TRANSCRIPT | Wednesday, November 11, 2020 | I Can, But Should I?

 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Hey, 3trees, so good to get to be with you on a Wednesday night. Tonight we're going to be looking at the Book of 1 Corinthians once again. We have been in a series entitled What in the World. If you followed along with us, then you're up to speed. If it's your first time joining us, or maybe second, or third time joining us, just a reminder that the book that is written to the Corinthians, 1 Corinthians. There's also a 2 Corinthians. We're focusing on this first letter from Paul to this church. It really is a place where that Paul is pointing out to them that they have allowed things of the world to slip into their Christian walk, and that those things are damaging their witness, not only to other believers, but to unbelievers. And so you're welcome to go back through YouTube or to 3trees.com. and look at those archives and kind of catch up as we move through the book. Because what we're going to do is tonight, after we go through chapter eight, chapter nine, and chapter 10, we're going to merge three chapters tonight, because they're all very closely connected, and they're not very lengthy. So it's going to work for us to do that, chapter eight, chapter nine, Chapter 10. Then, we're going to take a break from this teaching series through the end of the year. We're going to get focused on some things of Thanksgiving, Christmas, even highlighting some stories and some interviews from within our church. And then we'll come back in 2021, and we'll finish out this book, and we'll finish it strong. So one thing for you to know tonight, actually, two, you can go to ericgilbert.org., and there's a link there called discussion guides. You can download a discussion guide, print it off. There's even message notes that you can download and print off and you can have them for your own reference point, and just to keep notes as we move through this this evening. Also, we're going to take communion together at the end of the service. So if you didn't have the opportunity to gather those elements as you were leaving 3trees on Sunday, we make those available at each of our gathering areas across all locations. You can also go and maybe grab some crackers, gather some juice, and just plan to join us in a time of remembering the sacrifice and the cross of Jesus Christ. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

So, as we talked about in 1 Corinthians during our last time together, what happened is Paul has moved into a time in this book, this letter that he's written to this church of answering questions. So Paul has moved into a time of answering questions. And what we've realized is that these questions have actually been sent to Paul, and he's responding with the answers. And the question that seems to be in front of him this time is can Christians eat meat that has been sacrificed to idols? Now, when you think about a question like that, the truth of it is today in our American culture, this is not something that would be at the forefront of questions that we would probably ask if we could have the attention of the Apostle Paul. However, in the day in which that this letter was written, it was a very real question, and it was a very big question. But what I want you to see is that even though you might not word your question in this specific way, there are things that Paul brings out in his answer to this question that has a lot to do with how we handle Christian liberties, Christian freedoms in the grace of Jesus as we mature in our belief. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

And so what we see Paul do is in 1 Corinthians chapter eight, chapter nine, chapter 10, he gives us four basic principles. While he's answering that question, he gives us four basic principles that will guide believers in making personal decisions about questionable areas of Christian living. Because when they were dealing with this subject of should a Christian eat meat that has been sacrificed to an idol, it had become a questionable area surrounding Christian living. So we know that there's other areas in our lives that are questionable, that maybe one person thinks it's okay and another person thinks it's not okay. And maybe one person feels like they have the grace for it to be okay, then the next person thinks there's no, we can get into all kinds of arguments on subjects of that nature. And what I want you to see is how that Paul relays in chapters eight, chapter nine, and chapter 10, to deal with things maturely when it's considered to be questionable among believers. Now, as he's answering the question, what we learned is four things. There's basically four categories in the questions that he's answering. Knowledge must be balanced by love. So he's going to give us four things that apply to the way that this question is to be answered. Knowledge must be balanced by love, freedom must be balanced by responsibility, authority must be balanced by discipline, and experience must be balanced by caution. And so what you're going to see Paul point out is that there are believers that are at different levels of knowledge. And so what has to happen is love has to accompany those different levels of knowledge, especially for those that are more mature in their knowledge. That we know that there is freedom that comes in our relationship with Christ. But just because you are free does not mean that you do not have a responsibility to be sensitive to what others might need to experience. That we have authority in our relationship with Jesus Christ, but just because you have authority does not mean that you get to stop being disciplined or even exercising discipline. Same thing goes for experience, it must be balanced by caution. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

