I have a burden on my heart that I want to try to put into words, but my prayer to begin this blog is Romans 8:18-30, but especially verse 28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
God is sovereign and uses all things. Those that are in His will and even those that are outside of His will cannot escape His sovereign hand ruling and reigning over His creation.
Theme in 1 Corinthians
With that being said, I have been thinking a lot about a theme Paul writes. Specifically, I am looking at a few verses in 1 Corinthians. I think the theme can be summed up like this: Are your actions, seen or unseen, hindering anyone from seeing the Gospel lived out in your life?
Let me clarify. It is ultimately the work of the Holy Spirit in someone’s life that leads them to make a personal statement of Jesus as the Lord and Savior of their life. However, I believe that when we stand before God on Judgement Day, we will be held accountable for our actions – whether we glorified God or lived for ourselves. And let’s be honest, if our actions are not standing out as different in this world of ours, why would anyone want what we claim to have as saving grace?
Freedom in Christ
““I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.” 1 Corinthians 6:12
The purple text are the excuses and statements we make and they were the statements the Christians of Corinth made. The black text is what Paul was trying to teach them. Yes, this passage in context is talking about sexual immorality. However, the theological principle Paul is talking about is more than how we use our physical bodies in our sexual relations. It is about choices regarding our actions. I believe the principle here is that our freedom in Christ is not for our own personal pleasure, satisfaction or gain, but for us to choose our actions so that our lives glorify God.
Applied, Paul explains that we who are in Christ are joined with Christ in His body, and we allow Him to be the control/master of everything we do. I think we would all agree that over indulgence in food is misusing the body just like sexual immorality is misusing the body. However, this principle covers more than that. It covers any and everything that we choose to do for our own selfish purposes that are not beneficial in giving glory to God.
In the beginning, before the fall of man, God created us to worship and glorify Him. When sin entered the world, the purpose we were created for did not change. However, over the years, sin has convinced us that being a Christian or follower of God means that we have a safe card to do whatever we want – similar to the “get out of jail free” card in Monopoly.
Freedom and Others
““I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.” 1 Corinthians 10:23
Have you ever thought about how your use of freedom can affect other people? Maybe a better question to ask is: why does it matter how I use my freedom if it’s given to me in Christ? I am glad you asked!
In this passage, Paul explains the use of freedom and how it can affect other people. I love how he sums it up in verses 31-33.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.”
Did you catch that? I want to paraphrase. Everything that you do should be done with the intention of glorifying God. It should not be selfish or deceitful (God knows your heart). Do not cause anyone to stumble – no matter who they are. For if you are seeking to glorify God, you will be acting out of selflessness for the good of many so that many may be saved.
What you do, your actions, affect more than just your life. Are you living in such a way that your freedom is leading people to Christ or driving people away from Him? I believe that God desires for us to live such a life that even our enemies have no hold over us; that they will have no evidence to show that we are not living for God.
Who you are in Christ
No one can take away the purpose God created you for nor can they redefine who He tells you that you are.
You have been chosen by God (Eph 1:4) to be His ambassador (2 Cor 5:20) and His light (Matt 5:14) to the world. While you are not perfect (Rom 3:23) you have been made new in Christ (Eph 4:23-24). You should strive to do nothing out of selfish ambition (Phil 2:3), but in all things give glory to God (Ps 150). You are to be an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity (1 Timothy 4:12) to the believers. However, you should strive to leave no room for anyone to point out your sinful flaws so that they have no reason but to see that you are living for God (Titus 2:8, 1 Peter 2:15). Do not give up on doing good (Gal 6:9), but continue to run the race God has sent before you for the sake of the Gospel (1 Cor 9:23-27).