Glorifying God With Your Liberties

Steve Viars July 31, 2010 1 Corinthians 10:14-11:1

 

- Have you ever been in a situation where there were two people, or maybe two groups of people who were in some sort of disagreement with one another…

- and they couldn’t come to a solution, so some authority was brought in to make a determination…maybe it was a parent, or a teacher, or a boss, or a policeman, or a judge…

- and that person listened to both sides…gathered all the facts…and then waited a period of time before rendering a decision…

- and everybody is waiting for what?...to see whose side he’s going to take…to see who’s going to win the argument, and who’s going to lose…

 

- and then finally the decision comes down, and everyone kind-of shakes their head and says – you know, he didn’t really take either person’s side…

- everybody just won something, and everybody just gave something up…

- he determined that the truth lies somewhere in the middle…

 

- and I’m not suggesting that every case ought to come out like that…but sometimes the test of a good decision is that no one is totally pleased…the individual making the ruling didn’t take either person’s side, at least not entirely…

 

- we see that in counseling a lot, where a married couple comes in and the assumption by one or both is…this counselor is going to take one person’s side against the other…

- so I have to convince him that it’s all my spouses’ fault…

- and I have to get my counselor to agree with me…

 

- and I tell people all the time – there’s plenty of sin here to go around…in fact I said to a couple this week, with a smile on my face, I believe in equal-opportunity whacking…

- and what I meant by that is – I don’t take sides…unless we want to count “taking God’s side…based on what He says in His Word…”…

- and that includes not just finding ways the husband needs to change, and ways the wife needs to change…but also the way we may even identify some ways the counselor and the trainees need to change as well…There’s plenty of sin to go around...

- another way to say this would be – one of the characteristics of immaturity is expecting someone else to entirely side with you…as if you’re all right and the other person is all wrong…

- and sure, there might be times when that’s the case…but not as often as we seem to think…

- I actually struggled with that issue early in the ministry because there were many times where I knew that the right decision would satisfy no one…

- and so you go through mental process of thinking---if we choose option “a”, one group is going to be happy and the other is going to be upset (disappointed)…

- if we choose option “b”…the first group is going to be upset, and the second group is going to be happy…

- but really---neither of those options is best…option “c” is best…the problem with option “c” is, no one is going to be entirely pleased…that’s why I didn’t like option “c”…

- but the longer I’ve been in this position, the more I’ve come to realize…sometimes that is the exact proof that the decision is best…because there was truth on both sides of the issue…both groups were at least partially right…

- so by not taking either groups side entirely…a balanced decision had just been rendered…and reasonable people will actually eventually appreciate that…

 

- now, if you say – OK< I get that, but why are we talking about it?...here’s the answer…that’s where Paul lands the plane on the issue of Christian liberty…by choosing to not side entirely with either group that posed the original question…and in so doing, gave us very important truth about how to make Christian liberty decisions…

 

- with that in mind, please open your Bible to 1 Corinthians 10…page 135 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- we’re doing a series this year entitled Taking the Next Step…with Joy

- this is a verse by verse exposition of the book of 1 Corinthians…

- right now we’re working through a crucial section of this book…chapter 8, 9, and 10…which all form a single unit on the topic of Christian Liberty…areas of the Christian Life that are not specifically spelled out in Scripture in black and white terms…so you have freedom to navigate between certain established parameters or buoys…

 

- this morning we’re going to complete our study of this section of the book…

- now I know that we will have some folks who are here for the first time today---that’s always the case…

- plus most of us have been in and out with vacations and other trips…

- so here’s the essential summary of what Paul has emphasized…

 

- again, Christian liberty deals with decisions we all have to make every day where the Bible has not specifically spoken in black and white terms…

- and Paul has told us – there are 2 essential dangers when it comes to these kinds of decisions…

- its effect on others…and its effect on you…

- see, you can exercise your freedoms in a way that might harm someone else spiritually…either a younger Christian or even a person who doesn’t know the Lord…

- so that means we must avoid the issue of insensitivity---not caring about how the exercising of our liberties might negatively impact someone else…

 

- but then Paul gives a real zinger at the end of chapter---because he says that the other great danger is its effect on you…

- he says that you could end up being disqualified…

- see, it’s not just the impact on someone else, it’s the impact on you…

- and that’s where 1 Corinthians 10:12 fits into all of this… 1 Corinthians 10:12 -- Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.

