Class Notes: 10/15/2008
Gal 5:1, 1 Cor 8:9, Keep on standing in freedom but don't let your freedom become a stumbling block to others
Continuing in our study of the mandate to keep on standing firm freedom that is found in Christ Jesus that goes along with the mandate not to be subject again to the yoke of slavery. Gal 5:1;
We have seen that truth, the Greek word "Aletheia" and defined in the TDNT as "the reality of God " that when understood enables the believer to keep on standing firm in the freedom they have received in union with TLJC and prevents them from being resubjected to a yoke of slavery from some system of legalism.
We saw that TLJC is truth and that grace and truth function together in God's plan for mankind and they while all believers are known by God, not all believers know God because he is only known through their persistent PMA of Bible Doctrine. 2Pet 3:18;
We saw that the purpose of the spiritual life was to learn the truth just as Paul had learned it. Phil 4:9; Phil 4:11; just as TLJC had commanded his disciples in Matt 11:28-30;
We saw the attitude of the writer of Psa 119:47; regarding the instruction for his living the spiritual life of Israel that is found in the Torah.
We learn from Moses that the believer expresses his love for Jesus Christ by performing due diligence which includes keeping his commandments. Deut 11:1;
The word that is translated "love” in all these passages is the Hebrew word "aheb" that means love or affection.
In the LXX "aheb" is translated as the Greek word "agape" that we are very familiar with that refers to personal love for God that results in integrity love for all mankind.
This personal love for the Word of God is expressed through enduring devotion to duty, loyalty under pressure, and dedication to the objectives of the spiritual life.
This love responds to God by showing deference, admiration, honor, esteem, consideration, and partiality to Him and His Word. 1John 5:2-3;
This is also the same word used in Deut 6:5; You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and with all your strength.
It is the same word found in the mandate for unconditional love in Lev 19:18; "You shall not take vengeance nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people but you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord."
It is the Psalmist's love of truth that causes him delight during his study of the Scripture.
That delight is an expression of a full and entire inclination and absorption with and conformity to it's mandates.
This entire mental attitude when carried over to the PPOG for the Church Age believer emphasizes several of the problem-solving devices.
Grace orientation to life: Psalm 119:41, "May your lovingkindness come to me." This is the Hebrew word "chesed" that is translated "eleos" in the Greek of the LXX and "mercy" in the English. It is used in Heb 4:16; to refer to grace orientation to life.
Doctrinal orientation to reality: Psalm 119:42b, "I have confidence in your Word." The word translated "confidence" or "trust" is the Hebrew word "batach that is translated "elpis" in the LXX. It is often translated "hope" referring to confident expectation in the veracity of the promises that God has made in his word.
Faith-rest, personal love for God, and unconditional love for mankind: Psalm 119:43b ,NET "I wait for Your justice." The word translated "ordinances " in the NASB is the Hebrew word "mishpawt" that refers to making a judgment or decision in a case.
A personal sense of destiny: Psalm 119:45-46,; We have already seen that this passage refers to the broad place that he walks in as he lives in his spiritual life and the opportunity he has for being a witness of God's word before kings because of that.
Sharing the happiness of God: Psalm 119:47 I find pleasure in Your commandments which I love. The word translated "delight" of "pleasure" is the Hebrew word "shaw ah" that we have already seen.
The momentum of the Psalmist's spiritual life enables him to be effective, skillful, and proficient in the execution of divine good, a point brought out in the last line of the stanza of the Psalm.
Psalm 119:48 I shall lift up my hands to Your commandments which I love. I will meditate on Your statutes.
The result of the writer's acquiring the truth of divine thought in the stream of consciousness that have subsequently been imprinted on the neural pathways of his brain from the repetition of meditation results in his production of divine good and causes him to live in freedom no matter what his circumstances.
Most believers are not fully aware of the complete liberty which they have in union with TLJC and the freedom that relationship provides as one relates to other people.
God calls every believer to refrain from passing judgment on another believer, and at the same time mandates that believers evaluate themselves in the mirror of the word.
We must allow every other believer to do as they think best. We love them and pray for them and live such that we never put a stumbling-block or hindrance in their way.
When a believer fails, we do not condone the failure, we must realize that there most likely are extenuating circumstances and pressures that we cannot see or understand.
