Brethren, the apostle Paul tells us to be good examples to weak brethren so that we do not cause them to be offended.  The common belief of the pagans at Corinth was that their idol deities consecrated the offerings presented to them.  Paul explained that meat offered to inanimate idols does not change the edibility of the meat because there is only one God, and an idol is nothing.  Nevertheless, Paul demonstrates Godly love by saying that he would not eat meat that had been offered to idols anyway – for fear of offending the tender sensitivities of a weak brother who might suppose that Paul is partaking of a pagan sacrifice – thus causing an offense, and sin against Christ.  “Wherefore, if meat makes my brother to offend, I will eat no [supposedly sacrilegious] flesh while the world stands, lest I make my brother to offend.”  (1 Corinthians 8:12-13)

We might conclude that this example has very little relevance to Christians today.  We should, however, gather that we are to be careful not to offend others.  How often do we hurt others without intending to do so?  We need to be in tune to the feelings of others.  When a Catholic priest consecrates a wafer of bread as the body of Christ – it certainly does not make it so.  It is still simply a piece of bread – except in the eyes of a Catholic, and perhaps a weak brother.  Therefore, we would never partake of their holy communion because of the offence we could cause.  We cannot justify our actions by saying that a weak brother should know better.  With regard to any offense, we must be careful not to conclude that we are at liberty to act in a way that might cause offense to others.

God uses examples in the Bible to teach us how to be like Him.  From these examples we learn to think as God thinks, to place the right value on every situation, to have the love of God, and to become like Jesus Christ.  Jesus’ life is the perfect example of how we are to live our lives.  We can see how His life’s example touched all those He came into contact with – and then we can endeavor to emulate His life and be that example to others with whom we come into contact.  Here is an instance of where Paul uses an example to convey a deeper concept.  “It is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treads out the corn.  Doth God take care for oxen?”  (1 Corinthians 9:9)  In other words, did God write this for the oxen’s sake?  The example teaches us that those men who sow spiritually are able to reap physically (:11).

If we would learn from the examples of others, we’d be way ahead of the game.  Experience is a good teacher.  Paul speaks of our being good examples to others and not following the appalling example of the Israelites in the wilderness.  We must ask ourselves, “Is God pleased with me?”   God was not pleased with those Israelites who were involved in lewd sex orgies and licentious idol worship, or with those who tempted Christ by their complaining and not trusting in His benevolence and compassion.

“With many of [the Israelites] God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown [their dead bodies were strewn] in the wilderness.  Now these things became our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.  Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.  Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.  Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.  Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.  Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.  Wherefore let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall...“Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.”  (1 Corinthians 10:5-12,14)

Paul’s examples and warnings are for us – those of us who are converted!  How much more accountable are we than the unconverted Israelites?  This is what happened because of the sins:  They were overthrown in the wilderness, twenty-three thousand died, they were destroyed of serpents, they were destroyed of the destroyer.  Yes, it happened to them for examples, and it is written and recorded for us to heed their example.  “Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden underfoot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith He was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?”  (Hebrews 10:29)


Sermon:  "Examples"
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