Not your own conscience, but the other man’s
1 Corinthians 10:14-33 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to wise men; you judge what I say. 16 Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? 17 Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread. 18 Look at the nation Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers in the altar? 19 What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22 Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? We are not stronger than He, are we?
23 All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor. 25 Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience’ sake; 26 for the earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains. 27 If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience’ sake. 28 But if anyone says to you, “This is meat sacrificed to idols,” do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience’ sake; 29 I mean not your own conscience, but the other man’s; for why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience? 30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I slandered concerning that for which I give thanks?
31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; 33 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved.
In today’s text it says: All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor. Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience’ sake; for the earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains. If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience’ sake. But if anyone says to you, “This is meat sacrificed to idols,” do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience’ sake; I mean not your own conscience, but the other man’s. Paul is speaking of food in this text, but the same principle can be applied to sin and unrighteousness. It is not that sin and unrighteousness is lawful to the believer. To think that and to act that way is to presume on grace and it is an offense to the cross. The principle that we can apply to sin and unrighteousness, is that our participation in it and with it affects the conscience of the sinner. Even to wink at sin or to turn our backs as though it’s okay as long as we’re not participating, teaches the sinner that sin is okay. It is the responsibility of the Holy Spirit to convict regarding sin and righteousness as Jesus says in John 16:8: “He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” But if we are acting contrary to the Holy Spirit; if our condoning of sin negatively impacts the Spirit’s ability to convict regarding sin, then we are opposed to the Holy Spirit, and also then to the Father and the Son.
In Matthew 5:17-20 Jesus says: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” What we need to understand is that the kingdom of heaven is more than only a place that we go after our bodies die. Jesus says: “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17) He taught us to pray, saying: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” The kingdom of heaven is something we should demonstrate to the earth, here and now.
Just prior to Jesus warning regarding relaxing His commandments and teaching others to do the same, in Matthew 5:13-16, He says: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Far from relaxing God’s commandments for the sake of sinners, we should be salt and light, we should be examples of righteousness; of the kingdom of heaven, in their midst. Paul says: Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved. We should not be among the world to seek their approval. Jesus says: “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yetbecause you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19) If we are like Jesus, walking in His light, the world will hate us. But it is not their approval or their love we seek, rather because we love them, we should desire, like Paul, that they may be saved.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit may my words and my actions always be with You and for You. May I never be against or opposed to You or Your will. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, may I be salt and light in and to the world. May Your kingdom come and Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven; may it be both in and through my life. Even if the world would hate me, may they be saved by Your love demonstrated in the cross. Amen.