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I Will Never Eat Meat Again (1 Corinthians 8) - Sacrificing for and Deferring to Others

I Will Never Eat Meat Again (1 Corinthians 8) – Sacrificing for and Deferring to Others

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Paul said, “Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat again, lest I make my brother stumble” (1 Corinthians 8:13). Although Paul knew all food was clean, he said it was unclean to the person whose conscience forbids him from eating it. Because it is sinful to violate our consciences as Paul discussed in Romans 2, in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians, he said he would sacrifice for others.

“I will never eat meat again, lest I make my brother stumble” (1 Corinthians 8:13). Paul knew food was clean, but he sacrificed for others.

Sermon Lessons for I Will Never Eat Meat Again (1 Corinthians 8) – Sacrificing for and Deferring to Others

Note: The lessons that are filled in are from the previous sermon.

  • Lesson 1: Knowledge is amoral, but the way we use it is moral.
  • Lesson 2: Knowledge is used immorally when it:
    • (Part I) Is combined with pride (1 Cor 8:1).
    • (Part II) ________________ ___________ (Rom 14:14-23, 1 Cor 8:9-12).
  • Lesson 3: Knowledge is used morally when it:
    • (Part I) Is combined with love (1 Cor 8:1; Eph 4:15; Phil 1:9).
    • (Part II) ____________________ for ____________ (1 Cor 8:13; John 10:18).

Family Worship Guide for I Will Never Eat Meat Again (1 Corinthians 8) – Sacrificing for and Deferring to Others

  • Day 1: Read Romans 14:14-23 and discuss: How can food be clean to some and unclean to others? Wat are the essentials and nonessentials in the kingdom of God? How can we prevent other from condemning themselves? How can we keep from condemning ourselves?
  • Day 2: Read 1 Corinthians 8:9-12 and discuss: How do we “destroy a brother or sister in Christ? What does it mean to do so? How can we avoid doing so? Why is it a sin against Christ Himself?
  • Day 3: Read 1 Corinthians 8:9-13 and discuss: Why did Paul say he would never eat meat again? What application does this have for us? What are some examples of things God might have us give up for others? How do we decide what liberties we have? How do we decide what liberties we don’t have?

Sermon Notes for I Will Never Eat Meat Again (1 Corinthians 8) – Sacrificing for and Deferring to Others

The title of this morning’s sermon is, “Sacrificing for Others.”

This will be our third and final sermon on 1 Corinthians 8. We’ll be looking at verses: 11-13.

We’ve spent two sermons covering the situation in the Corinthian church, so I don’t want to spend much time reviewing it. Basically, the church was divided. One group thought they could eat meat sacrificed to idols. The other group thought they shouldn’t.

But we’re going to begin in Romans 2, to review a few verses from last week, and then we’ll look at some verses in Romans 14 before moving to 1 Corinthians 8.

Look at Romans 2:12

Romans 2:12a For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law,

Those without the law are Gentiles and Paul says they’ll perish, b/c they’re sinners. He’ll elaborate on this in verses 14 and 15.

Romans 2:12b and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.

These are Jews who have the law, and they’ll be judged b/c…

Romans 2:13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.

Having the law wasn’t enough. They had to obey it, which they didn’t do.

Since the Gentiles didn’t receive the law, they thought they didn’t know right from wrong, which allowed them to be innocent. But look at verse 14 to see what condemns them…

Romans 2:14a For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires,

This means obey parts of the law. Even people who have never heard the Ten Commandments still have consciences, which tell them certain things – lying, stealing and murder – are wrong…and they still choose wrong…and it leaves them as guilty before God as people who had the Law…b/c it was as though they had a law too…and that’s what the rest of the verse says…

Romans 2:14b they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15a They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while THEIR CONSCIENCE ALSO BEARS WITNESS, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them

These are the two things our consciences do:

  • Accuse us when we do something wrong.
  • Excuse us when we do something right.

Even though people have consciences telling them not to do certain things, they do them anyway, so they do something they know is wrong.

Verse 14 says their conscience is a law to [them], so they’re breaking the law they have, which leaves them as guilty as Jews breaking the Ten Commandments.

