“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. – 1 Corinthians 10:23-11:1 (ESV)
As we have been reading through First Corinthians, together, we have been looking at a sustained argument that Paul has been making over the voluntary relinquishing of our rights for the sake of the Kingdom of God. We should remember how carefully guards the freedom of the Christian (in matters that do not compromise the glory of God) throughout this discussion. Eminent New Testament scholar Richard Hays writes of Paul’s defense of Christian freedom in these words:
This theme receives far less development here than in Galatians, but it provides an important concluding note in the present argument. We are not to suppose that the prohibition of eating in pagan temples is the first of a new set of laws that will bind the faithful into rigid separation from the world. Rather, as long as idolatry is avoided, Christians are free to receive God’s created gifts with a relaxed openness that must have seemed heady indeed to Paul the ex-Pharisee. Our teaching and preaching should seek to recapture this exhilarating sense of thanksgiving for “the earth and its fullness.” Of course, some Christian communities already emphasize this theme so one-sidedly that they are in danger of sliding into hedonism. But perhaps just as many churches have assumed a cramped, fearful posture, distrusting the tastes and smells and sights of God’s world and drawing inward to avoid contamination. To such communities, Paul’s counsel should come as a liberation: O, taste and see that the Lord is good.
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 17
Q. 17. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
A. The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery.