Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 8 months ago

When Pride Misuses Knowledge

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1 Corinthians 8

Let's turn our attention to first Corinthians Chapter Eight. First Corinthians Chapter Eight. I'll also be spending a little bit of time this morning in acts chapter eighteen, but will turn there a little bit later. So, First Corinthians Chapter Eight. We've considered this morning already a little bit what it means to worship God as the only God, our one true God. Indeed, we have worshiped him and we have been called to do that. Now we come to a question that deals with idolatry and other things related to conscience, related to our place in society, all kinds of things. Let's give our attention to God's word. First Corinthians Chapter Eight. Now, concerning food offered to idols, we know that all of us possess knowledge. This knowledge puffs up, but loves. Love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something he does not yet knows. He ought to know, but if anyone loves God, he is known by God. Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that an idol has no real existence and that there is no God but one, for although there may be so called Gods in heaven or on Earth, as indeed many are as. Indeed, there are many gods and many lords. Yet for us there is one God, the father, from whom all things, from whom are all things and for whom, all whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. This is such an important verse I'm going to read it again. Of Verse Six, I'm confusing it with another verse in my mind and mixing up the words. Let me try one more time. So verse six. Yet for us there is one God, the father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. However, not all possess this knowledge, but some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. Food will not commend US and will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the week, for...

...if anyone sees you, and if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idols temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to 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 when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes your my brothers stumble, I will never eat meat lest I make my brothers stumble. Man. So Paul is addressing the Corinthians in a very particular circumstance and he's addressing them according to what are probably requests. We've come through this section about marriage and and singleness and sex and various other things, and now we come to chapter eight and he says now concerning food offered to idols. Right, this is a transition to a new subject. He wants us to learn how to think about this particular thing in their context, and it's a very fascinating context with all kinds of layers of and wisdom about how we ought to think wisely about our place in this world. As we saw in chapter six and in Chapter Seven, we have multiple things going on. On the one hand, we very specific instructions on how to deal and interact in a specific situation. But we also have something else. We have an example given to us about how to think through things, about moral reasoning and example which gives us priorities and principles and ways to think through complex and difficult situations. So let's pay attention this morning and think about what, how what we can learn here about God's will for us and how we ought to live our lives. I think it helps to begin with the particular situation that the Corinthians find themselves in. What is it? Well, you can begin, and this is where we'll start, back in acts chapter eighteen, with a previous time in Corinth. So if you would turn with me there for a moment, Acts Chapter Eighteen, here Paul records his first beginnings. This is the startup of his time in Corinth and we read what happened and it relates to what is happening here. So in act chapter eighteen, verse one, we read that Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. He stays in the house of a Jewish couple that had been expelled, along with other Jews from Rome. The Romans had been kicked out by Claudius and had gone different places and this couple had found themselves themselves in Corinth, very Roman city, a place being colonized, a place that was laid out according to the Roman street patterns, a place that was filled with idols and...

...temples, a place that was a destination place in the province of a Kia, a center of commerce and government and activity, a kind of Washington DC, your New York City, of this part of the world. And here Paul finds himself and he finds this couple and he stays with them and then he goes into the synagogue and he begins to speak to the Jews. there. We read in verse five that he was testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. So there he is. He's in the synagogue in this faraway place. He's not in Judea, he's not in Palestine, he's not in Rome, he's in Corinth, this Roman colony, speaking to these Jews who are not in their home place, who are not in their home territory, and he's telling them that the Christ has come and that Christ is Jesus. He's persuading them, he's testifying to what he's seen. What happens? What happens next is verse six. They oppose him and they revile him. Paul does not get a warm welcome from the body as a whole. There are individuals, we read even the leader of the synagogue, who come to faith in Christ, but as a whole the Jewish people there in Corinth are not happy with Paul. You can hear it in Paul's words and in his actions. We read in verse six that he shook out his garments and he said to them, your blood be upon your own heads. I am innocent. For now on, I will go to the gentiles. And then we read in verse seven that he left there and went to the house of a man named tideous justice, a very gentile a name. They're a worshiper of God. And so this is what he does. And and we read that he was in Corinth for about a year and a half, preaching, teaching, drawing people to the Lord, persuading them. But as time went on the Jews were not satisfied with Paul just leaving the synagogue and going to the gentiles. All right, Paul's not in the synagogue anymore, he's not speaking directly to that body, but he's out talking with guys like this and they are not happy with this, and so they this is what they do. In Verse Twelve, we read that good men Galio was made proconsul of a Chao, or when he was proconsul of the Chaa, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and they brought him for the tribunal. Now, this tribunal, this pro proconsole, this Gallio, he is the boss, the governor, the head Hancho of this whole region, a big region, a giant province in Rome and a very important province right, as the Greeks admired in some ways, and we're borrowing and doing other things in relation to the previous Greek culture. This is Greece right, this is Athens and Corinth and...