We are to love and pray for them, and conduct our lives such that they will be drawn closer to Christ who is grace and truth, who never condemns, and who will deliver them from their failure as they orient and adjust to his plan of grace for their lives under the ministry of God the Holy Spirit.
It may seem difficult to do this, but it is the same attitude that we have towards ourselves when we hate our own failures, but do not hate ourselves even though we may sometimes allege that we do.
This is the same attitude we are to have towards others. Gal 5:14;
When we love our neighbor as ourselves, we hate the evil in their life but love them and give them the freedom and privacy to live their lives as to the Lord.
We desire their growth and seek to build them up so that their conscience will be enlightened with Bible Doctrine via the mentorship of God the Holy Spirit and be able to live in the truth that sets all believers free so they will live in liberty as a child of God.
The law of liberty states that the believer has right to do certain things which will not cause them to sin or enter into carnality, 1Cor 8:4;
This is the law all believers operate in when they are filled with the Spirit. Gal 5:18; that results in the production of the Spirit. Gal 5:22-23;
The law of freedom and liberty is freedom to serve the Lord and freedom to produce divine good under the mentorship of God the Holy Spirit with the truth of metabolized Bible Doctrine. John 8:31; Gal 5:1;
In light of the Freedom that we have in union with TLJC, we will now examine another mandate found in the PPOG for church age believers that addresses the believer's use of and function in the freedom that they are mandated to keep on standing in Gal 5:1;
We have to be careful in the use of our freedom when we are around people who might be corrupted by something that causes us no difficulty because of the doctrinal understanding that we have learned regarding the function of true spiritual life of the church age believer. Rom 14:22;
The believer functioning in his freedom is to be sensitive to the needs of others.
1Cor 8:9; "But take care lest this liberty of yours somehow become a stumbling block to the weak."
In this passage the words translated "take care" is the second person plural present active imperative of the Greek word "blepo" that literally means "to see" it refers to mental vision, and is sometimes used by way of warning such as "to take heed" or to "beware"
Since this is an imperative mood, it is a mandate to believers regarding their function inside the freedom of the PPOG for their life.
This is the law of love that is the application of impersonal love where the believer avoids offending weaker believers and avoids becoming a hindrance to their spiritual growth.
The word translated "stumbling block" is the Greek word "proskomma"
"proskomma" something that causes one to stumble, such as a stumbling stone or block as in Rom 9:32-33; and 1Pet 2:8; an offense or an occasion or reason for stumbling as in Rom 14:13; Rom 14:21; an occasion to sin as in 1Cor 8:9-13;
An example of the application of this mandate is found in the context of the mandate in 1Cor 8:13;
In this passage, the word translated "stumble is the Greek word "skandalizo" it is translated" offend" in the King James, and "to fall" in the NIV,
skandalizo means "to cause to fall, to ruin." Its meaning in the Classical Greek is useful in understanding its usage in our context:
Liddell, Henry George and Robert Scott. A Greek-English Lexicon. 9th ed. Revised by Henry Stuart Jones. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1940), 1604:
skandali: A stick in a trap on which the bait is placed, and which, when touched by the animal, springs up and shuts the trap.
Metaphorically, setting word-traps, i.e., throwing out words which one's adversary will catch at, and so be caught himself. To cause to stumble or be made to stumble
TDNT Volume 7:Pages 339-40:
skandalon ;skandalizo. The stick in a trap.
It is Used metaphorically in a poem in Aristophanes' Acharnians 676-691:
We the veterans blame the City. Is it meet and right that we,
Who of old, in manhood's vigor, fought your battles on the sea,
Should in age be left untended, yea exposed to shame and ill?
Is it right to let the youngsters air their pert forensic skill.
Grappling us with writs and warrants, holding up our age to scorn?
We who now have lost our music, feeble nothings, dull, forlorn,
We whose only "Safe Poseidon" is the staff we lean upon,
There we stand, decayed and muttering, hard beside the Court-house Stone,
Naught discerning all around us save the darkness of our case.
Comes the youngster, who has compassed for himself the accuser's place,
Slings his tight and nipping phrases tackling us with legal scraps,
Pulls us up and cross-examines, setting little verbal traps, (687)
Rends and rattles old Tithonus till the man is dazed and blind;
Till with toothless gums he mumbles, then departs condemned and fined;
Sobbing, weeping, as he passes, to his friends he murmurs low,
"All I've saved to buy a coffin now to pay the fine must go."
