Presentation on theme: "Principles from 1 st Corinthians 7. Introduction The lessons today, which reflect the collective judgment of the elders, represent our continued public."— Presentation transcript:
Principles from 1 st Corinthians 7
Introduction The lessons today, which reflect the collective judgment of the elders, represent our continued public response to certain issues that have recently troubled the church in Alvin.
Focus Herein, we focus upon the difference between Biblical truth and personal opinion. We will also consider the distinction between “good,” “better,” and “best.” Let us note the problems that arise when we impose upon others our opinion of what is “best.”
1 st Corinthians Chapter 7 Paul provides teaching on marriage Offering divine instruction Offering personal opinion Yet, he distinguishes between the two Inspired Doctrine is Binding Personal Opinion is Not
Verses 1-5 In the opening verses of this chapter, the inspired apostle discusses the blessings and responsibilities of marriage, especially as they relate to the issue of sexual purity (1 Cor. 7:1-5).
Verses 6-9 In verses 6-9, Paul offers his personal opinion on the relative advantage of remaining single and unmarried. While commending his way as “good,” Paul acknowledges that, under certain circumstances, the alternative is “better” (1 Cor. 7:6-9).
Verses In verses 10-16, Paul offers additional instruction, distinguishing between the words of Jesus and his own inspired message. Yet, both are authoritative: the former coming from Christ himself, the latter received by divine revelation.
Verses In verses 17-24, Paul urges the Corinthian disciples to abide/remain in the condition in which they were called (1 Cor. 7:17-24). This applies to the distinction between circumcision and uncircumcision, and also slavery versus freedom.
Verses In the latter half of the chapter, Paul returns to the subject introduced in verses 6-9. Paul offers his personal opinion that – in view of the present distress – it is good for one to remain single and unmarried. Yet, he affirms, “But if you marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned.”
Essential Application Let Us Note a Crucial Distinction Let Us Note a Critical Danger
A Crucial Distinction We must distinguish between doctrine (which is binding) and opinion (which is not). Let us abide in the teaching of Christ, and the inspired apostolic message (John 8:31-32; 1 Cor. 14:37-38; 2 John 9). Let us manifest brotherly acceptance and forbearance in matters of opinion (Rom. 14:1-4, 10-12; Col. 2:16-17).
A Critical Danger In areas of human judgment, we must be very careful, lest Good becomes Better Better becomes Best Best becomes Binding
Falling Away From The Faith Consider the warning against apostasy as recorded in 1st Timothy 4:1-5. Scripture clearly affirms that marriage is honorable (Heb. 13:4) and meats are clean (Mark 7:17-19). How, then, could certain believers reach the point of forbidding marriage and advocating abstention from meats?
Binding Mentality RE: Marriage Well-meaning but misguided disciples could respond to Paul’s counsel by saying, “Isn’t it better to remain unmarried?” It is a small step from saying that being single/unmarried is better, to saying, “It is best!” and its alternative – marriage – is the inferior option.
Binding Mentality RE: Meats Regarding meats, Paul elsewhere said, “If food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble” (1 Cor. 8:13). Some might say, “Isn’t it better not to take a chance? Isn’t it better to err on the side of caution?” It is a small step from saying that abstaining from meats is better, to saying, “It is best!” and its alternative – partaking of meats – is the inferior option.
The Door of Apostasy Once we affirm that an acceptable alternative is the spiritually inferior option, we stand at the door of apostasy. In reality, we have already passed through that door. We are effectively binding our opinion/judgment in a matter of liberty and personal conscience.
Apostasy & Demonic Doctrines If one forbids marriage and advocates abstaining from foods, even when avoiding meats/marriage – under certain circumstances – might be deemed better, he has drifted into apostasy and is teaching the doctrine of devils. Why? Because he is binding where God has not bound!
Sinful Examples This was the approach of the Pharisees and scribes who bound the washing of hands, cups, pitchers and copper pots (Matt. 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-13). This was the approach of the Judaizing teachers who bound circumcision upon Gentile converts (Acts 15:1-5, 22-29). This was characteristic of the Colossian heresy, a strange amalgamation of restrictive Judaism and uninhibited Gnosticism (Col. 2:8, 16-23).
Sure Solution Down through the ages, man has never been permitted to add to, subtract from, or otherwise alter the Word of God (Deut. 4:1-2; Prov. 30:6; Rev. 22:18-19). Therefore, let us not turn aside to the right hand or the left (Deut. 5:31-33; Josh. 1:7-8), but walk in the path of divine revelation (Ps. 119:33-35; Isa. 2:2-3).
Application to the Issue of Education Acquisition of Life Skills Advantages and Disadvantages
Acquisition of Life Skills The Bible does not directly discuss, much less provide an exclusive pattern, on how parents are to educate their children in secular subjects, or how young people acquire the life-skills necessary to make a living.
Acquisition of Life Skills Proverbs 22:29 says, “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.” We read of skillful workmen, craftsmen, musicians, warriors, etc. Where did these individuals learn such skills?
Acquisition of Life Skills How did Paul, Aquila and Priscilla learn to be tentmakers? How did Lydia learn to be a merchandiser? How did Luke learn to be a physician? How did Cornelius learn to be a Roman centurion?
