"THE AIM OF LIBERTY"
First Corinthians 10.31-11.1
1. Just think about the myriad of things in a personís life that Paul has touched on, as you turn to First Corinthians 10.31.
2. Thinking about getting divorced? Paul dealt with the subject of divorce, both with believers who were married to believers and with believers who were married to lost people, both with believers who wanted the divorce and with believers whose mates wanted the divorce.
3. Thinking about getting married? Paul talked to those kind of people, too. He dealt with widows and with former fornicators. New Christians contemplating getting married and with virgins contemplating getting married. And he also talked with the fathers of the brides, knowing by inspiration of the Holy Spirit that young ladies are just about the poorest judges in the world of who they ought to marry and when they ought to marry.
4. Why, if Paul hadnít intervened and told fathers that it was their job to grant or deny permission to marry, dear old dad might erroneously think he was being a great guy by allowing his daughter to marry someone who would never be right for her.
5. Now folks, all of these things were covered in chapter 7 of First Corinthians alone. There are many more specific instances in which Paul teaches us about the correct use of liberty in chapters 8, 9 and 10. And in studying those specific applications of liberty we have gleaned several valuable principles related to the right use of Christian liberty.
6. But you know, no matter how many specific instances that Paul might have covered in the Bible, there would always be a situation come to light, either in your life or in mine, that was not dealt with specifically in the Bible. And when that happened where would we be? What would we do? How would we know, of a certainty, what the proper exercise of liberty should be?
7. We wouldnít know. And because we would not know the will of God in a certain situation, would not know how to properly use this privilege God has given to us, we would either misuse our liberty and be licentious, or we would not use it at all and be legalists.
8. So, because liberty is so important a factor in the Christianís life, Paul leaves us, as he departs from the subject to move on to another, with a summation of liberty in our text for today.
9. Letís stand together, then, as we read Paulís summary statements on Christian liberty. First Corinthians 10.31-11.1: "10.31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. 10.32 Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: 10.33 Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. 11.1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ."
10. Three summary statements about liberty in the Christian life.
1A. FIRST, THERE IS A SUMMARY STATEMENT OF THE PURPOSE OF LIBERTY
"10.31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. 10.32 Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God."
Notice how these two verses very neatly divide into positive and negative aspects.
1B. Verse 31 Shows The Positive Aspect Of Libertyís Goal
1C. ". . . do all to the glory of God." This verse may come as a surprise to some Christians, but it shouldnít surprise any believer who has read much of the Bible. For throughout the Scriptures we see the message repeated one way or another over and over and over again.
2C. Turn to Revelation 4.11: "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created."
1D. This scene, taking place in the future, after the Rapture, shows representatives of believers in heaven gathered around the throne of God and singing. And do you see what they are singing? They are singing about the purpose to which and for which everything that has been created was created.
2D. To summarize, why are we here, why do we exist, what is our function in Godís plan? To glorify Him. That liberty should be used to this end should not surprise us. Amen?
3C. Now turn to Ephesians 3.21: "Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."
1D. This verse is somewhat more specific than Revelation 4.11, so far as the goal of liberty is concerned. Written to the Church in the city of Ephesus, Paul indicates here that not only should God be glorified, He should be glorified in the Church.
2D. That is, when you use your liberty to glorify God, donít forget to use your liberty in the Church to glorify God in the Church. Amen? I wonder how many people would get visited, and how many people would get saved, and what the offerings each service would be, if our goal each and every time we came to this meeting place was to see God glorified?
4C. And just how might this glorifying of God be accomplished, in the Church and elsewhere in our lives? First Peter 4.10-11 begins to tell us: "As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."
1D. Peter is telling us to use what God gave us as best we are able to serve God as best we can.
2D. Has God given to you? Then give in return. Can you speak truth? Then speak as a representative of God. Can you serve? Then serve according to your ability.
5C. What great opportunity liberty affords us. We could never do this under the Law of Moses. All the Israelites could do under the Law, for the most part, was watch Levites and priests perform their ministries. The average Israelite had no ministry. But each and every believer in Jesus Christ has the privilege, has the liberty if you will, to glorify God through his life, through his service, through his Church. You want positive? Thatís positive.
2B. Letís Move On To Verse 32, Where We Are Shown The Negative Aspect Of Liberty
"Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God."
1C. Libertyís goal is to glorify God without offending your fellow man, for you cannot glorify God while offending your fellow man.
2C. You might be thinking in your mind, "But donít you anger people and offend people as a Christian?" To answer that question we need to properly understand what it is to "offend" in the Biblical sense of the word.
3C. "Give none offence" comes from a word that is used only three times in the New Testament, and has absolutely nothing to do with whether you make someone mad or not. The word has reference, instead, to tripping up or trapping someone, hanging them up so they will not respond to the Gospel, according to the context.
4C. Understood in that way, it is quite possible to make someone angry at you for doing right, and making a proper stand for the cause of Christ, without actually offending them and interfering in their reception of the Gospel.
5C. Understand, also, that you can be nice and sweet and always compromising and never make anyone angry at you, but present a great stumblingblock to their salvation.
6C. So, the right use of liberty seeks to glorify God, positively, without negatively offending anyone, according to the Biblical concept of offending someone.
