Healing the Wounded Conscience – 1 Corinthians chp 8 vs 7 to 13

Just added; a new message preached from 1 Corinthians chapter 8:

 

1 Corinthians chp 8 vs 6 to 13 – Healing the Wounded Conscience – JS Gillespie -24022015

 

 

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.

There are:

  1. 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

  1. Actions which bring the judgement of God (1 Co 11:27ff; 1 Co 10:8)
  2. 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:

  1. Conscience
  2. Conflict
  3. Cure

The troubled conscience:

  1. Conscience

Conscience discerns

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:

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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

  1. 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)!
  1. Conflict

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:

  1. Deception (8:10)
  2. Defilement (8:7)
  3. 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:

  • Fake
  • Fraud
  • Failure
  • Forget it
  1. Cure – Psalm 51

I want to go beyond 1 Corinthians chp 8 to find the cure for the wounded conscience

Psalm 51:

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?

  1. 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

  1. 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)
  1. 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)

  1. 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”

Jesus – God Without Doubts

Just added, a new message preached by J Stewart Gillespie from Luke chapter 4 verses 1 to 12:

Luke chp 4 vs 1 to 12 – Jesus – God Without Doubts – JS Gillespie – 22022015

 

What do you Do When you Don’t Know What to do?

Just added; a new message in our series on 1 Corinthians:

 

1 Corinthians chp 8 vs 6 – What do you do When you dont know What to do – JS Gillespie – 17022015

 

 

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;

Family Problems
Health Problems
Financial Problems
Relationship Problems
Church Problems

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:

1. Wisdom
2. Righteousness
3. Sanctification
4. Redemption

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?
Yes
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”

And again:

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?

One Celebrity too Many – Luke Chapter 4 – Mr Tom Grayston

Just added to our Gospel section; a new message preached by Mr Tom Grayston:

 

One Celebrity Too Many – Luke chapter 4 – Tom Grayston

 

 

Outline notes from this message:

 

We live in a day of celebrity

Christ had spent much of his life in Nazareth

Christ became quite famous

Christ returned to the place He had grown up

Notice how they received Christ.

Christ has come to deal with all of the problems of life ; Luke 4:18

Christ came to preach the acceptable year of the Lord (Luke 4:19)

Christ comes to set us free from bondage to sin

Christ is the answer to every single need

“is this not Joseph’s son? ” (Luke 4:22)

Actually He is the Son of God

Christ is the answer to our every need

The people are impressed by His Word

Luke 4:23 – Christ knew their thoughts

Christ knew that they were rejecting Christ in their hearts

Christ would move from these unbelieving Jewish people to take the Gospel to the Gentiles

Christ was cast out of Nazareth and we never read of Christ returning to Nazareth

Sometimes our rejection of Christ can be final

The Door and the Shepherd

Just added, a new message preached by Mr Bill Stevely from John chapter 10:

 

John chp 10 – I am the Door I am the Good Shepherd – Bill Stevely – 03022015

 

Notes for this message:

John chp 10:1 – 30

I am the Door
I am the Good Shepherd
Chapter 10 follows on from chapter 9 in which Christ restores the sight of a man born blind.
The man born blind in chapter 9 hasn’t seen Christ at the moment of the miracle, he was then thrown out of the synagogue, Christ goes and finds him, Christ is the Good Shepherd.

 

I am the Door
I am the Good Shepherd

 

I am the Door :

The Pharisees had claimed to control the way into Gods presence, they had cast out the man from the synagogue in chapter 9.

The Shepherd seeks and finds the lost sheep, cf. Isaiah 53, all we like sheep have gone astray.

He is ‘the’ door, Christ is special, He is the way, the only way into Gods presence.
In the sheepfold :

1 – Security – in for  security
2 – Provision – in and out for feeding cf psalm 23

He is the only possible way into Gods presence

The thief comes some other way (verse 1)

The thief comes to destroy and steal, the pharisees were more interested in getting followers for themselves rather than pointing to Christ.

