Sunday, February 22, 2015

Paul's Epistles - 1 Corinthians Part 15 – Being the Stumbling Block

Paul's Epistles - 1 Corinthians
Part 15 – Being the Stumbling Block
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | |

Paul's letter to the church in Corinth, up until last week, was addressing the things he had heard about them, including incest, adultery, over-spiritualized behaviors, wandering away from the Word of God, and an overall pride about them.

Paul has corrected the Corinthian Churches view about the division; Christ is head of the church, no one else. He also let them know that the power comes from God, and they should be humble, not conceited and over-spiritual.

He warned them not to go beyond what is written.

He addressed their pseudo-faith and spiritual activity of abstaining from intimate relations with their spouses, explaining this was the root of their immoral behavior.

He also warned them against lawsuits with other believers, saying the only reason they could not come to terms together inside the church was because of their pride and arrogance.

He instructed them to be content in their situations, so as to quench the immoral behavior that was coming from discontent, and selfish ambition.

This week we are continuing in I Corinthians 8, where Paul explains about becoming a stumbling block to others.

Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God.

So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.

But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.

Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.

Animals were often sacrificed to idols, and then the meat sold in the market place. Some were afraid to purchase and consume food sacrificed without their knowledge.

                   I.            KNOWLEDGE
a.      We all possess knowledge

b.     "knowledge" puffs up; "love" builds up
                                                                         i.      Remember, they thought themselves more spiritual than even Paul, and were very arrogant and prideful, because they had a little knowledge.

c.      The difference between knowledge and wisdom
                                                                         i.      You may have knowledge, but do not know what you ought
1.      We never know as much about the word as we think.

                                                                      ii.      You may have knowledge, but do not know HOW to use it
1.      What we do know of the word, we must apply through LOVE

                                                                   iii.      Wisdom knows how to use your knowledge in a "loving" way.

               II.            THE MONOTHEISTIC TRIUNE GOD
a.      An idol is nothing at all in the world
                                                                         i.      We know (knowledge) there is but one God

                                                                      ii.      Although there are many "gods" and "idols", they do not actually exist, and therefore are of no consequence.

b.     There is only one God for us
                                                                         i.      God the Father (Spirit) FROM whom all things came. Can ONLY be worshipped in Spirit and Truth.

                                                                      ii.      One Lord Jesus Christ (God made flesh to dwell among us) THROUGH which all things came into being (the Creator), THROUGH whom we live (for God the Father who is Spirit).

                                                                   iii.      The Holy Spirit (Who is God in a form which dwells within us) is the "HOW" we can worship God the Father who must be worshipped in Spirit and Truth, because we connect to God the Father with the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ.

c.      One God in three forms for specific reasons.
                                                                         i.      The Father in Heaven, perfect holy Spirit

                                                                      ii.      The Lord Jesus, made flesh to dwell among us and pay our sin-debt

                                                                   iii.      The Holy Spirit, to dwell within us, made available through Christ, so we may have a relationship with the Father in heaven.

            III.            CAUSING OTHERS TO SIN
a.      Some people think sacrificed food becomes defiled because it was sacrificed to gods or idols
                                                                         i.      They are those with weak consciences (spiritually immature/weak)
1.      They lack the knowledge Paul is about to share.

b.     Food has no power, sacrificed or not.
                                                                         i.      Food does not bring us near to God

                                                                      ii.      We are no worse if we do not eat it, and no better if we do.

c.      Be careful however
                                                                         i.      That when you exercise YOUR RIGHTS that you do NOT become a stumbling block to the weak

                                                                      ii.      If you eat sacrificed food in the "idols temple", the spiritually weak (those lacking knowledge) may see you, and be destroyed by your knowledge.

            I have the knowledge from scripture, Paul tells us that there is no one day holier than another, all food is clean and can be eaten, even food sacrificed, and it is OK, even prescribed in scripture to drink good wine, but do not be drunk.

Now, I have to exercise wisdom (LOVE over knowledge), so that if I exercise what Paul calls "my rights", that I do not cause a brother or sister of weaker faith to fall.

Therefore, for example, though I know I can drink wine, I will abstain from doing so in public, or hanging out in bars because it may cause others to fall.

This conscious act, is wisdom, using knowledge appropriately, in love to "bring others up", instead of doing whatever I know I can, and use my knowledge to cause others to fall.

This is acting out, or living I Corinthians 13


Paul states,

When you do this (ignore those of weaker faith around you), and cause them to sin, you are sinning against Christ.

Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will not eat it.

We must think of those weaker in faith around us, whom we can lift up, strengthen and build instead of causing to fall.

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