First Corinthians 8.1-3
1. First Corinthians 8. There was once a man who made an appointment to see his doctor. When the day arrived for his appointment he was finally ushered into a room where he waited until the doctor came in.
2. After a few brief seconds of "How are you" type of conversation the doctor asked the man, "What seems to be the problem?" The man said, "Doctor, I actually have three problems that have aggravated me so much I decided to come in and get them taken care of. I can’t see things the way I used to, I feel like I need to go to the bathroom every five minutes, and I have an ingrown toenail that just will not heal."
3. With that the doctor proceeded to obtain a thorough case history, after which he performed an examination, and ordered a number of lab tests. When he was finished he told the man to come back in a couple of days when the test results would be in.
4. The man came back to his physician at the appointed time and the doctor said, "Mr. Jones, you don’t have three problems, but one. You have a disease called diabetes that’s given you the three symptoms you told me about on your last visit. The lab tests have confirmed my diagnosis."
5. Mr. Jones replied, "You quack doctor. You’re crazy!" Then he went to an optometrist to get some glasses, a podiatrist to get his ingrown toenail treated, and a urologist to try to reduce the number of bathroom visits.
6. Some of you may mock and perhaps even ridicule people who respond to the advice and counsel of their doctors the way Mr. Jones did, but then you will turn right around and do the same thing yourselves in the spiritual arena.
7. Though the doctor Mr. Jones went to was really smart, he wasn’t as wise as he might have been. You see, a truly wise physician might have gained the patient’s confidence while attempting to tackle the real problem. If he knew Mr. Jones well he might have realized that he would have to treat a symptom or two in order for this patient to be receptive to his plans for dealing with the root problem that plagued him.
8. An example would be the treatment of his ingrown toe nail to alleviate the throbbing pain, so Mr. Jones would begin to feel a little better and wouldn’t be so cranky and irritable, just more likely to follow his doctor’s advice. Then, along with the treatment of a symptom or two, the doctor tackles the real problem of coping with Mr. Jones’ diabetes.
9. Once the diabetes has been properly controlled the doctor could once again turn his attention to whatever remaining symptoms there are. I’m certainly no medical doctor, but I know people well enough to realize that some folks just require this kind of handling.
10. Do you realize that this is precisely the way in which Paul dealt with some of the spiritual problems in the lives of the Corinthian Christians? Sure. First, he treated some of their symptoms, then he dealt with the real spiritual problem that plagued them, and then he mopped up the rest of their symptomatic problems.
11. My friends, I know just about every one of you. And I’ll bet I know most of you far better than you think I do. Want to know something? Some of you are, in your own ways, a Mr. or Mrs. Jones. Some of you think you have one or two or three distinct problems to cope with, but they are only symptoms of a root problem.
12. A number of you here today are doctrinally sound, but you find fault in so much. Oh, you may excel at professing your good innocence and your good intentions, but you still seem to always end up being able to find a negative feature in what is otherwise great. You are great at snatching spiritual defeat from the jaws of victory.
13. Others of you are less than really truthful. Oh, not really and not much. You will just fib a little bit when you’re really put on the spot about something, or you will exaggerate the facts of a situation to suit your purpose or to achieve your goal of making yourself look good. Can I pause here for just a moment to remind you that I love you?
14. Some of you here today are just plain moody. You mope around all the time because things aren’t going the way you’d like them to go. You’re a guy who comes home from work sighing and crying instead of lifting the spirits of those around you. Or you’re a woman who always greets her husband with a complaint or a worry, and you seem never happy to see the man you are married to. Resisting the Holy Spirit’s movings to work in your life to produce joy is what you’re doing when you behave that way.
15. Still others of you pride yourselves in what you perceive to be genuine personal loyalty, while all the time you are not faithful to Christ and loyal to Him. Still others of you are just plain failures as Christians. Oh, there are reasons why you don’t succeed spiritually, or in any other way. And the reasons for the failures may seem always to be so plausible. But failing is really the only thing you have ever done in the spiritual realm.
16. Now, if God were to compare you to other Christians in the San Gabriel Valley, you’d be tops. But you know something? He doesn’t work that way at all. God has no concern for how you and I stack up against other Christians.