We're not going to dive into this part real deep tonight, but there's actually a point in here, where Paul makes it clear that the Hebrew people that they did not exercise enough caution when they were in the wilderness, because they took for granted the miraculous experiences they had had when they'd been delivered from Egypt, and they wound up in sin they shouldn't have been in because they stopped being cautious in their walk with God. So some really powerful things here that we're going to see in chapter eight, chapter nine, and chapter 10. And so I believe that in these four principles that he's laying out, Paul is attempting to bring understanding of proper relationship between mature Christians and weak Christians. That there are some Christians that are very mature in their faith with God, maybe it's because they've studied a lot, they’ve prayed a lot, they've listened to a lot of great teaching. Maybe there's other people that are weak in their Christian faith, because maybe they're just new, or maybe they've just not been intentional about studying and learning more about God. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

And so while we dive into this, the first thing that we're going to look at in the categories of Paul answering the question is knowledge must be balanced by love. Just because you know more than another Christian, or you know more than another believer, it does not authorize you to be a jerk. It does not authorize you to become puffed up in that knowledge. But you have to balance that knowledge with love for someone that may be a Christian but weaker in their knowledge of what the Word of God has to say. The mature believer must be conscious of the weaker believer. I want you to see this, the mature believer must be conscious of the weaker believer. So when we're talking about that knowledge must be balanced by love, this is one of the things we're going to see Paul bear out for us. It shows up in these verses 1 Corinthians 8:4, “Therefore, as to the eating of the food that is offered to idols, we know that an idol has no real existence, and that there is no god but one.” So idols are fake, idols are not real, there's only one God. So he's saying, we know that we understand that. However, not all possess this knowledge. “But some through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience being weak is defiled. For food, we will not come in this to God, we are no worse off if we do not eat it, and we are no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge of eating in an idols temple, will he not be encouraged if his conscience is weak, to also eat food that is offered to idols. And so by your knowledge, this weak person is then destroyed the brother for whom Christ died. Thus sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.” What's being said here? Paul’s saying that in idolatrous temples, there's nothing there. There are no real gods there. There's only one God. So the truth of it is, is that if you went in and you were mature in your faith, and you realize there's only one God and there's no real gods in these false temples, then you would have the ability to sit there and eat something that has been offered to an idol because you know this is all a scam. This is all just ridiculous. This is there's nothing to this, that there's only one God. But the problem could be is if somebody who maybe once worshiped those false gods, and maybe once was associated with those false gods, and thought there was something real there, they see you doing that and because they think you're mature, they get really confused, and they think that it's okay to have idolatry in your life or paganism in your life. So what he's saying is that you can do things in your maturity that can confuse people in their weakness. And they get to the point where they don't even understand what God is trying to say to them through their conscience. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

