1st Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 55
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1998|
|Now the first thing he does here is give the biblical precedent for marriage and that’s this, a wife is bound as long as her husband lives. Now that’s a clear as anything can be written. A woman is bound to her husband in marriage, not because of a law, but because of the law. For how long?|
1 Corinthians 7:39-8:3
How to Deal with the Grey Areas of Life
We are entitling this study, “How to Deal with the Grey Areas of Life.” Now you won’t understand that until we get into chapter 8, but we will go on over, God willing, into chapter 8.
Well, verses 39 and 40 finish the chapter on marriage and celibacy. I’ve got to do this before I can get to chapter 8. Let’s look and see what he says. First Corinthians 7:39 reads, “A wife is bound as long as her husband lives; but if her husband is dead, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. But in my opinion she is happier if she remains as she is; and I think that I also have the Spirit of God.”
A woman is bound to her husband
Now the first thing he does here is give the biblical precedent for marriage and that’s this, a wife is bound as long as her husband lives. Now that’s a clear as anything can be written. A woman is bound to her husband in marriage, not because of a law, but because of the law. For how long? As long as her husband lives.
Now, we must understand something. Paul has already discussed the eventualities that may come in this woman’s life that may cause a break in that marriage. Jesus covered immorality. The apostle Paul covered an unbeliever leaving a believer and abandoning her. So this is not to be taken that death is the only thing that breaks the yoke of that marriage. His real focus is on widows or widowers. What if you are left when the husband dies or the wife dies? He says in verse 39, “A wife is bound as long as her husband lives; but if her husband is dead, she is free.”
Now the word for “dead” is the word “asleep.” I’m going to throw something in. It doesn’t have anything to do with this passage, but it might help you. Every now and then we will hit the word “asleep” and every time we do, I want to make sure you understand. Have you been taught that there’s a soul sleep? Well, you should write whoever told you that and tell them to study the scriptures because their theology is off the wall. There is no soul sleep. Second Corinthians 5:8 says, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” Every time you see the word “asleep” it has to do with the body, not with the spirit. Remember that. The spirit doesn’t go to sleep, it goes to be with Jesus.
The body, as the terminology goes, goes to sleep. Now, be careful, understand. When you get tired, you lay down. And after you’ve laid there for a while, what do you do? You get up. Every time you see the word “asleep,” it’s just a prophecy of what’s going to happen to your body one day.
I knew a preacher one time who said when he was going to do a funeral, “I am going to plant a body.” I said, “That’s kind of crude, isn’t it? Don’t tell the family that. What do you mean?” He said, “Well, I’m going to put him in the ground. What do you put things in the ground for? You expect it do what? To come up.” From then on I thought, “That’s not bad. We really are planting a body because that body is going to be raised one day.” So the word “asleep” is associated with death, and the word here in the Greek means asleep when he translates it dead.
Jesus spoke of Lazarus’ death in the gospel of John. “This he said and after that He said to them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go that I may awaken him out of sleep.’” The word “asleep” has to do with the body that is dead.
When Stephen was being stoned to death, Luke records in Acts 7:60, “And falling on his knees he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ And having said this, he fell asleep.” So it’s a beautiful picture of what happens to the body. The spirit goes right on to be with the Lord Jesus Christ. The body goes down, it sleeps. It goes into the ground or whatever. Then one day God will raise that body up. First Thessalonians 4:1318 and 1 Corinthians 15 both use that word. We’ve got a lot to look forward to in 1 Corinthians as we study that marvelous chapter on what happens at death.
The verb “asleep” in 1 Corinthians 7:39 is in the aorist tense. That’s interesting to me. In other words, when the husband dies, when the body goes to sleep as God renders it, at that very moment, the wife is free to marry. The verb there for “marry” means to give herself in marriage. Remember, we just came out of a context that said the fathers had to give them. No, not this lady. She speaks for herself. She has been married, but now her husband is dead. She makes her own decisions.
But then Paul adds the last part of verse 39, “only in the Lord.” In other words, she should marry only if the Lord leads her to and to whom the Lord leads her to, and he must be a believer. I tell you what, that sets a standard, doesn’t it? We’ve been talking about people who have been married and when they got saved they couldn’t do anything about it. But if it’s a standard for a widow or a widower, it has to be the standard for all believers. The implication is that it includes a widower.
Well, in verse 40 Paul says, “But in my opinion she is happier if she remains as she is; and I think that I also have the Spirit of God.” Paul adds, “She would be happier.” You know, Paul would have said that, too, because he is single. You can hear that coming right out of him. Had he been married, God fulfilling His purposes in him, he might have turned around and said, “I think she ought to be married.” That’s just his opinion, and he shares that.
Unfortunately, the word “happier” is not translated very well. The word is makarios. It’s the word used in Matthew 5 when he said, “Blessed are those.” It’s not the word “happy.” Some translations put “happy” in that. That is ridiculous. Happiness depends on external circumstances. If everything is okay outwardly, I am okay inwardly. That’s the way that word works. Makarios never means anything outward, it means inward. It means to be completely, inwardly, spiritually satisfied because Christ lives in me.
Here is the whole principle. Why do you want something out here? You have everything in here. “If your husband dies, why would you want to get married again,” Paul is asking, “because you have everything that you are going to be looking for in Christ Jesus? You can be fully satisfied because Christ lives in you.” So he tells the widow and the widower that it’s his sanctified opinion, under the inspiration of the spirit of God, to just go on and stay single. What are you looking for anyway in a mate? You have everything you need in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Then after giving his own opinion, he makes this statement, “and I think that I also have the Spirit of God.” You have to be careful with translations, the word “the” is not in there. It is a little complicated, but let me simplify it for you. It seems that he is saying, “I have given my opinion and I know good and well you have yours, because I have heard them. But I tell you what, since I am under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God and I am an apostle and this is my opinion, pay attention, because it might be something you want to hear. It’s a little different. You didn’t hear this in a barber shop. This came from the apostle Paul. And I am under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit of God is energizing my life, so I have an opinion. Pay attention to it. You don’t have to stay single, but pay attention to it, because when I say it, the Holy Spirit of God is energizing what I am saying.”
Well, that completes chapter 7. Hallelujah!!! Hallelujah!!! Now we enter in to chapter 8. However, the questions that were asked of the apostle Paul in the beginning of chapter 7 were not all answered in chapter 7. There are more questions. As a matter of fact, this goes all the way through the end of chapter 10. The subjects are changing though. Remember, they didn’t have chapters and verses. Thank the Lord that somebody did that because it gives us better handles on what is going on.
Here’s the question with which we enter chapter 8. How, as a Christian, do we deal with the grey areas of life? You know what I’m talking about, those areas that Scripture doesn’t specifically say something about. It says it other ways, but it just doesn’t say specifically. For example, drinking. I’ve been asked, I don’t know how many, hundreds of times, “Well, does the Bible say you shouldn’t drink?” No, it doesn’t. It says you ought not get drunk, but it has some other things to say. “Well, that’s all I wanted to know, that’s all I wanted to know.” And they will walk away from you. Just say, “Come back here. I didn’t finish.”
Or, how about smoking? You know the question is. “If I smoke, would that send me to hell?” Oh, no, it will just make you smell like you’ve been there. But is it in the Bible? Is that sinful? Spurgeon smoked a cigar. Can I smoke a cigar? That’s a big question. You go to the rotunda at Southwestern Seminary and there is a picture of a great man of God there. You look at his right hand and it looks like his fingers were all messed up. You know why? Because he had a big cigar in his hand and they had to paint over it because the Baptist say don’t smoke.
Is wearing makeup sin? Is it a sin to play cards? Can women wear slacks? Do you know what this sounds like? This sound like the outline of some people’s sermons! I mean, these are the grey areas.
