Christian Love: The Controlling Guideline (1 Corinthians 8:1-13)

Dr Daryl Miller, October 30, 2016
Part of the The Need for Tall Heroes series, preached at a Sunday Evening service

Title: Christian Love: The Controlling Guideline
Text: “ Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.” (1 Cor. 8:13).
Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 8:1 - 13
In the chapter that serves as our Scripture reading, the apostle Paul is dealing with a practice that was common in the first century but is not familiar to us today. In America today, people generally either worship one god or no god. In ancient Corinth, there were many gods and many different religions. Sacrifices were made to these various idols, and then the meat offered in sacrifice was eaten by the worshipers and their guests. To eat meat offered to an idol was to engage in a form of worship and to receive nourishment and the hope of help from the idol god whose sacrifice was being consumed.
Those who were converted to faith in Jesus Christ forsook the worship of idols and recognized idols to be nothing. Some of these new converts insisted that since the idol had no reality, there was no harm in feasting at an idol temple or in purchasing the meat offered in sacrifice to idols.
Paul says that to participate in such feasts or to use the meat offered to idols could be harmful to those who had not yet come to a knowledge of the true God. He declares that not everyone has the knowledge of the truth as they had come to know it in Christ Jesus. He is eager that these new converts relate properly to those who are still pagans. In our text, he enunciates a principle that reveals that Christian love must be the controlling guideline for all of our conduct as it affects nonbelievers. As Phillips translates it, “This makes me determined that, if there is any possibility of meat injuring my brother, I will have none of it as long as I live, for fear I might do him harm.”
I. We are responsible for our influence (Matt. 5:16).
Christian love will cause us to recognize our responsibility for our influence and cause us to beware lest we cause others to stumble.
A. We must not cause even those who are hostile toward Christ to stumble?—?“Give none offense … to Jews” (1 Cor. 10:32).
B. We must not cause even those who are indifferent to Christianity to stumble?—?“Give none offense to .?.?. Gentiles” (1 Cor. 10:32).
C. We must not cause our fellow Christians to stumble?—?“Give none offense to .?.?. the church of God” (1 Cor. 10:32).
II. We must be genuinely concerned about the welfare of weaker Christians.
We are warned against the consequences of sinning against weaker Christians and wounding their consciences. The conscience has been defined as “the faculty of responsible moral judgment.”

A. Jesus warned against causing the weaker brother to fall into sin (Matt. 18:6).
B. To sin against the weaker brother is to sin against Christ (1 Cor. 8:12). It is interesting to note that the glorified Christ considered mistreatment of the church to be mistreatment directed toward him (cf. Acts 9:4).
There are many ways by which the consciences of weaker Christians are injured by those who are more mature, or at least they think they are more mature. Social drinking, which may be controlled by some, is a deadly evil, because every person is a potential alcoholic. Even that which is considered to be harmless gambling can be very dangerous to some, because people can become addicted to gambling just as they can become addicted to alcohol. Some people habitually break the speed limit and think nothing of it. This can have a harmful effect on children who see parents recklessly disregarding traffic laws. The neglect of Bible study, prayer, and regular worship habits can have a harmful effect on weaker Christians who look to others for guidance and encouragement.
III. We must be builders rather than wreckers.
The apostle urged his readers to let love be the controlling guideline in all of their relationships with others. He rejoiced that these converts now had knowledge of the true God, which included an evaluation of idols as being nothing. However, he warned them against the peril of letting this knowledge create within them an attitude of arrogance. He encouraged them instead to relate to weaker Christians in loving concern.
A. Love always builds up rather than tears down.
B. Christian love is never self-centered. Christian love is always concerned about the welfare of others.
IV. The Christian’s compelling objective: “That they may be saved”
(1 Cor. 10:33).
With verse 33 the apostle brings a section of his epistle to a conclusion, and he reveals the basis for the counsel he has been giving. He was exceedingly eager that all groups might come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It was essential that these new converts conduct themselves in such a manner as not to cast negative reflection on Christ or to violate the sense of propriety of those whom they were seeking to win.
A. Christians must relate to others in such a manner as to reveal to them that God loves them.
B. Christians need to relate to others in such a manner as to reveal that God has a wonderful plan for their lives.
What we do, what we say, and what we are wields an influence over the lives of others. One can no more escape from one’s own influence that from one’s shadow in bright sunlight. We must let love for the Lord and the Lord’s love for the unsaved be the controlling guidelines in all of our conduct at all times.


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