17. He only cares about what you are versus what you could be. And the only way you will ever be what you can be, the only way you will ever do what you ought to do, is to tackle this as yet unnamed problem that we are about to see spoken of by Paul.
18. In First Corinthians chapters one through seven Paul dealt with some of the more obvious symptoms that could be seen in their Christian lives. Then, in First Corinthians chapters eight through sixteen, he dealt with the remaining symptoms in their lives. But in First Corinthians 8.1-3, Paul shared with his beloved Corinthians their root spiritual problem, the real issue that lay back of all their myriad of symptoms.
19. Let’s stand together and read what he wrote to them: "Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. But if any man love God, the same is known of him."
20 Please remain standing as brother Isenberger comes to lead us in a song.
1. My friends, the Corinthians were a people overcome with pride and arrogance. And this showed up in their unwillingness to build up others and to overestimate themselves in every way. They especially overestimated their own comprehension and understanding of spiritual truth.
2. Do you see it in the text? They mistakenly thought that Bible knowledge was an end in itself. They simply did not realize that knowing doctrinal things, knowing Biblical things, ought to be nothing more than an aid to knowing whether or not you know God and then knowing God more.
3. The great indictment of the Corinthians, and of some of you who are here today, is that you do not really know Him. Some of you are saved, having trusted Christ as your personal Savior. But your knowledge of God is immature, is undeveloped, is uncultivated.
4. Others of you have convinced yourselves, through the deceitfulness of your own sinful hearts, that you are saved. But you have not really come to God through faith in His Son Jesus Christ.
5. Beloved, it is necessary that you use what Biblical and doctrinal facts you have to discover how to know God through faith in His son Jesus. Do not presume to think that the accumulation of facts about God is at all satisfactory.
6. Three observations illustrate the truth of this.
1A. First, NOTICE THE CONTRAST IN VERSE 1
There are actually two contrasts drawn by Paul in this verse.
1B. First, There Is The Contrast Between Paganism And Faith In Christ
"Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we have all knowledge"
1C. You can tell from the rest of the chapter that what Paul is talking about is the concern that some Corinthians had about purchasing meat from the marketplace that had originally been offered by heathens to their false gods. Their question was, "Is it proper to purchase and then to eat such meat that had been sacrificed to idols?"
2C. Paul will go on to address that particular question, but before he does he makes a pointed spiritual application. And the way in which he does this is to draw a contrast between the practice of the heathen to offer animals to their false gods, which is based on false knowledge, and the absolute certainty that a Christian has the truth.
3C. Do you have the truth, Christian? Is this Christian faith handed down to us exactly what every man and every woman needs to find peace with God and life eternal? Are you dogmatically sure that what you believe is correct, what you believe is true, what you believe is what everyone ought to believe, and what you know everyone needs to know?
4C. You see, what the heathen believe, since they believe in each people and each civilization having their own gods, is that what I believe is right for me and what you believe is right for you, and what the wife-burning Hindus believe is right for them, and what the cannibalistic Aztecs believed was right for them.
5C. But if there is one true God, and one true faith, can such religious diversity all be true? No! Not only is it unscriptural, it’s illogical. So, Christians and people who think they are Christians have factual knowledge of certain vital truths, while the vast majority of unsaved people have only ignorance which they presume to be spiritual knowledge.
2B. Having Established That Contrast, Which Saved People And People Who Think They Are Saved Accept As Valid, Paul Draws Another Contrast Which Is Not So Obvious, But Which Is Equally True Nevertheless
1C. "Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth." What is it to be puffed? Isn’t it true that being puffed is a symptom of a pride problem? Isn’t Paul telling you that the more you know the more prone you are to develop a pride problem? Yes, he is.
2C. This principle is one of the main reasons why I am opposed to sending kids right out of high school to Bible college, where they will be filled with Bible knowledge and facts, usually resulting in very little spiritual growth, but a great tendency toward pride and arrogance.
3C. Charity, on the other hand and in contrast to knowledge, which is "agaph" love, actually edifies, builds, strengthens, matures. And this is the charity which Paul will go on to describe in chapter 13 of this same epistle.
4C. Notice this contrast in another light before we move on. When you gain knowledge and you’re puffed the emphasis is on yourself. But charity edifieth. And I am sure that you will discover in your personal Bible study that it is others who are edified, not yourself, when you have love.
