Then there's people who take essentials and say, yeah, it doesn't matter if you believe in the Trinity, it doesn't matter if you believe in the resurrection, it doesn't matter if you believe in the atonement. And when they do that, they are stripping the gospel of the gospel. There are some people in the church who miss the big picture of the gospel and hyper-focus on less important doctrines.
As a result, they divide the body of Christ. Today on Connect with Skip Heitzig, Skip shares how you can build unity in the church by focusing on essential truths to the faith. But first, did you know that Skip shares important updates and biblical encouragement on social media? Just follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to get the latest from him and this ministry.
That's at Skip Heitzig at Skip H-E-I-T-Z-I-G. Thank you for joining us today. Connect with Skip Heitzig exists to connect listeners like you to God's truth, strengthening your walk with Him, and bringing more people into His family. That's why these teachings are available to you and so many others on air and online.
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That's connectwithskip.com slash donate. Thank you. Now we're in 1 Corinthians chapter 7 as we dive into today's teaching with Skip Heitzig. I mentioned last week that God's original design was one man, one woman for one lifetime.
Now that is not always maintained in many cases. Jesus spoke about another exception besides death and that was adultery. If there's somebody who commits adultery, that gives a freedom to divorce one's spouse and thus if one chooses to remarry, so death, divorce.
And then Paul gives another and that is departure. Departure of an unbeliever. If an unbeliever departs the marriage, then you're also free.
But in this case, he's just referring to death. A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives. But if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes only in the Lord. That is, only marry a Christian. Not, well, I met this guy and he's really cute and he says he's interested in God. Really, has he always said he's interested in God or just since he met you?
That's a very important thing to find out. Because if suddenly he's interested in God because you're interested in God and you think I'm going to missionary date him, that is I'm going to date this unbeliever and as a missionary I'm going to lead him to Christ, maybe and maybe not. And listen, people change, but not that much. If you marry somebody, this is just marriage advice I would say to anybody, when you marry somebody with the idea of I'm going to change that person, you're don't. Don't. No, you should go into the marriage, I'm allowing myself to be changed by the spirit and power of God and that other person if they're doing that, great.
That's how it should be. But if you're going in thinking that you're going to make adjustments and tweaks and change that person, oh they'll change and you'll change the porcupine adjustment factor. But make sure they know the Lord. Make sure that is their priority. They love the Lord. Make sure that that guy loves the Lord more than he loves you. Make sure that gal loves Jesus more than she loves you. That's the pursuit. So only in the Lord.
But she is happier, she remains as she is according to my judgment, and I think I also have the Spirit of God. Now chapter 8. Chapter 8, these 13 verses deal with an issue of Christian liberty now concerning things offered to idols and he's going to get into in the next few chapters. What we would call gray areas. Gray areas. There are issues that we face today that they didn't face 2,000 years ago.
There were issues going on in Corinth that Paul had not addressed with them, hence the questioning. Gray areas. And their gray area was can I eat, meet, sacrifice to an idol?
Our gray area would be different. Christians for generations have debated issues like can women wear pantsuits? I remember when pantsuits were big. When was that? What decade was that?
70s, 80s? And some people interested, women can't do that because she's wearing something that pertains to a man. That's men's clothing and that's forbidden. And then there's debates about can Christians see movies? Can Christians smoke cigarettes? Can Christians dance? And when people ask me can Christians dance, my answer is some can, some can't. I can't.
Never been good at it. That's why I played in the band. Anyway, another story. So these are gray issues and one of the issues was sacrifice, food sacrifice to idols, meat sacrifice to idols. Meat sacrifice to idols. Concerning things offered to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up or edifies. When it comes to gray areas, not black and white areas, we know certain things are wrong.
Biblically speaking, we have enough working knowledge to know certain things. That's wrong. Won't do that. Stay away from that. That's right. Get into that.
Do that. But then there are things we're not quite sure about. When it comes to these gray areas or non-essential issues.
