A Stumbling Block to the Weak – 1 Corinthians 8:9

Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. – 1 Corinthians 8:9 NIV

Should I or shouldn’t I? As a Christian is it OK for me to [fill in the blank]? Sometimes the Scripture is clear, or at least reasonably so. But at other times the Scripture is silent or vague. When the Bible is not clear, how can I know what is OK? As a general rule, at least with these ‘disputable matters’, let your conscious be your guide. If you have any question about the appropriateness of your action you should abstain.

But Paul, in this chapter, is more concerned about how my actions impact other believers. I may recognize something as OK and indulge with a clear conscious. But what if another believer, whose conscious is weaker, sees me do that. Might they be encouraged to follow my example? And if they do, they have sinned, not because the action was inherently wrong, but because it violated their conscious. And I bear some responsibility for that sin.

I do not drink; at all. For two reasons. The first is that I have never developed a taste for alcohol of any kind; it is just nasty. And the second is because of the example I set to other people. I have absolutely no qualms about a glass of wine with a meal; I could drink it with a clear conscious. But what about the young believer who has doubt about it? If they see me partake, they may also be encouraged to drink. And I then have sinned against them, wounded their conscious, and sinned against Christ (1 Cor. 8:12). Paul ends this chapter with a pledge to not do anything that is going to cause another person to fall into sin. Seems like a good, and loving, pledge to take.

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Honor God With Your Body – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 CSB

In the extended passage that these verses are a part of Paul has been addressing sexual immorality. But his concluding argument against sexual immorality has much broader application for believers. Think about your activities over the past week. Consider your plans for the week ahead. If Jesus was hanging out with you in person, how much of last weeks activities might have changed. And how much might your plans for the coming week change?

That is really the heart of Paul’s argument here. The Holy Spirit is in us. Everywhere I go, he goes. Everything I say, he hears. I do not just take him to church with me. I also take him along with me to work and to social outings. He is with me when I am curled up watching TV and eating ice cream. He is an ever present companion. You might argue that the Holy Spirit is different than Jesus, because I could see Jesus and talk with him if he were hanging out with me. And while that is true, it should not make any difference in how I live my life. In either case, God is present with me.

I have been bought by the blood of Jesus. I am not longer my own person. I belong to God and his Spirit indwells me. So I should seek to honor and glorify God in everything I do. Not out of obligation, but out of gratitude. Honor God with your body.

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Building on the Foundation of Christ – 1 Corinthians 3:11-13

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. – 1 Corinthians 3:11-13 NIV

In Matthew 7:24-27, at the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells a parable of two builders. The wise builder builds his house on a rock, and the storms of life are unable to shake it. But the foolish builder built his house on sand and when the storms came, the house collapsed. What is it that made the builders wise or foolish? It was how they responded to Jesus words. The wise man practiced what he was taught. The foolish man did not.

Paul seems to have that parable in mind in this passage, although he is focusing on the house build on the rock. That rock is Christ, the only foundation worth building our house, or life, on. Paul’s bigger concern here is what we use to build the house with. Do I use gold, silver and costly stones? Or do I use wood, hay and straw? The quality of the building materials will be tested with fire when the house is complete. Will what I have built on the foundation of Christ survive, or will it be consumed? Will I be rewarded for building well, or will I barely escape from the flames?

As a believer, how I live this life has important consequences for eternity. Am I investing in the kingdom of God, living my life to honor God and advance the kingdom? Or am I living for self and today? Don’t be a builder who will stand ashamed of his workmanship at the end; entering heaven singed by the flames. Instead, build your house on the foundation of Christ so that at the end you will hear “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into your reward.”

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Suffering for Christ and Future Glory – Romans 8:17-18

Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. – Romans 8:17-18 NIV

In a previous verse (v. 14) Paul has said that all who are led by the Spirit of God are God’s children. And here he tells us that as God’s children we are heirs of God. I can’t say that I can begin to comprehend what it means to be an heir of God, but I am looking forward to sharing in his glory.

But that sharing in God’s glory is in the future and is conditional on sharing in the sufferings of Christ while in this life. Suffering does not hold a great deal of appeal for most of us, although it is our common experience. However Paul is not just talking about the suffering that is common to humanity, no matter how severe it might be. Instead, he is referring to sharing in the sufferings of Christ. Am I willing to take my stand for Christ regardless how the world around responds to me? Not all of us will suffer in our walk with Christ in the same way, depending on our surroundings. But all of us will pay a price for not conforming to the culture around us. Am I willing to stand out from my culture as a follower of Christ?

As we consider our willingness to suffer for Christ, verse 18 offers some significant encouragement. If you put the suffering we do for Christ on one side of a scale balance, and the glory that awaits us on the other side, the glory side will prove to be significantly greater. In the midst of our challenges in this life, keep your eyes fixed on the glory that awaits you, and be faithful to your calling.

In the Same Way – Romans 6:11

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. – Romans 6:11 NIV

In the first ten verses of this chapter Paul has talked about our position in Christ. What physical baptism pictures in my death, burial, and resurrection, actually takes place when I come to Christ. I am baptized, or immersed, into him; and in him I participate in his death on the cross, his burial, and his resurrection. I have died to who I was, and have been resurrected to live a new life (Gal. 2:20). While I still look forward to a bodily resurrection after this life ends, I have already experienced a death to sin and a resurrection to new life.

While the first 10 verses of the chapter portray a picture of what has happened to me in a spiritual sense, this verse transitions me into the practical application of my position in Christ, discussed in the remainder of the chapter. Just as in Christ I have died to sin and have new life, so I should in my daily life consider myself dead to sin and alive to God. In other words, let my life here be in alignment with my position in Christ. I am not saved because I have cleaned up my life sufficiently. But now that I am saved, I should work to make my life a reflection of what Christ has done in me.

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