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1 Corinthians 9

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Proper Use Of Christian Liberty First Corinthians Nine

The matters under discussion in First Corinthians chapter nine are a continuation of the principles governing the eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols. Some brethren at Corinth thought it was wrong to eat meat sacrificed to idols while others believed that it was perfectly acceptable with God to do so. Some were certain that the meat offered to idols was somehow contaminated by the pagan gods. Others believed that the meat was not contaminated at all because an idol is nothing. They knew that there was only one true and living God. These brethren had become so proud of their knowledge that they were very unloving in action toward the weaker brethren.

Paul was certain that the strong brother had the freedom or right to eat the meat. He was just as certain that the knowledgeable brother must practice love and abstain from anything that would cause a weak brother to stumble. Christian liberty cannot provide a reason to act unloving. Paul used himself as an example of this principle. As an apostle he had certain rights. However, out of humility he often gave up those rights in order to help the weak. This principle would help win both Jews and Gentiles or those on all spiritual levels.

Verses 1-6

Paul had certain rights 1Co_9:1-6 : The brethren at Corinth knew and understood that Paul was an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ and that he had been taught by the Lord Himself. The Corinthian Christians owed their very salvation to Paul and the existence of this church was proof of his apostleship. It was Paul's obedience as an apostle that had brought him to Corinth initially. He said, "If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord." ( 1Co_9:2 )

As an apostle Paul had certain rights. However, he had been willing to forego many of those rights in order to save all kinds of people. He came to the people at Corinth and to others, "To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me." ( Act_26:18 ) The knowledgeable brethren at Corinth objected to giving up their right to help others. Paul offered proof that he had been doing that very thing for a long time and that they with love should do the same.

Verses 7-14

Paul restricted his rights 1Co_9:7-14 : By way of comparison Paul said he had a right to support from the church. He also said he had a right to be married and to have his wife travel about with him supported by the church. He said Peter and some of the other apostles and even the brothers of the Lord Himself did the same. Some see no labor at all in the work of the ministry. They think of it as a very easy life. But Paul said the solider, vinedressers and herdsmen all benefit from their labors. He said the Law of Moses likewise taught, "You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain."

Paul also said that those that are employed in the Temple service got their food from the Temple. Those that serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings. "Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?" ( 1Co_9:13 ) In the same way those men got their living from Temple service the Lord said that those that preach the gospel should live by the gospel. Paul proved that he had the right to be supported by the church, but at Corinth he deliberately chosen not to exercise that right.

Verses 15-23

Paul was a servant of all 1Co_9:15-23 : Paul had many rights that he willingly gave up in order to preach the gospel and to win lost souls. He wrote, "But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void." ( 1Co_9:15 ) Paul used his right to give up his rights in order to save souls. He felt compelled to preach the gospel and sacrifice any right that he might have to win the lost. He said, "I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you." ( 1Co_9:23 ) Paul willingly gave up his rights to gain the reward.

Paul felt a duty to preach the gospel. There is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling that God has given you a job to do and that you must do it. This sense of duty drives you to serve God. Paul felt that it was his duty to preach. Therefore, he preached the gospel of Christ without charge at Corinth because he did not want to abuse his power or rights in the gospel. Paul experienced the joy of sharing the gospel with cost at Corinth. He was giving them something precious without asking for anything in return. Paul made himself a slave of all men that he might win some. He said, "I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some." This unselfish attitude should be our approach to Christian living.

Verses 24-27

Paul ran the race well 1Co_9:24-27 : Paul understood that there was a race to run or a fight to win. In this section of scripture he gave a second reason for practicing self-restraint. The first reason had to do with the saving of the other person. This reason has to do with the saving of ourselves. If we misuse our spiritual rights we could end up "disqualified." Paul pictured life as a race where we each need to learn self discipline. People run races on earth to win a perishable prize. Christians run to obtain an imperishable one, a prize that endures for eternity. The desire of Paul was to run in such a way as to be pleasing to God. He was always ready to give up his freedoms if they interfered with him being able to do what was best for the cause of Christ.

Paul did not want to become a "cast away." He knew that it was possible to be disqualified. This is what motivated him to press on in his work and it also motivated him to sacrifice his rights to save others. Our aim like him should always be to see how much of our life we can give over to God. Paul gave up his liberty in Christ in order to help others and to avoid disqualification. It is much better for a strong Christian to limit his liberty than to cause his weak brother to stumble. There are times when it might be wrong to do what is right. You can not hurt another person spiritually by doing something that is right within itself, like eating meat offered to idols. "Winning the spiritual race doesn’t depend upon how fast you run. It is determined by HOW you run."

Bibliographical Information
Box, Charles. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 9". "Box's Commentaries on Selected books of the Bible". 2014.