 

I am the Shepherd :

He knows His sheep by name :

Christ knows their name, He knows our character
He calls His sheep by name
The Shepherd doesn’t drive the sheep
They have heard his voice
As we read the scriptures, we hear His voice

 

Psalm 23 is the background to John chp 10
Psalm 23 ‘Jehovah is my Shepherd’
In John chp 10 it is Christ who is the Shepherd, therefore Christ is Jehovah

 

The Lord lays down his life for his sheep for the Lord sees that his sheep are in danger
His life is given for us
We are in deadly danger
We are in danger of death and eternal judgment
What ought to have fallen on me, has fallen on Him
Christ is our substitute
He is the Good Shepherd who gave His life for the sheep
Verse 26: ‘you are not of my sheep’
We are not all right and ready for heaven.
Only His sheep are ready for heaven.
Are we one of His sheep?

See the security of our salvation in John chp 10 vs 28 to 29

When Christ died for my sins He died for them all
He died for sins past, present and future
We are in Christs hand and in His Father’s hand
Once I am saved I am saved forever

Verse 18 – the Jews intended to kill Christ
“I lay down my life ”
Cf. John 11 ‘tell me where you have laid him’

Used in John 13:4 ‘He laid aside His garment’

John 10:18 – the one who died rose again

 

Origins and Destiny – Robert Revie

An outline of Robert Revie’s message from Revelation chapter 21, preached at Bridgend Gospel Hall, New Cumnock
We regret that no audio recording is available for this message, although many other of Mr Robert Revies messages are available here:

Where do we come from?
Where are we going to?
Is there anything beyond death?

Job 14:10: “but man dies and wastes away: yea man gives up the ghost, and where is he?”

“If a man die shall he live again?”

Job 19:25-26: “for I know that my redeemer liveth and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth… In my flesh I shall see God”

Enter ye in at the straight gate

The broad way and the narrow way:
Consider the :

Entrance
Dimension
Numbers
Destiny

Are you going to heaven on the narrow Road?

Who will be in heaven?

Those who have confessed their sin to God
Those whose names are in the Lambs book of life
Those who have been born again

Is your name written in the Lambs book of Life?

Where is heaven?

It is at the end of a believers life.
83 people die every minute in the world
5000 people die per hour in the world.
Death is a junction not a destination.
Change here for eternity

How do we get to heaven?

Is it by keeping the 10 commandments?
Can’t keep them.

Doing the best you can?
Can’t be good enough.

Believing in God?
Even Satan believes in God

We must :

Confess our sins to God knowing that all my sins were laid upon Christ
John 14:6 – I am the way, the truth and the life.

Heaven :

A place of no more pain
A place of no more sickness
A place of no more tears
A place of no more curse
A place of no more death
A place of no more night
A place of no more sin (Revelation 21:27)

“For the former things are passed away”

2 ways : the broad way and the narrow way
2 destinies : heaven or hell

The Way to an Idols Heart is through His Belly – 1 Corinthians chp 8

Just added to our section on 1 Corinthians:

1 Corinthians chp 8 vs 1 to 4 – The Way to an Idols Heart is through His Belly – JS Gillespie – 27012015

 

Notes available from this message:

We saw in 8:1-3:

1. A Question which Should never have been asked (v1)
2. An Attitude they should never have had (v2)
3. A Truth they Should never have forgotten (v3)

 

1. A Question which Should never have been asked (v1)

Simply because it aught never to have needed to have been asked!
If those who knew that that they knew, were as spiritual as they thought they were, then they would have been marked by:

i. Sensitivity – to their brother
ii. Sacrificial attitude to one another
iii. Spirituality – seeing the big issues of love, spiritual welfare as the big issues and the small matters of food as that. They ought to have had a sense of spiritual perspective.

 

2. An Attitude they should never have had (v2)

They were marked by pride, arrogance and were puffed up
‘we know that we know’
Knowledge is not wrong in itself
We are exhorted in many places in scripture to “add to your faith virtue and to virtue knowledge..” (2 Peter 1:5-8) and to value knowledge, wisdom and understanding

Pro_2:2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;
Pro_2:6 For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.
Pro_2:11 Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee:
Pro_3:13 Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.
Pro_4:5 Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.
Pro_4:7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.

