Posted by: Heather | July 15, 2009

Disputable Matters: to eat or not to eat

Last Sunday I preached on 1 Cor. 10:23-11:1

Here is the text:

1 Corinthians 10:23-33
(23) All things are lawful to me, but not all things profit. All things are lawful to me, but not all things build up.
(24) Let no one seek his own, but each one another’s.
(25) Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no question for conscience’ sake;
(26) “for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness of it.”
(27) If any of those who do not believe invite you to a feast, and if you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you, asking no questions for conscience’ sake.
(28) But if anyone says to you, This is slain in sacrifice to idols, do not eat for the sake of him who showed it, and for conscience’ sake; “for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness of it”;
(29) conscience, I say, not your own, but the other’s. For why is my liberty judged by another’s conscience?
(30) For if I by grace am a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?
(31) Therefore whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
(32) Give no offense, either to the Jews, or to the Greeks or to the church of God;
(33) even as I please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved.
1Co 11:1 Be imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ.

This comes on the heels of Paul’s discussion with the Corinthian church about actually feasting in the idols’ temples, and excusing it upon the grounds that “an idol has no real existence” and “there is no God but One” (this was in chapter 8)

Now one thing I noticed as I was studying this is that “all things are lawful for me” is in quotation marks in the ESV and the NIV. Then I started looking for more things that were in quotation marks, and found a pattern that cleared up a lot of confusion for me in regards to 1 Cor.

There are several phrases in the book that appear to be statements where Paul is quoting the Corinthians and then answering them with the truth. Now there are no quotation marks in any of the translations in my Bible computer program, but let me illustrate my point with something Paul said earlier, and I will add the quotes where the NIV and ESV place them.

1 Corinthians 6:12-13
(12) “All things are lawful to me”, but not all things profit. “All things are lawful for me”, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
(13) “Meats for the belly and the belly for meats”, but God shall destroy both it and them. But the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord is for the body.

When you look at these statements in the light of a conversation between Paul and the Corinthians, they make more sense, don’t they.

So, back to our text, the same phrase is quoted again, but Paul’s answers are a bit different.

(23) All things are lawful to me, but not all things profit. All things are lawful to me, but not all things build up.

In Paul’s first answer “but not all things profit”, the word translated profit is actually a picture of pulling together toward a same goal. Like a team of oxen.

In Paul’s second answer “but not all things build up” the word translated “build up” actually could be translated “builds the house”. What house? See chapter 3

1 Corinthians 3:10-17
(10) According to the grace of God which is given to me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let every man be careful how he builds on it.
(11) For any other foundation can no one lay than the one being laid, who is Jesus Christ.
(12) And if anyone builds on this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble,
(13) each one’s work shall be revealed. For the Day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try each one’s work as to what kind it is.
(14) If anyone’s work which he built remains, he shall receive a reward.
(15) If anyone’s work shall be burned up, he shall suffer loss. But he shall be saved, yet so as by fire.
(16) Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
(17) If anyone defiles the temple of God, God shall destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which you are.

In chapter 3, Paul is building the house. The house is God’s temple. The Corinthians are part of this temple. Now in chapter 10, Paul is encouraging them to be a part of building the temple.

Incidentally, I have noticed that the living things God makes are like this. They take into themselves things that are dead. Those things become alive in them, and then they become part of taking in things that are dead to give them life. (trees, man, and the church) The life is not their own, it came from God. Man made things are not like this. We make things, but they just rust and decay and fall down. They don’t replicate. Just a side thought.

Next, Paul gives them a focus outside themselves. (they had been looking at what was lawful for them) (24) Let no one seek his own, but each one another’s.

Now he give them 3 sets of instructions as to eating meat.

First:

25) Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no question for conscience’ sake;

Second: (I’m skipping verse 26 for a reason)

(27) If any of those who do not believe invite you to a feast, and if you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you, asking no questions for conscience’ sake.

(notice, almost identical instructions)

Third:

(28) But if anyone says to you, This is slain in sacrifice to idols, do not eat for the sake of him who showed it, and for conscience’ sake;

Then he explains that we are talking about the conscience of the person who informed him that it was sacrificed, not himself. He doesn’t even check to see if it bothers the person. He assumes by their statement that it could and takes preventative action.

(29) conscience, I say, not your own, but the other’s. For why is my liberty judged by another’s conscience?

