Hindering Our Rights To Not Hinder The Gospel—1 Corinthians 9:1-18

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Levi Durfey

 

INTRODUCTION

 

In the last chapter, we saw that the stronger Christian should be willing, for the sake of love, to give up his or her liberty if it would cause a weaker Christian to stumble and fall in their faith. The point was that the limit of our liberty is love.

 

Here in chapter 9, Paul gives a personal example of rights that he gave up so that the gospel would not be hindered in his preaching. It’s an example we can all follow today. We should each limit our rights if they interfere with our witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. As we look at this passage, ponder this question for yourself: what rights and freedoms do you have that hinder the gospel of Christ?

 

Let’s dig into the example of limiting rights that Paul gives here. First, he points out a right that “Gospel Workers” have—I am going to use the term, “Gospel Worker,” to refer to a person called into the ministry, such as a pastor or missionary or evangelist—the right to be supported for their gospel work. Continue reading

The Limit Of Liberty Is Love—1 Corinthians 8:1-13

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Levi Durfey

 

INTRODUCTION

 

The great fundamentalist preacher Harry Ironside went on a picnic with a number of Christians, and there was a Muslim convert to Christ among them. The only sandwiches they had at the picnic were ham sandwiches. 

 

This young man graciously refused the ham sandwich. Dr. Ironside said to him, “You’re a follower of Christ now; don’t you realize that the food restrictions have been taken away? You really are free to eat a ham sandwich.”

 

The young man said, “Yes, I know that. I know I’m free to eat ham, but I’m also free not to eat ham.” Then he said, “I am the only Christian in my family, and so far I’ve had the freedom to go home and share my new life in Christ with my mom and dad. Every time I go to the front door, my dad says, ‘Have those infidels taught you to eat that filthy pig meat yet?’ I’m able to look my dad in the eye and say, ’No dad, I don’t eat pork,’ which gives me an opportunity.” 

 

He was able to forgo his freedom for the sake of the eternal destiny of his family. This young convert knew he didn’t have to have to exert his freedom. By not exercising it, he left the way open for his family to embrace Jesus Christ. (edited, from a sermon by Gary Regazzoli).

 

This young man limited his freedom for the sake of being a witness to his family. The discussion in 1 Corinthians 8 has to do with certain Christians limiting their freedom for the sake of other Christians, but the overarching principle is the same: the limit of liberty is love.

 

In 1 Corinthians 8, the issue that was causing conflict between church members wasn’t ham sandwiches, but it did have to do with food… Continue reading

Spiritual Complacency

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Levi Durfey

 

INTRODUCTION

 

What does it mean to be complacent? Complacency is an indifference or lack of concern toward something. It might be a husband who is complacent about the “Honey-do” list that his wife has laid out for him. Or the student who is complacent about her students. 

 

We’re all complacent in some way and some things. What we want to look at is spiritual, or religious, complacency. This is a complacency that no one who is a Christian can afford to have.

 

Over fifty years ago, A.W. Tozer wrote:

 

One of the greatest fears of the Christian is religious complacency. The man who believes he has arrived will not go any farther; from his standpoint it would be foolish to do so. The snare is to believe we have arrived when we have not…Religious complacency is encountered almost everywhere among Christians these days, and its presence is a sign and a prophecy. (A. W. Tozer, The Root of the Righteous., [Camp Hill, PA.: WingSpread, 1986], 60)

 

If spiritual complacency was common during Tozer’s lifetime (he died in 1963), you can just imagine how much more common it is today. 

 

I wonder what he meant by it being a “sign and a prophecy.” The nearest I can figure is that he was thinking of Paul’s words to Timothy:

 

3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:3–4)

 

Complacency in Christians might manifest itself in many ways. Paul’s concern was that there would be Christians who did not care to hear the Bible taught plainly, but would want something that would satisfy their “itching ears.” We’ve certainly got that going on today with the “watered down” preaching that you can find in many churches.

 

How else do you see spiritual complacency happening in the church or even in your own life?

 

Admonitions against complacency pop up all over the Bible. Let’s look at a couple phrases that the Bible uses to both describe and speak against spiritual complacency. The first is… Continue reading

Where Salvation Comes From—Titus 3:3-5a

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Levi Durfey

 

3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. 4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us… (Titus 3:3-5a)

 

THE NEED OF SALVATION

 

The lie that people tell all the time is “People are basically good.” Now, it’s true that humans can and often do good deeds. We love others, care for downtrodden, give our time and talents, and so on. I certainly won’t argue against that.

 

But the source of those good deeds is not because we are basically good at heart. It’s because we are made in the image of God and, despite that image being broken by sin, we do sometimes reflect God’s goodness in our lives. It’s like a broken mirror which still reflects your image, but not perfectly.

 

The Bible paints a dramatically different picture of humans. We aren’t basically good—we’re basically bad. The Bible says that we are all sinners and that—

 

10 …There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. (Romans 3:10–12)

 

Here in Titus 3, we have a more detailed picture of the sinfulness of mankind. It’s so detailed, that we are tempted to say, “I’ve never been like that!” But, as we’ll see, if you examine your heart closely, you’ll see that it’s true of even good ol’ you. Continue reading

Freedom—John 8:31-36

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Levi Durfey

 

INTRODUCTION

 

A More Important Kind Of Freedom

 

We are living in a time and place where it seems like a Christian’s freedoms are systematically being threatened and taken away. We are being forced, in violation of our conscience, to accept immoral behavior as normal behavior. 

 

One example of this is the plight of county clerks who are Christians being forced to write out marriage certificates for same-sex couples. I guess it’s a case of one more job that Bible-believing Christians will not be free to have.

 

We are greatly concerned about this loss of religious freedom of conscience in America, and certainly we should be praying hard about it. 

 

There is, however, another freedom that is far more important—one that deserves our attention every moment of every day. It is a freedom that no mortal man can take away, even if we are tortured and killed.

 

The freedom I’m talking about is the freedom from sin. In John 8, we find Jesus speaking to a group of believing Jews:

 

31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. 

 

33 They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? 

 

34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. 35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. 36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. (John 8:31–36)

 

If you believe in Jesus, what you should want to be is to be like Jesus. I am certain most Christians would agree with me. We want to love like Jesus; we want to be wise like Jesus; we want to glorify the Father like Jesus. 

 

But what keeps us from doing so? Why donʼt we seem to be free to be like Jesus? Continue reading