Now let me ask you a simple question…

Is it bad when people disobey their conscience?

Yes.

Now another question…

If it’s bad for people to disobey their conscience, then how bad do you think it is to LEAD PEOPLE to disobey their conscience?

Really bad! It’s called stumbling others.

Before we look at 1 Corinthians 8, let me show you a few verses in Romans 14 that will help us better understand the verses in 1 Corinthians 8. We’re going to go through these verses quickly so you can pick up the theme. We’ll start at verse 14

Romans 14:14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but IT IS UNCLEAN FOR ANYONE WHO THINKS IT UNCLEAN.

This is interesting. We know from many verses that Paul thought all food was clean.

But he also said food is unclean for people who think it’s unclean, or whose consciences forbid them from eating it.

That’s interesting that a clean food could be unclean to some people b/c of their consciences.

If people are convinced they shouldn’t do something, even if their assessment is wrong, they shouldn’t do it.

Here’s a quote I like…

A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”

The idea is someone has been convinced to do something against his will – or conscience – but he isn’t really convinced – he’s of the same opinion – so he ends up sinning against his conscience.

Look at verse 15

Romans 14:15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.

The Greek word for grieved means caused pain or distress.

When he says grieved by what you eat, it doesn’t mean the weak brother looks at you eat something, thinks you shouldn’t eat it, and is grieved b/c you ate it. It means he sees you eat something, thinks he can eat it, and is grieved by the shame and guilt he experiences later.

Notice two things in this verse that will relate to the verses in 1 Corinthians 8:

  1. Paul says we destroy people when we cause them to violate their consciences. This is strong language that I’ll explain later.
  2. Second, he says Christ died for the believer. Hold on to this too.

Look at verse 16

Romans 14:16 So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil.

Good means acceptable. In other words, you think something is acceptable – or good – but it becomes bad, b/c it stumbles someone else.

Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

This mentions essentials and nonessentials in the kingdom of God:

  • Eating and drinking, or food and drink, are nonessentials, or amoral issues. We don’t argue w/ people over nonessentials. We pursue peace in these areas, b/c they’re not about right and wrong.
  • Righteousness and peace and joy are essentials, or moral issues, and we must be willing to offend or persuade people in these areas, b/c they’re about right and wrong.

Romans 14:18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.

If you Christ by loving the weaker brother you will be acceptable to God – which is to say God is pleased w/ your behavior – and approved by men – which is to say men will be happy w/ you too, b/c they know you’re acting out of love for them.

Romans 14:19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

There are two reasons we shouldn’t quarrel over nonessentials…

First, b/c we should pursue peace and mutual upbuilding – or unity.

Second, b/c we could cause people to violate their consciences. Look at verse 20

Romans 14:20 Do not, for the sake of food, DESTROY the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another STUMBLE by what he eats. 21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to STUMBLE.

Stumbling others can destroy them, so…

Romans 14:22a The faith – or knowledge – that you have, KEEP BETWEEN YOURSELF AND GOD.

I told you two weeks ago that faith should be thought of as knowledge. For example, verse 4 says As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.

It would be better to understand this as weak in [knowledge] or lacking knowledge that others have, b/c this isn’t an issue of having strong or weak faith.

We should keep our knowledge to ourselves so we don’t lead others to disobey their consciences.

Look at the rest of the verse…

Romans 14:22b Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves…or on himself for what he thinks is acceptable.

This is interesting…

If we don’t keep our knowledge to ourselves, we could cause others to sin by violating their consciences…and that should violate our consciences too. We should feel bad about causing others to sin.

We’re blessed if we keep our knowledge to ourselves, b/c then we [have no] reason to pass judgment on ourselves – or condemn ourselves – for causing others to sin.

This is a great reason not to cause others to violate their consciences: so we can have clear consciences too.

Look at verse 23

Romans 14:23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

When it says is condemned, it doesn’t mean God condemns him – although that’s true too – it means his conscience condemns him. Later he has doubts about what he did, feels bad about it, and condemns himself.

Up to this point maybe you’ve wondered: “When people violate their conscience is it really sin?”

