Sunday School Material 7-13-14: Exercise Freedom With Caution

Introduction:A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is believers are called to place love above knowledge and freedom. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to place love above knowledge and freedom.

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Body:

Read I Corinthians 8:1-3

I. Primacy of Love. Paul makes ready to talk about the issue of eating meat scarified to idols. In the Sunday School material he starts by talking about how love is more important than knowledge. Those who love God are known by God.

Applications -

- Love over knowledge. Notice in vss. 1-3 that love is greater in value than knowledge. On one hand, believers ought to read, listen, and study. Ignorance is not the same as holiness.

But on the other hand, the proper application of knowledge (i.e., wisdom) reminds us that the second greatest commandment is to love others, as we love ourselves.

Thus, when being familiar with information becomes more important than carrying out the command to love one another then knowledge is in the wrong place. Let’s work on loving one another more than simply gathering more and more knowledge.

Read I Corinthians 8:4-8

II. Primacy of God. In our Sunday School material Paul makes clear that idols are really of no value. God is God all by Himself. Paul acknowledges that there are some people with weak consciouses. To them, eating meat that was associated with idols was a sin.

Applications -

- The one God. Notice in vss. 4, 6 that believers are called to be monotheistic (i.e., one God as opposed to more than one or polytheism).

First, as much emphasis as there is today on religious tolerance and coalitions, believers must be careful about getting into a situation where they appear to support there being other gods and even more careful about appearing to endorse the idea that all of the gods are about the same.

Sometimes the easiest thing to do is to do community work with each group representing their beliefs, instead of creating some generic makeshift theology and practice for a given occasion.

Second, for believers, God is the source and aim of all that we have. Our very lives (i.e., physical and spiritual) find their source in God.

And then our lives should be aimed at pleasing God. Let’s live like we believe that God is God all by Himself and that He is the source and aim of our lives.

- Weak conscious. Notice in vs. 7-8 that the one who has unnecessary restrictions is said to have a weak conscious.

For example, there are those who think that drinking one or two glasses of wine with a meal is sin. They do fancy interpretation of scriptures that show Jesus turning water into wine and instituting the Lord’s Supper with wine.

Another example may be those who think that preaching should be all straight faced scripture discussion, as opposed to the inclusion of humor and current applications and commentary. Let’s strive to have a strong conscious.

The stronger we are, the more we can serve the Lord. The more restrictions we have, the less God can call us to do. This ought to matter to you, since serving the Lord is your great aim in life, right?

Read I Corinthians 8:9-13

III. Primacy of Witness. In our Sunday School material Paul urges his readers to be careful in how they use their freedom. On one hand, there is nothing wrong with eating the meat. But on the other hand, no one should cause harm to the weak person, by eating meat in front of them.

Applications -

- Love above freedom. Notice in vss. 9, 13 that Paul urges his readers to put love of the weak brother above Christian freedom. In Paul’s case, he says that he will not eat meat again, if such causes his sibling to sin.

First, to love is to be kind. It is not necessarily a warm fuzzy feeling or sense of liking someone. Thus, to love in the Sunday School material was to do the kind act of reframing from eating the meat in question (i.e., meat associated with idols, not just meat in general).

Second, as for “never eating meat,” the Pastor holds that this may be better understood in the theoretical context that it was presented. In other words, Paul was not talking about an actual person who was sinning because of Paul’s eating.

Paul was talking about a hypothetical “if what I eat causes …” situation. Thus, the Pastor holds that it would be good to reframe from some behaviors, while in the company of those with weak conscious.

However, to permanently reframe from a freedom, even when the weak are not around, is beyond the scope of the text for the Pastor (e.g., playing cards, going to a movie, eating at a restaurant that serves alcohol).

Third, love is more valuable than knowledge and freedom. Thus, we should strive to live by the highest values and principles of God’s word.

It is interesting how some will say “amen” to this point, as long as it is theoretical and convenient for them. But they lose their enthusiasm when the application of the concept calls for changing the dress code and play list in Sunday worship.

Fourth, we should seek discernment about church people manipulating this text to simply get their way. There are those who will claim they have a week conscious as their way of controlling your freedom.

Let’s work on loving those who are truly weak more than we love our freedoms.

- Loving for Jesus’ sake. Notice in vs. 12 of our Sunday School material that what one does to his/her weak sibling, one does to Christ, who died for the weak sibling.

In other words, how we treat one another is not simply a horizontal issue (i.e., person to person). It is also a vertical issue (i.e., person to God).

After all that Jesus has already done for us, we should do all that we can to avoid adding to His pain. Let’s work on loving one another for Jesus’ sake.

Conclusion: Let’s work on placing love above knowledge and freedom. God has much for those who obey His will.

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