Questionable Practices

1 Corinthians #14. An exposition of 1 Corinthians 8:1-13. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, February 27, 2011.

I have a theory.  It may not be 100% accurate but I think there is a great deal of truth behind it.  My theory is, deep inside each of us, there is a little lawyer trying to get out.  There is that part of us that always wants to argue the fine point of the law.  It starts in childhood.  Mom or dad lays down a law, “Don’t do this or that.”  Immediately, by shear instinct, we start searching for a loophole.  We do it without even thinking – it’s automatic.  Don’t give me that pious look, you know what I’m talking about.

I used to be pretty good at it.  Mom or dad would say, “Son you were told not to do that.”  I was suddenly transformed.  “I object your honor.  I was not told I could not do that…I as told I could not do that.”  It was courtroom drama at its finest.  Mom was easy.  Just get her to hesitate and you had her.  Dad, on the other, would say, “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard” and never missed a beat talking off his belt – whoosh!  He then preceded to apply a little wisdom to my hind quarters.

The same dynamic is at work in our spiritual lives.  We know that the Scriptures in both the Old and New Testaments say there are certain things we are not to be involved with.  We are not to be idol worshipers, we are not to commit adultery, we are not to steal, murder or lie.  Somethings are real clear.  There are other things we are specifically told to do.  We are to worship, love and honor God.  We are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.  We are to care for widows and orphans and to be a servant to all.  Again about these things are can be no doubt.  But not everything is black and white.  Some things are not so clear.  Every generation has to deal with what we might call “questionable matters.”  These are things that are not dealt with specifically in Scripture.  They are neither condemned nor condoned, cursed nor praised.  What are we to do with those things for which we do not have chapter and verse?  We can’t point to the, “Thou shalt” or “Thou shalt not”?  What do we with questionable matters?

Matters such as:

  • Consuming alcoholic beverages
  • Playing cards
  • Dancing
  • Going to movies or the theatre
  • Wearing make up
  • Styles of music
  • Hair styles
  • Clothing choices

I’m not saying these things don’t matter.  I’m not saying it doesn’t matter what you believe about such things – I’m saying you can’t quote chapter and verse in a definitive, dogmatic fashion on such issues.  Each of the above have been hotly debated through the years.  They have been the basis of church conflict even church splits!  These are just representative we could add a number of others.  We could expand the list to include things like days and time for worship, style of worship, what kind of instruments are appropriate?

The text we are going to look at this evening is the beginning of Paul’s dealing with questionable matters in the church at Corinth.  A discussion that begins in chapter 8 and runs through chapter 10.  It is the question of Christian liberty.  The specific question under consideration is whether it is appropriate for a Christian to eat meat that has been sacrificed to an idol.  Now, that’s not an issue that you and I face on a daily basis.  But in answering the question the apostle lays down a general, universal principle that can be applied to all doubtful behavior.

Text: 1 Corinthians 8:1-13

The principle is simple:

Thesis: The mature believer limits his Christian liberty out of loving concern for others.

  1. Love is determined to lift others up.  (8:1-3)
  2. Love considers a brother’s lack of knowledge.  (3:4-7)
  3. Loving concern is more interested in your brother’s well being than in our own rights.  (8:8-13)

Some questions to consider before engaging in questionable matters:

  • I this activity or habit necessary?
  • Is this helpful or useful or just something I want?
  • Is this something Christ would do?
  • Does this set a good example for others to follow?
  • Will this help or hinder my testimony for Christ?
  • Will this build me up spiritually?
  • Will it build others spiritually?
  • Will the Lord be glorified in this act?
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