1 Corinthians 8-10
Today we would like to take a big-picture view of the biblical topic of Christian liberty. This topic requires consideration because we have recently studied verse-by-verse through 1 Corinthians 8-10, in which Paul deals thoroughly and emphatically with the liberty and conscience of the Christian. Having considered this text, we would like to expand our study somewhat to encompass other NT texts that speak to this topic, and see if we might come to a clear understanding of this doctrine, and its appropriate place in our lives as Christians.
So Paul presumes, and states most clearly, that the Christian does have liberty in a number of areas before the Lord (note: I will be giving several lists to write down in our study today). In 1 Corinthians 8-10, Paul states three areas of liberty in particular: 1. Eating or not eating food offered to idols (ch. 8 and 10); 2. Getting married or remaining single (ch. 9); 3. As a preacher of the gospel, being fully supported from ministry, or working a secular job instead (ch. 9). To this list we could add what the Scriptures add elsewhere: 4. Eating clean or unclean food (Acts 10:9-16); 5. Circumcision for men (Galatians 5:1-3); 6. Observation of holy days and Jewish feasts (Colossians 2:16-17). There may be other areas liberty which the Bible states specifically, but these are the areas to come to my attention during this study.
Now it would not be accurate to limit Christian liberty merely to these six areas stated in the Scriptures. These six areas do have implications for other areas of life, to which the Scriptures may not speak; and this principle is actually taught in the texts we will consider on Christian liberty.
We will begin by reviewing the four great purposes of the Christian, as we studied last Sunday. They are: 1. Loving God with all your heart; 2. Glorifying God in all you do; 3. Obeying God in all he said; 4. Advancing the gospel with all your might. In fact, these four principles will be clearly stated in the texts that we will consider in this study. So for the liberty of the Christian to be rightly exercised, it must not conflict with these four purposes.
So let’s consider these principles directly from the Scriptures. There are at least five different texts that speak to this important issue, and today we will consider the first two.