Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 4 * BOOK 27
I CORINTHIANS 6:11 – 9:7 – PART 2
We’re going to skip forward to I Corinthians Chapter 8, and we are going to deal with yet another problem that was holding the Corinthian Church at bay. They just didn’t know how to cope with meat in the market place or maybe at the table, of someone who had invited them to dinner, if that meat had been offered at a pagan temple. Now granted, in our society today we don’t have to face this particular thing, but still I think it’s appropriate for us to study it for a little bit because we have other things that we can liken to this problem they had.
I Corinthians 8:1
“Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.”
Now of course when we get to Chapter 13 we’re going to study the love chapter, and remember love is the very foundation of our whole Christian faith. Love is what prompted Christ to go to the Cross, love is what prompted Him to save us if we simply believe The Gospel. (Ref: I Corinthians 15:1-4) And then the other side of the coin is, love is the predominating factor in the life of the believer, whether it’s in our marriage relationship, whether it’s with our children, or neighbors. It all boils down to how much do we love them.
You know I was hit with that during the past week or so. I was reading one of the famous authors, and he was bringing this out, and the thought came to me that maybe that was one of my shortcomings. I just don’t love the unlovely as much as I should, I can’t help it, and I recognize it as a shortfall, and I have to confess it. When people do things that are so contrary to the Scriptures, and the good of the community, and the good of society, it irks me, and I’m not afraid to admit it. But what we always have to understand is, “We hate the sin, but we love the sinner.”
I got that taught to me years and years ago when I sold a man up north all of my fat cattle I had been feeding. This man was a very devout religious man. He would go to weekend retreats, but oh, he had language that was terrible. I can’t repeat all that he said, but one day he was telling me that his little five-year-old had come in crying because the kids down the street were picking on him, because he was a different religion than they were. So he says, “I sat the little fellow on my lap, and said now look son, you don’t have to like the little so-and-sos, but you’re supposed to love them for God’s sake.” And you know that was a lesson, and I’ve never forgotten it. There are people up and down the highways and byways of our life that we don’t have to necessarily like, and we certainly don’t like the things that they do, but we’re still supposed to love them for Christ’s sake, because He died for them. And that’s just a practical every day illustration. Now verse 2:
I Corinthians 8:2
“And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.”
In other words, when we think we have learned it all, we’re just getting started. There is no way we can exalt the things of God.
I Corinthians 8:3
“But if any man love God, the same is known of him.”
When we love The Lord Who first loved us, don’t you think for a moment that God doesn’t know you and I on a first name basis. Absolutely He does. We’re not just a number of millions, He knows us on a first name basis, He knows all about us. He knows our needs even before we ask. Now here comes the problem in verse 4.
I Corinthians 8:4-7a
“As concerning therefore (don’t lose sight of the motivation of love) the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, (small `g’) whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords man,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. (In other words He is the Creator of us all.) Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge:…”
Even these Corinthian believers who were babes in Christ did not have the full comprehension of Who and what God really is. And I dare say there are lots of believers today that are in the same boat. They’re saved, they’re still babes in Christ, and no comprehension of Who God really is. For us who have been Christians for a long time it is beyond us. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, except for my faith in The Word, and don’t think for a moment that I don’t believe it, yet from the human side, I just can’t comprehend that the One who created the universe, that the One who created man, and brought him up out of the dust, and breathed into him the breath of life, that same One went to that Roman Cross, and suffered at the hands mankind so that He could have me and you in eternity with Him. Now that’s beyond me. That is beyond me, why, and how the Creator did all that just for the Salvation of mankind, but He did. Some of these Corinthians although they were saved, still didn’t have the comprehension of our God in comparison to the powerless (for the most part) gods of idols. Reading on:
I Corinthians 8:7
“Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto the hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak (still young believers) is defiled.
What does Paul mean? For these weak, young in the faith believers, knowing where that meat had gone before it got to their table, they had some reservations about eating it. Now again I guess I’ll have to explain – whenever you’re under a pagan society remember the only way these pagan religious leaders can keep their people under control is to have them saturated with superstition. And you all know what superstition is? You’re scared to death to make a move in the wrong direction for fear that the powers that be will come down on you. Now this was the whole idea of pagan religion. They had their people steeped in superstition, and they were scared to death of the power of their god, and they knew all too well the powers of the demons in the air around them.