- so don’t be insensitive to others…and don’t be overconfident regarding yourself…just because you have the freedom to do something does not mean you should…it may not be best in a given situation for others…and it may not be best for you…

- now, last week’s verses from the first half of chapter 10 brought crucial information to the table…because Paul started talking about the issue of the heart…

- a key part of that argument comes from verse 6---where he was speaking about the experience of the children of Israel in the wilderness…and he said… 1 Corinthians 10:6 - Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved.

- in other words – the issue with these kinds of decisions is not what you do with your hands…but what you want with your heart…

- and we are not always careful enough to slow down and evaluate our desires, our motives---why we are making the choices we’re making – but that is exactly what Paul is teaching here…

- that’s why we said last week regarding the issue of dress and those who dress provocatively to draw attention to themselves, or to receive the approval of people, or even to incite the jealousy of others who aren’t as attractive as they are, etc…

- the issue isn’t the tight jeans, or the short shorts, or the revealing top…the problem is an unrestrained and ultimately idolatrous heart…

- that’s how you disqualify yourself…because desires that are not carefully guarded can easily become idols that are illegitimately worshipped…

 

- now, here’s what’s about to happen…Paul is now going to bring all of this around full circle…remember this started when the Corinthians had posed a series of questions to him about whether it was OK to eat meat that was offered to pagan gods…

- can I buy it in the marketplace because it’s often offered at a cheaper price?...

- can I attend a banquet or a private dinner with an unsaved friend where it might be served…

- and some in the church said yes, and others said no…and they wanted Paul to take one side or the other…

- well, guess what he did?...he took neither side---and there are some very significant principles for you and me if we understand where that takes us…

 

- read 1 Corinthians 10:14-11:1[explain in advance why you’re including 11:1…]

 

- we’re talking this morning about Glorifying God in the Way You Handle Your Liberties

 

- and with the time we have remaining, let’s look for Three summary principles to guide the way we make Christian liberty decisions.

 

I. Learn to Build Up Those Around You.

- you saw that Paul eventually rendered his decision on these matters…we’ll break all of that down in a few minutes…but did you notice how he did it?...

- he built them up even by the process he used…

A. By the way you address them.

1. “beloved” – v. 14

- see, isn’t this true – sometimes people get into some of these Christian liberty discussions…and as you hear them talk about it – (argue about it) – it’s like they hate each other…

- if you don’t stack the music issue up exactly like I do, we’re enemies…

- what’s heaven going to be like, then?...(hymns only—you go there…)

 

- [develop – the difference between “fringe thinking” and “centered thinking.”

 

 

2. wise men.

- 1 Corinthians 10:15 - I speak as to wise men…

- that’s another bad habit we can fall into – treating people who differ with us on something as if that automatically means that they’re dumb…

- if you were as smart as me, or as spiritual as me---you’d obviously agree with me on every issue…

- words like that, and the thought pattern behind them, are dripping with pride…[cf. v. 12]

 

- you might want to pause for a moment and ask yourself that question – when it comes to the tone that you take to Christian liberty discussions with your family members, your friends, people at church, your extended family…does your tone edify?...does it build others up?...