And you'll notice in chapters 8-10, that Paul does put some really significant emphasis on the subject of conscience, and especially in chapter eight. But what we learn is that conscience is our internal court. It's the ability to make good judgments in life. And so inside of you, when you're processing thoughts, and you're processing decisions, it's like you have this internal court that is helping you to then make the decision. Okay, that is a good judgment, that is a bad judgment. I should do this, I should not do that. What he's saying is that if weak Christians see you in your maturity doing things that is questionable to them, then the repercussions of that could be that they stop making good judgments, because now their conscience is jaded. Now, what we see about the conscience of a weak Christian, is that a weak Christian is easily defiled in their conscience. Look at this verse, “However, not all possess this knowledge, but some through former association with idols eat food as really offered to an idol and their conscience being weak is defiled. So if a conscience of a person is easily defiled, it is a sign that they are not mature in their faith. If their conscience just can very easily start making really bad decisions and become seared very easily, and not really be able to follow what Christ would have in their life, it's a sign of a weak Christian. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Another thing we see about the conscience of a weak Christian is that it is easily wounded. It's easily wounded. Thus sinning against your brother and wounding their conscience, when it is weak, you sin against Christ. So if you're mature, and we all want to be that, amen. If you're mature in your faith, and you're mature, as a believer in your mature and following Jesus Christ, you are not just going to follow your own conscience, but you are going to be aware of the conscience of those that may be weaker than you, because you want to make sure that you don't ever do anything that would cause them as they are growing in their walk with God, to be easily defiled, or to be easily wounded. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Let's move into the second category of Paul answering questions, freedom must be balanced by responsibility. So what we're going to learn from him is that just because you have freedom does not mean that you don't have responsibility. I think one of the things that we can take away from this is that just because you can, does not mean that you should. I’m going to say that again. You're going to learn from Paul, that just because you can, does not mean that you should. 1 Corinthians chapter 10:19, “What do I imply then?” So Paul's been answering the question, and now he's gonna circle back a little bit, like what am i implying? “That food offered to idols is anything or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagan sacrifice they offer to demons, and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.” Look at this, “Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy?” So here's what I want you to see. And I need you to lean in for just a minute to make sure we all get on the same page. Because it could almost look like that Paul is contradicting himself. And that's one of the reasons that we're doing tonight, chapter eight with chapter nine and chapter 10, because he really takes that entire section to answer this question. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

What he's pointing out, is that if you are mature in your faith, you could walk into a temple and see somebody sacrifice something to an idol. And you would know this is all a sham, this is all just a result of people going through fake motions of religiosity. And you could eat that food knowing there is only one God and He is greater than anything this temple has to offer. However, the problem with that might be is that somebody might see you doing that, who is weaker in their faith and think that you're doing it because you're also worshipping this fake God, and now they start to become confused. But what he just did in this section is he draws a further line, and he tells us that just because you can, does not mean you should. In that if you are truly blood bought and you are truly saved, and you truly can hold the cup that represents Jesus's blood and the bread that represents his broken body, why would you ever want to fool with something that's been offered to a false god to start with? That just because you can don't mean you should. Like there's some things that just because you can doesn't mean you should, because you realize that playing with that thing is like playing with a snake. And you don't ever want to reach a place where that you are doing something that takes away from the representation of the blood of Jesus and the broken body of Jesus. And so really, one of the things that I love about what Paul says is, do you think that our God's not jealous? Like our God wants our full attention. He doesn't want anything to compete with Him. And on top of that, he says, why would you ever mess with anything that has been associated with demons? Because even though there's no such thing as a false god, because there's only one God, there are demons, and there are these fallen angels that try to divert attention from our God. He's like, don't ever fool with anything that brings you close to that. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Now, moving forward into this third element of Paul answering the question, we learned that authority must be balanced by discipline. And I think maybe one of the ways we could say that is that just because you can, does not mean that you will. We just talked about just because you can, does not mean that you should. But now we're going to talk about the fact that just because you can, doesn't mean that you will. So in other words, it is not necessarily that you should, or you should not, it's rather, there is some personal thing in your life, that God is dealing with you about bringing the restraint to, for a reason that is between you and him. And up to this point, we've been noticing that Paul's been talking about the food issue, and it having to do with pagans and false idols. But now I want you to see that he actually begins to deal with compensation in the realm of ministry. Look at this verse. “Am I not free? Am I not an apostle?” So in this day, there would have been no one in the church that had more authority than an apostle, and Paul is saying, am I not one of those? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen the Lord Jesus Christ in His Damascus Road experience? Are you as a part of this church, not my workmanship in the Lord? He’s saying, I have authority, I am an apostle, and in fact, I'm very responsible for everything that this church has become. But if we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? So he's saying, I have sown into you into the spirit? You have benefited from the craftsmanship and the workmanship that I've brought to you in the spirits around. So in that case, it wouldn't be wrong if you blessed me with material things, that's what he's saying. Now, if others share this rightful claim on you, do we not even more. So evidently, there were other ministers, etc, that had reaped material benefits. And Paul seems to think that maybe some folks thought it was okay for them to do it. But it might be wrong for him to do it. Nevertheless, watch this. “We have not made use of this, right.” 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

