Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Applying 1 Corinthians 8-10

In 1 Corinthians 8-10, the Apostle Paul gives an extended explanation of why Christians should not eat meat sacrificed to idols.

While that's not an issue here in the United States, there's much we can learn and apply from this portion of the Bible. Here are some principles I've extracted:

Chapter 8

Our logic should lead us to obedience in the Lord.
It's easy to rationalize our way into things that are wrong. That was the Corinthians problem. Paul taught them the Jerusalem Council decree--don't eat meat sacrificed to idols. But they argued, "Hey, idols are nothing--they're like counterfeit money, there's nothing to back them up. So no harm in eating such meat." Paul's reply is, "You're right, there are no gods except God, however there is a devil and he uses idols to bring people into bondage. Don't get entangled." If we use our logic to "wiggle out" of the Lord's commands, we'll end up suffering. As my aunt once said, "You don't break God's laws--rather, God's laws break you." Better then to use our reasoning powers to support obeying Him.

Love for others will limit our liberty.
The "wise" Corinthians were eating idol meat and this tripped up the "weaker" believers. For them, eating idol meat was reenacting their old pagan life. Even if the idols were "nothing," the "wiser" Corinthians should have been considerate of their brother and sister in Christ. In the same way today, we should be careful how we exercise our freedoms.

Chapter 9
Reaching people for Christ and growing a healthy church requires money.
Paul uses this chapter to tell the Corinthians, "Follow my example of limiting personal freedom." He explains that he was within his rights to receive money from the Corinthians for preaching, but he didn't, so no one would think he was preaching just for money. Instead, Paul made his living as a tent maker, selling his product in the marketplace. Even though Paul didn't collect money from the Corinthians, the fact remains--it takes money to get out the gospel message.

If you and I are going to reach people for Christ, we must discipline our life.
You don't become a champion athlete by sitting in front of the TV all day. You must have a routine. And not just any routine--one that gets you ready to compete and win. In the same way, we cannot reach for people for Jesus without making it a priority and daily living the life.

Chapter 10
God has put up "boundary lines" to protect and provide for us.
When God's Word says, "Don't do..." it's to protect us from sin's bondage and trouble. Too often we fret about what we can't do, yet we neglect to see and enjoy what we can do! God in Christ has given us freedom to enjoy life and all its blessings. Just like a cow in pasture-- inside the fence, there is plenty to eat. Outside the fence? Yeah, there's plenty of treats, but with it comes danger, because we left the protection of the fence.

There is a devil and he seeks to ruin your life.
When things go wrong, we're prone to blame God. What we forget is that there's a devil--he opposes us and God. Unless we realize this, life won't make sense. God is and will be victorious, but there's problems and struggles along the way.

In temptation, God always provides a way of escape.
Through His Word and by His Spirit, the Lord has given us the resources to escape Satan's snares. And sometimes, God will especially intervene on our behalf. In chapter 10, Paul is telling the Corinthians that by disobeying the command to not eat idol meat, they are testing the Lord-- daring the Lord to do something. Even in these dire circumstances, there is a way out of temptation.

Do everything to glorify God.
If there's only one application to 1 Corinthians 8-10, this is it. Paul says, "Follow me and follow Jesus." These were two living role models who did all for God's glory. Let this mindset be yours moment by moment.

No comments: