Class Notes: 10/19/2008

1Cor 8:9 Believers are not to allow their freedom to become a hinderance to others


Last time we took up a study of the mandate for believers not to cause others to stumble in their use of their freedom.

The believer is commanded 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"

We saw that the believer is not under the law for righteousness and is to have their thinking renovated by Bible Doctrine under the ministry of God the Holy Spirit and to function according to that doctrine with a purified and enlightened conscience.

Some unbeliever who hears this may say, "I have the right to live according to my conscience and I answer only to God and though it is true that they will answer to God, but there is no verse in Scripture that grants liberty of conscience to the unbeliever.

The unbeliever is under the law and it's judgment. Gal 3:22-24; and will remain there until they believe in TLJC. Gal 3:25; Rom 10:4;

Paul makes this clear in letter to the Galatians, that written before his letter to the Romans.

In Galatia, false teachers were circulating the doctrine that observance of the law of Moses was necessary for salvation.

Paul did not say to the Galatians, 'Let every man be fully convinced in his own mind’ as he did to the Roman believers. Rom 14:5b;

Instead, in one of the most severe passages in the Bible in Gal 1:8 he writes, 'But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, he is to be accursed'.

He emphatically repeated himself in Gal 1:9; 'As we have said before, so I say again, If any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, he is to be accursed'.

The unsaved have no liberty to decide how they will be saved, but the believer is at liberty to decide how to live their own spiritual life as they apply Bible Doctrine under the mentor ministry of God the Holy Spirit.

On one hand, for the unbeliever there is the exclusivity of the Gospel of salvation by grace through faith alone in TLJC alone. Acts 4:12;

On the other hand, the believer has great liberty in their spiritual walk with the TLJC. Col 2:6;

An analogy for this is that all of unsaved mankind are in a broad plain bounded by mountains that are impassable except through the narrow canyon of the cross.

Those who cross that canyon as believers enter onto another broad plain for their spiritual walk with TLJC.

After salvation, the believer is free to walk where they believe the Lord wants them to walk as long as it is according to Bible Doctrine and under the mentor ministry of God the Holy Spirit. Gal 5:16;

No one may choose another believer's walk with TLJC. Rom 14:14;

We may advise, we may tell about our own experiences, we may pray, we may point to the Word of God, we may try to enlighten, but we may never command the conscience of another believer.

When we understand this, it is obvious how great are the evils of all forms of religious legalism.

God desires to develop each individual's conscience through their own personal PMA of Bible Doctrine. Phil 2:12-13;

When one sets up legal principles for another, then they become the conscience of that person which causes them to be dependent.

God wants believers to become spiritually autonomous with it's associated cognitive independence that leads to their cognitive invincibility. Phil 4:12-13;

A believer can only grow only by their personal PMA of Bible Doctrine they cannot grow when their conduct is regimented and controlled by other believers.

Our Lord is "the way, the truth, and the life", and we understand that in following Him we have complete liberty under the mentorship of God the Holy Spirit, but we are commanded to subject our thoughts and ways to the strict evaluation of his word.

We are commanded not to judge others Rom 2:1; Rom 14:4;, but we are instructed to judge ourselves carefully 1Cor 11:28,32.

We are commanded to evaluate our conduct, choices, and ways, not only to determine that we are in the faith (the doctrine) but also to determine that we will not cause a weaker brother to stumble.

The Greek word that is translated stumbling-block means that which is an obstacle or hindrance. We saw last time that in the original language it meant a snare or trap. If we put the two words together and we can get the full meaning of the verse.... we are to order our lives in such a way that what we do will be neither a hindrance nor a snare.

The advancing believer is to have this same attitude toward all other believers who are members of the body of TLJC.

Just as it is morally wrong to call something that is evil, good or good, evil Isa 5:20; it is spiritually wrong to do something good that causes some other person to stumble. Rom 14:16;

The Christian life in TLJC, is broad and free but it sometimes becomes very narrow when we are taking cognizance of the mandate and walking circumspectly in order not to offend or cause another believer to stumble.

We can thank TLJC who has delivered us into the glorious liberty of the children of God and at the same time, refrain from doing something that is perfectly appropriate to do under most circumstances when it would offend another believer in order to honor TLJC.

As believers in TLJC, we are to have nothing to do legalistic laws of prohibition but at the same time we must recognize we are to conform to the law of love that causes us to refrain from doing what may hurt another believer.