Now it's good, by the way, let me just back up. It's good for you to know what is essential and what is non-essential. And why is it important? Because we must never raise non-essentials to the level of essentials. And we must never lower essentials to the level of non-essentials. So when it comes to who is God, the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the person and work of the Holy Spirit, the atonement of Christ, the vicarious atonement, Him dying in our place, salvation by faith through grace, or by grace through faith, all of that, those things are essentials. If you don't believe in in some certain things, you are not a saved individual.
You are not a child of God. They're essential. There are other things that are not essential. Eating meat sacrificed to idol, non-essential. Going to a movie, a non-essential. Having a cigarette, a non-essential. Some people take and raise non-essentials to the level of essential. Oh, you smoke, you're going to hell, that's where all the smoke is, you know.
You've just taken a non-essential friend and raised it to the level of an essential. Then there's people who take essentials and say, yeah, it doesn't matter if you believe in the Trinity, it doesn't matter if you believe in the resurrection, doesn't matter if you believe in the atonement. And when they do that, they are stripping the gospel of the gospel.
They're taking all the power out of it. There's nothing to believe in. So Paul knew his essentials, but he certainly knew that certain things were non-essentials. The rapture of the church, a non-essential. I believe in a pre-tribulation rapture. Not everybody does.
It's okay. I can fellowship with people who don't believe as I do. They're wrong, but I can still fellowship with them. I don't mind fellowshiping with people who are ignorant of the facts and have lost the blessed hope. They're still believers.
They're my brothers and sisters in Christ. Okay, now concerning things offered to idols. We know we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up.
Love edifies. If anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, this one is known by him. Oh, I love that.
Oh, I love that. It's not what you know. It's who you know. And it's not even who you know. It's who knows you. Well, do you know the Lord?
Yes, I do. More than that, He knows me. He knows my name. He knows me intimately. The Lord knows those who are His, Paul writes. You are known by Him.
Now let me give you a little bit of the background. In those days, there were two sources of where you would buy your protein base in Corinth, your meat. Either A, you would buy it at the general market, which was slim pickings, or you would buy it from the butcher shop at the temple. You'd either buy it from the marketplace or the temple. Typically, when a sacrifice was given at a temple, even the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, and there was a priest that officiated that, the sacrifice was divvied up into generally three pieces. One piece offered to the Lord. One piece given to the priest.
One piece taken home by the offeror, and they could enjoy that as a meal with their family. Well, because the priest would offer so many sacrifices, he had more meat than he needed, so what would he do? He would make some extra money and go down to the butcher shop at the temple and sell it off, and they would sell it on the streets. And so you could go down to the temple butcher shop and see, you know, not nice cuts in a glass enclosed case with lights like you'd say. Just like if you've ever been to the Middle East, you just see meat hanging up, right? Animals hanging up, and you'd buy the meat and you'd take it home. So this was very common, to buy your meat from a temple.
The animal had been sacrificed to an idol, a pagan god. So just imagine you go to somebody's house, or you go to a restaurant, and they tell you what's on the menu. They say, well, tonight our special is we have a prime cut that has been offered to Jupiter at 4 p.m. this afternoon. And you're a Christian going, oh, to Jupiter? Oh my goodness, I can't eat that thing, you know? And it became a problem.
This will help. One of the reasons it became such an issue, because most of the meat you didn't buy at the marketplace, most of the meat you bought at the temples, and here's why. Greek theology, they were polytheistic, you know what that is? They believed in many gods. They were also polydemonic. They believed in demons everywhere, surrounding everyone, everything, all the time. They were in the air, and they were looking for a way to get inside people. And one of the ways they got inside people, usually according to this superstition, is they attached themselves to food. And you would eat it, and you would go crazy, you'd go nuts. And the reason a person would go crazy is because they ate food, they ate food that had demons.
This was an ideology back then. The way to get rid of the demons is to sacrifice it to one of the gods. When you sacrifice to one of the gods like Jupiter or whoever, that god would be so tickled that you gave them homage that he or she would offer you protection from the demons in the food. I know that sounds crazy, but that was an issue. I'll give you something even crazier.
