Do Everything for the Glory of God (1 Corinthians Sermon 35)
September 29, 2019 | Andrew Davis
Brotherly Love, Glory of God, Good Works
Three Key Questions
I'd like to ask that you turn in your Bibles to the text that you just heard read, 1 Corinthians. This morning we're looking at 10:23-11:1. Now, as I have opportunity to share the Gospel, I frequently have recourse to ask questions of the individual, questions that I think all of us have to face. Especially if someone's coming from an atheistic background or from not a spiritual background, there's just certain big picture worldview questions that all of us have to face, and I found it a helpful approach to the Gospel.
And I want to begin this sermon by those questions, questions of origin. Where does everything come from? Why is there something rather than nothing? And specifically for us, how did I come to exist in this world that I see with my eyes?
Secondly, a question of purpose. Why did everything come into being? Why do I exist? What is my purpose in life? And then thirdly, the question of destination. Where is all of this headed? Where are we going with all of this? What's our destination? What's my destination in particular? Now, everyone has to face these three questions. In 399 BC, the Greek philosopher, Socrates, at that time on trial for his life, said this famous statement, "The unexamined life is not worth living." What he meant is just to simply exist and never face deeper questions is worthless. However, I fear that many live exactly that kind of life, an unexamined life. They don't really think about these three questions much. They don't address the question of origins. They just look around at the universe as they experience it and they accept it as what it is and they don't really ask where it all came from.
The question of purpose, they live for one purpose and that's to feed their own desires and pleasures. Whatever makes them sensually happy or feel good at that moment is what they live for. Paul spoke of people like this, Philippians 3:19. He said, "Their god is their stomach." So they're living for immediate, sensual gratification, or if they have a little more philosophical outlook, for a long-term sensual gratification, able to defer pleasure for now so they can have more pleasure later. But they're still... Their god is their stomach. And then the question of destiny. They don't really think about tomorrow. They make plans as far as it suits them to get ahead in life to achieve temporal success, money, power, pleasures, prestige, the various things the world has to offer.
And so they either just are immediately looking for those kinds of pleasures. I think about, sadly, the number of college students that are addicted to playing video games and don't even go to class. And so they're addicted to whatever makes them immediately happy even if they have to drop out of college. But then there are others that have the discipline not to do that and get excellent grades so he can get into a graduate programming and become some high-powered executive for the exact same reason, so they can satisfy their sensual pleasures. It's not really a difference. For such people, feeding their lusts and desires and appetites, is in fact, their central purpose in life. As Paul will say later in 1 Corinthians 15, this philosophy is summed up with this phrase, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." We don't have a long time here in this world. We got to get all the pleasure we can while we can before we die.
Now, Peter said of false teachers who by their false doctrine exchange the grace of God for a license, you do whatever you want, to live a life of sensual pleasure, this is what he says about them, 2 Peter 2:12, "They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts, they too will perish." So there's just a kind of a physical, sensual way of living that Peter says is very much like a brute beast, creatures of instinct. And as creatures of instinct, they live what Socrates would call the unexamined life. They don't really seek to answer these three ultimate questions that I put in front of you, the question of origin, how did all of this come to be, a question of purpose, why did all of this come to be, the question of destination, where is all of this headed? But praise God, Christians are uniquely blessed by the revelation of God in Scripture to answer these three questions.
We would be no different than any of them if it were not for the grace of God. We would still be in darkness. We would also be creatures of instinct. But the Bible has spoken into our dark minds, into our dark foolishness and told us the truth. God's word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path, Psalm 119:105, and it tells us the truth about all of these things. So the question of origin, you don't have to wait long in the Bible to find out that one.
- Questions of Origin
The very, very first verse of the Bible, Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." That's how everything came to be. That's why there's something rather than nothing. God created all of it. The Bible teaches that the universe is a special creation of the hand of God flowing from the mind and heart of God.
I love Psalm 8:3. It says, "When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers…" Think about the skillful craftsman. For, "When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place…" And not only that, the Bible makes it plain that we ourselves are created especially by his hands. God knit each one of us together in our mother's wombs. Psalm 139:13-14, "For you created my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I'm fearfully and wonderfully made." That's a question of origin. You are not some cosmic accident of time plus chance, you are a special creation of the fingers of God.