 

- now let’s drill further into what Paul is saying…the next way you build others up…

B. By understanding the connection we have in the church to Christ and one-another.

- Paul’s talking about the Lord’s table…

- we’re going to be celebrating that tonight as a church family—and we would encourage you to be there (even if you’ve not become a formal church member yet)…

- now, here’s what’s about to happen…Paul just mentions it now…to illustrate a point…

- then he completes his discussion about Christian liberty which we’re studying today…

- then he launches into a discussion of the roles of men and women in chapter 11…Lord willing, we’re going to study that next Sunday…

- then he actually comes back and gives an extended explanation of the Lord’s table at the end of chapter 11…

- so two weeks from now, while I’m in Brazil…Pastor Dutton is going to work through that passage with you and we’ll actually be observing the Lord’s Table on Sunday morning…

- now, back to the point…while there is nothing mystical being transferred when we take communion…it is still a very powerful reminder of the body and blood of our Lord which both secured our salvation if we’ve trusted Christ as Savior and Lord…and also draws us together as brothers and sisters in Christ…

- 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 - Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread.

 

- now you might say – well, I understand that---but what does that have to do with anything?...

- here’s the answer…edify others…

C. By understanding the connection that unsaved men and women have to the idols they have chosen (or the former connection that younger Christians may still sense for the idols they’ve forsaken).

- 1 Corinthians 10:19-20 - What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything?No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons.

 

- now, it’s crucial that we get this one…remember, the so-called stronger brothers were saying – listen – idols aren’t real – so why shouldn’t I buy the cheaper meat, or eat that meat at the parties, etc…

- and Paul is saying – you know, on one hand---I agree with you…the idol isn’t anything…except in the heart and mind of the person worshipping it…

- and because that person considers it to be powerful…they are as connected to that as you are to Christ…it is better for you to avoid that so you don’t confuse them…

- and that’s why one of the bottom lines was…

1 Corinthians 10:28 - But if anyone says to you, “This is meat sacrificed to idols,” do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience’ sake;

- so, Paul doesn’t take sides with the so-called stronger brethren…who said they could eat it any time they wanted because idols weren’t real gods…

- why risk intensifying the connection a weaker person, or an unsaved person has to the idols they consider to be real in their hearts…

- now, I realize we need to make this part as practical as possible…I understand that…so here’s a couple of ways that could intersect where you live…

- I think of a situation from another state where a man’s teenage boys were caught molesting a young girl…

- and it was just a heinous situation…and one of the questions I had was---where did these sons get these wicked ideas?...

- and I remember that father hanging his head and saying….well, we haven’t been very careful about the kind of movies we’ve brought into our house…and we’ve watched some things in our home with our children that weren’t pleasing to God…

- do you see what just happened?...as a father he believed he had liberty…and in a sense he was right---the Bible doesn’t have a specific list of movies that are in and movies that are out…

- but he exercised his freedom as a father, not in a way that built his sons up, but that tore them down…

- and the desires that maybe his father could handle as he watched that movie became idols of the heart in sons’ lives…so much so that they would treat a girl in a heinous fashion…

- here’s the principle – what might be a hobby to you may become a god to someone else…what might be a avocation, a casual interest, even a pleasure that you can handle without sinning…may for your child end up being a god that will rule their hearts…why take that risk?...

- the same is true with sports…many of these leagues have no interest in being sensitive to the worship habits of the kids and their families…

- and so a parent justifies missing week after week of church….well, the Bible doesn’t say it’s wrong…

- and we enjoy sports and our child is so good he’ll get a full ride scholarship and then play pro and make us all rich…

- and so then you do that for a season or two and now your child has no interest in the things of God and you wonder what happened…

- the answer is – that sport has become their god…or more accurately stated, what they out of participating in that sport has become their god…

- I say again -- what might be a hobby to you may become a god to someone else…

- what might be a avocation, a casual interest, even a pleasure that you can handle without sinning…may for your child end up being a god that will rule their hearts…why take that risk?...

- now you might say – well, there it is – Paul sided with the weaker brothers and sisters…he told the stronger ones to stop eating meat that had been offered to idols…

- but that’s not all he said, was it?...because another piece of this puzzle is to…

II. Live to Enjoy Your Freedoms When Appropriate.

- the position Paul takes in verses 25-27 is absolutely fascinating…

- he says that there are a lot of situations where the best option the theological equivalent  of “don’t ask, don’t tell” is simply to not ask…why make that an issue?...

