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Gospel Living and a Godly Example
FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 2011
Posted by: Providence Reformed Baptist Church | more..
39,300+ views | 210+ clicks
Of all the many conflicts that plagued the Corinthian church, one of their greatest causes of contention centered around the issue of Christian liberty. In fact, the apostle Paul devoted three chapters to this matter in his first letter to the Corinthian church. In chapters eight, nine, and ten of First Corinthians, Paul confronted a division between fellow believers who were fussing over whether a Christian should eat food which had been offered to an idol. This division however was really over what a Christian was free to do.
For some believers in Corinth, they could not bring themselves to eating food offered to an idol, because in their conscience, they believed it would draw them into the participation of pagan worship. But for other believers, they saw no problem eating such food, since for them, food was food. Thus, at the heart of the division between these believers, was the whole question of Christian liberty. And the exercise of that liberty was determined by what one's conscience would allow.
Now for the apostle Paul, he had no problem eating food which had been offered to idols, because he knew that an idol was nothing and food was just food (8:4-8). He therefore agreed with those fellow Christians who felt the liberty to eat food of any kind no matter where it came from. However, what mattered most to Paul was not the mere exercise of his freedom as a Christian; but rather how his freedom would affect others. And even more than that, Paul was concerned at how his freedom would affect the way in which others received the gospel he was preaching.
So under this consideration, Paul set forth a biblical principle that he lived by in relation to his freedom as a Christian. A principle that he desired the Corinthian church, and all believers for that matter, to live by when it came to the issue of Christian liberty. In I Corinthians 9:19,22 Paul declared:
For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them...I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.
The great point Paul was making by this principle, was that while he would never compromise nor set aside any truth of the gospel; yet, he would gladly deny himself any personal liberty he has in the gospel - if by such a denial, he could win others to the truth. In other words, when it came to matters of personal preference that Paul was free to exercise as a Christian, he would forgo those liberties if they in any way hindered others from receiving the gospel or growing in the gospel.
Thus, Paul said, "to the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews", and "to those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law", and "to the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak" (9:20-22). In each of these examples, Paul was simply demonstrating that he was willing to identify with others at that point where a door for the gospel would be open. And this was not just his practice with unbelievers, but even with fellow Christians (like those offended by eating food offered to idols). Paul would not permit himself to do anything which would hamper their maturity in the faith. A worthy example to follow indeed.
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