Just added; a new message preached from 1 Corinthians chapter 8:
Outline notes for this message:
Maybe for us today a significant proportion of 1 Corinthians chp 8 may seem distant and far away – food offered to idols and idols temples
Yet the overall pattern of 1 Corinthians chapter 8 is immediately familiar:
- It begins with a disagreement
- It ends with a disaster
- It begins with a conflict
- It ends with a casualty
Sadly not only has the pattern been repeated over the years but so too the path to this disaster!
This may be an ancient text and yet there is something very personal about it; it is the story that we never give a platform to; not the testimony of how I came to Christ; but the sobering tale of how I wandered away and backslid from fellowship with Him!
Notice the path and pattern laid out here to destruction (8:11); it is a distinctive path to what we have elsewhere in the NT.
- Actions which are ‘self destructive’ – ie certain actions which will bring with them an automatic and built in destruction; ‘if you sow to the flesh of the flesh you shall reap destruction.’ Romans chp 1 – God gave them up to homosexuality, the judgement lay in God abandoning men to a lust which is of itself destructive:
- Dishonours (Rom 1:24)
- Disappoints (Rom 1:26)
- Disaster and Disease (Rom 1:27)
We see that in drugs and alcoholism – self destructive
- Actions which bring the judgement of God (1 Co 11:27ff; 1 Co 10:8)
- Actions which are triggers to ‘auto destruction’ – the destruction of self by self by the workings of the conscience; compromise becomes inner conflict which becomes catastrophe. From the compromise of a moment we reap the consequences for a lifetime!
- In the pressures of a moment Moses would strike the rock twice
- In the passions of a moment David would compromise a clean Spirit and pure heart and surrender the joy of his salvation
- In the pride of a moment David would number the people (2 Sam 24:15)
- In the persuasion of a moment – a prophet compromises the Word of God and eats where he ought not to eat (1 Kings 13)
- In the problems of a moment Peter will deny his Lord
Stronger than all of that?
- Than the patriarch Moses?
- Than the King David?
- Than the Prophet of 1 Kings 13?
- Than the Apostle Peter?
- Than the priest Aaron?
The compromise of a moment left:
- 70,000 people dead
- 2 princes dead
- a prophet dead
- Moses dead on Mount Nebo
Conscience at Corinth would present one final hurdle to happy dysfellowship – that is the dysfunctional fellowship of those not in mutual agreement!
The troubled conscience:
The troubled conscience:
Some had a conscience about meat offered to idols and som didn’t
Irrespective of who is right and who is wrong we straight away have an issue
What is conscience and why the difference
If you take your Theology form Walt Disney and maybe today many do, then you may well be of the view that:
‘conscience is that infallible God given ability to know the difference between right and wrong, to help us choose what is is right and reject what is bad.’
Thus Jiminy Cricket assures Pinnochio; ‘always let your conscience be your guide’
The only definite thing that we can say about this kind of an idea is that it is definitely wrong!
From: Proceedings and Papers of the Georgia Association of Historians:
Illust: India and the Raj, Lord William Bentinck outlawed Suttee in 1829; the practice of burning a living widow on the funeral pyre of her dead husband:
The son of a rich Rajput besought the British ‘resident’ to allow his mother to burn with her dead husbands body, it being a point of conscience with herself and her family, and the British government being famed for its regard for its peoples conscientious convictions; ‘Of course your mother may do as her conscience enjoins her replied the resident, ‘and you as her first born son may light the Suttee fire, Only then you must permit me to follow my conscience and my governments and hang you for murder’
Conscience then is:
- Not infallible – the illustration above points to that and we need not go out with the chapter to see this point – division at Corinth over the matter of conscience with food offered to idols in chapter 8 and consider the issue of 1 Corinthians chp 5 which some seem to have had little conscience about!
- Conscience is not creatorial and thus at least in its purest sense is not truly God given – Genesis chapter 3 is clear about that; conscience comes after the fall; it was not built in at creation.
- Conscience is not purely about knowing what is wrong! Eve in Genesis chp 3, in order to develop conscience it was not enough to be intellectually exposed to sin or evil:
- In Genesis 3:4 – Satan infers God is lying or is fallible – yet Eve does not develop conscience here
- In Genesis 3:5 – Satan imputes malice to God – yet eve does not develop conscience here
- In Genesis 3:6 – Adam sees that Eve has partaken of the fruit and yet this is not sufficient to trigger conscience in Adam.
- Eve can see no problem with a talking snake! What about the talking snake? That’s pretty suspect if you ask me. Did snakes talk? To form language you need a larynx, vocal cords, need to be able to modify those sounds with a tongue, soft and hard palate and lips, you need control over the air flow, diaphragm, lungs and neurological control, language centre Brocas area and Wernicke area of the brain. Snakes just don’t have all of that; so I would judge that a snake using human language was something not before encountered by Eve, yet it raised no suspicions! This was a corruption of creation in itself!