5C. So, knowledge has a great tendency to being proudly self oriented, while charity is always others oriented.
2A. WITH THE CONTRAST DRAWN LET’S MOVE ON TO PAUL’S CONCERN (8.2)
"And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know."
If we look at Paul’s two phrases in this verse we can appreciate his concern.
1B. As To Perception
"And if any man think that he knoweth anything..."
1C. Paul is not concerned at this point about the person who knows not and knows that he knows not. He’s concerned about you who knows not and knows not that you know not. And this is a very common problem.
2C. You see, you Christians and you who think you are Christians, especially you Bible readers who accumulate a great many Bible facts, run a risk. You sometimes think that the more you know the more spiritual you are, or the more you know the more certain you are that you are truly converted.
3C. But no matter the volume of facts a believer or a pretender may accumulate, from the Bible or other sources, the facts in and of themselves do not mean you really "know" anything. And I use the word "know" in the sense of understand. Facts do not always make for understanding in the spiritual realm.
4C. You see, Proverbs 9.10 tells us that it is the knowledge of the holy which brings understanding. Friends, the accumulation of facts does not mean you have a knowledge of the holy. God is concerned about this erroneous perception of true spirituality you have. Why? Because without holiness no man shall see the Lord, Hebrews 12.14.
2B. Moving On. As To Reality
"he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know"
1C. The fact is, the surest indicator of profound ignorance is when a person thinks he is positive he knows what is going on. And this is one of the first things I noticed as God began to move me away from decisionism. Oh, the danger of that person who is so convinced that he is converted that he discounts even the possibility that his own wicked heart is self-deceived.
2C. You see, a flippant self-confidence about your own conversion is a red flag to the discerning Christian, not that you are necessarily lost, but that you are necessarily proud.
3C. Notice the reality Paul states. "...he knoweth nothing...." Folks, this shows us that the accumulation of information, whether it be Bible facts or any other kind of facts, doesn’t necessarily make even a dent in your ignorance of spiritual realities.
4C. The Corinthians did not know this. No wonder Paul was concerned for them. Memorizing Bible verses, witnessing to people and telling them about Christ, knowing the doctrinal truths . . . does not mean you know anything about the spiritual realities of the Christian life.
5C. How revolutionary are Paul’s words! How astounding are their implications! Why, everything that man holds to be true, everything about religious beliefs which are false, and almost everything Christians and those who think they are Christians hold dear, is based upon the false notion that he who is armed with the facts is really set.
6C. Therefore, Paul dares challenge you who presume to call yourself a child of God because you know the plan of salvation, or who have confidence you are converted because you may be familiar with some confession of faith.
7C. My friend, the evangelical world and most Baptists are going to Hell because they think their knowledge of Bible facts saves them! Are you among them in this tragic error? On what do you base your confidence that you are truly converted?
3A. NOW THAT WE KNOW OF PAUL’S CONCERN, LET’S FOCUS ON THE CONCEPT HE WANTS US TO UNDERSTAND (8.3)
"But if any man love God, the same is known of him."
1B. My Friends, It’s All About Love For God. Do You See The Word "Same" Here In Verse 3? It’s An Interesting Word. According To A. T. Robertson, Now Departed, But Recognized As One Of The Most Knowledgeable Greek Scholars Who Ever Lived, The Construction Of This Sentence Does Not Tell Us Who Is Referred To By The Word "Same."
2B. That Means, Paul Is Either Referring To The Man Who Loves God, Or To God Who Is Loved By The Man. But Which Ever Way The Sentence Is Understood The Truth Is Undeniable.
3B. On One Hand, Paul May Be Saying That If You Love God Then God Knows You. This Verifies My Contention That Every Lost Man Hates God, Because Only The Converted Man Can Love God.
4B. But Paul May Also Be Saying That If You Love God Then You Know God, Since He Is Recognized To Be Lovely To Those Who Know Him. And Though Both Are True, I Am Of The Opinion That The Context Of The Passage Requires This Second Interpretation.
5B. Think About This For A Moment. Think About The Contrast Between Knowledge And Charity, And Between Knowledge And Love. Think About Those Who Think They Know But Are Really Ignorant Of What They Ought To Know. Are You One Of Those People?