This verse is important b/c it answers that question for us. It’s the first verse we’ve seen saying it is sin.

Now w/ this in mind turn back to 1 Corinthians 8. We’re at verse 11 but back up to verse 9 for context…

1 Corinthians 8:9 But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 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 to idols? 11 And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died.

Here it is again about the weak brother is destroyed…and this brings us to the last part of Lesson 3…

Lesson 3: knowledge is used immorally when it (part ii) destroys others.

In verse 10 notice four important words: if anyone sees you.

We’ve talked about persuading someone to do something, but maybe we’ve only thought in terms of verbally. With the words sees you we’ve now moved from the direct to the indirect. What I mean is:

  • We can directly lead people to violate their consciences by talking them into doing things they shouldn’t do.
  • But we can also indirectly lead people to violate their consciences by our example.

This causes us to consider who’s around us and how our actions might affect them.

To say a weak brother is destroyed – which Paul says in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8 – is very strong language.

What does it mean?

It’s not speaking physically. It’s speaking spiritually.

Since people can’t lose their salvation, it doesn’t mean they go to hell, but it does mean serious detriment to their spiritual growth.

Let me give you two examples, one from Paul’s day, and one from our day.

Imagine a Gentile was steeped in idolatry. He repents, comes to Christ, and as – as Romans 14:23 says – has doubts about eating meat sacrificed to idols.

But then he sees a strong believer go into the temple of one of the idols he used to worship. The strong believer buys some of the meat sacrificed to the idol and eats it. The Gentile believer is encouraged – as verse 10 says – by the strong believer’s example, goes back to the temple he frequented before, buys and eats meat sacrificed to the idol. Later – as Romans 14:23 says – he has doubts and is condemned, because [he didn’t eat in] faith.

So the strong brother stumbled the weak brother.

But now imagine this…

The weak brother goes back to the temple again to buy more meat, and is drawn back into worshiping the idol. Now he’s destroyed b/c of the strong brother’s example.

Let me give you an example in our day…

Imagine someone’s weak conscience prevents him from drinking alcohol, but he sees someone w/ a strong conscience drink alcohol. He thinks it’s okay, so he drinks. Later he feels bad, b/c his conscience forbid him. So the strong brother stumbled the weak brother.

But now imagine this…

The strong brother can drink his whole life w/o ever having problems, but the weak brother continues drinking and ends up becoming a drunk. The strong brother destroyed the weak brother.

For a moment let me step out of the preacher role and step more into the shepherd role…

I can honestly tell you that I’ve never seen one good thing come from drinking alcohol. But I’ve seen many bad things. Katie and I have both had family members struggle w/ drunkenness. Katie’s mother died from it.

I see no advantages, but plenty of dangers and disadvantages.

A few times in my Christian life I’ve had people argue w/ me about the freedom they have to drink.

I don’t know if they ended up stumbling anyone else, but at least two of these people who argued w/ me later ended up having problems w/ alcohol. Their supposed freedom didn’t destroy someone else. It destroyed them.

This also shows that even though they tried to convince me – and perhaps themselves – that they had the freedom to drink, they didn’t really have it.

At the end of verse 11 notice the words the brother for whom Christ died.

This is about value. It would be easy for the strong brother to think the weak brother isn’t as valuable, but Paul says Christ died for him too. He’s as valuable as the strong brother, so the strong brother must be concerned for him.

Also, b/c Christ died for the weak brother, the strong brother didn’t just sin against the weak brother. He also sinned against Christ. Look at verse 12

1 Corinthians 8:12 Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.

Since Christ died for this brother, he’s part of the body of Christ, which is to say he’s part of Christ, and to sin against him is to sin against Christ.

This verse is so important b/c…

People could listen to everything Paul said and think, “If I cause someone to stumble, it’s not a deal. I’m simply offending that person. It’s their issue and they need to deal w/ it.”

Paul says, “No, it’s very serious, and it’s your issue. You’re sinning against Christ Himself. You need to repent.”

I was reflecting on something. Look back w/ me at verse 1

1 Corinthians 8:1 Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up.

At the very beginning Paul appealed to his readers to do what’s right out of love.

