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Shepherds Hill Homestead » Messages » One Man’s Liberty-Another’s Offense

One Man’s Liberty-Another’s Offense

                The message this week is looking at Christian liberty; what it is and what it is not. Turn with me to 1st Corinthians chapter 8. Paul is writing to a church in a thriving city. Some of the other topics he mentions in this book indicate that it was a carnal church in a very carnal area. I would dare say that it could have easily been written to most churches in America today. It seems that we have become so much like the world that there is often no difference between the people inside the doors as outside except for the name on the lapel.

          For example, divorce is about the same rate between church members as non members today. The language people use is the same on both sides of the door and the dress is no longer different today. In chapter 8 Paul teaches about doing certain things that might be ok for you but an offence to your brother. Look at verse 1. He begins by bringing up a subject of things sacrificed to idols. In the literal meaning Paul is talking about meat that had been left over from pagan worship and sold in the meat market as budget meat. It was the leftover part of the animals and as far as Christians were concerned, some were buying it.

Before going into the main point of this section of the letter, Paul reminds everyone that there is a difference in the operation of knowledge and love. He says that we all have knowledge. We all know many things about God if we have searched Him and read His Word. There are many Bible Scholars in the world that could impress us with their talents. There are some people who can quote the Bible better than you or I and yet they are not even Born-Again. Knowing scripture is a good thing. But knowing it without using it is a dangerous thing.

You can go to all the safe-driving schools in the world and scold the drivers around you for not doing what you know is correct. But if you don’t apply those things to your own driving and realize that others have not had the privilege to take the safety courses you will still be a bad driver. This is the same as the people who study the Bible as a book and don’t realize it is talking to them, too. Knowing that man is a sinner and not recognizing your own sin can make a person very arrogant.

Paul reminds us that knowledge makes us “puffed-up” or conceited and love edifies or builds-up. Men are often like the old puffer fish; swelling up when someone comes around because they think they will be impressed by the size of their Bible knowledge. Love builds up. When we love someone we truly are built up in their minds even if we are missing it some on doctrine.

I have much greater respect for pastors who are uneducated and trying hard to lead a flock as the ones who have degrees and titles and refuse to take a certain church because their level of degree warrants a better place. Loving pastors always have healthier flocks than educated ones. We often hear local pastors who speak poor English but what they are saying is truth. I’d much rather listen to one of these men than the most educated man at HarvardUniversity today.

In verse 3 Paul says that if a man loves God people know about it. At an Arts and Crafts show I noticed a booth with cute and witty sayings on small signs to hang by the front door. There was a sign that said “a fisherman lives here with the catch of his life”. Another one said a “gardener lives here”. I never finished reading the gardener sign because I thought that it was strange that a gardener would have to say that they were gardeners. Think about it…..Gardeners have evidence on the outside of their homes that prove they are gardeners

Paul reminds us that the world will know automatically if we truly do love God. If you have never been criticized for your Christianity, maybe it isn’t clear enough to the world. If you have to tell people that you are a gardener your garden may not exist except in your own mind. When we love God it manifests itself in our lives. We live differently, look differently and sound differently.

In the next verses Paul makes the point that an idol is truly nothing except a piece of wood or stone and that we have the knowledge that God (Jehovah) is the only true God and that all others are just false gods or even non-existent. But in verse seven Paul reminds us that not everyone understands this and to those people eating the meat would be eating something sacrificed to an idol.

Next, he makes the point that eating the meat does not make us better just as not eating doesn’t make us worse. Verse nine is the key verse in this section of Paul’s letter. We are to be careful so that our liberty does not lead someone astray and cause them to sin. His example is that a Christian seen eating in the temple of an idol because the meat is cheap can easily mislead someone and lead them into sin.

Perhaps you think you can drink alcohol and as a Christian you feel that a sip here and there is nothing. It may be nothing to you but to someone who has had an addiction or a young person that is still immature it could be the catalyst that destroys their lives.

In this instance, your knowledge is actually causing you to sin and lead another person into sin. The next verse tells us that we sin against Christ (v12) when we do this. In the last verse Paul says that while the world stands he will be a vegetarian if eating meat causes his brother to fall into sin.

Look at 1st Corinthians 6:12-13. Paul says that all things may be acceptable but that not everything is beneficial. In my example above a person may feel that he is not in sin by drinking a glass of wine. By buying the bottle in the grocery store you put your stamp of approval on it in front of everyone shopping there that day. If you are known as a Christian and you go up to the cashier with wine in your cart you could easily make everyone there feel like there is nothing wrong with drinking alcohol. Some churches are even teaching this today and it’s a shame. I’m sure that it gives a confusing message to every recovering alcoholic who comes to the Lord.

Now, today I used drinking alcoholic beverages as my example. I will leave it up to you to ponder today and see what other things a Christian could do to mislead non-Christians into thinking that they can continue or even start into sin.

Paul’s point in the letter is that just because you have been forgiven from your sins it does not give you license to do anything that you want to do. I titled this message Offended. If we mislead someone we have offended them (v13) and to us it is sin. I trust that the Holy Spirit will lead you into the path of truth today. May His love be at work in your life so that your garden will be clearly visible to all who drive by. J

 

Prayer-Father-help us see how we are seen by others today. May the Love of Christ Jesus be evident in our lives today. If there is anything that we are presently doing that could be misleading to someone I pray that You would show us so that we can change.

In Jesus’ Name-Amen

paul

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Philippians 3:13-14 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

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