...all of this land. And so they take Paul to Gallio and they make this accusation. In verse thirteen, they taken before this Roman governor, whose rulings could only be overturned by the emperor himself. Right, what this man says goes and they say to him this man talking about Paul, is persuading people to worship God, contrary to the law. So what are they saying here? What exactly are they accusing Paul of? There's two possibilities. The first possibility, which I don't think it is, is they're accusing him of what we see Jesus Being Accused of in like the gospel of John, for example. For the Jews are saying by saying that you are God, or by other people saying that Jesus is God, you are blasphemy your social you're becoming more than a monotheist, in other words, and so they were upset and they were prop persecuting him because of that. Now Jesus, of course, was God and so it wasn't blasphemy, but that was the accusation. I don't think that's the case here. However, when they say contrary to the law, they're not talking about the law of Moses, because what would Galio care about that? Right? He is a Roman governor, not a Jewish governor. I'm his job is not to prosecute or uphold or judge into religious conflicts, especially within the Jews, who, by the way, just got, as I mentioned before, just got kicked out of Rome. These are not people who were well loved in the Roman Empire. So they're not going to Gallio to have him decide questions about their law. They're going to him to have questions decided about his law. And what do they mean? Well, the Jews had received a special exemptions not to participate, or allowing them not to participate in emperor worship. The imperial cult was growing faster and faster, especially in places like Corinth that we're all about Rome, Rome, Rome, Rome, and we're getting more and more excited about Rome all the time. We're becoming more and more attached Rome all the time. And this imperial cult in which the emperor and his family and those both deceased and present, they were calling people to worship them, and indeed they had temples and sacrifices and priests and priestesses, a whole system of religion built around the worshiping of the Emperor. The Jews protested this right, because you only worship God alone, and they protested it so much and so strongly that the Roman Empire said enough, will give you an exemption. Amazing, wonderful, it's good, really good that they did that. Well, so they pressed against the...

Roman the government. The Roman government gave them an exception. So here's what's happening with Gallio. They go before his this proconsul and they say Paul is teaching that this Christ, that Jesus, is the Christ and in doing so he's undermining the imperial called he's undermining emperor worship. He's going against your law, yes, the one that we have an exemption from, but he's not one of us and you need to prosecute him. Does that make sense? They're taking him and they're saying prosecute him for persuading, and this word there probably means something a little more like in the context here, something like misleading or seducing people to leave. This is kind of like a treasonous, the sort of seditious thing to leave the Roman ethic, the Roman called the Roman everything, and start going after this Jesus. So here's what happens. So what does was Gallio going to say? Right? So Paul's about to open his mouth. He's about and you can imagine what Paul might say right. What he talked about the relationship of the Queen Jesus and the and the Jewish people? Is the son of Abraham and the fulfillment of the Messianic prospecies and all this sort of stuff? Will never find out because when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio speaks and he says to the Jews. If it were a matter of wrongdoing or vicious crime, O Jews, I'd have reason to accept your complaint, but since it's a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of these kinds of things. Now there's a couple things to notice here. Basically, I'll end with the end. What Gallio is saying is that I see them, these Christians, basically is one of you, this is your this is a Jewish deal, and so move on. I have no this has nothing, no place here. So the effect of this is that Gaulio extends, in the Jewish mind, extends to Christians the same exemption that Jews have. So now Christians are not under the same kind of pressure, at least within the province of a Chaa, to worship, at least according to law. They can't be prosecuted by this, because Gallio has said it, and the only one that can overturn that ruling is the emperor himself. And the likelihood of the Jews getting a hearing before the emperor, you'd have to be a Roman citizen. All kinds of other things. It's just not going to happen, and it didn't happen. So gallio this makes this huge decision to not even hear the case and by not hearing the case, the Christians receive this exemption. There seems, in my mind any way,...