A. With meat sold in the marketplace.

1 Corinthians 10:25 - Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience’ sake;

 

B. At an unbeliever’s dinner party.

1 Corinthians 10:27 - If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience’ sake.

 

- in other words, there are some senses in which the stronger brothers and sisters are right…Christ did die to purchase incredible freedom for us…

- so why make that an issue when it doesn’t have to be…

- don’t even bring that up…just leave it alone…enjoy your freedom and major on the majors…

 

- and that is a crucial principle for every person who really wants to make a difference for God…

- some men and women are so wound up about all these Christian liberty issues that they are constantly arguing about those kinds of things, or worrying about those kinds of things…when that is not really central to the redemptive heart of God…

- that prevents them from participating in things that are really going to matter from the perspective of eternity…

 

- the day I was preparing this message, I received a newsletter from Jerry and Karen Hime…

- if you’ve been around our church a long time, you might remember their names…

- they’ve told their story here many times, so I am not gossiping about them…

- but 25 years ago now, Jerry and Karen lived in Minnesota and their marriage was in serious trouble…so much so that Jerry actually moved to Lafayette to receive biblical counseling from Pastor Goode…

- I won’t go into all the details…but there is a Christian sub-culture in that part of the country that can be fairly wrapped up in the minors, and there is an entire history or people and churches separating from one another on all sorts of petty issues…

- anyway, Jerry received the help he needed and God miraculously put their marriage back together and they started coming back to Lafayette each February to attend our biblical counseling training program…they have brought scores of their friends and fellow church members here for training…I don’t think any couple has attended the conference as many times as they have…

- well, now God has given them a biblical counseling ministry in their church…[just like 2 Cor. 1 – says – God comforts us so that we can comfort others…]

- several years ago, their church began an inner-city ministry in Minneapolis, and Jerry and Karen do their counseling from that location…

- they’ve also teamed up with a residential care program which has separate facilities for both men and women….and an essential aspect of their program is to match their residents with a covenant church where as they are coming out of the intensive program, they can be transitions into a local church and its counseling ministry…

- Jerry and Karen’s church is participating in this program…

- so this week I was reading their newsletter and just rejoicing in the kinds of men and women they’re helping…

- that’s because, in part, somewhere along the line, Jerry and Karen decided – we’re going to major on the majors…we’re not going to organize our lives around petty arguments that won’t matter in eternity…

- obviously – if we are going to accomplish all the Lord has for us here, we have to do exactly the same thing…

 

- now I realize that you might say – but PV, this frustrates me..because Paul didn’t take sides…so this doesn’t give me an absolute answer in every situation…

- on the one hand, that’s true…but that’s where verse 31 fits into all of this…

 

- 1 Corinthians 10:31 - Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
 

III. Do All to the Glory of God.

 

- now I realize that words like this one sometimes can be confusing – if we use them without defining them…

 

A. The meaning of glory.

- “something that is worthy of praise or exaltation, brilliance, beauty, renown” – John MacArthur. Commentary on 1 Corinthians.

- we often speak about something or someone being glorious…the person of whom that’s most true is the God of heaven…

 

- and the Scripture tells us about…

B. Two aspects of God’s glory.

 

1. Inherent glory.

- no one gives God glory in the sense that they are providing something He does not already possess…

 

2. 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 to His name; Worship the Lord in holy array.

 

- in other words, we show others what we think of the Lord, or what He is like, by the way we choose to live…we give others the right opinion of God…

- and if that is what’s motivating your heart as you try to make choices in these areas, it’s much more likely that you will make the right decision…

 

 

- and friend, always remember this – when you do that…you are imitating Christ…because how did He handle His freedoms?...sometimes he refused to let the legalists around Him bind His actions with their laws…he went out of His way not to let that happen whenever there was a need to be met even if was on the Sabbath…

- but He also frequently enslaved His freedoms in order to serve others…

 

- 2 Corinthians 8:9 - For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.

 

- [gospel]

 

- [illustration of Testimony #1 from Jerry/Karen’s newsletter]
 

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.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video