order to escape peril

        - that’s a beautiful picture of what Paul has been
          arguing in these chapters
            - when I see the severity and importance of the
              situation
                - there's a lot of things I can do without
                - there's a lot of things that can go over
                   the side of the ship


- there's a way of escaping sin in these situations, but God
    chooses the way

    C. Who does it?

       - the verse says "YE" may be able to bear it
       - there's great hope, but ultimately it depends on us
          applying biblical principles in these critical
          areas

- Christian liberty is a matter of the heart

    - we must have hears that have the right desires
    - hearts that have the right humility
    - hearts that have the right hope

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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