Acquisition of Life Skills In some cases, men learned a profession from their fathers. James and John labored as fishermen with Zebedee their father (Matt. 4:21; Mark 1:19- 20). Jesus, the carpenter, was a carpenter’s son (Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3). However, it was not always so.
History & the Bible From a historical standpoint, parents in ancient times would often place their children under the tutelage of a skilled craftsmen, who would then train the child in a particular profession. From a Scriptural standpoint, the Bible is largely silent, offering no detailed description of how professional life-skills were acquired.
Spiritual vs Secular While parents bear primary (though not exclusive) responsibility for their children’s spiritual instruction (Deut. 6:4- 9; Eph. 6:4), there is no fixed pattern on how one learns a craft, trade, or skill. Accordingly, parents are free to exercise their judgment regarding instruction in secular education and the acquisition of life-skills.
No Binding… No Censure… When there is no fixed Biblical pattern, we must not bind one approach to the exclusion of others. Neither should we treat our brethren as second-class citizens in the kingdom of heaven because they make different choices or exercise different judgments than do we in such matters.
Advantages and Disadvantages Different educational choices have advantages and disadvantages. For some, homeschooling may be the preferred option; For others, it may be public or private school.
Dangers in Education Various dangers exist in public schools. Peer Pressure False Concepts Worldly Influences Lack of Discipline Various dangers exist in homeschooling. Peer Pressure False Concepts Worldly Influences Lack of Discipline
Dangers in the Workplace The dangers that exist in the public schools are the same dangers that exist in our places of employment. Shall we conclude that only those who work at home are the truly righteous ones? Shall we conclude that those who go to work are guilty of making a spiritually inferior choice?
Spiritual Realities In reality, we live in a sinful world, wherein most of humanity lies in the power of the evil one (1 John 5:19). Yet, in praying to the Father, Jesus said, “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.”
Spiritual Realities Furthermore, he provided us with the power to accomplish this purpose: “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth” (John 17:13-19). Paul restricted his instruction regarding the severance of association to erring and unrepentant Christians: thus, we must not go out of the world, but remain in the world, serving as salt and light (1 Cor. 5:9-13; Matt. 5:13-16; Phil. 2:14-16).
Warnings Of course, we should teach parents the moral trials that they and their children will face in the public schools, just as we also discuss the dangers brethren face in the workplace: Peer-pressure and worldliness The errors of humanism, evolution, etc. This sinful world’s embrace of sexual immorality and perversion
Dangers Without Please remember, however, that these threats are not unique to public schools, but are found in all areas of life. In our neighborhoods In the workplace In social and recreational settings Potentially, in the home itself
Dangers Within Finally, let us not forget that defilement may be found in our own hearts (Matt. 15:10-11, 15-20; Mark 7:14-23). Ascetic creeds and stoic lifestyles are of no value in the battle between flesh and spirit (Col. 2:20-23). The walls of a monastery are no barrier against sin. Our homes (and home schools) are equally vulnerable to invasion by the evil one.
A Binding Mentality Someone might say that a mother’s decision to work full-time and send her children to a third-party institution for their care and instruction is not necessarily sinful. However, if they turn around and compare such a decision to going to a bar, social drinking with friends, attending the prom, etc., they are – in fact – binding their opinion.
A Binding Mentality If someone demands that the elders publically declare that parents who make such decisions have made a spiritually inferior choice, they are – in fact – binding their opinion. Such unreasonable (and false) comparisons is the pathway to legalism and law-making.
Fallacious Reasoning If someone recognizes the evils present in the public schools, but sends his child there anyway, he is accused of not caring about the child’s spiritual welfare. Only by agreeing that there are evils in the public school system, and only by acknowledging that homeschooling is not merely a good choice, but the better, yea the best choice, the infinitely superior choice, only then could it be said that one truly cares for the welfare of his child.
Assault Upon Freedom Brethren, the aforementioned mindset is an assault upon the Biblical principles set forth in Romans chapter 14. Faithful brethren have long recognized the difference between doctrine and opinion. “In matters of faith, unity. In matters of opinion, liberty. In all things, charity.”
Assault Upon Unity When we lose sight of these principles, we endanger the sacred bonds of fellowship, causing divisions/dissensions and offences/hindrances that are contrary to the teaching received by divine revelation (Rom. 16:17-20).
Personal Opinion While I might have an opinion (in a given situation) about what is good, better or best, when God leaves these choices in the realm of judgment, so also should I. If someone asks me my opinion, I might freely share it. Alternatively, depending upon the circumstances and subject matter, I may choose to remain silent.
Hear and Heed We must be very careful and cautious in offering unsolicited criticism/censure of someone, when they make a different choice than do we, when the matter under discussion falls in the realm of judgment. In matters of faith, demand a “Thus saith the Lord,” accepting nothing less than book, chapter and verse. However, in matters of opinion, when we reach different decisions, let us avoid strife, remembering – “We be brethren.”
Hear and Heed Demonstrate kindness, tender- heartedness and forbearance. Diligently avoid the unnecessary alienation that comes from expressing a personal opinion too forcefully, too frequently, or too freely.