Navigating the Gray Areas

This Sunday’s sermon is from 1 Corinthians 8 and Paul’s instruction to the Corinthian church on eating meat sacrificed to idols. This is one of the classic texts on how we must exercise our Christian liberties within certain boundaries.
While we many not readily identify with the specific historical context in 1 Cor. 8, the principles it addresses are as relevant as ever. How do we determine what we should or should not do when it comes to actions not specifically prohibited (or even addressed) by scripture. I frequently get these sorts of questions from Christians and thought I might give a synopsis of John MacArthur’s answer. I came across these seven principles in his sermon on 1 Cor. 8 and find them to be very helpful. All seven begin with “E” and have a scriptural principle behind them. Here are the seven with one added by me.
1. Excess (Heb. 12:1) Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us… Will this action entangle me or weigh me down in the race set before me? Just as I might wear ankle weights as a training aid, I would never dream of wearing them during a race.

2. Expedience (1 Corinthians 6:12) All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. Will anything positive result from this action.  Is it useful? Will it increase my effectiveness as a believer?

3. Emulation (1 John 2:6) the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. Is this what Christ would do?  Will this action make me look like Jesus?

4. Evangelism (Colossians 4:5) Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Will this enhance my testimony toward unbelievers?

5. Edification (1 Corinthians 10:23) All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. Will this action build the faith of myself or others?

6. Exaltation ( 1 Cor. 10:31) Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Will this action bring glory to God?  This particular point is supremely important.

7. Example (1 Cor. 8:13) Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble. Will this set an example of righteousness to my weaker brother?

8. Appearance (1 Thessalonians 5:22) Abstain from all appearance of evil. This is my own principle, but one that I think must guide all that we do.

 

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