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Watch 2022 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - Meat Market Christianity - Part 2

Robert Jeffress - Meat Market Christianity - Part 2


Robert Jeffress - Meat Market Christianity - Part 2
TOPICS: Straight Answers to Tough Questions

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. In most areas of life, right and wrong are as plain to see as night and day. But sometimes right and wrong aren't so easy to determine. Today, I'm going to show you how to make the right decisions when confronted with the gray areas of life. My message is titled "Meat Market Christianity" on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.

We limit our freedom because of our love for God or love for other people. And then Paul talks about the limitation of knowledge. These Corinthians were boasting about their superior knowledge. What is it that they had the superior knowledge? Look at versus four to six. To me, this is so interesting. "Therefore concerning eating things sacrificed to idols, we know that there's no such thing as an idol in the world and that there is no God but one. But even if there are so-called Gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many Gods and many Lords, yet for us there is but one God, the father, from whom all things and we exist for him, and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through him".

Now, in verse six, he's not teaching relative truth. He's not saying we believe there's one God, other people believe there are many Gods, everybody just needs to believe whatever they want to believe, he's not saying that at all. He's simply acknowledging the fact that there are many different beliefs about the Gods. But we know that there's one God, Paul says. Now look at verse seven, this is the key. "However," he says, "Not all men have this knowledge". Now, he's talking about Christians. Not all Christians in the Corinthian church have this knowledge, what knowledge'? That there is only one God. You say, "Wait a minute, how could that be? You're talking about Christians in the church and some of these Christians didn't know there's only one God? You mean you can be a Christian and believe that there's a multitude of Gods"?

I like what one commentator says. He said the Corinthians, these new believers, had come to the place that they believed there was only one right God, but they had not yet arrived at the knowledge that there is only one real God. Now, I'm going to say something that's going to raise some hackles in here tonight. If yours hasn't been raised yet, it probably will at this point. You know, there's only one thing you have to believe to become a Christian. The Bible says believe, cling to, trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. That's the only thing you have to believe to be saved. And yet there are people who constantly are adding all of these things that you have to believe to be a Christian. Well, to be a Christian you have to believe in the virgin birth and you have to believe in the inerrancy of the Bible and you have to be against abortion and you have to believe in creation and you have to believe all of these things to be a Christian.

I've actually heard people say, "You cannot be a Christian and be pro-life. You cannot be a Christian and not believe in the inerrancy of the scripture. You cannot be a Christian and believe in evolution". Of course, you can, of course, you can. You can be a Christian and believe in abortion, you can believe in same-sex marriage, you can be a Christian and believe all sorts of wrong things, you know why that is? Because you can be an immature Christian, you can be a misled Christian, you can be a disobedient Christian. But you're still a Christian. The only thing you have to believe to be saved is that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior. And I believe that when a Christian sincerely comes to know the Lord, he'll want to grow in his faith. And as he grows in his faith and grows in the knowledge of the Lord, he'll become convinced of these other things as well. But these Corinthian believers, these new believers, they had not yet come to the truth that there's only one God.

Now look at verse seven again. "However, not all men have this knowledge, but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol and their conscience being weak is defiled". Here's what was happening. Here's a brand new Christian just came out yesterday out of paganism and idol worship, brand new believer. And because of the influence of another Christian, he begins eating this meat sacrificed to idols. What happens? His conscience told him, "No, don't do it". He does it anyway. He falls back into paganism and his old lifestyle. His conscience being weak is defiled. Now, what is conscience? Conscience, a conscience is that internal warning system that God places in every believer to warn him about what he should and should not do. John MacArthur describes it this way. He says, "Conscience is God's doorkeeper to keep us out of the places where we could be hurt. As we mature, our conscience allows us to go more places and to do more things because we will have better judgment".

You know, when our girls, who are both here tonight, were little, like four or so forth, every Saturday we would go down to the park by our house a couple of blocks down the street to play. Imagine one Saturday morning, they come and say, "Hey, dad, let's go to the park to play," and I said, "I'm tired," I throw them the keys, and I said, "Drive yourself down there". Would you ever do that with a four year old? I mean, I would not think about allowing them to drive themselves in a car when they were four. I wouldn't let them out of the house by themselves when they were four because of what they might get into or what somebody else might do to them. But the older our girls got, the more freedom we gave them until now they're able to exercise their own freedom. That's what a conscience is.

