Everything is permissible, but not everything is helpful. Everything is permissible, but not everything builds up. No one should seek his own welfare, but rather his neighbour’s. Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without raising any question about it on the ground of conscience, for “the earth and everything in it belong to the Lord.” If an unbeliever invites you to his house and you wish to go, eat whatever is set before you, raising no question on the ground of conscience. However, if someone says to you, “This was offered in sacrifice,” don’t eat it, both out of consideration for the one who told you and because of conscience. I mean, of course, his conscience, not yours. For why should my freedom be judged by someone else’s conscience? If I eat with thankfulness, why should I be denounced because of what I am thankful for? Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything to the glory of God. Stop being stumbling blocks to Jews or Greeks or to the church of God, just as I myself try to please everybody in every way, not looking for my own advantage but for that of many people, so that they might be saved.1 Corinthians 10:23-33
Well look at that! Paul has returned again to something he has discussed before – our freedom in Christ. And what’s more, still he is on about the-food-sacrificed-to-idols thing. Are you getting the message? The five Corinthian sins – setting your hearts on evil, prostituting yourself in idolatry, prostituting yourself sexually, testing the Lord or complaining – are huge issues for them. These are all the issues “about which they wrote” (1 Cor 7:1) and flow from the reports from others of what was happening in their midst. These are the things the Corinthians want answers to. And what’s more as we have seen, they are all examples for us too who look on.
We are back to the issue of our freedom in Christ. But as Paul says not everything is helpful, not everything builds up. Be a joiner, not a splitter. Be an influencer for good not one who tears down. Seek the welfare of others and sacrifice yourself and your own ideas. Consider the other person’s point of view and don’t harm him / her, because of conscience. Aah but whose conscience? His or yours? We are most prone to make a big case for our conscience, taking a conscience vote from our point of view. But Paul says there is another way – bearing “his” conscience in mind and not steam rolling over him. Decide to build the other person up. Seek your neighbour’s welfare. Why should my freedom be judged by someone else’s conscience? For the good of the body, for the sake of unity, so that the Lord might be glorified.
Do everything for the glory of God. Don’t be a stumbling block for others. Thus Paul says I will try to please everybody in every way, looking for their advantage so they might be eternally saved. After all it is their eternal state that is paramount and not my temporal comfort, either bodily or in terms of my state of mind.
Now that is pretty radical thinking. Paul’s thoughts are cycling around on the same issues. It is in that context that he closes chapter ten with similar thoughts he was thinking this at the end of chapter nine but has dealt with the fact that any one of us can lose out, just as Israel did. Now what do you think about the question or debate on “once saved always saved”?
A little more to do tomorrow before we start a meaty section filled with controversy. Bring it on.
One of things I like about working my way through Scripture is that nothing is missed. We have to deal with all of the issues. To approach the Bible topically allows us to pick and choose and to skip the hard stuff. Most of us have verses or Biblical propositions that we have put in the too hard basket and leave it there. Be prepared to face your issues.
God will force you to deal with a condition that’s hidden beneath your armour.Ian Vail
Without obstacles we’ll always be ordinary!Ian Vail
When you experience times of testing, you’ve two choices: give up, or grow up.Ian Vail