Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 7 months ago

More Idol Advice

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1 Corinthians 10:22-33

Please do. And let's turn to First Corinthians, chapter ten. I'm going to read from versus twenty two through the end of this chapter, which actually includes the beginning of chapter eleven. As you'll see, it's divided in your many of your bibles will have that, and so I'll read that now. We were going to be focusing in particular on verse Thirty Three and eleven verse one, but let's read this whole section. So, First Corinthians ten, verse twenty two. Shall we provoke the Lord to Jealousy? Are we stronger than he? All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful, but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. Eat whatever sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience, for the Earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof. If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you're disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. But if someone says to you this has been offered in sacrifice, then do not eat it for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience. I do not mean your conscience, the his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else's conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks? So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the Church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage but that of many, that they may be saved. Be Imitators of me as I am of Christ. Amen, you may be seated. So preaching today on these last few verses at the end of chapter ten and the First Verse of Chapter Eleven, and then I'll take a break from first Corinthians through for a few weeks as we focus on the incarnation of the Lord, and then will return, most likely in Lord welling in the New Year, to chapter eleven. Today I'd like to focus in particular on these verses here at the end, when Paul says be imitators of me as I am of Christ. When a student goes to a teacher for a lesson,...

...that teacher sets an example right and a wise student will try to follow it. That could be a math problem done on the board, an arm lift in a dance studio or logic exemplified in a courtroom. And as we follow the example of our teacher who gives us this model, what are we supposed to do now? We pay attention to their instructions and we follow their example. We notice the theory and the practice, the doctrine in their life. We take their lead, their ideas, and we follow them. We learn. Paul tells us to be his students, to imitate me, as I am of Christ. And what is the lesson that Paul wants us to learn? What is the thing our teacher is teaching us? It's about love, love for God and love for men, and the great obstacles to this, which are idolatry and selfishness. But Jesus helps us to overcome these by giving us, as our teacher, his apostle. That's why Paul says imitate me and says as I follow Christ. So how are we to Imitate Paul? How we imitate Paul, our teacher, will depend, of course, on the lesson he wants us to learn, the lesson that he's been teaching teaching us. So we have to pay very close attention to what Paul is saying. If you go to your math class and you comb your hair exactly like your math teacher, but you don't actually learn the lesson, you haven't imitated your teacher as your teacher desires you to do. So what is your what is our teacher? What is Paul? What is Christ teaching us? Well, the idea that we ought to imitate Paul in everything he does is certainly not what he means. That's a silly idea. Each person has their own calling, in their own gifts from God. Paul is not you and you are not Paul. Paul says himself, and First Corinthians twelve, that there is a variety of gifts, variety of services, a variety of activities, all in the one body of Christ. In twelve. Verse Twenty says, as it is, there are many parts, yet one body. So you don't want the foot trying to be an eye. You don't want your eye trying to be a foot. So if Paul doesn't want us to travel back in time and do bad Paul Impressions, what does he want us to do? How do we imitate him when we are different than him. Well, we imitate Paul, not by mimicking his uniqueness in the body of Christ, but by imitating his relationship to the body of Christ, by the love of that he has for her and shows for her, even as Christ showed...