...to be a mistranslation here in Verse Fifteen, when it says questions about words, he says, since it's a matter of questions about words and names and your own law. We did, we can guess what he means by names, right, Jesus and Christ and your own law and their relationship and that sort of thing. But what does he mean by words? It's not really clear, is it, unless, of course, he means this the word word there number one. It's singular and not plural. Names is plural, but words is not. In the Greek it's law, which is singular. I'm so he says here. Instead of words, he says it is a matter of questions about a word. Now word, of course, can mean all kinds of things, but there is this one very specific and some time in infrequent definition, but it fits the context here perfectly. Sometimes the word law US can mean a declaration of immunity and freedom from something and that seems to exactly fit the context the governor is saying. But since it is a matter about this declaration of immunity, this thing that we have in Christ and these things concerning your law, this is a Jewish thing, this is a Jewish matter. I'm not going to touch it. So let's move on. And he drives them out of the council. All right. So why all that? Thank you for bearing with me in that. What that helps us to understand is that when we get to this passage in Corinth, after Paul has left, you know, a year and a half, two years later, these Christians are not under legal pressure to eat food offered or to not eat food offer battles. They have freedom in that according to the law, according to Gallio's pronouncement. So why then, this is the question. Why then, are Christians trying to eat food sacrifice idols? What's going on here? What's that? What would what would even cause this, this conflict? And the answer is that in Rome at this time, in the midst of this imperial call to and all these sort of things, this is where business happened, this is where work happened. There were tempt there were big games that were going on, kind of like the Olympics. There were feasts that were going on, there were parties that were going on, the emperor, worship and Rome, and being Rome was all tied up in food and dining, in these sort of things. You'd go sacrifice your ox, for example, or the post of the feast would sacrifice the AC to the emperor and everyone would lift up their drinks, such to the emperor, the the...

...vine, emperor and worship, and then everyone would sit down at the table and eat, and there you smell the food and taste and here's where deals would happen and money would be exchanged and all these kinds of things of society, of culture and life would happen. To avoid those kinds of things would mean getting left out. To not go to the parties, to not do the networking, to not make the connections, meant that you were going to be left behind. So how do you navigate that as a Christian? Paul tells you and tells us, the Bible tells us really clearly. He'll say in chapter ten flee from idolatry. have nothing to do with it. And so, as a Christian, you could kind of think in your mind okay, I'm going to go to this party. I'm not going to go before the altar and I don't even have to write. I'm not even required to do all that sacrificing stuff. I'm a Christian, Gallio set. It's fine, I'm good there. And it's also true. This is the reasoning Paul talks about in First Corinthians A. It's also true that, and I don't really isn't anything at all, is it? These people? They think the emperor is a God. I know he's not a God. I know that Apollos not at these so called Guy I know they're not God's if I'm eating this food, to me it's just food, it's just the piece of meat well given to me by God, Him, the Real God, the God himself. This guy over here, he may have sacrificed it and whatever, and that's his deal, but for me I'm just enjoying a nice cut of meat and making the connections I need to make and prospering my business and trying to get a fair hearing at the next trial and whatever. And you're there for and so you can imagine in the Christian mind how you could, with good and truth theological knowledge, navigate your way into a situation where you are sitting at one of these feasts, at one of these parties and in good conscience, being wise, being cautious, not participating in everything, but eating food offers sacrificed to idols. And so what does Paul say about this? Nice says in verse for as the eating of food offered idols. We know that an idol has no real existence and that there is no god, but one God. Food is food. You're not well, let me keep reading. First five, for although there may be many socalled or there may be so called Gods in heaven or on Earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, yet for us there is one God. So this is what he says. He goes on to say in Verse Eight, Food Will Not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat and no better off if we do. He's a son, so saying, if you want to eat the food, eat the food. It doesn't hurt you to take it. It doesn't hurt you, or it doesn't bless...

