Just added; a new message in our series on 1 Corinthians:
Outline notes from this message:
1 Corinthians chapter 8 may seem distant from us today
What is the relevance for us today?
Here is a chapter about food offered to idols
Perhaps this seems;
not much of a problem, compared to the other problems at Corinth
Moral Problems (chps 5 to 6)
Marital Problems (chp 7)
Meeting Problems (chp 10 to 14)
Miracle of Resurrection Problem (chp 15)
Money Problems (chp 16)
Maybe we might feel that this problem with food is not really a big problem compared to the real problems of my life;
What is the big problem here with food offered to idols?
It is really not that big is it?
Yet here is a strange thing, that the Apostle Paul, under inspiration of the Spirit, devotes not just chapter 8 to this issue but a sizeable portion of chapter 9 and 10 as well!
I am going to suggest to you, that as elsewhere in the epistle, that all is not quite as it seems!
You may recall that when we began to look at the epistle we suggested that 1 Corinthians is more than just a ‘Church Epistle,’ and that the real agenda will be found in chapter 1 verse 30; that Christ is to be made unto us:
When we came to chapter 7, we suggested too that chapter 7 was not really about marriage at all, but rather it had as it’s big theme, that of sanctification; with marriage seen as the Divine provision for the high calling of the Christian life.
Likewise as we take a look at chapter 8 of 1 Corinthians, I would like to suggest that there is more to the chapter than a section on foot offered to idols.
Chapter 8 provides the key which unlocks the answer to many of the ethical dilemmas of the Christian life.
Food offered to idols is really but the stage upon which a far greater drama will be worked out.
Food offered to idols is but the platform, from which a far greater sermon will be preached.
Chapter 8 provides the key to unlock the answer to that question we often face in the Christian life:
What do you do when you don’t know what to do?
For some of the ethical problems we face in the Christian life we will be able to turn to clear cut definitive texts:
Is murder right?
Thou shalt not kill.
Is theft right?
Thou shalt not steal.
Is adultery right?
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
But for many of the ethical problems we face in the Christian life there will be no specific text per se which addresses that particular issue.
How do we find the answer to our problems when the Bible doesn’t seem to give us a clear answer?
How do we discover the mind of God on an issue when the Bible doesn’t seem to give us Gods mind?
For such problems 1 Corinthians 8 will give the answers we are looking for.
1 Corinthians chp 8 is all about:
Resolving the ethical dilemmas in the Christian life
What do you do when you don’t know what to do?
Sometimes in the Christian life, you desperately seek the answer to a question.
Sometimes you soul search for the answer to the question and yet all of the time, the answer is there, staring you in the face.
Like King Saul faced with Goliath; who would be fit, brave and equipped to fight Goliath?
David steps forward and picks up not a sword and a spear or even Sauls armour but 5 stones from the brook, stones that had been there all along.
A young boy of faith will take Gods provision and rest in Gods power, the God who had been there all along, to show that the battle is the Lords.
At Corinth, they have a problem and the answer lies there in what they already well know.
The answer begins in a sense with a question:
Do you love God? (8:3)
“If any man love God, He is known of him”
Unless I do love God, the answer which the apostle gives to these Corinthians in their dilemma will have no appeal and will come with no power at all.
Unless I have been converted and changed, unless fellowship with Christ, unless hearing His voice, unless ongoing communion with Christ, unless living to please God is everything to me then this answer if 1 Corinthians 8:6 will mean nothing to me.
“if any man love God, He is known of him”
We take our interpretation of 1 Corinthians 8:3 here from:
The manuscript P46
The text of Clement
The translation of JN Darby
The commentary of GD Fee
So, if any man love God, God is known by that man.
The man who loves God is the man who knows God.
We can claim all sorts of deep spiritual insights in life.
We can claim all sorts of superior knowledge, wisdom and learning; as they did at Corinth (8:1-3); yet the proof that this understanding is of the Lord will be seen in whether or not it is motivated by and results in love for God!
The knowledge from God must be consistent with the source.
If that knowledge comes like an ice blast from the North Pole, cutting Gods people in half, then I can be pretty sure that it does not emanate from the war breezes of Divine Love.
What do they know about God?
From Deuteronomy chp 6 verse 4 they know well that “The Lord your God is one Lord”, every morning and every evening this would be repeated in Temple and synagogue.
Here is the ‘Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai echad’
What did they ‘know’ about God?
They knew that the Lord their God was One God.
From this they argued, they divided and they attempted to resolve the problem of meat offered to idols:
So you have a problem with meat offered to idols?
Is that because the food has been offered to a false God?
Yes that’s right
So tell me, how many Gods do you believe that there is?
Well sure I only believe that there is one God (Deut 6:4)
So then this food hasn’t really been offered to a God at all then?
Well no, I don’t suppose that it has
So you won’t have a problem with eating food that hasn’t been offered to a God then?
Whilst this was a persuasive point, it was also highly divisive, resulting in the offence to another’s conscience and the weak brother perishing; hardly consistent with a knowledge received by the Love of God (8:3)!
So what had gone wrong?
Some have suggested that they adopted the wrong approach to their ethical problem at Corinth, and that instead of attempting to resolve ethical problems on the basis of knowledge they ought to have done it on the basis of love!
I don’t agree however.
All true knowledge of God must come through the Love of God (1 Co 8:3); irrespective as to whether or not we approach the problem using the key of the love of God or the knowledge of God, the answer ought to be the same at the end of the day.
Irrespective as to whither or not I measure the length of the curtain pole with a yellow tape measure or a blue tape measure, the length should come out the same!
So where did they wrong?
It was not that they approached the problem from the perspective of knowledge but rather that they didn’t follow the truth through fully; they didn’t have the full picture / perspective on knowledge.
In verse 6 Paul will follow through the truth of the oneness of God, and bring it to its rightful conclusion:
Notice the repeated pattern of 1 Corinthians 8:6 :
1 – Appellation – “one God, the Father”
2 – Attribute – “of whom are all things”
3 – Application – “we for Him”
1 – Appellation – “one Lord Jesus Christ”
2 – Attribute – “through whom are all things”
3 – Application – “we through Him”
From this verse there are 2 great principles to guide the ethical dilemmas of the Christian life:
1- For His Glory : “we for Him”
2 – By His Power: “we through Him”
Is what we do “for His Glory”?
All things to have any ultimate meaning or purpose, must be (Col 3:23; Rev 4:11)
Dividing Gods people, imposing food sacrificed to idols on those with a weak conscience and destroying the brother for whom Christ dies is certainly not!
Is it By His Power?
No, matter how much enthusiasm, how much ability, how earnest we may be, how sincere our motive, how earnest our desire, how deep our feelings, or how strong I may be, if it is not ‘through’ Him and by His power it will come to nothing!
Take courage though; if it is undertaken by His Power then:
There is no wall so strong that it will not fall – Joshua will testify to that
There is no giant too tall that he will not fall – David will testify to that
There is no day too far gone for the victory to be won – Joshua will see that
There is no pit too deep and yet Jeremiah will rise
There is no throne too high that it will not bow before the Most High God, Nebuchadnezzar will discover this
There is no start too lowly and inauspicious that Joseph will not rise to the throne of Egypt
There is no cause too far gone that Christ cannot help – Mary and Martha will see this
There is no stone too massive that it will not be moved aside – Mary will testify to this.
This is your God
Do you believe it?
Do you know Him?