- Questions of Purpose
Secondly, the question of purpose. Why did God make all things? Well, the answer is consistent in the Bible. He did it for his own glory. God created all things for his own glory. Psalm 19:1, "The heavens declare the glory of God. The skies proclaim the work of his hands." God did not create the universe out of emptiness and need like he's lonely. The Triune God, Father, Son, and Spirit, had perfect, harmonious fellowship. God created the universe out of generosity, out of fullness, not emptiness. He wanted to give himself to us. And so he created the universe and created us in the universe that he might give himself to us. And so, we ourselves are created, first of all, as displays of God's glory. We put God on display. We are created in the image of God. Genesis 1:27 says, "God created man in his own image. In the image of God, he created him male and female, he created them." We were created in the image of God.
If you can imagine an artist that wants to do a sculpture, a bust, let's say, or a full statue of someone, why would they make an image? It's so that the people can remember the person that's being honored by that piece of artwork? Same thing with a portrait. Why would somebody sit for a portrait? Why would somebody else pay for it and all that? Why would they hang it up? So we can remember that person whose image that is. Then why did God make seven plus billion images of himself? The world, the universe is not about us, friends. It's about him. I think about the ego of Alexander the Great leaving 23 Alexandrias everywhere he went, alright? And the most famous is in Egypt, but there are a bunch of others. We should not ever imagine, however, that God suffers from ego. He is a full being. He doesn't need anything from us. He wants to give himself. And so he creates 7 billion of his own images, and every time you look at a human being, you're looking at the image of God.
But not only that, in redemption, God did it for his own glory. Isaiah 43:6-7, says this, "Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made." So we're created to be displays of God's glory, but we're also created to be enjoyers of, tasters of the glory of God, students of it. We're supposed to receive it in and know it and study it and marvel at it. We're supposed to taste and see that God is glorious. And so I like the idea of students. It says in Isaiah 6:3, the seraphim cried to one another, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty, the whole earth is full of his glory." We're not going to put any glory there. It's already there, woven in every lily of the field, every creature, every mountain range, every ocean. It's just, displays the glory of God. Our role uniquely is to study it and know it, having been crafted by God. And so it says in Habakkuk 2:14, "The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." We are created to be students of the glory of God, to appraise it and marvel at it. That's what we were made for.
Sadly, however, we fall into sin, and in that sin in Adam, we often sin in Adam, and we ourselves confirm to Adam's bad choice by making bad choices of our own, and we exchange the glory of God for darkness. Romans 3:23 says, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." So we don't display God's glory as we should and we don't appraise God's glory or enjoy it as we should. We became corrupt. We sinned then became corrupt, and instead of delighting in the glory of God, we have become idolaters. We worship and serve the creature, the created thing rather than the creator who's forever praised. Amen.
For this reason, God sent his son the Lord Jesus Christ into the world. He lived openly every moment for the glory of God. He never disobeyed his heavenly Father at any moment. He was sinless, and he displayed the glory of God in all of his works, his mighty works, loving miracles that put God's nature on display. So you look at Jesus, you behold the glory of God, all of the healings that he did. He healed the sick. He raised the dead. He fed the hungry. He stilled the storm. He put God on display. Hebrews 1:3, "The son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being." He just put God on display. He was able to say to his own disciples, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father." You're looking at the radiant glory of God when you look at Jesus, and especially he died on the cross as an atoning sacrifice so that we idolaters who exchanged the glory of God for creature things, that that wrath of God that we deserve for that exchange got put on his own son and he died in our place, and God raised him gloriously from the dead on the third day.
And now the Gospel of Jesus Christ stands ready to transform our darkened hearts. God is ready to speak light into darkness of unregenerate lost people, 2 Corinthians 4:6, "For God who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness, made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.'" And so that's what happens when we're born again. That's what happens when we're redeemed. We see the glory of God in Christ and we love it. That's a new creation work. And so by faith in Christ, all of our inglorious sins, our dark sins, have been atoned for by faith in Christ. We are transformed from darkness to light, and now we are called on to live every moment for the glory of God.
We're to see God's glory in the world and in life's every moment, and we are to delight in the glory of God. We are to see even in the tiniest moments, even in something as simple as eating and drinking, we are able to see the glory of God in it. Look at Verse 31, "Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." We're able to savor it and also to display the glory of God, to put God on display by our good works, that others may see our good works and glorify God who's in heaven, so we are able to shine. That's the question of purpose. We have a very important purpose, don't we? To both see and enjoy the glory of God and to put God on display ourselves.
- Questions of Destination
Thirdly, destination. Where is all this headed? I'm just going to say one word: Glory. We are headed for glory. It's like the small amount of glory that we display and that we see, it's as nothing compared to the world we're headed to. We are going to a new heaven and a new earth. We're going to a new Jerusalem, a radiant city, and it says of that new Jerusalem, Revelation 21:23, "The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb [that is Jesus] is its lamp." And the most glorious thing there will be in eternity, will be the bride of Christ. Nothing in all of all that he creates or has ever created, brings him as much glory as the perfected bride of Christ, the new Jerusalem, the radiant city of God where he will dwell, the radiant bride of Christ. And I love... One of the angels said to John, who is right in the Book of Revelation, I love this, Revelation 21:9-11, "Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the lamb."
Don't you wish you have been John? See what she's going to look like when God is done, when Christ is done making her holy and purifying her and getting her ready, "And he carried me away in the spirit to a mountain great and high and he showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, and it shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal." That's what the church is going to look like. That's what the bride of Christ is going to look like when all is said and done. It's going to be radiantly glorious, and if you're a child of God, if you're a Christian, you'll be part of it. You'll be shining like the sun in heaven and so will your brothers and sisters, and you're going to enjoy seeing the glory of God in them, and seeing the glory of God in the new Jerusalem, seeing the glory of God in the new heaven and new earth. That's where we're heading. That's where we're going.
Now, whatever work we can do now to bring that about will not be wasted. Our labor in the Lord is not in vain. Even the smallest thing, even eating or drinking, we can do for the glory of God and we can store up treasure in Heaven. We can live every moment for that future. We can be so filled with hope, and boy, does the world need it. The world is so sad and hopeless, wrapped up in its idolatries and its wickedness and its sin, and it needs the church to shine.
I. The Context of 1 Corinthians 10
Well, that's all preamble. Now, we have to understand the context of this statement. 1 Corinthians 10:31 can, with, I think, out much harm, be taken out of context and just used. And so I've mostly done since I've been talking, but now I want to set it in its context. Now, we're finishing a three-chapter unfolding of an actual church problem that the Corinthian church was having concerning eating meat sacrifice to idols. If you've not been with us and you heard the Scripture read, it's like, "Meat market? What is that?" And we end up... We go from the meat market to the glory of God. We have to see this thing in context and try to understand what Paul's doing with 1 Corinthians 10:31. So for three chapters, he's addressing this topic of, "What about meat sacrifice to idols?" Remember, the Corinthians were a pagan people. They were a Gentile people who had pagan worship involving animal sacrifices that were offered to gods and goddesses to idols made of stone and metal and wood, and the Apostle Paul came and preached Jesus Christ and him crucified and resurrected, and some of the Corinthians came out of darkness into light, and they became part of a new work of God, the Church of Jesus Christ there in Corinth.
But there was still an ongoing issue of, "Well, can we eat the meat that's been offered to idols?" And some people understood the doctrine that Paul had laid on them, that an idol is nothing. It's nothing. And the gods and goddesses that are celebrated by the idols don't actually exist and that meat is just meat, and Jesus said, "All things, all foods are clean." And so, Paul himself probably said the slogan we've heard again and again, "Everything is permissible," or, "All things are lawful." He said that. "Look, you can eat any food you want." Meat doesn't have a spiritual contagion, or virus to it, it was just meat. Well, the problem was that some of those Corinthians had understood that, accepted it, and moved ahead, that that's right. And they were just flaunting their freedoms in front of some new perhaps converts or those that had not come along sufficiently in the doctrine, and they were wounding them because they were saying, "Look, I think we need to have nothing to do with that life. Even the meat, we're not supposed to even eat the meat." So those were the weaker ones.
