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Week 14

Following Christ in 21st Century Corinth

We come to the conclusion of the discussion on Christian liberty that began in chapter 8. Previously Paul discussed meat sold in markets that had been offered to idols, which he will revisit here. He’d also described his voluntary surrender of apostolic rights for the benefit of others and the need to avoid idolatry and sin in the practice of our Christian liberty.

Following Christ in 21st Century Corinth – Week 14

presented 2 January 2019

1 Corinthians 10: 23 – 11: 1


Lecture Handout

Handout Week 14

Lesson Notes

Do All for the Glory of God (1 Corinthians 10: 23 – 11: 1)

  • Verse 23 – We’ve seen this phrase before (in 1 Corinthians 6: 12)
    • Believed to be a statement used by the Corinthian Christians to justify whatever they felt like doing – in chapter 6 it was used to rationalize sexual sin
    • Paul gives a massive, “Yes, but…”
    • Two helpful tests to determine whether we SHOULD use our Christian liberty
      • Far more useful and valuable to God’s Kingdom than “Can I?”
      • Is it helpful or harmful? To us or others?
      • Does it build up others or ourselves, or does it tear down?
      • It may be allowed to watch XYZ on Netflix, but does it help you or harm you? Does it build you up or bring you down? Does it help or build up your spouse or children?
  • Verse 24 – Put others first -> seek the good of neighbor
    • Voluntarily submit ourselves for the sake of others
    • This is a powerful kind of love for neighbor!
    • We’re able to do this as Christians because Christ did it for us -> Philippians 2: 3-11
    • Radically alters how we interact with people, negotiations, conflict resolution, peacemaking, etc.
      • In difficult situations, we don’t seek total victory, but God’s glory
      • In negotiation, we must seek win-win, rather than win-lose
      • In conflict resolution, we must seek the best for our adversary
      • Scorched earth tactics are forbidden
    • Or, at least, it should…Too few Christians think this way!
    • This is an important element of mature Christianity – that we’ve grown beyond ourselves and are indeed taking on the mind of Christ, as we’re commanded to do
    • Because Christ went to the cross for us, we can sacrifice much for others
  • Verses 25-26 – Quoting Psalm 24: 1
    • Idol meat was pervasive in the markets of Corinth
    • What you enjoy in the privacy of your own home is perfectly fine!
    • Going back to chapter 8 – there’s no issue with buying it and eating it
    • God made it – nothing He made is unclean
      • Matthew 15: 10-11
      • Acts 10: 9-16
    • Also a reminder that God created and owns the earth, we’re just stewards!
  • Verse 27 – If an unbeliever invites you to dinner and you want to go, go
    • I would strongly encourage you to go – for gospel reasons! Unless it’s going to be a really inappropriate or ungodly situation, of course!
    • Eat whatever they offer and don’t make a big production about whether it’s been sacrificed to an idol or not
    • Echoes here of Luke 10:7
    • A principle practiced by many missionaries
  • Verses 28-29 – Probably a parenthetical comment between 27 and 29b
    • If someone makes a point of highlighting the link to idols, then you should refrain from eating the meat
      • To avoid confusing them about what Christians stand for
      • To avoid tripping up a weaker Christian who thinks it’s a big deal
    • Not because you can’t have it, or because you got caught – there’s no guild here
    • Because it’s a big deal spiritually to them and you need to support their spiritual development
    • Helps draw that distinction in the Christian life that we should have
    • Your liberty isn’t determined by other people’s conscience – your liberty still exists, but you are freely choosing not to use it
    • Your exercise of your freedom should be tempered by a genuine love and concern for their spiritual situation
      • Verse 23 – to be helpful and build them up
      • Verse 24 – to seek the good of our neighbor
    • Wise us of our Christian liberty is a Great Commandment issue and a gospel issue!
  • Verse 30 – We’re reminded, if we’re giving thanks to God for our food, it’s sanctified by God
  • Verse 31 – This is a critical principle!!!
    • Do all for the glory of God, whatever you do
    • This applies to every domain of life, not just eating and drinking
    • Even as two believers reach different conclusions about a question of morally neutral public behavior, they can both be right if they are acting for God’s glory
    • This is the greatest filter and humbler for those who feel uppity about their “rights” as Christians
    • Consider this as a good candidate for a life verse!
  • Verse 32 – 3 categories of people not to offend
    • Non-Christian Jews -> through food or behavior that would offend them
    • Non-Christian Gentiles -> through rude or grumpy asceticism
    • Christians with weak consciences
  • Verse 33 – The purpose in all of Paul’s analysis!
    • Paul tries to get along with everyone by putting others first
    • Always to try and save them – because Jesus came to seek and save the lost
    • As Christians, is this our overriding decision framework???
    • Similar to Romans 12: 18
  • Verse 11:1 – The Hammer!
    • We must imitate Paul!

Discussion Questions

  1. What does it mean to do things for the glory of God?
  2. Food isn’t a particularly big issue in Western culture today. So what are some valid applications of Paul’s principles for our lives and culture?
    Alcohol, clothing style (in and out of church), tattoos, entertainment (music, movies RV)?
  3. Is there an example you’d like to share where you set aside your preference or choice for the glory of God and to build up another person? How did it change the situation?

Next Week: 1 Corinthians 11: 2 – 11: 16