Thursday, September 20, 2018

2018.09.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1Corinthians 8

Questions for Littles: What is the next topic about which they seem to have written (v1)? What, apparently, had they presented as the primary support for being able to eat this meat (cf. v4-6)? But what does knowledge by itself do? And what does love use knowledge to do? If we are impressed with our knowledge, what does that show about what we know (v2)? What is more important than what we know (v3)? What truths about God (and idols) does the apostle affirm in vv4-6? But what happens if someone who isn’t sure of the truth about idols eats meat offered to one (v7)? And what can’t food do for us (v8)? But what might it do to the weak (v9)? If the people “with knowledge” do something, what might those without knowledge do (v10)? And what might the consequences be (v11)? Against whom does the “knowledgeable” brother sin in this case (v12)? What extraordinary sacrifice would the apostle be willing to make for his brother (v13)?
In this week’s Epistle reading, we learn about the proper use of theological “knowledge.” This is an important lesson in the age of cage stage Calvinists in internet arguments, who all of a sudden discover that some rules they had been following were man-made, and are now determined to make great display of themselves drinking and smoking as much as possible at every opportunity.

There’s not just knowing. There’s knowing rightly and knowing wrongly. It’s the difference between being a blowfish (puffed up) and a general contractor (builds up). And, ironically, flaunting your newfound liberty can itself be an indicator that you are more about what you know than the fact that God knows you (v3). This isn’t the first time we’ve thought about how people make enjoyment of their liberty into an even sneakier form of legalism!

What are we doing with our knowledge? Rejoicing that God loves us, and loves our believing brothers and sisters? Figuring out how we can best serve and help and build up brothers and sisters who do not have the same knowledge?

Or are we rationalizing a lack of care for the effect we may be having upon another—while indulging ourselves in delusions of superiority the entire time?

Once we are confident that God has delivered us from a man-made rule like “don’t eat meat” or “don’t drink alcohol,” v8 reminds us that there is nothing particularly godly in going ahead and indulging ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with eating that steak—and I heartily recommend that you enjoy it to the glory of God (cf. 10:31).

BUT if your brother is about to suffer spiritual ruin, because he is convinced that it’s wrong, but seeing his “knowledgeable” brother is encouraging him to do it anyway—then it’d be better if you never visited the butcher again!

Christ gave Himself for that brother. So be careful, lest your words say “eating a steak doesn’t mean anything,” but your actions be interpreted by 1Cor 8:11-12 to say, “Christ’s death doesn’t mean anything.”
Whom do you know that has less theological knowledge? How are you using your knowledge to love them?
Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH405 “I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord”

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