...for her. And remember, this is what he's been teaching us, since Chapter Eight, in fact, on Paul has been dealing with this very practical question about whether or not Christians should eat food sacrifice to idols, and his simple answer has been it's fine to do so unless it brings harm to someone's conscience, even if that conscience is ill informed and ill informed or an ignorant conscience. A badly informed conscience is, he said, describes a weak conscience. He says there is a knowledge that some it possessed, but not all are informed. In Chapter Eight, verse seven, he says not all possessed this knowledge. This is a weakness. He says it is not good. The ignorant and the weak should learn. Their consciences must be informed. But while Paul doesn't only want our consciences to be formed with regard to food, he also wants our consciences to be formed with regard to our relationship to one another. It's not good, in other words, to say, well, I'm free to eat this food, but I can hate my brother in the process. That's not a hunciens that is properly calibrated, that's not a conscience that is being set by the love of God and the true freedom that we have in Christ. In First Corinthians Eight, nine through twelve, Paul says this, but take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block for the week. For if anyone sees you, who have knowledge, eating in an idol's temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered idols? And so, by your knowledge, this weak person is destroyed the brother for whom Christ died, thus sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience. It is weak. You Sin Against Christ. Let me put it this way. What advantages it to have the freedom to eat if we use it to sin against those who have freedom in Christ like us? Paul concludes these verses with this and First Corinthians Eight, verse thirteen. Therefore, if food makes a my brother's stumble, I will never eat me, lest I make my brother stumble. And there it is Paul's example, his lesson for his students that we are called to follow. And he picks that up again here in our chapter. So to read again from First Corinthians Ten, particularly verses twenty eight, to the beginning of twenty nine. What does he say? He says, but if someone says to you this has been offered in sacrifice, then do not eat it,...

...for the sake of the one who informed you and for the sake of conscience. I do not mean your conscience, but his. And then he turns again to his own actions and he says, give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the Church of God, just as I try to please every one in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage but that of many, that they may be saved. He loves them, he wants to see people saved, and so he calls us in that way to be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. So when Paul, our teacher, says we are to imitate him, he means primarily in two things, the view toward God, who saved us in Christ, and with a view toward the salvation of others. Love of God and love of Man. That's how we are to imitate Paul. In everything we do, we should keep in mind who we are in Christ and how our actions affect others, especially those who are also in him. Now this teaches us a very important lesson about our freedom in relationship to food and in relationship to a lot of other things. It teaches us this important doctrine that our freedom has a context. Just as a wild horse should enjoy running on the land and not try to swim with whales. Our freedom exists and it thrives and it's happy in a certain place, and that place is within the Triune love of God. The world will tell you a lie. The world will tell you that freedom means getting to do whatever you want. That's the definition the world uses, and the sooner you can learn that that's not freedom, that that definition is a bad definition and a lie, the happier you're going to be. Freedom is living for God and through God and according to the will of God. That's what the scriptures say. That's what God, who is the most free being in everything, above creation itself, that's what he tells us freedom is. We ought to listen to him consider as a scriptural argument for this, Paul's great argument. In Romans six, in Roman hundred and twenty, he reminds us that when we were slaves of sin, when we did whatever we wanted according to our own will and not according to God's, yes, we were free. These are are square coats, scare quotes in regard to righteousness, but the question is, is that the freedom that we really want, the freedom to disobey all the time, is not really freedom? Why? Because, as Paul says in six hundred and twenty one, the end of that...

...kind of freedom, the end of those things, is death. And I ask you, is death freedom? No. In Chapter Six, Verses Twenty Two through twenty three, Paul says again. This is in Romans Paul says. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life for the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is Eternal Life in Christ Jesus, Our Lord. You see what he's saying, how he's defining freedom here. Freedom from God and being a slave of sorry, freedom in disobedience to God and freedom in slavery. To Sin Means Death, and death is not freedom, but freedom to God that means being a slave to him, being a slave to righteousness. That means eternal life. and not just eternal life, but he says, eternal life. In Christ Jesus our Lord, in union with the most free, the perfect and Infinitely Free God, we live eternally. That's freedom. And how do we get that freedom? How do we get our union with Christ Jesus Our Lord? Do we get it from God as our wages? Do we earn our everlasting life by serving him? Well enough, no, Paul says. The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life. What that means, then, is that the freedom you and I have by belonging to Jesus, the freedom that we enjoy, is because the eternal God of freedom and glory gave it to you. The freedom you enjoy to serve God is freedom that has been given to you by God. Surely this ought to affect how we use our freedom and matters like what we eat, if we live and abide in the love of God that has been given to US freely in Christ Jesus our Lord. When we look at a piece of bread, for example, on our table, and recognize that it is God who gave us to him, gave it to us. Should we not also remember that the reason we can glorify him and enjoy him in the enjoyment of that bread is because he is also given to us, not just the bread on our table, but Jesus Christ, as he is described in John, the bread of Heaven? The only reason that we can enjoy the earthly things...