When you become a Christian, God many times sets your conscience at a very high level of sensitivity. Your faith is fragile, and because of that, God is very restrictive about what he will allow you to do and not do, knowing how easy it would be to revert to your former way of life. But the older you grow in your faith, the more mature you come, the more freedom you're able to exercise. The key thing, ladies and gentlemen, is not to disobey your conscience. It is God's warning system that he places inside of you and your conscience is set at a different level than other people's conscience. God knows exactly how much sensitivity ought to be there. But when you violate your conscience, it's like you destroy that internal warning system.

In first Timothy 4:2 Paul talks about men whose conscience has been seared as though with a branding ironed. That's a vivid picture. What happens if you take your finger and you put it into a flame? The flesh begins to burn, you destroy the nerve endings, and you get to the point you can't feel anything anymore. When you go against your conscience, when your conscience says, "No, don't do this," but you do it anyway, you are searing, you are destroying those spiritual nerve endings so that there comes a point that you cannot feel God's leading any longer. It is a wrong thing, it is a terrible thing to violate your conscience. It's an equally terrible thing to cause somebody to violate their conscience. And that's what this passage is talking about, not doing anything to hurt another person's conscience.

And that leads to a second argument that these Corinthians were using to say there's nothing wrong with eating this meat. They said, "There is nothing sinful about food". Look at verse eight. "But food will not commend us to God. We are neither the worse if we do eat nor the better if we do not eat". Now again, these older Corinthian Christians, they were right, there is nothing about food that is inherently sinful. Jesus said the same thing in Mark 7:15, he says, "There is nothing outside the man that defiles the man if it goes into the man. But the things which proceed out of the man, those are the things that defile the man". There is absolutely nothing sinful about this can of beer. There is nothing inside of here that is inherently sinful. Touch it. Boo! I'm just teasing, that was a dirty trick. There are no demons inside this can of beer. There is nothing sinful about it.

Now, boy, I'm going to get the emails. I just can't wait til this week. I know some of you are going to tell me, "Oh now, pastor, the latest medical research has shown that drinking a can of beer destroys 200 brain cells". How many brain cells do you think you kill watching 30 minutes of television? You're going to talk about, "Oh well, there's side effects of beer," and this and that. If you're going to say food that is harmful is sinful, that piece of red meat I had today for lunch is sinful. That diet coke I had this afternoon is sinful. And let me tell you, that bowl of ice cream I'm about to have as soon as I shut this down, it is really sinful. You can't equate harmful with sinful. There is nothing sinful about this. And furthermore, if I pop the tab, should? No, I won't do that. If I pop the tab and start drinking this, I don't suddenly become an unholy person. There's nothing in this that is going to make me suddenly sinful. And then Paul goes one step further. He said there is nothing about abstaining or partaking of food that commends you or condemns you before God.

Now listen to this. If I choose not to drink, I take my stand, I am not going to drink, guess what? God doesn't love me anymore than he does if I choose to drink. Isn't that what the word says? Don't look at me, look at verse eight. There is nothing about food that commends you to God. God doesn't care about food or drink per se. Romans 14 says the Kingdom of God is not about eating or drinking. Now, that's the knowledge that these Corinthians had, and they were correct about that. However, look at what he does say, what God does care about in verse nine. "But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if somebody," verse 10, "Sees you who have knowledge, dining in an idol's temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols"?

Now, to understand this verse, put a quotation Mark around "Will not his conscience if he is weak be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols". Paul is parroting their argument. They were saying, "Well, you know, Paul, if we'll go ahead and eat this meat, it's not a bad thing if a weaker Christian sees us because they'll see us eating meat and their conscience will be strengthened. They'll understand the freedom they have in Christ". "No," Paul says, "That's not what happens". Look at verse 11, "For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined". The word there means perishes. "The brother for whose sake Christ died". Here's a new believer, just came out of paganism, he sees you, the mature Christian eating meat sacrificed to idols, his conscience has told him, "No, don't do it," but then he still has a taste for that meat and he sees you the mature Christian doing it and he says, "Okay, it must not be that bad. I'm not going to listen to this conscience. It's probably oversensitive anyway given my background, I'm going to eat this meat".