And so, Paul gave us a principle in Chapter 8 of love limits liberty. Limit your freedoms if you're going to damage your brother or sister in Christ, or someone else. So yeah, it's just meat, yes, they're just idols they're nothing, but you better be careful with your freedoms; love limits liberty. Then in Chapter 9, he gives himself as an example, sites varieties of examples how he limits his own freedoms, and specifically when it came to eating and drinking and what he wore and how he carried himself in amoral things, things that didn't matter, just a matter of culture. He would shift and fit into whatever culture he was trying to reach with the Gospel. To the Jews, he became like a Jew to win the Jews. To the Gentiles, he became like a gentile to win the Gentiles. "I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means, I might save some."
He's using himself as an example, and that's how this whole section ends in 11:1. Follow my example. He's presenting himself as an example. But then at the end of Chapter 9, he transitions. He said, "Now, concerning the actual pagan rituals and the meat and the temple prostitutes, and that whole scene, it is actually very dangerous. It's dangerous to your souls, oh Corinthians, and it's dangerous to my soul. And so I actually beat my body and make it my slave, lest after having preached to others, I myself may be disqualified, so I want to be very careful about how I live. I got to be very, very careful of paganism, and about temple prostitution, and about the whole meat thing, there is a spiritual danger there. And I'm very careful with myself concerning this, because," on into Chapter 10, "I don't want you to be ignorant about what happened with the Jews."
Now, they as a Gentile people, might not have known Jewish history, but the Jewish nation was brought out of a pagan idolatrous system in Egypt and they had been infected by that. They go across the Red Sea, and Paul uses language almost like they're Christians. They were baptized into Moses in the Red Sea and they ate the spiritual food and drank the spiritual drink, so he's using language like the Lord's Supper, and he's saying, "But look what happened to them. Most of them never made it to the promised land. Their bodies were scattered all over the desert."
Now, those stories were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages, has come. We have got to be careful. They were killed because of idolatry, they were killed because of sexual immorality, they were killed because of worldly mindset, that's why they didn't make it in the promised land, they didn't trust God enough to enter the promised land of new Joshua. And so, they died and their children entered instead of them. And so he said, "Be warned. If you think you're standing firm, you better take heed, you better beat your body and make it your slave. Because we are still under temptation. Now, look, "no temptation has seized you except what is common to man, but God is faithful. He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear but with the temptation, will make the way of escape so you can stand up under it."
"So you better watch yourself, you walk, you Corinthians, you walk by the temple prostitutes, you walk by, you can smell the meat, you walk by it every day. You are still in danger, you better watch out." And so, he tells them in Verse 14, "Flee from idolatry…" "Flee, run from it, don't think you can mix Christianity together with the old paganism. Don't say, "Look, hey, I know it's a lie, I know it's false, but you know my family, they still do it, there's still these high festival days, and my bosses or my co-workers, whatever, they'll be offended if I don't partake so I know it's false, but I'm going to... '" He said, "Don't do it. Flee idolatry. It's a danger." Why, Paul, is it a danger? Is it because idols actually are something? No, they're nothing. And the gods and goddesses don't exist, but I'll tell you what does exist. Demons, fallen angels. Demons exist and they have power. And they're alluring and they're dangerous, and you cannot participate spiritually with demons and also participate with the Spirit of Christ with Jesus Christ. You've got to break off from that whole system, and never do it again.
II. Guiding Principles on Christian Liberty
Alright, so that's the context. Now, we're at the final phase of the argument, and he's going to talk about some other issues. What about meat sold in the meat market? Okay, and what if an unbeliever invites you to your home? He's just dealing with some case studies here and we're going to walk through this. And these practical guidelines are very helpful, but vastly more importance is the one supreme purpose to our lives. Verse 31, "Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God," so whatever you do, you should think I want to do what it's maximally for the glory of God here, whatever it is. That's how it fits in context.
Now, let's look at some guiding principles. And I love... John MacArthur gives us some good headings on this. I didn't steal his sermon. I want you to know that. I don't do that, but I just want to give him credit because he is so good at headings. And the first heading here is edification above gratification.