...of God, the fullness of the Lord and all the earth, is because the God of glory has broken the bread of heaven and given him to us. If you, or I, or Paul give up certain earthly rights so that we might honor that God and love others, it is only because Christ first gave up his rights for us. And think about what he gave up for us, what he gave up for you. The right to a fair trial, the right to be treated with dignity, the right to be loved by his friends, the right to keep what he owned, the right to his life. He gave all of these things up out of love for you. He gave his very life to pay for our sins and to set us free, so that when we look at the bread. We don't worship some idol or worship the bread, but we can worship God who gave it to us. Jesus says in John Thirty six, if the sun sets you free, you will be free. Indeed, our freedom is not come from doing whatever we want. True freedom comes from living and abiding in Christ and the freedom he has given to us by laying down his own rights for us. So, when Paul says in Romans six, five through eight, if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his, we know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin, for one who has died has been set free from sin. Now, if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. This is a good news of the Gospel. This is a good news of the freedom that we have in Christ. If you are a Christian, if you are faith is in Christ, know that the sons set you free, that you and are enjoying all the amazing freedoms that you have because of him, not just the freedom to eat and give glory to God, but the freedom to no longer be liable to the penalty of sin, freedom to worship him forever. You are free from The Dominion of your sin, you're free from the tyranny of Satan, you're free from the yoke of the Old Covenant Law. You're free to eat your food, you're free to give glory to God and all these things. Who cares whether it's been a sacrifice to an idol or not? At idol is nothing, Paul says. The food belongs to God and you belong to God, so enjoy it, enjoy your freedom. Freedom is not doing whatever we want freedoms, living a life to God through...

Jesus Christ, who lived for us. Freedom is not doing whatever we want, living and loving only ourselves. Freedom is abiding in his love and serving others in that love and sharing that love with others so that they may also be saved as we are, so they may enjoy good, the greater freedoms, even the freedoms of eternal life, as we do. And so this Gospel, this good news that's given to us in Jesus, this freedom that we have, it has a way of undoing. I are our idolatry. Praise God for that. Want to speak to two things, two ways that it undoes undoes our idolatry. We've seen that our character, the character and source of our freedom is love and the love of Christ. Knowing that, let's think about these two ways that that love changes things, especially the idols in our hearts. The first thing I want to speak to, might say, the first group. I want to speak to this to those of you who struggle with people pleasing. A people pleaser is one who believes that their job in life is to make sure others are happy, or, to put it more precisely, a people pleaser believes it's his or her job to make sure that other people are happy with them. A people people pleaser gets their sense of purpose and meaning from the happy evaluation of other people. Perhaps you've heard, I know you, for this phrase when mom ain't happy, no one's happy, right and of course there's a certain sense of that's very true and we ought to pay attention to how mom is feeling. But there's also a sense in which this idea that if another person's not happy, I'm not going to be okay. That kind of phrase becomes like a drug for a people pleaser. Sure, if mom is mad, we ought to pay attention. And maybe, but maybe, maybe, just maybe, sometimes mom's can be mad over silly things. Maybe Mama is using her anger to manipulate people around her to get what she wants. Maybe she has a right to be angry or maybe she doesn't. Or maybe she has a right to be angry, but it's her battle to fight and not yours. We're not talking just about moms here, but we're talking about bosses and friends and fathers and brothers and sisters and anyone we come into contact with. The people pleas are ignore is all of those things. They ignore what is God's responsibility and what is other people's responsibility, because the people please are only wants one thing, the...