And at that moment, he has damaged his conscience, he falls back into his old way of life, and you have ruined a brother in Christ. A brother in Christ, Paul adds, for whom Christ died. Look at verse 12. "And so by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ". How do I sin against Christ? Because we're all part of a body. We're not free agents to do whatever we want to. The body says for we are Christ's body and individually members of it. When I hurt Larry walker, Larry walker is not only connected to me, he's connected to Jesus Christ. When I sin against Larry walker, I'm sinning against Jesus Christ. To hurt another brother is to sin against Christ. And Paul said in his conclusion in verse 13, "Therefore if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again so that I will not cause my brother to stumble".

Now, I need to clarify something here. When he talks about causing my brother to stumble and when we talk about the weaker brother, have you heard that term before, the weaker brother principle? I need to gauge my behavior by how my weaker brother responds. Let me identify who the weaker brother is. The weaker brother is not somebody who objects to what you do. There's always going to be people who object to what you do. Somebody who comes up to you and says, "I can't believe you did that, I object! I am the weaker brother. I would never do such a thing".

In the church today, there's some professional weaker brothers. They love to object. That's not the weaker brother, that's just a cranky critic. The weaker brother is not somebody who objects to your behavior, it's somebody who imitates your behavior even though their conscience tells them otherwise. And that's what he's talking about here. Don't let anybody pull this weaker brother stuff on you to try to get you to conform to what they want you to do. No, it's not somebody who objects, but somebody who imitates your behavior. So what's the principle here? Again, the principle comes back to the principle of love, a love for God and a love for other people. Because of that, I am going to restrict my freedom. My freedom ends when it hurts another brother or sister in Christ.

Now, let me close tonight with four questions you need to ask yourself about the gray areas of Christian life, about these things that the Bible does not address. Now, notice I said questions you need to ask yourself. There are some things the Bible's very clear about, adultery, getting drunk, addictions, enslaving addictions, other things that the Bible talks about, marriage and divorce we talked about last week. Things the Bible is very clear about. I'm not talking about these things. I'm talking about these gray areas that the Bible doesn't specifically address. Every Christian has to come to their own conclusion about this, but you know what happens?

People in the church, even tonight, I can already predict it, I've been at this long enough, I know, people are going to, "Now, pastor, I think we need some new regulations in the church about alcohol. I think we need to come down hard on those people in our church who are causing their brothers to stumble". No, this has to be a personal conviction that people come to. In Romans chapter 14, Paul addresses the same subject. You know what he says about this issue of eating and drinking? He says, "Quit judging one another". Quit judging one another. We are not to try to play the Holy Spirit and convict other people of what they need to be doing in regard to this area.

I think it's Chuck Swindoll who has the greatest definition of legalism I've ever heard before. He says, "Legalism is insisting that my convictions become your obligation". I'm going to make my little list of what I'm going to do and what I'm not going to do, and I demand that you live by my list. That's legalism. No, in these areas that the Bible does not address specifically, we need to give Christians the freedom to come to their own conclusion about these issues, not impose our convictions to be their obligations. So when we come to this issue about drinking or any other questionable issue, how do we make up our mind? Four questions we need to ask ourselves:

Number one, what does the Bible say? The fact is much of what we need to know, most of what we need to know is already addressed in God's word. God will never lead you to do something that contradicts the clear teaching of his word.

Secondly, what do those in authority over you say? I mean, for example, maybe you want to start puffing away on your cigarettes. I've got freedom in Christ to do that, but your employer has a no smoking policy. Guess what? You're under the obligation of the one who is in an authority over you. Teenagers here tonight, if you're under the age of 21, and by definition you are, the government has already said no alcohol under the age of 21. You have an obligation according to Romans 13 to obey the governing authorities. And even if the governing authorities didn't say that, if your parents say no alcohol for you, then it's wrong. You cannot disobey those authority figures that God has set over you for your protection.

Thirdly, what does the eternal investment principle say? What does the eternal investment principle say? That is, even though this activity may be permitted, is it really the best use of my time and my money? Is it what I ought to be doing to further the Kingdom of God? In first Corinthians 10:23, we'll come to this verse, it says, "All things are lawful". We're not talking about these questionable areas. "All things may be lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify". That is, build up other people.

And then finally, what does the weaker brother principle say? Even if everything else is okay, but what you do leads another Christian to violate his conscience, then you have to come to the same conclusion Paul did. He said, "Therefore if meat causes my brother to stumble, I may never eat meat again so that I might not cause my brother to stumble". Jesus said it this way, he said, "By this men will know that you are my disciples". Not by your Bible knowledge, not by your church attendance, he said, "By this men will know you're my disciples, by your love, your concern for one another". That's the law of love that governs our behavior.
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