6B. Now Think About The Concept God Wants You To Comprehend ....That The True Problem The Corinthians Had, The True Problem That You Also Have, Is Related To Your Knowledge Of God.
7B. You See, The Way God Wants It, You Sit Under Gospel Preaching And Study The Word Of God To Learn Facts About The Nature And The Splendor Of God. As You Rely Upon Those Facts And Truths About God You Must Realize That God Is Holy And You Are Sinful. As Well, You Realize That You Cannot Know God Until You Turn From Your Sins And Trust Jesus To Cleanse You With His Blood. But It Doesn’t Stop There, Though Most Baptists Stop There. To Be Truly Saved, To Actually Know God, You Must Move Beyond A Mere Knowledge Of Facts And Actually Come To Trust Jesus.
8B. But This Is Not An End In Itself. Learning About The Holiness And Majesty Of God, And What Jesus Has Done For You; The Love That He Has Demonstrated Toward You In Dying A Sinner’s Death For You. You See, You Actually Receive The Love Of God In Christ When You Turn From Your Wickedness And Selfishness And Get Saved. This Is How You Really Know God, By Coming To Know Jesus, His Son, As Your Personal Savior.
7B. But Are You Really Saved? How Do You Know You Are Really Saved? You Don’t Know You’re Saved By Saying You Are Over And Over Again. Holy Spirit-Given Confidence, Biblical Assurance Of Salvation, Comes Only When You Begin To Show Your Love For God. And What Is Love? It’s Obedience. You See, Only Those Who Know God And Who Are In Turn Known Of God Actually Love God. And Love Is Demonstrated By Obedience, Second John 6.
8B. But It Doesn’t Stop There. As A Child Of God, The More You Know About God The More You Will Want To Know Him. And The More You Know Him The More You Will Want To Serve Him.
1. An illustration: When she was really little, my daughter Sarah knew me as her daddy in a rudimentary way. And I knew her as my little girl. But though I loved her just the way she was I did not want her to stay that way forever. I wanted her to grow and mature. I wanted her to learn more about me so that she would learn to love me more.
2. Now, were I God I would be guaranteed that the more she knew me the more she would love me, thereby motivating her even more to get to know me even better. Knowing about me, generating love for me, motivating her to know me more intimately. That’s what the Corinthians missed and what Paul wanted them to understand. You must know God more intimately than you do.
3. But some would disagree. Some would question the necessity of knowing God intimately. Some would deny that it’s critical to know Him at all. Others would maintain that knowing God as His saved little child is sufficient , but that knowing Him in a more profoundly personal way is unimportant. Now, you wouldn’t ever actually say that, but you show it by the way you live. Don’t you?
4. But friends, knowing God intimately is critical to your spiritual condition. Further, wanting to know God more intimately is an indication of whether you are saved or lost. Let me quickly give you three reasons why it’s critical:
5. Knowing God is necessary by reason of its importance. Is it really important to know God? Yes it is. Look at Paul. Was Paul a slouch? Was he someone to be dismissed? No. Profoundly intelligent. Theologically astute. Philosophically expert. But until he trusted Jesus as his savior he did not really know God and he did not really love God, though he thought he did. But then Paul was converted.
6. Let’s see what example Paul set as a converted man, so far as knowing God in Christ is concerned. Philip- pians 3.10-15: "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you."
7. Paul’s goal was to increase, not his knowledge of the facts about Jesus, though that is useful along the way. His goal was to improve his personal, experimental, intimacy with the Savior. He wanted to personally savor the Son of God as a means of knowing his God more intimately!
8. And he mentions, in verse 15, that if you have a problem understanding how important such a goal as this is . . . God will straighten you out in time. Of course, the best way to getting straightened out is getting saved. But if you don’t get saved you’ll still get straightened out on this point. You see, in Hell you will begin to see the importance of knowing God in Christ.
9. I also know that knowing God is necessary because of the exhortation of Peter in Second Peter 3.18: "But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen."
10. If the last words of a man about to be martyred for Christ are worth taking note of, then take note of what Peter wrote. The very last thing he wrote was an exhortation to grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Not to learn more facts about Him, though that certainly has its place, but to learn Him.