Edification Above Gratification
Edification above gratification. Building up the church is more important than gratifying your taste. Paul returns to that slogan that they probably got from him. "Everything is permissible or all things are lawful." It's always in quotations in the English translation. It's like, alright, as you say, or that's the slogan, "Everything's lawful," so I can eat any meat I want, right? Well, all things are lawful. Yes, that's true, but not everything is helpful or beneficial. All things are lawful. Okay, true. Not taking that back. If meat is meat, you can eat whatever you want. But not everything edifies or builds up or is constructive. Now, here, we need a very strong image in our mind that I've returned to again and again in my preaching, that there is a great building project going on in the world, spiritually. Christ is building his church, and he's building this spiritual structure out of living stones. 1 Peter gives us this image, Ephesians 2 gives us image. You've heard it many times before, it's a great image. There is this spiritual structure rising to become a dwelling in which God lives by his spirit. And 1 Peter tells us that we are living stones. We have been quarried from Satan's dark kingdom and we are brought in to be a spiritual temple.
So, this edify language is not everything helps with that construction project. Edification is building other people up for the glory of God or building up the church of Jesus for the glory of God. Either way, individually or corporately, edification. Edification then above gratification. Gratification is doing what you want to do, what your desires and tastes and preferences are. What do you like? What do you enjoy? Look, edification is more important than gratifying your taste and your desires. Your liberty is restrained by your higher commitment to edify or build up the Church of Christ.
Others Above Self
Second heading, "Others above self." Look at Verse 24, "No one should seek his own good, but the good of others." This is the basic call of the Christian life, following Christ's pattern of denying ourselves for his sake, for his glory. Matthew 16: 24-25, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."
And again, Paul says in Romans 15:2-3, "Each of us should please his neighbor for his good to build him up, for even Christ did not please himself…" Christ didn't come into the world to please himself. He came into the world to save lost people. Don't think, "What do I like to eat or what do I not like to eat?" That's not important. Others are more important than you are. We are so selfish. Do you feel it? Do you feel that relentless drive to make you happy? It is so powerful, so strong, fanatical commitment itself. From infancy, we've been like this.
We have to, by the power of the Spirit, say no to ourselves, and bless others. The question I want to ask you, this is a question that's been searching my heart. What have I given up that I have the right to do, so that I can bless someone else, either non-Christian or Christian? What have I given up, said no to, that I have the right to do, so I can bless another person? We have to live a new life, not a consistent life of asking, "What's in it for me? What's in it? What do I get out of it?" It's not the question. "How can I bless another person for the glory of God?" That's what we're asked.
We live in a selfish world, and we've got that same heart. Philippians 2:21, it says, "For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ…" God calls on us to imitate Christ in putting others' needs and benefits ahead of our own." Philippians 2, 4 and 5 says, "Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitudes should be the same as that of Christ, Jesus." He's our role model, as we'll see at the end, 11:1, "Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ."
Liberty Instead of Legalism
Third heading, "Liberty instead of legalism." Liberty instead of legalism. The principle of freedom still does exist. Meat really is just meat, dear friends. There is no spiritual contagion on the meat. And so you can eat as long as some things are addressed.
Case Study #1: The Meat Market
And we're going to look at these case studies. Case study number one, the meat market. Look at Verse 25 and 26, "Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for the earth is the Lord's, and everything in it."
Let's try to understand this context. At the temple, animals were sacrificed. The priest would get to eat some of it, but he wouldn't eat all of that. These were big animals, and so the residual would go to the meat market, and would be sold there at the meat market. But other meat was also sold at the meat market, the whole thing was mixed together. And so, just a farmer, let's say, that raised cattle, that's where he would sell it for profit. The whole thing's all mixed together. And so the meat vendors would not usually keep track, like have a special table for the meat that was just offered to Aphrodite or Apollos or Zeus. And then the meat that just came straight from the vendor. It's all mixed in.
What Paul's saying is a Christian can go and just find a cut of meat that you want, you want to serve it tonight to your family, just buy it and don't ask any questions about it. Don't raise the question of conscious, "I need to know." There's no need for you to know because there's no possibility of a spiritual contagion as long as you don't raise the question. And why is that? Well, he says, "The earth is the Lord's and everything in it." Psalm 24:1, "God made meat, in this case, to be enjoyed." 1 Timothy 6:17, "God… richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment." But don't ask the meat vendor where it came from. Once he tells you, "Oh, this came right from the temple of Aphrodite," you can't eat it at that point, it's been marked with a story. It doesn't have any spiritual contagion, but now it's an issue between the two of you. You've had that conversation, then don't buy it, don't eat it. Maybe you say at that point to the meat vendor, "Do you have any meat that you have no idea where it came from?" "Eat that." So "I'm not eating that." It'd be a good witnessing opportunity. "Why can't you eat the meat?" "Well, let me tell you." It'd be a gospel opportunity, but don't eat it once it's been stuck with a flag coming from a god or goddess.
