Message: In 1 Corinthians 8 Paul was talking to the
church of Corinth about how they used their knowledge. Eating meat that was
offered to idols was offensive to people who had lived their entire lives in idolatry
and had turned to follow Jesus. To these people there was a deep spiritual
significance because they used to practice these rituals and had turned from it
to serve the one and only God. Paul was talking to people who understood that
since idols aren’t even real and have no actual power, the meat offered as
sacrifices to them was no different than any other meat. Since they understood
this, eating the meat didn’t cause any doubts or any guilt, but they needed to
be aware that other people who didn’t feel this kind of freedom might see them
eating it and either be offended by it, or partake in it with guilt in their hearts.
The act of eating the meat was not the problem. The guilt in their hearts is
what made the act wrong for them.
Command: Pursue love over our rights.
Promise: When we choose love over our own
rights we increase our intimacy with God.
Warning: If we are unwilling to lay our rights
aside to free the conscience of someone else, we are acting selfishly. We may
not wrong in what we’re doing but we are now wrong for violating the conscience
of someone else.
Application: In the old testament people obeyed the law as
an outward act and it didn’t seem to change or affect their hearts. Everyone was
responsible for themselves. In the new testament, everything is about the
condition of our heart, and how we treat one another. God is talking to us all
individually about the condition of our own hearts and if we do anything with
guilt in our hearts shame comes in and destroys our intimacy with God. We are
also responsible for how our lives affect the people around us. We aren’t
allowed to say that our relationship with God is only about ourselves because
we are now responsible with how our lives affect the people around us. If we violate
the conscience of someone else we are accountable for that. We don’t struggle with meat offered to idols,
but we struggle when we see other people freely enjoying things that cause us
guilt. We also cause other people to struggle when we try to convince people
that something they feel guilty about is ok. It’s common to hear people say “is
it wrong if I ______?” I might have an understanding about what they are asking
that gives me complete freedom, but I have learned that this is usually a
loaded question and has more to do with the state of someone’s heart than what
they are wanting to do. Nobody else can answer this for me, and I can’t answer
it for anyone else because it stems from an attitude of “how much can I get
away with doing before God gets mad at me”. This attitude pushes away from
intimacy rather than toward God with a heart to please him. I love the way
Pastor Andy Stanley puts questions like this. He says “What does love require
of me?” This is what we need to ask ourselves when we are tempted to put our
rights ahead of the good of someone else.