...you or help you in some way not to take it. It doesn't matter. Okay, however, and then Paul adds a how a big however, he says in verse seven. Not all possessed this knowledge, but some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol. So here is this person, this Christian and immature, a young Christian, who has lived a life of idolatry, who's lived a life of going to the temples and going to these parties and going to these feasts. They've eaten the meat and they've not just eaten it as food, they've eaten it it's worshiped to the emperor, is worshiped her as worship to a police and others, and then they look over there and they see you eating the meat. They're like, I thought we were Christians, I thought we were to worship the one true living God. What are you doing? And that sort of stress and anxiety and fear that a young, young Christian and immature Christian that hasn't sorted through all these things yet and just sees idolatry. That's all they see and they see a brother or sister participating in that, that could cause them to stumble. Well, maybe I guess this is okay, maybe we don't have to worship Jesus. Is the one true God. Maybe we can give ourselves over to the things of this world and the emperor and whatnot, to gain the things of this world. And so Paul says in Verse Nine, Take Care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you, you who have knowledge, eating in an idol's temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is eat, to offer or to eat food offered to idols, and to take what he said before as though they were truly something big, because they were truly God's or something like that? And so the conclusion he draws in verse eleven. And so by your knowledge, this very weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Paul says in another place that when we when we know something, or let me put it this way, when we believe that something is wrong and we do it anyway, even if it's not actually wrong, we sin. Like if you believe they'll use this. So example, if you believe in the bottom of your heart that riding a bicycle is a sin and then you go and ride a bicycle, you sin, even though riding a bicycle of course, is not a sin. The SIN is not in the bicycle riding itself, it's in the doing something that you believed was wrong. If your conscience says don't do it and you go,...

I'm going to do it anyway, the Bible says that's a sin. So obviously we want to do two things. One, we don't want to sin against our conscience and too, we want to calibrate our consciences so that they're neither over sensitive nor under sensitive, that they don't say things or sins which aren't sins and aren't hard against sins which are sins. We want to calibrate them so that they align perfectly and are perfectly sensitive to God's will and then to act accordingly. But in our relationships, but we're not on the same page, we're not on the same place. And what Paul is saying here is it's not just about you. It's not just about your right, though you do have a right. It's not just about your freedom, though you do have freedom. We have a responsibility to care for one another. And so, though food won't commend you to God, you're no worse off if you eat it or if you don't. We are worse off if we cause our brothers and our sisters to sin. And so Paul says. Just put the point really clearly in verse thirteen. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat me lest I make my brother's stumble. Now how we apply this is complicated, even as this own situation is complicated. If you ask now concerning food sacrifice to idols, yes or no, like we saw in the previous chapters, Paul doesn't say yes or no. If you give a blanket yes, yes, food sacrifice to idols, what do you risk? Will you risk causing a brother or sister to stumble? You risk defiling them, defiling their conscience. You risk being in somewhat responsible for that. But if you give a blanket no, no, food sacrifice to idols, you risk binding consciences and freedom where it is allowed. So what do you do if it's neither a total yes or a total no, what do you do? Well, the answer is you get your priorities right in your head and then you act according to wisdom in the context. And what are the priorities in this particular situation? One is there's only one true God and two, we ought to love our brothers and sisters. That's it, it. And so in that context he applies it to the specific situation with idols and thinking through that and and it and as it relates to these brothers and sisters. And so, as you think through morally challenging situation in your life, what should I do and what shouldn't I do? These have to be a priorities for you as well. All of us, I suspect,...