So Paul is saying, I'm authorized as an apostle to receive material benefits from the church at Corinth. But he's saying, even though I have the right, I've just chosen not to do it. We would endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the Gospel of Christ. Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service, get their food from the temple. And those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings. In the same way the Lord commanded, commanded, that those who proclaim the Gospel should get their living by the Gospel. And so Paul is saying like, that there's absolutely nothing wrong with someone who preaches the Gospel, or is a part of raising up a church, drawing their income from that church. However, he’s saying, even though it was commanded, he just personally chose not to do it. “But I have made no use of any of these rights. Nor am I writing the security provision.” So he's saying like, that's just not what he has to do. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

What we know about Paul is Paul actually owned his own business. And one of the ways that Paul was able to do what he did and be able to abstain from taking from the work of the ministry for his personal income was through this business endeavor that he had. He was a tentmaker, according to Scripture. And what we believe that means is that people who wore prayer shawls in that day, which was a Hebrew custom during their prayer time, that he made those types of prayer shawls. They were also known as tents, prayer tents that people put over their head when they were praying. He goes on, he says, “What then is my reward, that in preaching, I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the Gospel.” 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Let's look at this fourth thing, experience must be balanced by caution. Experience must be balanced by caution. I think maybe a way that we could look at this is be a stepping stone, not a stumbling block. I think that's a takeaway for us today, be a stepping stone, not a stumbling block. Look at this verse, 1 Corinthians 8:9, “But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.” And you can see that Paul was saying that one of the reasons that he had chosen to abstain from even taking compensation for ministry was because he sensed there was some in the church at Corinth that might stumble because of that. I think that's kind of what he was getting at. But he also had an alternate means of having this business that made that possible. But we also see that when he's talking to people about whether or not they should eat of the meat that is sacrificed to the idols that he is saying like, listen, don't ever do anything. Paul is saying whether it's me or it's you as a believer, like, don't do things that become stumbling blocks, obviously to the best of your ability. Another passage in this context, we're reading chapter eight through chapter 10, Chapter 10:23, “All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful.” So he's saying to us, again, be a stepping stone, not a stumbling block. Like when you're making a decision about what kind of liberties you're going to take and about what kind of freedoms you're going to take, just realize that there you're going to be in situations sometimes where you have to give account to whether or not what you are doing is helpful, as you are surrounded perhaps by weak Christians, or even more so by unbelievers. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