Case Study #2: Eating at an Unbeliever’s Home
Alright, case study number two, eating at an unbeliever's house. This, again, is a key issue. The Corinthians were there to be light in a dark place, they're there to witness. Hospitality is going to be part of it. Eating, sharing meals together, that's going to be a big part of it. Either you have some people over to your house, or in this case, some unbeliever asks you to go to their house. You can imagine people with scrupulous conscience will say, "I can't go eat. Who knows what they're going to serve us?" He said, "Don't do that." Look at Verse 27-29, "If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put in front of you without raising questions of conscience."
It's the same principle, just whatever they serve, just eat it, enjoy it, make sure you thank the host and hostess. Be good-mannered, but don't ask where it came from. But Verse 28, "If anyone says to you, '[Oh by the way] this has been offered in sacrifice,' then do not eat it. Both for the sake of the one who told you and for conscience' sake." Now, Paul has to be very careful, Verse 29, "The other man’s conscience…not yours." Your conscience shouldn't be bothered by it at all. We covered that. It's just meat. But the other person seems to have a problem with it. They raised it, so you got to be concerned about their conscience. That's what he's saying.
Where that inside information comes from, I don't know. Maybe it came from the host or hostess themselves. Maybe there's another brother or sister Christian that's come. And they say, "By the way, I recognize that wrapper for the meat. That comes right from the temple of Apollo." It's like, "What did you have to say that for? It looked so good. We could have enjoyed it but now look what you did." Don't say all that, alright. But just say, imagine it's a brother or sister in Christ from your church that's there, and say, "Look, you need to know where that meat comes from." They bring it up. Then don't eat it.
You've been brought to a fork in the road ethically at that point. You're going to have to offend somebody, there's nothing you can do. Interestingly, he said, "I would rather have you offend your host and hostess than offend your brother in Christ." Isn't that incredible? You have to explain that the hostess perhaps worked really hard on that meal, you have to say, "I can't eat it." That's going to be extremely awkward, but it's more important to maintain unity horizontally with your brother or sister in Christ. Put their conscience ahead of even the good manners of that situation. And again, it will be hopefully a good witnessing opportunity, "Let me explain why. It doesn't have anything to do with your... I'm sure you did a wonderful job cooking, but just we need to explain why." And that's a ministry opportunity.
Look at Verse 32-33, "Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews or Greeks, or the church of God." Paul has in mind other Christians that are there. "Even as I try to please everybody in every way, for I'm not seeking my own good but the good of many so that they may be saved." Now, here we have to make a final statement about legalism. Liberty over legalism. We can't be ruled by other people's consciences. They need to come up to the strong position, not stay down in the weak position. All you weak conscience Christians, you need to get up to a strong place where you recognize idols are nothing, and meat is just meat. You need to get with the program and get there for the good of the church. Look at Verse 29 and 30, he says, "Why should my freedom be judged by another person's conscience? If I take part in a meal with thankfulness, then why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?" You could imagine, behind that kind of a little bit belligerent statement.
Now, the Judaizers that wanted Christians to still maintain kosher and didn't seem to act like they knew Jesus had declared all foods clean. And Paul says, "It is for freedom that Christ has set you free. Stand firm and don't let yourself be bound by a yoke of slavery." Legalism. So behind... Like no meat on the table. We're not even doing meat right now, we're talking doctrine. Meat is just meat. Alright, let's learn that lesson. That's what he's saying here.
God’s Glory Above All
Now, above all of these things is the glory of God. This is the final principle just as it was for us today, the first principle. Look at Verse 31, "Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." Smallest details of life can be elevated to the level of the eternal glory of God. How do I eat for the glory of God? Well, in context, it's just, my eating and drinking is not that important. Winning other people to Christ, now, that's important. That's a central way of understanding that.