Now we here in America have been blessed that we’re not too plagued with demonism. Oh, we know it’s coming, but so far Christianity, I think, has been strong enough that it’s held the demon powers at bay. But you go into other areas of the world, and you’ll find demonism rampant, and real. It was at Christ’s time, as well in the time of Paul. And so these pagans understood demonic power. In Haiti their people know that voodooism has intrinsic power, it’s Satanic power, but it’s a power. Now these people in Corinth were so aware of the powers of the demons of the air that when they got ready to eat the meat, their superstitious mind said that if a demon was going to make entrance into his body the easiest way would be to get on that meat. So this was a big hang up.
Now in order to counteract that, these pagans would take their meat to their pagan priest, and the priest would put some kind of blessing on it that would keep the demons off their meat so they could eat it safely. Now all these things enter in, and a lot of times we don’t understand. So here comes a believer now and his best friend’s daughter is getting married, and he’s going to be going through all the pagan rites of marriage, and he’s invited to the wedding feast. Paul never tells these believers to stay away from that, they were free to go. But Paul says remember that even though your friend who is an idolater, feels that the meat has to be blessed and sacrificed to a pagan god, you don’t have to worry about it. Those idolatrous gods can’t do anything to you because you are a believer. Go ahead, and eat the meat, and don’t worry about it.
Okay, but over here on the other side of the table at that same wedding feast is a brand new Christian, and he hasn’t grown to any maturity whatsoever. And he looks across the table and there sits the Christian that has been a believer for 12-18 months, and he’s eating that meat. What do you suppose this new Christian thinks? How in the world can he sit there and eat meat that’s been offered to an idol? Now then, what’s Paul going to say? “Listen, if you are going to cause that young believer to stumble and have problems over this, then don’t eat the meat.”
Now again remember that when these pagans took their animals to be sacrificed in a pagan temple the priest would keep a certain portion of the meat for themselves much like the priests of Israel would. Then they would give the remaining part of the carcass back to the individual, and it was his to do with as he pleased. So if he wanted some cash in hand, what do you suppose he would do with the remaining meat? He would take it down to the butcher shop and sell it to the market. Now here comes unsuspecting people buying a chunk of that meat that had been sacrificed at the temple. These Christians knew this, so they had to write and ask Paul what they were to do, because most of the meat had already been offered to a pagan god.
I Corinthians 8:8
“But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse,”
It’s plain as day isn’t it? The Bible never demands that a believer be a vegetarian. I have to say that because I’m a cow man, and I like to sell beef, the more the better, but never in Scripture are we admonished not to eat meat. Paul says it doesn’t make any difference whether you do or you don’t.
I Corinthians 8:9-11
“But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.” (And I’ve already covered that. Don’t eat the meat if it’s going to make a new believer stumble, or cause him problems.) For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; And through thy knowledge (those of you who are mature) shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?” Are you going to cause him to stumble? Now verse 12:
I Corinthians 8:12
“But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.”
Paul says, “you don’t have to worry about the believer who is grounded in the faith, and is mature, but consider the poor fellow who is still weak.” And that’s what we all need to take into consideration. Watch out for that weak brother, because The Lord knows where that weak person is. He also understands where the mature person is, and He knows they have the wherewithal for all to make it a level playing field. Now verse 13.
I Corinthians 8:13
“Wherefore, if meat (offered to idols) make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.”
And that’s basically what Paul said back in Romans. If something that you feel you’re mature enough in, and it’s not going to hurt you, but it will bother the weak believer, then for his sake don’t do it. That’s a lesson that we can apply in so many areas of life today. I can probably do things that so far as The Lord and I are concerned, are perfectly legitimate. I have that liberty under Grace, but maybe there’s somebody just down the road who would see me do that, and would take tremendous offense at my actions. It could be a believer or an unbeliever, and if they think what we’re doing is wrong, then for their sake we just stop doing it.
I’ve made the statement over the years in my classes, “Do you realize that the unbelieving world is far more critical and judgmental of you and I as believers than God is?” Just think about that. Remember God has given us the guidelines in His Word, and we know that we have this amount of liberty that we are determined to do or not to do, as the Holy Spirit gives us guidance, and not by what our neighbors think. But we still have to take into consideration what is our neighbor’s attitude lest we cause him never to become a believer. As we start Chapter 9 we see the Apostle Paul again having to defend his apostleship.