I could go on and on and on. Now, this is what you have to deal with as a Christian. How do you deal with those grey areas? You see, one of the reasons Christians spend so much time arguing about these things is because the Bible is not as specific as we want it to be on these things. These issues are not black and white. They are what I call the grey areas. Christians of every century have had to deal with the grey areas and had to make decisions based on what the Word of God has had to say. It’s difficult sometimes.
As a matter of fact, the very first council of the early Christian church met over some grey areas. The Jewish believers wanted the Gentile believers to be circumcised. They didn’t feel like that it was right for them to have to be if they were not. They felt like it was something to do with their spirituality. Well, it wasn’t, but was it wrong to be circumcised? No.
They were also afraid to even eat in the Gentile meals because they were afraid they would break the dietary laws. They still hadn’t come out from under the law yet. It still had so much influence on their life. It says in Acts 15:1, “And some men came from Judea and began teaching the brethren unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” That is what they were teaching. And when Paul and Barnabas had great dissension and debate with them, the brethren determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders concerning this issue. That’s what the first counsel met over.
What did they decide? Well, they decided as far as circumcision in Acts 15:19, James says, “Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles.” That’s not going to be something we are going to put on them as a restriction.
Then, concerning eating laws notice this. There is nothing unclean as far as the dietary laws. They are gone. But look at what he said, at the decision they came to. “But that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood.”
You see, they had to bend some because some of the people they were seeking to minister to, even though the truth was, the truth of grace is there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Paul said earlier, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable,” you see.
So there is a heavenly balance here between what you know is right and the weaker opinion of your brother. There are times of flexibility and times of sensitivity. Paul circumcised Timothy, but he didn’t Titus. You see, it was a different set of circumstances there. There’s a divine spontaneity that God gives you of knowing when to give in and when not to give, even with truth that you know to be correct.
First Peter 2:16 says, “Act as free men and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bond slaves of God.” There are going to be things in your life and in my life that God is going to exclude even though when you test it by the message of grace it would not in any way whatsoever be sinful. But because of the situation you are in, God says, “Don’t do it, because if you do, you are going to offend that man right there.” So you have to ease back, you see. And you don’t have that sensitivity if you don’t have the ingredient we are going to look at first.
You must have God’s love mixed with your knowledge
The first principle of dealing with the grey areas of life is you must have God’s love mixed with your knowledge of what is right. You have to have the two mixed together. You can’t just have a knowledge of what is right. You’ve got to have the evidence of God’s love, the Holy Spirit of God producing it in your life for the two to be mixed. Then, you can approach carefully and rightly the grey areas of life.
There are two ways of approaching this. One is legalism—taking the grey areas and making law out of them. Then the opposite of legalism was the party gang. That’s the church at Rome. Remember Romans 6, the antinomians? Why do the legalist and those taking license do what they do? They are trying to get rid of the grey areas. If you make it a law, you’ve gotten rid of it. If you take license, you’ve gotten rid of it. There is no grey area anymore. But the problem is, there is a grey area, and you have to deal with it as it comes. But to deal with it you’ve got to have the mixture of love, the love of the Holy Spirit of God mixed in with what you know to be right.
Now, before I get into chapter 8, let me explain to you what’s going on here, because you’ve got to realize what he’s dealing with here. All of the Corinthian believers knew about idols and what was sacrificed to them. It was a part of their everyday life. The sacrifices made by the pagan people of Corinth were food offerings. It was believed, now listen to this, that evil spirits attached themselves to the food. They were trying to invade human beings and the best way to get inside a human is to attach itself to the food. That’s what they believed. The only way the spirits could be removed from food was through the food being sacrificed to a god. That’s the way they got rid of it. So the sacrifice accomplished two purposes: one, it gained the favor of God, or that particular god, the pagan, false god, and it cleansed, as far as they understood, the meat from demonic contamination. This became very valuable to the people. Oh, eat this because this has been cleansed from demonic contamination.