The phrase "setting little verbal traps" at line 687 reads in the Greek: "epotai skandalethr histas epon: that is translated "he sets traps with his questions."
This is verbal deception that was used to trick the old soldier into a confession in order to get his money.
TDNT Volume 7: Page 345:
The noun skandalon [ a word-trap] is an obstacle in coming to faith and a cause of going astray. The force of the verb skandalizo is even stronger than that of the noun skandalon in the New Testament. Whereas skandalon is only an "occasion of falling" which might lead to a fall or not, skandalizo is the causing of a fall.
The word skandalon entered the English language and became first "slander" then "scandal."
Details of it's etymology from The Merriam-Webster New Book of Word Histories on pages 430-431.
Slander. Slander and scandal can be considered stumbling blocks over which a person's reputation or career may fall. The etymology of these doublets [one of two or more words in the same language derived by different routes of transmission from the same source.
The ancient Greeks used the word "skandalon" to denote 'a trap or stumbling block.' This word was taken into Late Latin as scandalum with essentially the same meaning but with application to one's moral state.
It denoted a stumbling block causing one to fall into sin. Old French took the word as esclandre, which was also variously spelled escandle and esclande. When the word was borrowed into the Middle English, it was spelled sclaundre, sclandre, and slaundre.
By the seventeenth century slander had become the standard form. It was used to mean 'utterance of false charges or misrepresentations which defame and damage reputation.' It also referred to 'malicious publication by speech of false tales or suggestions to the injury of another.
This is the usual sense of the word today, and it is contrasted in legal use with the sense of libel that refers to the defamation of a person by written means.
In the sixteenth century the need was felt for a word whose meaning more closely paralleled that of the Late Latin word scandalum, and so the word scandal was formed.
The earliest use of scandal refers to the discredit to religion brought about by a religious person's 'stumbling' into sin'. It also was used for 'a stumbling block to the reception of the faith or obedience to divine law.
So in the Greek, the Latin, the French, and the English the definition of the Greek noun "skandalon" carries the concept of "causing someone to go astray."
This principle is also addressed in Rom 14:2; and Rom 14:15-16;
So the mandate is for believers to be circumspect in their freedom and function in the law of love rather than the law of freedom or liberty when the unrestricted use of their freedom may offend another believer.
The law of freedom is directed toward self whereas the law of love is directed toward others.
This means that even though we are free, there are times when we will impose upon ourselves certain things that we would not normally.
We may refrain from certain things that are legitimate in order to be of help to other believers in their spiritual growth per 1Thes 5:22; "abstain from all appearance of evil."
2Cor 6:3; "Give no cause for offense in anything, in order that the ministry be not discredited"
There are always some differences of understanding in the church, and Paul tells us we are to bear with one another on such matters.
Paul writes that some believers are weak. The weak believer fears to live in the grace that they have received from God at salvation.
In the context, the weak believers were afraid to eat meat and drink wine sacrificed to idols. In our day some believers are afraid to eat any meat or drink any wine at all.
It is important to understand what the source of the sin is in this case.
Someone who believes it is a sin to do something and does it regardless of their unbelief has sinned, not because what they did is itself a sin but, because they think it is a sin it is not according to faith. Rom 14:23;
Because of this, Paul says that strong believers are to be careful not to lead weak believers into what would be a sin for them by encouraging them to go against their conscience.
Paul commands us not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in our fellow believer's way.
It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall. Rom 14:13; Rom 14:21;.
We can cause a weaker brother to fall by flaunting our liberty and encouraging the weak to act against what they believe is right.
If, on the other hand, a believer eats or drinks in private without violating their conscience, they have offered no offense.
The weaker brother may not like it, and he may even be shocked by it, but that is their problem.
The weak believer is not to be permitted to tyrannize the church. When the weak Judaizers wanted Paul to eat separately from the Gentiles, Paul adamantly refused Gal 2:12-15;.
The strong believer must oppose the weak believer if he tries to make his scruples the standard for other believers.
Comparatively few believers advance in the spiritual life to the point where they possess an enlightened conscience that is based in the truth of Bible Doctrine. Too many follow the dictates of a church and never learn to live in freedom from the light of the Bible Doctrine as it is illuminated for them by God the Holy Spirit.
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