But another way is just simply, we can enjoy delicious foods, knowing that God made them for your taste buds. The variety of flavors is staggering. I was in Harris Teeter just the other day, and I couldn't believe the variety of cold cereals. I was overwhelmed, I didn't know that there were five different versions of Life cereal. That's quite remarkable. But even more, just think about vegetables, fruits. A well-stocked produce area is remarkable. Think of the different flavors that God has made, and God made them so that you would enjoy them. For the earth is the Lord's, God is so good. Even eating a peach or some grapes or a salad made from some fresh... All of those things, God made for your enjoyment, you can eat it to the glory of God, if you recognize the divine origin of even simple blessings like that.
And the same thing with drinking, you can drink even a cup of cold water and say, "Thank you God for refreshing me on a hot day," just being extremely God-centered at every moment and extend it to just the menial chores of life. You can do laundry to the glory of God. You can study for your midterm exam for the glory of God. You can make your bed for the glory of God. Every single moment can be lived for the glory of God if you do it in a God-centered way. God, thank you that you've given me this opportunity to do this right now. It's a beautiful thing.
III. The Power of Example
Paul ends with the power of example. "Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ." Now, you may wonder, why are we going over into Chapter 11:1? I don't know. Some monks somewhere decided where to divide the chapter. And I think the chapter and verse divisions are helpful. And we generally follow them, but here we are in 11:1. But it just seems to fit with what we just got done talking about. Paul had been presenting himself as an example on all this. Let's follow Paul's example. He is a man who presents himself again and again as an example. He said "Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me, put it in practice and the God of peace will be with you." Wow, what a statement. Don't we need that from godly men and women? Don't we need godly men, discipling men, and women, discipling women, to say, "Follow me as I follow Christ."
And Christ is the ultimate example of the word became flesh and made his dwelling amongst... He taught us how to eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners, and not sin. He showed us how we can win the lost in those kinds of settings. He is our role model.
Alright, what applications can we take from this? Well, first, more than anything, and I was thinking about this this very morning. Come to Christ, come to Christ. I pray that God would bring some lost people to hear this. Just ask yourself the three basic questions. Why am I here, why do I even exist, what is my purpose in life and where is all of this going? And if you have no answers to those questions, come to Christ, he'll give you those answers. But come, especially because up to this point, if you've not been a Christian, you've been living for your own appetites and your own desires. And the Lord wants to forgive you, Jesus died on the cross for all of those sins. Come and trust in him, and find forgiveness and find purpose and meaning, and just realize, the Bible tells you, you're going to a glorious place if you do, a place of glory.
Secondly, for you Christians, are you willing to give up some of your freedoms and preferences to benefit other people, especially lost people? How are you willing to be inconvenienced, so that lost people can be brought to faith in Christ? What foods are you willing to eat that you don't like? What practices and amoral things are you willing to do just to win lost people? What are you willing to do? What are you willing to give up? And the same is true within the church. How are you willing to be inconvenienced to edify and to build up the body of Christ? We are so selfish in our lifestyles.
Finally, how can we take every moment and see the glory of God in it? When I was writing the book, Infinite Journey, I was thinking about this image. You know how in 1 Corinthians 3, it talks about gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay and straw? And I was thinking, everyday experiences just seem like so much wood, hay, and straw. But they're not. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, "Every moment of every day, I could store up treasure in Heaven." I was reminded of a creepy children's story that I read years ago of a miller who was boasting to a king about his daughter, and she had the power to spin straw into gold. She didn't, but he boasted, the king was interested, of course, put her in some dungeon room with bales of its straw, and a spinning wheel. And told her to get busy or she would face some dire consequence the next day. Well, she's weeping. She don't know what to do. And suddenly, this creepy dwarf shows up, and offers, through a series, this happens over multiple days. Ultimately, if she'll give her first-born child to him...I mean, these are children's stories. Who okayed this?
And what does he need with her first-born child? If he's got the ability to spin straw into gold, he should... Well, that's another issue, but I'm just finding problems with the story. This is the creepy story of Rumpelstiltskin. But here's the thing, if you really believe 1 Corinthians 10:31, you can spin straw into gold every day. You can take the moments of everyday life and by being God-centered, say, "Oh, God, I want to glorify you right now. All I want to do is to live for your glory. How can I eat for the glory of God? How can I drink? How can I do dishes? How can I study for a test? How can I go to work for the glory of God? How can I drive my commute for the glory of God? What can I do, that you would be put on display as a radiant, glorious God?"