...approval of another person. Whether that person approves or doesn't approve, whether that person is right to be happy or upset or whatever, it doesn't matter to the people pleaser. The only thing that matters to a people pleaser is making sure that other people are happy with them. People pleasers think this way about other people because they value that approval over all other things, and sadly, that often turns people pleaple people pleasers into shapeshifters, manipulators. You can never quite figure out what they are and what they want, because they're always moving, always always adjusting, always feeling the wind, changing their ideas, hiding their true thoughts and feelings so as to get the approval of others. A people please Er ties his or her happiness not to God but to other people. In other words, the people pleaser is someone who struggles with idolatry. So I speak to people pleases for a moment, because Satan will want you to misread these verses and to keep you enslaved to your idol, and I don't want that to happen to you. When Paul says in Verse Thirty Three that I try to please everyone in everything I do, he is not being a people pleaser. How do we know this? Give you two reasons. The first one is, as I've pointed out, people pleasers are those who seek their own advantage. They want the approval of others. They serve others, perhaps, but it's to get an approval at a sense of peace in their own soul. But Paul is not seeking his own advantage. Know what this what he says? Not Seeking my own advantage. Right, he says it very plainly. He does this work, he serves others, not to benefit himself but others. People pleasers pretend that they are doing things for others, but they are really loving and they can sorry, they can seem like really loving and self sacrificial people. But what is really going on as an idolatrous appetite for the esteem of other people, even if it's unspoken. They love nothing more. They they fear not having that. But that's not what's going on for Paul, is it? Paul says he is not seeking his own advantage. And we know this because, though he is willing to accommodate himself to whatever situation he is in, he never sacrifices his deeper mission. He never sacrifices his principles. He's willing to give up the esteem and honor of other people, even for the sake of his mission, for the sake of what God has called him to do. And we hear that in his...

...words. Like Galatians one hundred and ten, he says, for am I now seeking the approval of man or of God? Am I trying to please man? If I were trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. In other words, if I were a people pleaser, my service to Christ would be undone. And I am a servant of Christ. Similarly, in First Thessalonians too, for he says, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the Gospel, so we speak not to please men but to please God, who tests our hearts. And that last part is important for those of us who struggle with people pleasing to remember Paul knows that God knows the manipulating, the shifting, the changing, the trying to make sure that you're always in the right place so that another person is happy with you and esteems you. You can't cover your hearts before the Lord. God knows, and Paul with his heart honest before the Lord. It acts in service to the Lord. And so when he says in verse thirty three, I try to please everyone and everything I do, he's not being a people pleaser. In fact he's undermining it. He's saying we ought to be willing to accommodate ourselves for others, but it's not for our own advantage, it's for their advantage. And with honor and service to the Lord, when we consider our freedom in Christ, when we consider the way that we can love and serve others, it's not to take that love and manipulate it, to serve ourselves, it's to truly give it and to give it freely. The second reason we know Paul is not commending to us this people pleasing is that he tells us that when he tries to accommodate himself, he's willing to give up his rights, and it's not because he fears men, but because he wants to save men. And people pleasing is ultimately about fearing others above anything else. But the fear of others, the Scripture says, is like a snare. Proverb says this. The fear of Man is a snare, but he who trusts in the Lord is safe. Paul does what he does. Why? Not to serve himself, and not because he fears man, but because he loves mankind. He wants to save other people. To put it this way, Paul's God is not the approval of others. He serves God in order to serve others. What he does, what he gives up, the rights he let us go, he does so willingly. As to the Lord, it's not a love for himself, but it's out of pity for these other people that he becomes weak in your weakness, that he gives up his rights, that he loves them as he's called...

...to do. And so, my brothers and sisters, if you are struggling or you struggle with being a people pleaser, Paul says, follow my example. Yes, give yourself to others, yes, accommodate yourself to their needs, yes, give up your own rights for the sake of other people. But use that skill of service not for yourself and not for the idolatrous fear of Man, but for the Lord and for the true love of other people. And sometimes that may mean making other people unhappy. Sometimes that may mean giving up your rights for another person. That makes another person upset with you. This happened to Paul as well. If our goal, however, is if our goal is to make everyone happy, will feel like it's a no win situation, and it is, because it's an idol. But if our goal is to please the Lord, as he has served US already in Christ, the Lord Honors this and blesses this and helps us to grow and he uses those acts of service that accommodation and that love to draw other people to him and to show mine in the Gospel. So that's the first idol. I'll say that they that the work of the Lord in Christ undoes. The second one is that of selfishness, and really it's two sides of the same coin. I want to speak to those of you who struggle, not with people pleasing, but distraught, but perhaps struggle to do anything for anyone at all. Like people pleasers, you also do what you do in service to yourself. Your selfishness is just more obvious. The selfishness says, I don't want to give up my rights. The selfishness says I want what I want and I want it now. It's obvious. It's plain that you are not seeking the advantage of other people. Of course, that doesn't make it any better. Does the one who sins openly and honestly and in a selfishness do better than the one who hides it away and covers it in lies? Neither does well. Neither is ultimately concerned about the welfare of other people. But some of us this selfishness really holds fast on our hearts. Some of US would rather die than give up our rights or even our preferences for another person. We think as some sort of great cosmic injustice if we don't get to go first in line, if we don't get the particular kind of food we want in the shape that we want it at the time that we want it, we think that all things will fall apart, or at least should fall apart, and we are happy to let other people know about it. We...

...are like Gods, unto ourselves over the smallest of things, demanding, pushing discontent in nearly everything. Brothers and sisters, this is just another form of pride, isn't it? Like the pride we mentioned before, this one will also kill you. I know of people who have gone this way and gone and pressed and pushed and pushed, who sacrificed their family and their money and their home and their health and their lives to get what they want, refusing to bend, refusing to listen, refusing to accommodate and wanting only what they want, and it literally leads them to death. It will put you in situations that are very, very, very dark, and hope and and hopefully, I pray, not unto even eternal judgment itself, when we take the gifts of God that he is given to us, even some freedoms that he is given to him given to us, and we make them more precious to us than even God himself. We take a benefit from God and we turn it into an idol. We dethrone him in our hearts as those who refuse to follow him, and we will receive if this is our way of life, if this is who we are, if we are not united to Christ, but enslave to one of these idols, we will find that the wages for our sin is death. But to you Christians, let me ask you, is this the way that you learned in Christ? Of course, is this slavery to Sin, the freedom that we have in him? Of course, is this kind of idolatry and imitation of Paul. Know. So, seeing the Great Love of God in Christ, seeing the true slavery that is bound up in these different kind of idolatries, seeing eternal life as freedom in its highest form. And then we look at Paul and we see a man who is willing to give up really anything in this world, even is his own life, for the sake of having those things. And I hope it begins to make some sense to you, that is, you evaluate those things, as you evaluate little things in this life, even our own temporal lives, in light of the eternal life that we have in Christ. I hope...

...that you begin to make sense of the way that Paul Acts, the way your teacher is demonstrating for you, and then you can begin to say, okay, I see how I can imitate this. I see how I can give up the things in my life, my comfort's, my my certain freedoms and certain my certain rights, for the benefit of loving others and helping them to see the love that God has given to me. Focusing on our teacher, Paul for a moment, here his words and Philippians three eight, when he says this. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ, Jesus my Lord. For his sake, I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish in order that I may gain Christ love it. There is nothing in this life that is worth protecting, that surpasses knowing Jesus Christ and having eternal life in him. So if you struggle with the love of man over the love of God, if you struggle with the fear of man over the fear of God, whether that's other people or even yourself. Remember Paul's words here, remember Paul's example and, most importantly, remember Paul's Lord. To Him who loves US, the Apostle John writes, and revelation one. To Him who loves US and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom of priests, to his God and father. To him be glory and dominion forever and ever. That one is Jesus Christ. He is our great king, he is our surpassing worth. He is the one who gives to us a great inheritance, a heavenly kingdom. So leave aside the foolish idols, leave aside the false gods, the sinful appetites, leave aside your your selfishness and your pride and your fear of Man, your demanding flesh, and let him be your king who gives to you freely the eternal gift of God, Eternal Life in Christ, Jesus our Lord. Praise God. Let's pray to him. Lord.

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