Ready for this? Even among the Jews, they had this idea of demons attaching themselves to food. So some of the rabbis believed that there was a particular demon by the name of Shibtah. Shibtah was a demon that attached itself to food, and when you touched the meat on your hands, that demon would cling to you. So the only way to get rid of the demons was elaborate washing of the hands, and Jesus makes reference to you wash your hands elaborately. The Jews would wash it two different ways, three different ways sometimes, and dry it off and be very particular about how they handle things because of this crazy idea among rabbis of demons entering people through their hands once they touch the food. So it's not an issue to us if you buy hamburger from a guy who's a Muslim or a Buddhist or a Christian or whatever.
You just buy food and get it. Whatever. Who cares? You have knowledge. You have knowledge. You know better. You know that a demon is nothing, a false god is not a god, an idol is just fake news. There's no such thing.
There's only one true god. You know that, but not everybody knows that. Not everybody has that conscience. They're informed not by logic but by their conscience, and their conscience is tender toward that, and for you to eat something that had been offered to an idol is just, you know, it's going to freak them out.
So what do you do? Well, you could say, well, I know better, and I have liberty in Christ. I have freedom in Christ. Well, therefore, concerning the eating of things offered to idols, verse 4, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there are no other gods but one. We know that. We know there's only one god. We know these are fake gods and goddesses.
For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth, as there are many gods and many lords, yet for us there's only one god, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him, and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live. However, there's not in everyone that knowledge for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. You know, there are some things you don't solve by logic, even though you know the truth, and you know better, and you know that an idol is nothing. Nothing. There's no god there. There's no power. That's just a statue. People bow to a statue and talk to a statue. They look up at it and talk to it. You know better. It's a piece of wood.
Nothing more. But not everybody thinks that way. Not everybody thought that way. So for you to make decisions based on logic, it's not smart.
It's not smart, and I would say that as a parent, you don't. Example, your child, you have a child, a young child, who's scared of the dark. The dark? You know better than that.
There's nothing in the dark. That child's older brother knows better. But what if you and the older brother sit down with that little child and say, now, let me tell you the logic behind things in the dark. Well, they go, oh, okay, thanks. Now I think better.
Now I know better. No, they still have a feeling. They still have a tender conscience. So you accommodate that, right? You get people past that, but you are sensitive toward their conscience.
Same in the church. There are weak brothers and weak sisters. And Paul is addressing the strong brother and the strong sister, very similar to Romans chapter 14, when he says, receive those who are weak in the faith, but not to dispute over doubtful things. For one says they can eat meat. The other who is weak says I can only eat vegetables.
Same idea. So he's appealing to the stronger in faith, brother or sister. Verse eight, but food does not commend us to God, for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse. But beware, lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.
For if anyone sees you who have knowledge, eating in an idol's temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat the things that are offered to idols? Worldliness is an interesting topic. I have discovered that worldliness is geographical in many ways. What we consider worldly, other Christians, in other places, would not consider worldly.
What they consider worldly, we would not consider worldly. Not uncommon in Europe, in Germany, for after Sunday service, all the pastors would go down to the pub and have a beer, or have beer parties at church. I know churches that have bars on their campuses. Not a big deal to them. But you get an American Baptist tell them that, they'll be apoplectic over that. It's wrong. Yet, for that American Baptist being overweight or being obese, that's not a problem, but that would be a sin to many European Christians.
That's why I say it can be geographic. So I've always loved the story about Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Charles Haddon Spurgeon was a pastor in London and he knew many pastors in London. He was in particular friends with one other pastor at another church. They spoke highly of each other. They shared pulpits together until Spurgeon found out that that pastor went to the theater. And when Spurgeon found out, he didn't take a liking to that worldly entertainment and spoke out against worldly entertainment. It's funny because Spurgeon was a cigar smoker. And so no problem with having a stogie, you know, after a good sermon or even before a good sermon, you know.
Not a big deal. And then Spurgeon, on one occasion, was visited by an American evangelist named D.L. Moody, one of my favorites also.
D.L. Moody heard about Spurgeon, wanted to visit him, flew all the way to England, visited Spurgeon, knocked on the door. Spurgeon opened the door. This is what I read with a stogie.