- Despite the intellectual exposure to sin, conscience does not develop!
- Conscience only develops when there is personal participation in evil.
Colin Anderson: Counsel: “conscience is the inner voice that approves or disapproves of what you have done or are thinking of doing it is more a judge than a guide”
cf. Roms 2:15
- Conscience does not necessarily empower us to choose what is right – it is more a judge than a guide – cf. Genesis 3:8 “Adam and his wife hid.” Conscience didn’t stop them from committing evil but my it certainly made them flee from what was good; the holiness of God! This can become a major disability when it comes to dealing with our sin, our failings; we flee from God rather than to God! “I was afraid” (Gen 3:10). Yet the soul that flees to God will find another kind of righteousness (Psalm 51:14)!
A conflict of conscience arising out of a conflict at Corinth over meat offered to idols
Not that the conflict over meat offered to idols was sincere; this was a carnal desire masquerading as an intellectual argument.
The conscience of some picks up a problem with food offered to idols, or perhaps anticipates where the flesh is going:
- “as touching things offered to idols” (8:1)
- “as concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifuce unto idols” (8:4)
- “sit at meat in the idols temple” (8:10)
- “neither be ye idolaters” (10:7)
- “neither let us commit fornication” (10:8)
In compromising their conscience; notice that they found disappointment (1 Co8:8) rather than the promised satisfaction!
Compromise was not all that it was cracked up to be!
The grass wasn’t greener on the other side after all!
Like Adam and Eve in the garden; the temptation was not worth the trouble it caused and the outcome was thoroughly disappointing!
This was an experience shared with:
- Achan and his riches from Jericho
- David and Bathsheba
- Judas and his 30 pieces of silver
Conscience had been brought to conflict by a path of:
- Deception (8:10)
- Defilement (8:7)
- Destruction (8:11)
Conscience can be deceived / tricked by many means:
- Pride – in the case of David when he numbers the people
- Passions – in the case of David as he breaks Gods moral code with Bathsheba
- Persuasion – the man of God in 1 Kings 13
- Persistance – Samson and Delilah
- Pressures of a moment – Peter as he denies the Lord
All of this leads to a conscience crying out:
- Forget it
- Cure – Psalm 51
I want to go beyond 1 Corinthians chp 8 to find the cure for the wounded conscience
We begin with the character and attributes of God (Psalm 51:1):
- God of mercy
- God of loving kindness
- God who is able to wash and cleans from sin
In the state of troubles conscience we are apt to recall the greatness and holiness of God and the smallness of ourselves and to be crushed in our spirit by that very thought.
Like the Corinthians we may also equally fail to follow through that same thought, a God who is unable to deal with failure and sin would hardly be a great and glorious God!
Gods greatness not only implies His holiness but also His ability to save and to deal with sin.
Gods mercy, love and cleansing power converge on:
- One person – Jesus Christ
- One place – Calvary
- One act – the offering of Jesus Christ for my sins
Consider in parallel with Psalm 51:1:
- Gods love – John 3:16; 1 John 4:10 – is in Christ
- Gods mercy – Titus 3:5-7 – is in Christ
- Gods power to cleans – Revelation 1:5 – is in Christ
I am not trying to persuade you that sin is not serious, quite the opposite!
I am not suggesting that God isn’t as great as you think He is, quite the opposite.
But simply; as you remember the greatness and holiness of Christ in the depths of your troubled conscience, don’t forget the greatness of Gods mercy, love and saving power in Christ!
How do we access this?
- Repentence (Psalm 5:3)
- of WHAT I am guilty of:
“my transgressions” (v3)
“my sin is ever before me”
a specific acknowledgement of my sin; not a vague generalisation about it!
- of WHY I am guilty of it:
Sin is not a purely personal matter
I have not only hurt myself
This is sin against God
- Renewal (Psalm 51:7ff)
Hyssop – the means of applying blood
This verse takes us back to the cleansing of the leper in Leviticus chapter 14
Blood – satisfies God
Water – cleanses and satisfies man
Christ is all sufficient
- His sacrifice satisfies God (Isaiah 53)
- His sacrifice satisfies man (Psalm 17:15; Jer 31:14)
- Restoration (Ps 51:12ff)
Restored to fellowship with God
Seeing His hand in my life
Hearing His voice
Restored to fellowship with God
We often stop at repentance and renewal; happy that we have assurance of the forgiveness of our sins and the prospect of another opportunity
God does not simply desire to undo sin!
God desires to undo sin for a purpose, to restore us to fellowship with Him!
If that fellowship is not restored I will return to my sin!
“the joy of the Lord is my strength”
“the joy of my salvation” (v12)
- Rejoicing (Ps 51:12)
From that enjoyment of Christ flows the most natural thing in the world / out of the world – evangelism!
“He that believeth in me as the scriptures have said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water”