There were three parts to the idol offerings. One part was burned on the altar of the sacrifice proper. That was the actual offering. The second part was given as payment to the priests who served at the temple, and the remaining part was kept by the one giving the offering. Now in Corinth, right there in the marketplace, is the temple of Apollo. I mean, you can’t miss it. You can’t see the market for looking at the temple. And on both sides of it is the marketplace where the vendors were, the men who had their little shops.
Well, the meat that was given to the priests that they could not eat, they would go over and sell to the market vendors. They were charging the people to sacrifice it, taking that money, then they were taking what was left and selling it to the market people. This meat was highly priced and valued because, oh, it had been cleansed of demonic contamination. Isn’t it interesting how the Jewish people looked at kosher food and how Satan perverts everything? And over on the other side, in the pagan world, you have to sacrifice it to an idol so it can be cleansed of any demonic contamination.
Well, this meat was served to guests at honorable occasions and at feasts. Now, think with me now of the culture. Here is a believer and somebody gets married, which was an honorable occasion. What are they going to do? They are going to serve meat sacrificed to idols. You can write it down. There was no way to escape having to deal with this. And how do you deal with it?
Well, and you had two groups of people. Some of the believers refused to buy the meat and, if they were ever in a situation like that, they would adamantly embarrass everybody by saying, “I’m a believer. I don’t eat stuff like that that has been sacrificed to an idol.” They were afraid of going back to their pagan background. But on the other hand, there were others who had full knowledge about this. They knew pagan deities really didn’t exist: piece of wood and stone. They knew that evil spirits didn’t contaminate the food. They were mature in the sense of their knowledge. They were grounded in God’s Word and they were completely clear in their conscience, so if they were in a place like that, they would just take it and eat it and think nothing more about it.
One group was afraid to eat and the other group said, “We are under grace, let’s eat it. There’s nothing wrong here.” It’s the second group, I believe, which Paul addresses in verses 1-3. This group says, “We understand, we know. We know all about this idol stuff. We know that with God that’s just junk. There is no god in that stone or in that wood.”
So look at what he says in 8:1: “Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge.” The word for “know” is the word eido, which takes it a step further. It comes from the word harao. It means to know with a full understanding, an intuitive perception of something. You’ve got a grasp on it.
The word for knowledge is the word gnosis. Here they were walking around thinking that they had come into the state of being that nobody could tell them anything else because they know. They have a full understanding of what’s going on.
Paul says, “We all know.” I think the “all” is relegated to this group of people, to the people here who have no problem with it at all because they see the message of grace and they understand the futility of ever going the other way. Paul wants them to know that is not the point. In other words, what you know to be true is not the main point.
Paul goes on in the end of the verse and says, “Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant.” Just like it says it in another place, knowledge makes a person proud and God resists the proud. Knowledge makes a person arrogant. You see, you can take out the love factor, which he is going to bring out in a moment, and you leave it just with knowledge. You’ve got a lot of people who are sharp as a tack. They can tell you the message of grace, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H. They can tell it and they can go out and live as they want to live and they do that, with no love whatsoever, which makes them a very harmful person. They are not helping anybody with their knowledge. They are hindering many. The fact that they knew about the worthlessness of the idols and the demons, that they could not inhabit food, was not in itself adequate. Knowledge alone makes arrogant.
The verb tense is present active indicative, it’s “always making you arrogant.” And the word for “arrogant” is the word we saw back in chapter 4, used six times in Corinthians. It is the word phusioo. It means you are a spiritual airbag. Oh, you can spout your knowledge, but put a pin to you and all the air goes out and there is nothing on the inside. You’ve got it all up here and out here, but you don’t have anything in here. That was the problem, see.
Like that bag of potato chips I like to buy. You know, you get these bags that are supposed to be a good deal on potato chips and open it and what happens? All that air goes out. There are just a few potato chips in the bottom of that bag. That was just a big bag of air. That is the word phusioo. That is exactly what it means, spiritual air heads.
