The Law of Love and Christian Liberty
1 Cor. 10: 23-33
The issue of meats offered to idols was first introduced in chapter 8. There we see the question
whether a Christian is at liberty to eat idol meats. Some thinks that they have all the rights to eat idol
meats however, love for the weaker brother must take precedence to avoid being a stumbling block.
The Word of God teaches us that the higher law in the Christian life is to love our fellow man and to
edify him rather than merely please ourselves. Though the believer has great liberty in Christ, he is
to aspire to a higher purpose than the mere exercise of personal liberty. Everything is to be done to
the glory of God and for the edification of others
I. Edification (1 Cor. 10:23)
A. All things are lawful. We have so much God given freedom and liberties in Christ. All
things that are not forbidden in the Bible are lawful. There are no restrictions in the
Christian life against eating meat. Everything belongs to the Lord (1 Cor. 10:26).
Though meat might be offered to an idol, we know that the idol is nothing and that
the meat still belongs to the true and living God and can be eaten with good
conscience if eaten as unto God.
B. All things are not expedient. The word expedient means profitable. That which
serves to promote or advance; any means which may be employed to accomplish an
end. What Paul wants to say here is that all things are lawful but not all things are
profitable and they don’t build me up.
C. All things edify not. All things do not tend to build up the church, and to advance the
interests of religion; and when they do not have this effect, they are not expedient,
and are improper. Paul acted for the welfare of the church. His object was to save
souls. Anything that would promote that object was proper; anything which would
hinder it, though in itself it might not be strictly unlawful, was in his view improper.
This is a simple rule, and might be easily applied by all. If a man has his heart on the
conversion of men and the salvation of the world, it will go far to regulate his
conduct in reference to many things concerning which there may be no exact and
positive law. It will do much to regulate his dress; his style of living; his expenses; his
entertainments; his mode of intercourse with the world. He may not be able to fix
his finger on any positive law, and to say that this or that article of dress is improper;
that this or that piece of furniture is absolutely forbidden; or that this or that
manner of life is contrary to any explicit law of JEHOVAH; but he may see that it will
interfere with his great and main purpose, to do good on the widest scale possible;
and therefore to him it will be inexpedient and improper. Such a grand leading
purpose is a much better guide to direct a man’s life than would be exact positive
statutes to regulate everything, even if such minute statutes were possible. (Barnes)
Illustration 1: Different Strokes for Different Folks
One and the same exhortation does not suit all. For the things that profit some often-hurt others;
seeing that also for the most part herbs which nourish some animals are fatal to others; and the
medicine which abates one disease aggravates another; and the food which invigorates the life of
the strong kills little children.
Therefore, according to the quality of the hearers ought the discourse of teachers be fashioned, so
as to suit all and each for their several needs, and yet never deviate from the art of common
edification. Every teacher also, that he may edify all in the one virtue of charity, ought to touch the
hearts of his hearers out of one doctrine, but not with one and the same exhortation.
Today’s Best Illustrations – Volumes 1-4.
II. Self-Sacrifice (1 Cor. 10:24)
A. We should seek out the best interest for others.
B. The Christian is to be the person who is willing to sacrifice his or her own selfsatisfaction
in order to become a blessing to others.
C. Paul was willing to live in such a manner that the weak would not be offended at his
actions, even though he knew that he had liberty before the Lord in such things. “If
truth offends men, we cannot help it. But in matters of ceremony, and dress, and
habits, and customs, and forms, we should be willing to conform to them, as far as
can be done, and for the sole purpose of saving their souls” (Barnes).
Illustration 2: Giving Hope and Life away
If you travel up I-395 through Washington, D.C., and cross over the Potomac, you will likely cross the
Arland D. Williams, Jr. Memorial Bridge. Who was Airland D. Williams, Jr.?
On January 13, 1982, he gave hope to five individuals at the cost of his own life. On that cold January
day, Air Florida Flight 90 crashed into the icy Potomac. Ice on the wings prevented the plane from a
successful take-off. Almost all of the passengers perished.
Five different times, a helicopter dropped a rope to save Williams. Five times, Williams passed the
rope to other passengers in worse shape than he was. When the rope was extended to Williams the
sixth time, he could not take hold and succumbed to the frigid waters.
His heroism was not rash. Aware that his own strength was fading, he deliberately handed hope to
someone else over the space of several minutes.
Jesus did not make a rash decision to give his life for ours. That Jesus would be an atoning sacrifice
for us was his destiny from eternity past. We need only take the lifeline handed to us by his
sacrificial death on the cross.
Citation: David A. Slagle; Lawrenceville, Georgia; source: “A Hero-Passenger Aids Others, Then Dies,”
Washington Post (1-14-82)
III. Social Fellowship (1 Cor. 10: 25-30)
A. The main point here is how we live our Christian life.
B. Corinthian Christians must not take part in the idol worship of their pagan friends or
neighbours (and so are we).
C. The believer is at liberty to attend various private and public functions if he so
desires and to eat whatever is put before him.
D. Biblical separation does not require the Christian to avoid all contact with
unbelievers. It does not even prohibit the Christian from enjoying the hospitality of
an unbeliever by accepting a dinner invitation. Biblical separation is not meant to
keep the Christian isolated from the world (which we are to evangelize), but to keep
us separate from those who profess to know Christ and who live like pagans.
E. With regards to the food, the Corinthians should not make an issue of the origin of
the meat or food they are eating. They should eat all of it. Eating a piece of meat
that was offered to an idol will not defile the Christian. What defiles the Christian is
participating in heathen worship. If eating a piece of idol-meat does not defile the
Christian, there is no need to make an issue of it. This simply exercises an overlysensitive
conscience and introduces an unnecessary affront to the hospitality of the
F. The fact is there are times when you have to sacrifice your freedom due to the
conscience of another believer. You are doing this for their conscience not due to
your conscience. This is also an act of humility and there are many times that it is
Illustration: Men Wanted
Early in this century a London newspaper carried an advertisement that read: “Men wanted for
hazardous darkness, and constant danger. Safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of
success.” The ad, signed by famous Arctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, brought Inquiries from
thousands of men. Commenting on this in his book Be Faithful, Warren W. Wiersbe said, “If Jesus
Christ had advertised for workers, the announcement might have read something like this: ‘Men and
women wanted for difficult task of helping to build My church. You will often be misunderstood,
even by those working with you. You will face constant attack from an invisible enemy. You may not
see the results of your labor, and your full reward will not come till after all your work is completed.
It may cost you your home, your ambitions, even your life.’” – D.C.E.
Our Daily Bread, June 18
IV. Guiding Principle (1 Cor. 10: 31-33)
A. The goal of history, and of God ‘s eternal plan, is to bring glory to Himself. The
guiding principle by which the exercise of every liberty must be determined is that
whatever we do, it must bring glory to God.
B. The second guiding principle is that our every action should be done for the
edification and upbuilding of others. For the lost, we should act in a way that most
facilitates the gospel and the salvation of the lost. For those who are saved, our
actions should be those which build up our brothers and sisters in their faith, and
which enhance their daily walk with Him.
Our goal must always be to bring glory to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and to win
the lost for Him. For the love of the lost, we must do whatever it takes to make it
happen even if we have to sacrifice or give up our own God given liberty and freedom.