 

“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2Pe 1:5-8)

 

The problem here was not so much about WHAT I know but HOW I know.
It is about the effect that knowing has on me
It is about ‘ego’ – self as known to self.
The ‘ego’ can become inflated because of value / virtue we see in ourselves
That value / virtue may be:

place
position
power
possessions

or in the attainment of something of more enduring value than this:

‘knowledge’
the knowledge of God

To ‘know God’ is the greatest thing a man can possess:

To know the eternal in time
To know the spiritual in the midst of the temporal
To know the enduring when all is passing
To know God in a world of men
To know purpose when all seems aimless
To know hope in the midst of despair
To know order in the midst of chaos
To know peace in the midst of turmoil
To know answers when all else have only questions

This is the greatest possession – to know God

 

“Wisdom is the principal thing” (Prov 4:7)

How does that puff up?

 

“For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.” (Pro 8:11)

“How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!” (Pro 16:16)

1. It affects the way I think about myself (1 Co 8:2) – with such a rich possession of knowledge, owning something that endures beyond time, my view of self becomes inflated (Prov 8:1; 16:16).
2. Knowledge can produce prosperity and success (Ezek 28:4-5) that also inflates the ego
3. Knowledge in the hands of an imperfect person can become corrupted (Ezek 28:17 and Solomon)

 

‘I know that I know’ – this was an attitude they should never have had (v2)
Why?
Because the knowledge of God is the product of “love” (8:3) (John 3:16; 1:18)
The love of God towards us brings us all knowledge by the revelation of Jesus Christ
It is only by loving God that I gain knowledge
Therefore all knowledge is the product of Divine Grace
This effect of being puffed up by knowledge or by thinking I have knowledge is perhaps most clearly seen in John chp 9; not only in what those Pharisees claim to know but in the confidence with which they approach what they don’t know.
If they have confidence where they lack knowledge (“we know not from whence He is,” (9:29), “how opened He thine eyes?” (9:26); then that confidence is not in their knowledge, that confidence is in themselves.
Whilst in the context of 1 Corinthians chp 8 this is an attitude which is emerging amongst believers, this is surely an attitude which is very familiar to us today, amongst opponents of the Gospel; an attitude of confidence in ignorance.
There is an abject ignorance of the Word of God, a superficial knowledge of what pro-ports to be an alternative – atheism and evolution and materialism, and a yet a firm confidence in their rejection of Christ. This confidence is not in their knowledge; for they do not have any of any great significance, that confidence is in themselves.

 

3. A Truth they Should never have forgotten (v3)

For truth to be the truth of God
For knowledge to be the knowledge of God
It is utterly dependant on love
It is the love of God which is ultimately responsible for the revelation of all truth (John 1:18; 3:16)
For me to know anything of God I must first love God (8:3)
Love, the love of God ought to be demonstrable in all of our knowledge
If his love is not demonstrable in all of our knowledge then our knowledge is spurious.

What is the issue here?

Do you ever overhear or even arbitrate in an argument where you ask yourself the question; what was all that about?
What is the problem?
What is the agenda?
What is the point of all of this?
It all seems to be a bit pointless!

 

What is the agenda here?
What is the big deal here?
Was it just a disagreement here about wither or not you could eat food offered to idols, some feeling you could, some feeling you couldn’t?
Why is this such a big deal?

 

1. There was obvious common ground – why not share it?

If those with knowledge would eat anything and those with a sensitive conscience would only eat meat not sacrificed to idols, why not just eat meat not sacrificed to idols which would be acceptable by both groups?
Apart from pride (8:1) – what would hinder them?

 

2. Who really knew what you were eating anyway?

Who knows where you shop?
Who knows where the meat came from in your fridge?
Is anyone going to be checking up?