Paul says just because you know about idols, just because you understand the message of grace, just because you realize you can eat that food and it won’t hurt you eternally, that is not the point. All that does is make you spiritually an air head.
But then Paul adds, “Knowledge makes arrogant,” but watch this, “but love edifies.” Whew, son. The word “love” there is the word agape, and of course, it is the meaning of a surrendered heart towards God. It is not an emotion. In Scripture, agape is not an emotion. I wish we could get this through our thick heads. When the scripture says you either love one or hate the other, somebody says, “I don’t hate Jesus.” You may not feel it, but by your choice, you’ve echoed it. It’s your choice. You choose to love this way. And when you have chosen to love God, then the fruit of one’s choice to surrender to God is the love that only the Holy Spirit of God can produce. That’s what he’s saying. If you are not walking surrendered to Christ, then there is no love coming out of you, so it doesn’t matter how much you know. What you know has made you arrogant and there is nothing in you. You are hindering the body of Christ, you’re not helping them. But you may be doctrinally straight as an arrow. That’s what he is saying.
Galatians 5:14 says the law is fulfilled in one word, love your neighbor as yourself. You see, the ceremonial law was done away with in Christ, but the moral law is now stamped on our hearts and the way it’s produced is by the spirit of God. The first five involve loving God with all your heart, your mind, your soul and your strength. The second five involve loving your neighbor as yourself. All of those things have to do with relationships.
Turn over to Galatians 5:22. This is what’s got to be there, folks. If it’s not there, then there is no walk. So all knowledge does is make you no better than the Pharisee; it makes you no better than the hypocrite. You are stomping on people with what’s right. But you are doing it the wrong way. There is no love in you. Galatians 5:22 reads, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love”—now listen, this is a cluster. How many times I’ve heard people preach this is a fruit and that’s a fruit, and that’s a fruit, all kinds of different fruit trees. One of them is a love tree and one of them is a joy tree and one of them is a patience tree and all that kind of stuff. No, it’s a cluster. And when love is there, all the rest of them are there. You can’t have one without the other. When the love is there, all of these are present, every one of these are present.
Look how they deal with other people: Love and joy and peace and patience. Let me ask you a question. Have you ever been around somebody who is not filled with the Holy Spirit of God but is absolutely as doctrinally correct as anybody you have ever heard in your life? They take the word of God and, instead of sharing it with you, they regurgitate it all over you and walk away. I’m serious. Those are the only words I can think of. I thought of another one but it’s a little bit more descriptive. Well, I’ll tell you, just vomit all over you. That’s the way I feel sometimes. There’s no love. There’s no joy. All they want to do is to make sure that they are right when they tell you. Is knowledge important? Absolutely it is important. But it is not the most important thing.
Love and joy and peace, oh, man, lack of conflict; patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, selfcontrol, against which there is no law. And when that cluster is there, and then you take a person’s knowledge that’s correct and you put them together and you have to deal with the grey areas of life, you deal with it with sensitivity to God, sensitivity to man. And even though you may know that you are okay in this area, God may whisper to your heart, “No, for you it’s not okay. Back away.” You have that discernment of knowing when not to crush a brother with what you know to be correct.
The word for “edify” is the oikodemeo. It has the idea of building a house. I love that. In other words, love edifies, love builds up like building a house. You have to have the knowledge to build a house. But you see the love, taking the knowledge, now it correctly builds it. Love is what is needed to house the knowledge because it builds up, it is not arrogant. Knowledge without this fruit of God’s Spirit is devastating. It does nothing but puff one up and makes them a spiritual air head. It is worthless when it comes to helping others.
Do you remember the church at Ephesus in Revelation? It talked about their doctrine, their discipline and all the other things. Then it says, “But I’ve got something against you.” What is that? You have left your first love. He didn’t say you had lost it. He said you left it, you walked flat away from it. That’s what Jesus said, “I’ve got a problem with you because it’s missing.”
