King James Version (KJV)
But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a
stumblingblock to them that are weak.
For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's
temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;
And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?
But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.
Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while
the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.
This chapter in Corinthians reminds us that though as Christians we have found freedom in Christ, there is much more to it than just that. These verses are more fully an explanation that along with our Christian freedom, there must first be concern for others. We are not to live an “anything goes”lifestyle. But rather, with our freedom, comes responsibility – a responsibility to be concerned about how our actions are affecting others.
Certainly, we have liberty, i.e. the right to decide what choices in our walk with Christ we will make; of that there is no doubt. Jesus died once for all. He bore our sins in their entirety and that doesn’t begin and end with any one particular sin. Exactly as the Word tells us, it means once for all. I am so thankful for that degree of grace.
Neither are these verses simply about what we eat or drink, though that is the example used. These verses, rather, are about the way we live our lives; the example we set for the new believer and even the unbeliever.
The most serious consequence in careless living or abusing the liberty we have in Christ, is the effect it can have on fellow Christians that are still learning and growing in their Christian walk. It is easy for them (actually for all of us) to think: Well if “so and so” is doing it, then it must be ok for me.
But in these verses, Paul tells us rather than offend even one
who is weaker he would remove the offense completely from his life. Clearly this is an example that shows we are to live our lives for others. Love and concern for others should always be our goal.
It grieves my heart when I see the lackadaisical attitude to holiness that we see in the church today. Many Christians are much more relaxed on drinking; divorce; living together; even cussing in church and in Christian books and literature, than I ever before remember seeing. In fact, studies have shown that the lives today of Christians are in actuality not so very different than those of the unsaved.
I have to ask; don’t we want to offer something different than that which we have decided to leave? Don’t we want to show that the real bondage is in abusing our liberty – the sin that keeps us of the world from which we claim to be so thankful to be free? Living as the world lives, simply keeps us there.
We do not want to expect others to live according to our own convictions, but neither do we want to drag them back into the mire from which they feel they have just been freed.
I’m not talking about legalism, or caving to someone’s arrogant demands of pharisaical holiness. I am simply talking about living out a “righteousness” that those in the world or those with a tender conscience might actually want to respect and even emulate.
We are foolish if we believe the world does not expect more from us as Christians. They do! And they are disappointed when they see no difference in us. We must not kid ourselves as we willingly fall into this deception.