...have been found ourselves in situations where we've had to decide what am I going to do? How is this going to look? What's how's this going to affect my reputation? And sometimes you might call it one way and sometimes you might call it another, and you might be wrong in both or right in both, or wrong and one and right in the other. We need to pray for wisdom, don't we? These things are hard. They require a lot of thought and sensitivity and a lot of seeking God in his word. I think this passage also teaches us what one other thing which I'll conclude with here, and that has to do with just the use of knowledge in general. This is how Paul begins, right he says all of us possess knowledge, and when he speaks there. I think he's thinking about worldly kind of of knowledge. But even if it's more than that, there is a danger of it puffing us up and making us prideful. To know the truth is a good thing, but isn't there aren't there ways in which, our knowledge of the truth, we then use it to hurt other people, to put them in difficult situations, to not love but instead be conceded and for ourselves. And though the knowledge may be good, are use of it is not good. So how are we to know? How are we to not abuse and guard ourselves against that abuse? And it comes from realizing how much God has revealed to us in Christ. It really does. If you would turn with me to one other place, this is in your hymnals. Will sing this hymn in a moment and I want you to look at it with me, because I think this expresses this well, a hymn four hundred and seventy we the conclusion here is that we are better able to act and live within this world, to know how we ought to love when we first remember and know how God first loved us. It humbles us in a way to know what God has done for us, to know not just that he's the one true God, but that one true God, our one true God, came into this world, became a man, Jesus, who died on a cross and forget to forgive us our sins. That death of the son of God and then his subsequent resurrection from the dead puts us in a place where we don't have to fear Rome or any other government. The Lord's victory in...

...the Cross puts us in a place where we can try to do good in the courts and in our businesses and in our families and culture and life and be successful there, but at the same time hold it with a loose grasp. Knowing that we belong to Jesus Christ allows us to go to those places and go. You know what, if I can't go to this place, if my business falls apart, if this ultimately costs my life, not to participate in the things of this culture because they're too compromising or whatever, I'm going to be okay. If it means that I have to love. I'm going to love my brother my sister in Christ, even though they're not quite all right in their heads and in their hearts yet. I'm going to be okay I'm okay to bind myself in freedom. I'm okay to Louse, or I'm okay to bind my own freedom. I'm okay to lose the things of this world. I'm okay to give up my rights because I have everything I need in Christ. Miss Hymn expresses that each end, each verse, ends with a not till then how much I owe, except with a slight variation in the last one, and each one helps us to have us a sense for what Christ has done for us and how we relate to this world. Take the first verse, for example. When this world is passing done, when has sunk yawn glaring son, when we stand with Christ on high looking o'er life's history, then Lord shall I fully know, not till then, how much I owe. We will. We have this knowledge in a sense now, but when we come into heaven, when we come and we see the world passing away, that's when we'll go okay, now I really get it. And if we're going to really get it and understand it, then we can begin to get it and understand it here and now. We can begin to see the world fading away, we can get in to see it's setting son, we can begin to see the glories of Christ and live accordingly. Firse two, when I hear the wicked call on the rocks and the hills to fall, when I see them start and shrink on the fiery day, Lose Brink, then Lord shall I fully know, not till then, how much I owe. It is because of what we owe God in Christ, because of this great gift that he has given to us and love, that we don't have to fear the wicked, unrighteous, unjust people of this world. We can know that God will set it right in the Great Day of Judgment. When I stand verse three, when I stand before the throne dressed in beauty not my own, when I see thee as thou are, Love Thee with unsinning heart, then, Lord shall I fully know, not till then, how much I owe. When the Praise of Heaven I hear...

...loud as Thunders to the ear, loud as many waters, noise, sweet as Harp's melodious voice. Then, Lord shall I fully know, not till then, how much I owe. Chosen Not for good, and me wakened up from wrath to flee, hidden in the saviors side by the spirit sanctified teach me Lord on Earth, to show by my love how much I owe so, brothers and sisters, we can fix, I'll put it that way, our idolatrous problems by looking to Christ, by looking to him as the one true God. When we follow him and of him alone, we're no longer captured by the idols of this world. And it's also to looking to Christ and the love that we have received in him, the forgiveness of our sins, the promises of heaven and all the rest. It's when we know that love that that we can begin to let go of ourselves, even died to ourselves, as the scriptures say, and show to others that love that he showed us. May The Lord Grant these things in us as we come to a better knowledge and understanding of him. Let's pray our heavenly father.

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