You’ve got to have it. That’s the fruit of your walk with God. Before your knowledge ever comes into play of the things that you are dealing with, your knowledge of Him and knowing Him and loving Him, that’s the key. Then that overtakes you and makes you sensitive and wise as to how to use what you know.
First Corinthians 8:2 says, “If anyone supposes that he knows anything [I love the wording], he has not yet known as he ought to know.” “Supposes” is that word, you know, that means he thinks or surmises that he knows something. Present tense, “goes around thinking.” “If anyone supposes that he knows anything.” The word for “know” is the word eido, that he fully grasps something. He has an intuitive perception of something that is full in its understanding.
The verb tense is perfect active indicative, which means something happened back here. He studied and he has been taught, so now he is in the state of walking around. He’s got the knowledge. Son, he’s got the knowledge. Just talk to him, he’s got the knowledge. Well, it’s worthless when it comes to helping others if that love is not there. “If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know.” What he is talking about , as I understand is, he is not as smart as he thinks he is. Let’s put it that way. He’s not as smart as he thinks he is. He has an elevated opinion of his opinion and he is not where he really should be. He can’t be taught anything, see, because he’s got it. He fully understands.
Paul goes on, “He has not yet known as he ought to know.” And the word there is ginosko. It means experientially know. He may know in his head, but he hasn’t experientially known. And, you see, many people who claim to know the Word of God take that word and cram it down your throat, as we said earlier. Without the fruit of God’s Spirit, what they know only makes them spiritual air bags. They are useless. They can’t be taught. They can’t learn any more. They are very inflexible with what they know.
Verse 3 continues, “but if anyone loves God.” The word “loves God” is in the present active indicative. That’s not on Sundays or when the babies are sick. It’s all the time, loving God. Jesus said, “If you love me, you’ll keep my word.” So there is a love for God and His Word and they are living that way, attached to Christ. That’s what the theme of Corinthians has been since chapter 1. This is the believer’s life, loving God. The word for “loves” is the word agapao. Again, it’s a choice you make at some point to surrender to Him. It is not perfection, never has been. It’s more like predictability. When you sin, you run right back to the cross and confess that. Your repentance is not putting your trust in your flesh, but putting your trust back into Him. It is impossible to know God and not love Him. Loving God is the most important evidence of a right relationship with Him. “Those who love God,” Paul says, “are known by Him.” Boy, that’s a precious thought.
Verse 3, “But if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.” That’s ginosko, which means that experiential knowledge. Not only do they experience God in their life, but God experiences them. They are experiencing each other. They are walking in oneness. God wants us to be sensitive to the people He died for, the pagans of Corinth and the people we tend to pull away from because we know so much. Just because we know better, it may not mean we’ll take our knowledge and force it on them. They may not be ready for it yet.
We have a sensitivity to God and to others. Love becomes the key to all the behavior of the believer. If you don’t believe me, look over in 1 Corinthians 13. Let me preempt what we are getting to. All of this is a tapestry and if I am not loving God and knowing Him and Him knowing me, if we are not walking in oneness and that, again, please help me understand, help me help you to understand, that’s not perfection. Yeah, help me to understand. That’s not perfection. There has never been perfection. This is not something out here. This is predictability. This is right here. This is a choice you make right now.
Chapter 13 verse 1 says, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” Do you know what you ought to do? Go home and stand in front of a mirror and get two big cymbals. And if you are not going to surrender to Christ, then take whatever doctrine you want to tell somebody and while you are telling them, just start banging those cymbals together just as loud as you possibly can. That is what it sounds like to somebody when you don’t have the love of God controlling your life.
Verse 2 reads, “And if I have the gift of prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” Verse 3 goes on, “And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. Love is patient, and is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant.”
Skip down to verse 8: “Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.” Verse 13 continues, “But now abide faith, hope and love,” and if I had to pick one, God says, the greatest of all three of them, “the greatest of these is love.”
