Christian Liberty

Text: 1 Corinthians 8-10

Take a look at 1 Corinthians 8:9. Paul doesn’t use the term liberty to mean you’re free to do anything you want. That’s how lost people use the term liberty in Christ. This liberty in Christ is the knowledge of God. Paul uses the term liberty the same way Jesus Christ used the term liberty. Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free (John 8:32). Liberty has to do with understanding the truth and having the knowledge of God. Look at 2 Corinthians 3:14-17. So liberty is not used by the Holy Spirit of God to mean people do what they want to do. The Holy Spirit of God uses the word liberty to describe people whose minds have been made free by the truth, and who now have the knowledge of God. That liberty in Christ which is the knowledge of God is not information about the Bible or just information about God. It is a participation in the divine nature. Now, let’s go through 1 Corinthians 8-10.

Don’t be an enabler (8:1-13)

  • Knowledge is not Christianity, loving God is Christianity. Look at verses 1-3. John said the same things in 1 John 4-5. Moses said the same things in Deuteronomy 6. Then the LORD Jesus Christ quoted was Moses said about loving God. He was asked about the greatest commandment and Jesus said, Love God with all heart, soul, strength, mind, etc., and love your neighbor as yourself. So the people that are known of God are those who love God. Paul knew this well because his former life was full of knowledge about God, but no love of God.
  • Do you know what an enabler is? Someone who helps someone else continue in their sin. The example Paul uses was apparently very common.
  • In Corinth, there was the temple to Apollos, Athena, the Acropolis, the Propylaea, and the Erechteum to name a few. These housed icons of personalities, living or dead, and were places of high traffic where lots of money changed hands. In other words, the religious centers were, and are to this day, very much economic hubs. So the possibility that a Corinthian church member would be doing business with people in and around these religious places was high, if not inevitable.
  • Idols are nothing and anyone who has the knowledge of God knows this.
    • Food doesn’t make anyone spiritual or commend you to God (vss 7-8)
    • A weak conscience becomes defiled because the weak conscience does not bring conviction where it should.
    • So if you’re participating in idol worship there should be some conviction. If there is no conviction, it’s because the conscience is weak and without conviction the mind and the behavior become dirty.
    • Diet doesn’t bring about love, joy, goodness, kindness, etc.
    • 1 Timothy 4:1-4
    • This is not about health. Some of you may not be able to drink milk. That’s a physical body thing, not a spiritual matter. It may make you feel bad, but it’s not spiritual. Paul is not making a health argument, he’s dealing with a spiritual matter regarding what you approve of or disapprove of being used against God.
  • Don’t be an enabler, a stumblingblock (vss 9-13)
    • If the weaker soul sees it’s OK for you to do it, they will be emboldened to do it. And thus put themselves in an adversarial relationship with the LORD.
    • Don’t confuse people with your behavior. If I prioritize sports over the LORD then I can’t expect my kids to learn the ways of the LORD as long as I’m confirming in their little minds and consciences that sports are more valuable than the things of God.

Liberty in Christ makes me a servant to all men (vss 9:1-12)

  • Paul was afforded quite a bit of opportunity, but because of the carnality of the Corinthians, he chose not to use his rights because it would create suspicion in their carnal minds.
  • Even the law prescribes certain liberties, so this wouldn’t just be Paul making demands.
  • Paul has a right to certain things because of what he does for the LORD, but instead of demanding rights, he serves for the sake of the gospel.
  • The constraints of liberty are other people’s consciences. Verses 12 and 15-16.
  • Verse 17 needs to be dealt with. The word dispensation is not a reference to a time period. The dispensation means Paul disciplined himself for the sake of other people’s consciences. And in that self-discipline for others, the LORD allowed Paul to minister and be effective. The LORD dispensed grace to Paul in his self-discipline. SO self-discipline in bible study, in body, if it’s done for the sake of ministry to others, is one way you access God’s grace.
  • If he caused others to sin while he’s preaching the things of God, then God will give him no dispensing of grace which will result in his preaching being ineffective. Keep reading verses 18 and on so it’s clear.
  • Keeping his body under is the same thought as was 8:13.

Christian liberty better not be a tool you use against Jesus Christ (vss 10:1-33)

  • Paul recounts Israel’s history of tempting Christ after being enlightened with redemption from Egypt and the light of the law (vss 1-14).
    • Baptized unto Moses means the nation was taught of God through Moses. This was a spiritual baptism: the baptism was divine education. It had nothing to do with people going into the water. In fact, the same kind of baptism was used by Jesus Christ in Matthew 28:19-20 and Mark 16:15. Neither of those is water baptism.
    • See how Paul defines it in verses 3-5 where Israelites ate of the spiritual food and drank of spiritual drink, but were overthrown in the wilderness. They were all taught of God through Moses and enlightened by heavenly wisdom and then were destroyed in the wilderness for tempting God.
  • Partaker with idols means you’re not partaking of Jesus Christ (vss 15-33)
    • The fellowship and partaking of the sacrifice of Christ like the Israelites all participated in the sacrifice and the altar.
    • BUT Gentiles were never given any such altar, so their sacrifices are to devils. (vss 16-21).
    • Liberty in Christ is tempered by other people’s consciences. You don’t want to be an enabler (vss 25-33).