2A. SECOND, PAUL GIVES US A SUMMARY STATEMENT OF THE PRIVILEGE OF LIBERTY
"10.33 Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved."
We have two privileges, my brothers and sisters.
1B. First, It Is Our Privilege As Believers To Give
"Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many."
1C. What does the child of God have the liberty to give? We have the liberty of giving of ourselves to others. We do this that we might please others and seek their benefit whenever possible.
2C. Folks, teaching children this attitude used to be an integral part of child rearing. Used to be that Christians had no problem incorporating these attitudes and actions into their lives, because they were raised differently than kids are oftentimes raised now.
3C. Used to be, children were taught to rise when adults entered the room, so the adult could choose to sit in any chair he desired. It was a demonstration of respect to honor those older than you.
4C. Used to be that children were never permitted to address adults by their first name. To this day I notice when a child, of any age, refers to an adult, any adult, by his or her first name. I think parents who allow this, and this is my own opinion, place their children at a disadvantage in later years.
5C. All of this comes together in what is often referred to as a servant spirit. Our Lord Jesus had this spirit. It is our privilege to have it also. It is our liberty.
6C. And itís a good thing for parents to prepare your children to have this spirit for the exercise of liberty, as well. I know of one seminary professor who required each of his children to work as a waiter in a restaurant to learn how to wait upon, how to serve, others.
7C. Yes, we do have the privilege to give of ourselves. Do you? How do you? Where do you? When do you? Is it a lifestyle, or a once and a while thing?
2B. In Fulfilling Our Privilege To Give We Realize Our Privilege To Get
". . . that they may be saved."
1C. We all know that the ultimate benefit to any soul is salvation. So it is not a deceitful giving of oneís self that the Christian practices, but an open and honest giving of oneís self.
2C. We give to show love. We give to remove barriers. We give to make friends. Why? That we might present Christ.
3C. Second Corinthians 5.14-21 says it so well: "14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. 16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. 17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
21For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."
4C. It is our privilege to give, not for personal gain, but so others might come to know Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior. And thatís the best kind of getting there is. Amen?
3A. FINALLY, WE HAVE A SUMMARY STATEMENT OF THE PLAN OF LIBERTY
"11.1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ."
Notice what Paul did. First, he shows the benefits of liberty, by telling us of libertyís purpose and of libertyís privilege, glorifying God and winning folks to Christ. Now he tells us how to get it done. In case youíre wondering about the chapter division, we know that 11.1 fits together with First Corinthians chapter 10. How do we know? Two reasons:
#1 Chapter divisions do not always divide up topics that the author deals with, but are to be used only to reference and locate passages, not help to interpret a text, and,
#2 First Corinthians 11.2 begins an entirely new subject for Paul. For that reason, 11.1 does apply to Paulís summation of liberty.
1B. Notice The Description. The Description Is Of Discipleship.
1C. In the Old Testament menís lives were patterned to fit neatly into a catalog of Mosaic Law regulations. And since liberty was not required for that lifestyle liberty was not given. But the same is not so with us.
2C. Law is not compatible with liberty. But we have been given liberty. So, what is Godís plan for learning how to live the life of liberty? What is Godís plan for us? Discipleship.
3C. Simply described, discipleship is imitating another person, modeling anotherís personality, becoming like him in certain respects.
4C. It is following one who follows one. That was Godís plan for Paul. That was Godís plan for the Corinthians. That is Godís plan for me. And that is Godís plan for you.
5C. The person you are following, and you are following someone . . . who is he following? If he isnít following Christ, you are following the wrong person.
2B. Which Brings Me To The Accompanying Duty
1C. Paul only asked men to follow him as he followed Christ.
2C. You see, to ask someone to follow you, or to imply that someone should follow you, or even to allow someone to follow you by being around them, is unethical, unless you are following Christ.
3C. But unethical leaders are unconcerned about the ethics of leadership, so they will continue to lead folks who have no business following them. James 3.1: "My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation."
4C. That creates a problem, a real big problem. The solution to the problem? You must know who your leader is following. And you must know when he is and isnít following Christ. That is your responsibility. That is your duty.
5C. The situation Paul describes is one of following the leader. But not blindly. Your duty is to keep your eyes open and make sure that the "as I also am of Christ" is true of the person leading you. And your best bet is when such a fellow is a God called man with a long track record and a good history.
1. It was once written that Christians are responsible for a higher plane of living than all other members of the household of faith, past or future.
2. The Bible scholar was stating that the grace of God was more evident in the life of the child of God during the Church Age than was the case in the Old Testament, or than will be the case during the Tribulation and the Millennium.
3. How so? Three reasons, basically. First, we have the indwelling Spirit of God, a possession that few believers had before our Lord first came. And without the power of the Holy Spirit that is needed for living life on a supernatural plane, such living is impossible.
4. Second, we have an enemy to face called Satan. And though believers in the Millennium will have the fullness of the Spirit of God, Scripture tells us, they will not face the adversary, who will be bound in the pit the entire time.
5. Finally, we have liberty, which saints of neither the past or the future are responsible for.
6. Folks, this is a high and holy calling we have. We can glorify God in all that we do. We can give of ourselves to win the lost, both with our time, our talent, and our treasure. And we can disciple and be disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.
7. This is the aim of liberty. And itís an aim which you, by Godís grace, can attain in your Christian life.