I Corinthians 9:1,2
“Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord? If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you;…”
How could Paul say that? Because he had seen them saved out of abject idolatry only because of his ministry. So he says, “you’re the proof of the pudding, and if I were not an Apostle then you would still be in your paganism.” I’ve had people say to me, “Well who do you think you are? You’re just a layman with no theological education, what business do you have standing up there teaching The Word?” And you know I probably would have questioned that myself years back, but do you know what I’ve got as proof of the pudding? Umpteen people who have been saved out of an especially sinful background. That’s my proof that The Lord has honored what we’re doing, by seeing so many people come out of darkness, and into the light of The Gospel. And that is what Paul is saying, “Hey, my apostleship is proven by you yourself, because I have led you out of dark idolatry.” Now verse 3:
I Corinthians 9:3-6
“Mine answer to them that do examine me is this, `Have we not power to eat and to drink? Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas? (Peter) Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?'”
What was the big complaint against Paul? Well, from especially the Jewish community, that he wasn’t one of the Twelve. They would say, “You didn’t walk with Jesus three years like Peter did. You never had that experience of being with him day and night for three years, you’ve never even seen Him. “But what could Paul say, “O yes I did. I saw the resurrected Lord,” and he’s going to point this out more clearly in a coming verse. But Paul was always being accused of not being what he claimed he was, because he did not have that three years of experience that the Twelve had. Well that is logical. But here he comes back, and says, “You are my proof of apostleship,” It wasn’t just Peter and the eleven that The Lord used. Besides Paul, He used Barnabas, but later on He will also use Silas, Timothy, Titus, and others. Now verse 7 – he’s still dealing with his apostleship.
I Corinthians 9:7
“Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?”
What is Paul going to start driving at? He’s going to start showing from the Scriptures, the Old Testament as well as the New Testament, that a servant of God whether he be a pastor or teacher or an evangelist, is worthy of his labor. He’s saying in verse 7 that when a nation calls a man into the armed forces, is he expected to buy his own necessities, and pay his own wages? Of course not. Who pays it? The government. Or he says, “If someone plants a vineyard, and puts all the work into getting that vineyard to produce, is he supposed to turn around and say, `but I don’t want to profit from it?'” No. But what does a vineyard owner deserve? A return for his labor and capital. Now Paul takes it one step further. Are you going to feed a flock of sheep or goats, and not even partake of the milk they produce? Paul is trying to show that as an Apostle he deserves a certain compensation for his time, and expenses, but did Paul ever take that compensation? No he never took it, and it was for the simple reason that he didn’t want anyone to ever point a finger at him and say, “Paul you’re just doing this for the money.”
Back when Paul was still in Judaism that was a factor as we will see in the Book of Galatians Chapter 1. And this was another reason that he was so adamant against taking any kind of pay or compensation for his work as an Apostle. Just because he had seen in his earlier life how it could corrupt him. And I guess my biggest fear, even in a ministry such as his, is taking money out. I think this was what was driving the Apostle Paul. Now verse 11:
“But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” In other words when he saw Christ face to face, and The Lord revealed these doctrines of Grace to this Apostle. Now verse 13:
“For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion (as a Pharisee, as a member of the Sanhedrin), how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited (now there’s only one way that you profit, and how is that? Monetarily.) in the Jews’ religion above many my equals…”
I’ve shared with my classes at least here in Oklahoma, when we go to Jerusalem we’ll see the archaeological dig of the ancient house of Caiaphas the high priest, and it was sumptuous. Those people capitalized on their religious position and Paul did also while a member of that religion, and he says he did. And I think now that being a preacher in the Age of Grace Paul is going to do just the opposite. He is not going to let anyone accuse him of getting rich by his ministry. Oh listen we’re seeing so much of that today. I remember when I was just a kid getting out of High School, and one of my best friends said, “I think I’ll just go into the ministry, because it’s pretty easy money.” Well he certainly wasn’t looking at it from a believer’s standpoint. But this is what Paul is talking about in I Corinthians 9:7.