Paul has given the Christians in Corinth 3 chapters of advice about the images of false gods (1 Corinthians chapters 8 to 10). Perhaps we think that it would have been much easier to make a simple rule for them. That is what many church leaders would do today. They use their authority to make a rule. Then, they insist that everyone must follow it. They would not ask people to think carefully about their words, as Paul did.
However, clearly Paul knew what he was doing. Little children have to learn rules. But to become mature, a person needs to understand the reasons for his actions. Paulís desire was that the Christians in Corinth would become mature in their relationship with Christ (3:1-3).
So they had to use their minds. They had to think carefully about what God wanted them to do. It was not enough just to obey a rule because Paul wanted them to do that. The reasons and explanations really were important. When they understood how to serve God properly in one matter, they would serve him properly in other matters, too.
There is another reason why a rule would not have been the right way to deal with this matter. People obey rules either to please other people, or because they are afraid of those other people. So they are constantly thinking about what other people will say. Their behaviour becomes a reaction to their feelings.
But in this matter, Paul emphasised that people must not allow their feelings to rule their lives (9:27; 10:6-10). Sometimes they would even have to do things that other Christians did not approve of. Paul had to do that, too (1 Corinthians chapter 9). But a Christian must always follow Christ (9:21).
Next part: About communion (1 Corinthians 10:16)
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© 2014, Keith Simons.