He's not finished talking about this. He says, “Let no one seek his own good, but rather seek the good of his neighbor.” That's a bit revisiting what Jesus said about the second greatest commandment, love your neighbor as yourself. He still continues to speak on the subject. “Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience.” So he's saying, like, if you ever worried about coming up with something to eat, whether it's gonna be in the temple or not, he said, Just remember, they still sell meat at the market, in case everybody forgot. He goes on to just remind us that the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof. “For if one of the unbelievers invites you, and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience.” And so what he's saying is if you are going, and you're going to be eating with an unbeliever, and this time it might not have been unusual for the unbeliever to have put something on the table that had been somehow offered to some pagan god, somehow, he's saying, if they put it on the table in front of you, and they don't say anything about it, he says, just eat it. He said, but, now watch this, “If someone says to you, this has been offered in sacrifice, then do not eat it for the sake of the one who informed you and for the sake of conscience. I do not mean your conscience, but his.” And so what we learned is that with experience, we have to use caution. And the thing that we have to guard against is making sure that our neighbor always benefits more than we do. And that whether it's a weak believer that needs to see us exemplify being a stepping stone rather than a stumbling block, or whether it's an unbeliever that needs to see us exemplify being a stepping stone rather than a stumbling block, we have to always operate in a way that exemplifies caution. “Therefore,” get this “If what I'm doing ever causes my brother to stumble,” Paul says I'm just not going to do it. He’s like I'm not going to do anything that causes my brother to stumble. “Lest I make my brother stumble.” I'm just not gonna do anything that causes somebody to stumble. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Have you thought about like, as you approach your life are there freedoms, and are there liberties that you partake of that if you're really honest, maybe it works for you, but it's causing other people to stumble? Like are you living a life that exemplifies being a stepping stone, rather than a stumbling block? I want to show you one more thing that I think Paul bears out in 1 Corinthians 8-10, even as we're talking about experience requires caution. “Flee idolatry and run to the cross.” Flee idolatry and run to the cross. Look at this verse, “Therefore, my beloved brethren flee from idolatry. I speak as the sensible people, judge for yourselves, when I say, the cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy?” Flee idolatry, run to Christ. You know, at the end of the day, that would probably solve all the rest of these items for us, wouldn't it? That anything in our life that we've thought about maybe is getting a little too much priority? Anything I mean, when we think about idolatry, we always think about paganism, we always think about false gods, we always think about temples that are dedicated to false gods and, and paganism. But, idolatry, I think, really, in its best definition, is just anything that is elevated above God. And the thing that we have to always do is to make sure that nothing ever gets elevated above God in our life. And he ties this into the partaking of communion. He talks about the cup, and he talks about the bread. And how, how great of a reminder, is it that when we partake of the cup and we protect the bread, that we can have that self-check moment of am I doing anything that's making me a stumbling block, rather than a stepping stone? Is there anything that I can do, that maybe I should not be doing? Is there anything that I can do that maybe God's asking me to exemplify discipline, to not do in this particular moment? Any place in your life where some idols have been exalted, and you just need to run back to the cross.


 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

I’m going to ask you to take out those elements for communion, and I just want you to hold that bread in your hand. And as you hold it, I want you to break it, and I want you to think about the brokenness of the body of Jesus Christ. Anything you need to flee from and run back to the cross. Any place where that you need to further acknowledge God in your life. I’m going to ask you to take and eat of the bread. Paul said, flee the cup of demons, and run to the cup of blessing. This cup that we hold in our hand, it represents the blood of Jesus Christ shed for me and you. That what God has done for us so that we can be set free, and we can be liberated. And may we have wisdom as we walk out those freedoms, and we walk out those liberties. Thank God for the remission of sin. I’m going to ask you to take a drink of the cup.

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

I think the context of chapter eight, chapter nine, Chapter 10, require all of us to maybe have a moment where we just need to meditate for a little while and reflect, let the Holy Spirit examine us and speak to us. Maybe this is even one of those that you're going to want to watch back through on your own time. But let the Lord speak to you. Let the Lord deal with you. I want to pray for you. Father, I thank you that you do speak to our hearts. I thank you, Lord, that you do speak to us through that internal court of our conscience. That Father, you do help us to determine what we should do and what we should not do, not just when it comes to sin, but when it comes to living a life that would never cause a weaker believer to stumble. And Lord, we just ask you that in our lives, we would always exemplify and live out being a stepping stone rather than a stumbling block, and that God we would always exemplify fleeing idolatry, and running to the cross. And each time we take communion, God, may we revisit those thoughts, let it be done in Jesus name, in Jesus name, and this church said, Amen. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

You know, I want to invite you if you've never attended a 3trees service to join us on a Sunday morning at one of our local campuses; we're in Campbellsville, Columbia, and Russell springs. You also can continue to join us on church online. You can go to 3trees.com to see a listing of those service times. And then just a reminder, that to the best of our ability through the Thanksgiving and Christmas season, we're going to continue to join you on Wednesday nights 6:30pm Central, 7:30pm Eastern. And the way it's going to work is that we're going to be highlighting some testimonies and stories from within our church. I'm really excited about it. I'm even going to do my best to get some of my mentors and some pastoral voices in my life in front of you guys during these Wednesday nights. So be sure and continue to keep it on your calendar and plan on joining us. And we're gonna keep doing communion probably too on Wednesday night So hey, God bless you. Go with God, he'll go with you greater things are yet to come.

©2020 by