Rom 14:15; The Greek word "lypeo” translated "hurt" in the NASB can also be translated "grieved" or to "cause pain".

The Greek word "apollymi" is translated "destroy" in the NASB and can also be translated ruin, to be lost or to kill. It is in the imperative mood of command here.

In 1Cor 8:11; it is in the indicative mood.

We see here that two things may happen to the weak brother "he might be hurt or he may be destroyed".

The KJV translates the words as grieved and then destroyed. The RSV says that he may be injured, and that we must not cause his ruin.

It can be translated as, 'If your brother is being hurt'; and, 'Do not cause the loss of one for whom Christ died.'

Believers have an obligation toward all men, but especially toward new believers.

The passage only addresses believers so it has nothing to do with any possible loss of salvation because that is impossible.

The person who is in Christ can never be taken out of Christ. A believer cannot lose their salvation or be severed from Christ at any time.

Any teaching to the contrary is a complete departure from the truth of justification by grace through faith alone in TLJC alone: once one has been justified by God in Christ, they can never be unjustified.

The person who has been born again can never be unborn.

So how can the believer be grieved, or hurt? Today this expression is often used regarding the hurting of one's feelings, but many times hurt feelings simply indicate injured pride from living in the arrogance of illusion.

The text, is addressing an injured conscience. We must be extremely careful with the conscience of other believers, especially new believers.

We have seen that individuals must do what they believe the Lord wants them to do, and their conscience must never be forced. But on the other hand, their conscience must never be relaxed either.

The difference between these two opposites can be explained by examples.

First, if, as a condition for church membership, a believer is required to sign a pledge to observe certain practices and abstain from others, the conscience of that Christian is being forced or regimented.

This is contrary to Scripture. The conscience of a young believer is weakened when it is held up by such props.

On the other hand, the young believer's conscience must not be relaxed through the example of older believers who, when taking advantage of their Christian liberty, live in such a fashion that the young believer follows them to the extreme of license.

The only example is that one is to follow is TLJC; Heb 12:2; there are no other examples.

When the young believer disregards their own conscience to follow another believer in what they thinks is liberty, they do themselves great harm, and they run the risk of being ruined, lost, or destroyed.

The Greek word "apollyma" that is translated destroy, cause the ruin, or, cause the loss, is also used to convey the idea of loss of reward. in 2John 8;

When this is understood, our passage in Rom may be expanded to read...

'If your brother is being hurt by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not permit what you eat to cause another, for whom Christ died, to relax his conscience to the point where he does something just because you do it, even though his conscience tells him not to do it. For if he does this, you have caused him to do something for which he will lose his reward when he stands in the presence of Christ.

Lewis Sperry Chafer Systematic Theology Volume 4 Page 201

A CHRISTIAN'S OBLIGATION TO A WEAK BROTHER.

The tender conscience of a weak brother must be considered. This important principle applies to very many questions of the day. In the Apostles' time there was a grave question concerning the eating of meat which had been offered to idols and was afterwards placed in the public market for sale.

There were those who had only recently been saved and rescued from the grip of the power of idol worship. There were others who were so deeply prejudiced by their former experiences with idols that, while saved and free, they were not willing even to touch anything connected with an idol.

It would be natural to say that the first class should know better than to be drawn back to idols, and that the second class should be made to give up their prejudice; but this is not according to the "law of love."

It is written: "Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand" (Rom 14:1-4).

From this passage it is clear that instruction is also given to the weaker brother to the intent that he shall not "judge" the Christian who, through years of Christian training and deeper understanding of the liberty in grace, is free to do what he himself in his limitations may not be able to do.

There is hardly a more important exhortation for Christians today than this. The cure is clearly revealed: God reserves the right to correct and direct the life of His own child. Much hurtful criticism might be avoided if Christians would only believe this and trust Him to do with His own child what He purposes to do.

God is the master before whom alone the servant standeth or falleth. The passage continues: "But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. … For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence [to his own convictions]. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. And he that doubteth is damned
[condemned] if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin" (Rom 14:15-23).

"Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ (Gal 6:2).

Due regard for the conscience and liberty of others is twofold: On the one hand, let the strong be charitable toward the weak. On the other hand, let the weak desist from judgment of the strong.

The result will be a mutual fellowship and an exercise of all the liberties of grace.

Paul had taught the central principles for the conduct of believers, both within the community of the church and in the larger world of human relationships.

The principles that are to direct the believer's function within the church are found in Rom 12:3,10;


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