Just imagine. Opened the door and there's the preacher he always wanted to see. Stinky preacher. And then he said, you know what?
I'm not going to do that. Stinky preacher. And Moody looked at that. Moody was kind of a heavyset fellow, let's just say very rotund, and looked up at Spurgeon on the stoop of that house and looked up at him and pointed to the cigar and said, how can you, as a man of God, do that? And Spurgeon smiled and pointed to his belly, Moody's belly, and said, the same way that you, as a man of God, can do that. You see, you're seeing what I've got wrong, not even noticing what you're doing to your temple.
So I say geographic worldliness. Now when it comes to this, or gray areas in our lives, they see you eating food to an idol and they're going to be emboldened to do the same. Let's say I decide to go down to a local bar and have a cocktail, a margarita. Well, somebody sees Pastor Skip slugging a couple margaritas down, goes home and says, hey, at the Connect Group, I saw Skip at the local bar, man, he was like slamming margaritas down.
Wow, really? Well, if he can do it, I can do it. And especially if there's somebody in that group who has struggled with alcoholism, it's going to be detrimental. So Paul wraps it all up and says, because of your knowledge, verse 11, shall the weak brother perish for whom Christ died. But when you thus sin against the brethren and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat. That's quite a statement. I have the freedom to eat anything I want, but if it's going to stumble my brother, I'll never again eat it.
Lest I make my brother my brother stumble. Here's the difference between Greek ideology and Christian ideology. Greek view of liberty was, I can do anything I think up. I am the arbiter of my own existence.
I can do anything I dream of. That was Greek liberty. Protagoras, a 5th century BC philosopher, was quoted by saying, man is the measure of all things. Meaning, I am my own judge of anything I do.
Self-determination. That's the Greek view of liberty. That's modern man's view of liberty, by the way. Modern American man and woman's liberty. Paul says the Christian view of liberty is that I can do anything, but I consider weaker brothers and sisters in the choices that I make. I have liberty. I'm not under the law.
Of course, Christ set me free, but there are other things that filter out my choices. So if you remember from, I don't know if it was last week, but I think it was maybe a couple weeks ago, I gave you three tests. Do you remember those three tests for gray areas?
I'll just remind you of them. Test number one, principle number one, the principle of utility. Utility. Is it good? Is it beneficial?
Is it helpful? Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6, I can do all things. All things are lawful for me, but not all things are beneficial or expedient or helpful to me. So number one, test of utility. Number two, the test of authority. Will it begin to control me?
Paul said 1 Corinthians 6 and 10. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. I'm not going to let some activity I engage in, I'm not going to engage in it if eventually it takes over my life. So it's like, yeah, yeah, I just have a drink, you know, when I come home. Pretty soon you have to have a drink you have to have a drink to settle down.
Now it's controlled you. Number three is the test of charity. Charity, love. 1 Corinthians chapter 10. All things are lawful for me, but not all things build up or edify. That's Skip Hyten with a message from the series Expound 1 Corinthians.
Now we want to share about a resource that will help strengthen your trust in God so you can live with greater confidence and peace. Life is hard and then we die. That is a harsh but accurate philosophy. Listen to this gentle encouragement. But God.
That's right. In the most difficult circumstances, God can intervene as He did for Joseph, Job, and through the resurrection of Jesus. Here's Skip Heitzig. In fact, there may not be two more hopeful words than these two words, but God, because they point us to the great interrupter, the one who can powerfully and graciously interrupt our life with his plans and change our lives forever. We want to help you understand some of the Bible's most profound but God moments so you can have more hope for change in your own life. Pastor Skip's 10 message teaching series, But God, is our thanks when you give $35 or more today to help connect more people to the only one who can radically change a life.
Get your But God CD collection today when you give online securely at connectwithskip.com slash offer or call 800-922-1888. Tune in tomorrow as Skip Heitzig shares what it really means to have liberty in Christ. We're not saved by works. We're saved by God's grace through our faith. We simply believe in Him. God declares us justified just as if we had never sinned and that's our standing before God. Connect with Skip Heitzig is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never changing truth in ever-changing times.
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