11. Finally, knowing God better is necessary by reason of its implications. Do you realize that knowing God more intimately than you now do will affect your prayer life? Hebrews 4.16 talks about coming boldly to the throne of grace to obtain and find grace.
12. But are you not far more likely to pray if you are so personally acquainted with God that you really begin to know how eager He is to dispense grace and mercy to those who will only ask? Sure you are.
13. And how about your witnessing? In Second Corinthians 5.11 Paul indicated that it was knowing the terror of the Lord that caused him to persuade men to be saved. He was so personally well acquainted with God that he had a far better understanding of God’s wrath that would be unleashed on the lost than would any Christian who had just heard about God’s wrath but who did not know God intimately.
14. And how about your giving? Philippians 4.19 talks about God supplying your need. But how few people take God up on this promise. Why? Because they know so much more about Him than they know Him. They have not used the facts about God that they have gathered as an incentive to learn of Him more.
15. And how about your personal standards and outlook on holy living? Do you suppose Isaiah had always known God to be a holy and righteous God? Sure. He’d been taught that stuff his whole life. But when he actually experienced the presence of God in his life, when he saw the Lord high and lifted up . . . then he said, "Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts."
16. Had Isaiah only the facts of God’s holiness he would never had responded with the heartfelt repentance that we read of. Folks, knowing certain things offend a person doesn’t make us stop doing them. But when we are on intimate terms with the person such things offend, then we will stop doing them . . . for Him.
17. Do you see why it’s so necessary to really know Him, as Paul talked about, and as Peter talked about? Sure you’ve been created to glorify Him. But do you realize that you’ll never glorify Him as you have been created to glorify Him until you really know Him?
18. "Fine, pastor, but what is required to know God more intimately?" I believe there to be four imperatives for knowing God.
19. First, there must be honesty. What Job said we must say. Job 42.5-6 reads, "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eyes seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes." Are you willing to be honest enough to see yourself in this light when compared to God? You’ll have to be to get saved for real, my friend.
20. Second, there must be horror. In Revelation 1.17 we read that when John saw the Lord Jesus in all His glory he fell at His feet as dead. John’s action sprang from horror. The word "horror" refers to a shuddering that is caused by fear.
21. Not horror as in horrible. This is horror that springs from being in the presence of One so wonderful, One so magnificent, One so awe-inspiring, that a physical reaction is normal and to be expected. Is God awe- inspiring to you? Do you fear Him? If not, then your concept and understanding of His person is limited and twisted, because even the demons feel this way about Him. Friend, it’s unlikely that you will ever flee to the safety of Christ before you begin to appreciate the fear of the Lord.
22. Third, there must be humility. In Philippians Paul tells us to have the same humble mind that Christ had. In James 4 we are told that God resists the proud but gives graces to the humble. You’ll not trust Jesus until you bend the knee and bow the head. You cannot hope to ascend into the presence of God if you think you are somebody. The requirement that God has for dwelling near Him is that we realize ourselves to be nobodies. To wear no mask of pride or presumption, but to trust Jesus to save you; that’s humility.
23. Finally, there must be hunger. Matthew 5.6 pronounces a blessing on those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.
24. When all is said and done, isn’t it true that the frustrations, the failures, the falls that you have taken in your life, are just symptoms of the fact that you do not know Him as you ought, either as a lost man who doesn’t know God at all, or as a Christian who knows God ignorantly and in an immature way?
25. If you are not saved, have not trusted Christ to the saving of your soul, you don’t know Him at all, Whom to know is life eternal.
26. If you are saved and you are growing in your love and knowledge of God it means joy, real peace of heart and mind, fulfillment, are yours. And in those times when you are not maturing, not growing in your knowledge of God, you are experiencing only bitter defeat and endless failures in the spiritual realm.
27. Have you spent your Christian life seeking the blessings instead of seeking Him Who blesses? Are you guilty of the sin one man wrote about when he penned these words? "You seek revival instead of the God of revival?"
28. My friends, it’s high time to know God. He sent His son Jesus to save you, that through faith in Christ you might know Him and be known of Him, love Him and be loved by Him.
29. You have received your divine summons. Now it's time to come to Jesus.