We understand he meant out of love for others, but when Paul mentions Christ in the last two verses it’s like he also appeals to us out of love for Christ. It’s like he says, “Do this not just b/c you love your brother or sister in Christ, but b/c you love Christ.”

This is important, b/c sometimes we don’t want to do things for people. At those times we need to remember we’re doing it for Christ.

I want you to notice something important…

This is the 5th and final time in verses 7-12 that Paul mentions the weak brother.

He also mentioned the weak brother twice in Romans 14

Romans 14:4 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him…2 One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables.

In all these verses about the weak brother, Paul never talks about the strong brother making the weak brother strong.

By this point we know why: in the process of trying to make the weak brother strong, the strong brother could cause the weak brother to violate his conscience.

So here’s the question…

If the strong brother isn’t supposed to make the weak brother strong, what is the strong brother supposed to do for the weak brother?

The answer is in verse 13…he’s supposed to sacrifice for him…

1 Corinthians 8:13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

Because it is such a serious sin to stumble someone, Paul says he’s willing to give up eating meat altogether. He probably wasn’t saying he’d never eat any meat again. Instead, he’s saying he’d never eat meat sacrificed to idols…and this brings us to Lesson 2…

Lesson 2: knowledge is used morally when it (part 2) sacrifices for others.

For believers it should be unthinkable to sin against Christ or our brothers and sisters for whom He died. Rather the love Paul preaches in this chapter will lead us to love those whom Christ loves. As a result, we will take care to avoid doing anything that would stumble others and hinder their spiritual growth in Christ.

Paul is encouraging us to gladly sacrifice our rights.

This is an interesting sermon to preach right after the 4th of July, b/c this is the one time per year we most think about our freedoms and liberties.

As Americans we think about the freedoms and liberties we have, but as Christians Paul wants us to think about the freedoms and liberties we sacrifice for others.

The Bible expects us to do the opposite of what we would expect to do:

  • We would expect the Bible to tell us to convince others of their freedom and liberty.
  • Instead, we’re told to sacrifice our freedom and liberty to make others comfortable, prevent stumbling, have unity, and be at peace.

So interestingly…

When you meet people who have different convictions than you, instead of trying to convince them to be like you, you’re expected to lay down your liberties and be more like them when you’re around them:

  • They’re vegans, you become a vegan
  • They don’t drink, you don’t drink
  • They don’t like certain movies, music, or activities, you stop those movies, music, and activities

Basically, we’re expected to make the changes that allow us to be more like others, instead of expecting people to be more like us.

We determine what we can and can’t do – not by considering whether we have the liberty – but by considering the way that liberty affects others.

If you think you have a liberty, but it will stumble your brother or sister in Christ, you don’t have that liberty…at least not around them.

As a Christian, you’re part of a family and that means thinking about how your actions affect the rest of the family.

We should consider why we don’t give up liberties sometimes, and usually it boils down to selfishness:

  • We care more about ourselves than we care about others.
  • We care more about what we want than what others want.

The sad irony associated w/ this kind of attitude is people will often defend their actions by saying something like, “I have the freedom in Christ to do this.”

So they’ll associate their selfishness w/ Christ, as though Christ allows them to be selfish.

But the reality is if they were really thinking about Christ they’d say, “I know Christ wants me thinking about my brothers and sisters, so even though I have the liberty to do this, I won’t!”

Let me conclude w/ this…

Only by the transforming work of the Gospel can the good of our neighbor come to mean more to us than our freedoms and liberties, b/c in the Gospel Jesus gave up His own freedoms and liberties for us.

Our motivation for all this – our motivation to love others and give up our freedoms – should come from thinking about Jesus’ example and the freedom He gave up for us:

John 10:18 [Jesus said], “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down.”

This is a lot of freedom to be willing to give up!

Jesus said, “I have the freedom to keep My life, but I’m willing to give it up for you.”

Jesus allowed men to mock Him, beat Him, pluck out His beard and finally lift Him up and nail Him to a cross.

When we think of the freedom Jesus was willing to give up for us, it should make the freedom we give up for our brothers and sisters in Christ pale in comparison.

Let’s pray.

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