Then he explains that this doesn’t mean he isn’t free when that person isn’t around, this is not hypocrisy, but love.

Now look at this verse:

(30) For if I by grace am a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?

What does Paul’s thankfulness have to do with this?

I am so glad you asked. Remember I skipped a verse? (26) You may have noticed that I skipped a phrase in verse 28 as well.

(26) “for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness of it.” and also, the phrase at the end of verse (28)“for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness of it”;

More quotation marks. Only I didn’t add these ones. These quotes come from Psalms 24 and 50. Let’s look at what they say: (I have added emphasis to help you find the quotes)

Psalms 24:1-10
(1) A Psalm of David. The earth is Jehovah’s, and the fullness of it; the world, and those who dwell in it.
(2) For He has founded it on the seas, and established it on the rivers.
(3) Who shall go up into the hill of Jehovah? Or who shall stand in His holy place?
(4) He who has clean hands and a pure heart; who has not lifted up his soul to vanity, and has not sworn deceitfully.
(5) He shall receive the blessing from Jehovah, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
(6) This is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Your face, O God of Jacob. Selah.
(7) Lift up your heads, O gates; and be lifted up, O everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
(8) Who is this King of glory? Jehovah strong and mighty, Jehovah mighty in battle.
(9) Lift up your heads, O gates; even lift up, O everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
(10) Who is this King of glory? Jehovah of Hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah.

In this Psalm, David condemns me with verses 3 and 4. I do not have clean hands. But there is a man who ascended the hill of the Lord and commanded the gates to open up. AND THEY DID!

Christ is now seated at the right hand of the Father, on my behalf!

Psalms 50:1-23
(1) A Psalm of Asaph. The mighty God, Jehovah, has spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun to its going down.
(2) Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God has shone.
(3) Our God comes, and He is not silent; a fire shall devour before Him, and it shall be very stormy all around Him.
(4) He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, so that He may judge His people.
(5) Gather My saints to Me; and those who cut My covenant by sacrifice.
(6) And the heavens shall declare His righteousness; for God Himself is judge. Selah.
(7) Hear, My people, and I will speak, O Israel, and I will testify against you; I am God, your God.
(8) I will not reprove you for your sacrifices; yea, your burnt offerings are continually before Me.
(9) I will take no bull out of your house, nor he-goats out of your folds.
(10) For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.
(11) I know all the birds of the mountains; and the wild beasts of the field are Mine.
(12) If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world is Mine, and the fullness of it.
(13) Will I eat the flesh of the mighty, or drink the blood of goats?
(14) Offer to God thanksgiving; and pay your vows to the Most High;
(15) and call on Me in the day of trouble; and I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.
(16) But to the wicked, God says, What is it to you, to declare My Precepts, and to take up My covenant in your mouth?
(17) Yea, you hate to be taught, and you toss My Words behind you.
(18) When you saw a thief, then you were pleased to be with him, and you have taken part with adulterers.
(19) You give your mouth to evil, and your tongue frames deceit.
(20) You sit; you speak against your brother; you slander your own mother’s son.
(21) These things you have done, and I have kept silence; you thought that I was like yourself, but I will rebuke you, and set in order before your eyes.
(22) Now think of this, you who forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.
(23) Whoever offers praise glorifies Me; and he who sets a way, I will show him the salvation of God.

In this Psalm we come face to face with the awesome power of God. What is more, we find ourselves lacking. But then we find what pleases the Lord.
Notice verses 14 and 15 especially:

(14) Offer to God thanksgiving; and pay your vows to the Most High;
(15) and call on Me in the day of trouble; and I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.

Also verse 23:

(23) Whoever offers praise glorifies Me; and he who sets a way, I will show him the salvation of God.

Do you see it? These are the Psalms Paul refers the Corinthians to in response to their “all things are lawful for me” attitude. We cannot approach God that way. We must be broken and thankful. Then he will deliver us.

So the food that Paul eats in freedom with this attitude is not hypocrisy, but love. He is motivated by the awesome privilege of building a temple on the Hill of the Lord. A temple none of us should even be allowed to see!

So he concludes by broadening the scope past food and drink.

(31) Therefore whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
(32) Give no offense, either to the Jews, or to the Greeks or to the church of God;
(33) even as I please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved.

And finally, he encourages them to mimic him as he mimics Christ.

1Co 11:1 Be imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ.

Craig

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