• Matt Beaney

#544 (24/2/22) THE STUMBLING BLOCK PRINCIPLE


‘But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.’ ‘Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.’ (1 Corinthians 7:7-12)

Many of the converts in Corinth would have grown up as idol worshippers. They would have feared these deities and sought to keep them happy. When these people received Jesus, they were still vulnerable to their past ways of thinking. If they saw another Christian eating in a temple to one of these gods, they would have have been tempted to return to their past way of life.


Although you and I are free to do many things, we must beware of being a ‘stumbling block’ to our brothers and sisters. The stumbling block principle is laying aside our rights and endeavouring to avoid sin so as not to lead others into sin and harm. Although the Corinthians were free to eat meat that had been sacrificed to an idol, doing so could cause weaker Christians to go back to their old life of idol worship. What a Christian does is an object lesson in what we believe. Our behaviour is teaching. People, particularly younger Christians, are looking at our lives.


Do our words and lifestyles build up or trip up? We may not be ‘young’ but may we all listen and put into practice the words that were given to Timothy,


‘Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity… Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.’ (1 Timothy 4:12, 16)

 

COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY

1. Notices

It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.

 

2. Icebreaker

Do you have any encouragements to share from how God has been speaking to you from His word recently?

 

3. Recap of Sunday's message - please share in your group


On Sunday, we continued with our series 'Becoming Love' from the book of 1 Corinthians.


i) CHRISTIANS ARE BUILDERS (8:1-3)

Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God. (8:1-3)

Many at Corinth felt that they were free to eat meat sacrificed to idols and attend gatherings in their temples. These Christians were tempting those who have come out of an idol-worshipping background to go back to their old attitudes. Paul teaches them that love builds up. True Christians - those 'known by God' - build others up. All Christians are builders!


ii) LOVE BUILDS THOSE WHO ARE VULNERABLE

So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.’ (1 Corinthians 8:5-8)

As Christians, the Corinthian church worshipped the Father and the Son (and the Spirit) who is the true God. No idol compares to Him. However, if they ate idol meat and are seen to be worshipping in their temples, weaker Christians would assume that it was okay to worship God and idols. How we use our liberty can be dangerous to others, particularly the vulnerable.


iii) LOVE IS CAREFUL NOT TO TEAR DOWN

Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.' (1 Corinthians 8:9-12)

These so called maturer and more knowledgable Christians were not being careful and were being a stumbling block to weaker Christians. They were destroying their faith by teaching, through their actions, that idolotry and Christianity were compatible.


iv) THEREFORE - HOW CAN I LOVE AND BUILD OTHERS UP?

Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.’ (1 Corinthians 8:9-13)

Like Paul, we should take loving action to avoid things that are a stumbling block to others and pursue things that build them up in their faith.


Discussion questions

i) Did you feel that God spoke to you from any particular aspect of Sunday's message?

ii) Have you ever acted in a way that was a stumbling block to other Christians?

iii) Love builds up. What are the memorable ways that Christians have built you up during your life?

iii) What are the various ways that we could build one another up in this Community Group and in the church?

iv) Take a moment to pray and write down, privately, who and how you plan to love and build up in the next few weeks?


SIV (Serve invest and invite)

i) Do you have any encouraging stories of sharing your faith with your friends?

ii) How do you plan to 'serve, invest and invite' into your friendships?

iii) Let's pray for the Spirit to lead us in reaching our community.







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