 

3. It was an old debate – the Jews had been there and done that years ago

They were obviously suspicious of anything linked with idolatry as it was an abomination to God.
The Rabbinical writings rejected meat offered to idols as being fit for Jewish consumption on the basis that there was no guarantees that the ritual food laws had been adhered to in its slaughter (Gen 9:4; Lev 17:10ff; Deut 12:23ff)

What was the big issue here?
Was this just some intellectual debate about the legitimacy of meat offered to idols?
I want to suggest that the issue was bigger than that and more sinister than that.
This was not really an argument about wither or not meat offered to idols was suitable for eating by Christians.
There was a far bigger agenda:

1. Things offered to idols (8:1)
2. The eating of those things offered in sacrifice to idols (8:4)
3. Sitting at meat in the idols temple (8:10)
4. “neither be ye idolators” (10:7)
5. “neither let us commit fornication” (10:8)

 

What was this all about?
The flesh was pulling
The flesh wasn’t going to come clean and be upfront about what it wanted
The flesh wasn’t going to come out in the open and say what I want is to go back to idolatry, pagan religious worship and the sexual immorality that is linked to it!
The flesh will say; ‘but what’s wrong with meat offered to idols?’
The flesh wasn’t really that interested in the food offered to idols, it all tastes the same anyway.
The flesh wanted the idols.
Eating meat sacrificed to idols was just a stepping stone to get there!

 

Watch for this in your own Christian life!
Not so much the slippery slope – that would suggest something passive and accidental, this is altogether deliberate; perhaps not consciously planned by the sinning believer but nonetheless it is the inevitable destination and active pursuit of the believer.

This path has been tread before:

Numbers chp 25

25:1 – fornication

25:2 – people did eat

25:2 – called to the sacrifice

25:2 – bowed down to their god

25:6-8 Sexual immorality

25:8-9 – Divine judgment

 

1 Corinthians

5:1 – fornication

8:4,10 – Food offered to idols

10:7 – idolatry

10:8 – sexual immorality

11:30 – mortality

The pattern of Numbers 25 is the pattern of 1 Corinthians chapters 5 to 11
I don’t think that the real agenda is in eating food sacrificed to idols
I think the real agenda is getting the idols that the food is sacrificed to!
The way to an idols heart is through your belly!
This may seem all a bit academic; what they did, what they really wanted
It would be a bit academic if this were the only time it ever really happened.
Its not the only time that the flesh has ever operated like this :
Leading towards where we want to go without taking us immediately to where we intend to be:

1. Hebrews 2:1 “lest at any time we should let them slip”
2. Lot – camping in the plains, moving into the city and sitting in the seat of Sodom.

We can place ourselves in situations, we can make decisions, we can head in directions, which perhaps of themselves cannot be faulted, but spiritual insight into the geography of the land will tell us that we have just left Abraham behind and pitched our tent in the plains because it is en route to Sodom!

There may be nothing wrong with the son of Luke 15 having an advance on his inheritance but that is but the means to an end.
He is not for investing that inheritance or setting up in business to support himself and his father in his old age!
Neither is there anything wrong with migration nor of emigration – Exodus is full of it.
All of this was a means to and end, once in the far country with his inheritance he would spend it on ‘riotous living’ and squander it on harlots.
This was freedom financed for fornication (Luke 15:30)
Not a slipper slope

This is the deliberate abdication of our guidance to the flesh; we are responsible for the ultimate destination
The flesh leads in a very definite direction:

1. Lust – Romans 13:14 “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof”

2. Corruption – Galatians 6:8 “for he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption…”

3. Death – Romans 8:13 “for if ye live after the flesh ye shall die; but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body ye shall live.”

This is no slippery slope
This is calculated and deliberate and deginite
In abdicating to the flesh they remain responsible for the ultimate destination.
As the flesh directs our drift into destruction it often distracts by constantly affirming that this is definitely no drift into destruction.
What blows the agenda out of the water is:

 

By Water, Flame and Spirit – Luke Chapter 3

Just added, a new message preached by J Stewart Gillespie from Luke chapter 3 verses 1 to 20:

Luke chp 3 vs 1 to 20 – By Water Flame and Spirit – JS Gillespie