So Paul is chiding these people who are doctrinally correct, but you see, are not possessing the love of God which balances that equation. The love and the knowledge have got to be mixed together. It’s who you know and how well you know Him before you come to what you know and how well you know it. This automatically erases the effect of what is known if there is no love mixed with it.
I’ve met a lot of people who have the same conviction I have. I’m prolife. I think if you are a Christian, you are prolife. If you are believer, you are prolife. If you love the Word of God, you are prolife. But I tell you what, some of the meanest people, the rudest people I have ever run into in all the years that I have been a Christian have been people who would agree with me on the prolife agenda, but there is something missing. They have taken the love out of it.
I want to tell you something, folks, when you take the love out of it, then you have the wrong focus to begin with. You know, in Ephesians 4 it talks taking off the old garment according to your old former manner of life and putting on the new garment. One of the first things it says in verse 26 is, “Be angry,” I like that. But then it says, “and sin not. Do not let the sun go down on your anger.” I heard a guy on the radio one day say all anger is sin. No, it’s not. There are two kinds of anger. There is a righteous anger and a fleshly anger. You say, “Well, when is it different?” Well, don’t worry, just go on and confess it because you haven’t got there yet. If you are questioning it, it is the flesh.
In James 1 it says, “The anger of man never accomplishes the righteousness of God.” Ephesians 4:26 says, “Be angry and sin not.” Now what is the difference? What’s the difference? Well, see, when you are filled with the Spirit of God, you are going to have anger. If you are going to have the right kind of anger, your anger is never directed at the person. It’s directed at the problem.
You say, “How do you know that?” Because “God so loved the world [which was a sinful, godless place] that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” He loved the sinner, but He hated the sin. But if you’ve got the wrong kind of anger that never accomplishes the righteousness of God, knowledge that may be correct but you are going to burn somebody with that is not mixed with the love of God, then your object is not the problem. Your object is the person.
There are a lot of people who have the right doctrine, have the right cause, have everything else right, but they’ve got the wrong mixture. They’ve got the wrong garment on and that’s what is confusing everybody. We never go after the person, always we go after the problem. For we have divinely powerful weapons for the pulling down of strongholds and it’s not fleshly weapons and they are not fleshly enemies. It is something much deeper than that.
So a person who has the doctrine correct but is not walking with God and the love of God is not overwhelming what he is saying and what he is doing, then everything he says may be right, but it’s not palatable for anybody to listen to it. As a matter of fact, it’s hindering more than it’s helping. Paul says when you approach the grey matters of life, before you even get to it, make sure that that love is mixed in with your knowledge, because they all knew, they all understood, he said, but that kind of knowledge breeds arrogance. But love edifies.
You say, “You are missing the whole point of chapter 8.” I am? Look down at verse 9. I don’t think I’ve missed it at all. “But take care how this liberty of yours somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.” What he says to them is, “Before you approach any of these areas, whether it be smoking, drinking, hair over your ears, wearing lipstick, no, before you approach it, you make sure you are filled with God’s spirit and He’ll give you the grace to take your knowledge and do with it what’s helpful to somebody and builds up. It won’t tear them down.” Take the love out of it, and as doctrinally straight as it is, the letter kills but the spirit gives life.
So we’re through the first three verses of chapter 8. It’s going to be an interesting chapter. I tell you what, it gets more and more and more interesting. Think about that when you go out from here. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know, long before it’s what you know. Then what you know makes a lot of sense and you’ll discover that you can’t, maybe others can, but you can’t because God’s Spirit spoke and whispered to your heart, “Don’t, because you will offend Him.” That’s the way you learn to walk.
Now, don’t hear this for somebody else. These are the kind of messages somebody is saying, “I hope that person is listening to what he’s saying.” If you are doing that, get filled with the Spirit of God, will you? Worry about yourself. Don’t worry about the other person. You be what you ought to be. Let God take care of the other.