No Ethereal Pious Glow

“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)

The Basket Case Chronicles #120

 “For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks? Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:30-31).

Paul now moves from the particular situation that the Corinthian Christians faced to an appeal to the general principle that applies to all Christians everywhere, and at all times.

If God has not specifically prohibited something, like a quart of rum in fifteen minutes, then it is lawful to partake of it, whenever that partaking is considered in isolation. In this sense, we can ask whether “eating meat offered to idols” is a sin, or “drinking alcohol,” or listening to rock music. All things are lawful, but not all things are necessary.

But when such actions are considered in context, there are two other factors that must be considered when determining if the action is sinful or not. Those two factors are motives, and relationships. Paul says here that the motive for partaking (free from condemnation) must be thanksgiving. If you are giving thanks for whatever it is you are partaking of, then there can be no condemnation for it (v. 30). Is it a sin to eat or drink that? Well, did you say grace over it? This is related to the motive mentioned in the next verse, which is the glory of God (v. 31).

The glory of God is not minimized or insulted when it is brought into our menu choices. God can truly be glorified, and expects to be, down to the last French fry. Doing everything to the glory of God is the basic Pauline impulse, and is the foundation for all true Kuyperianism. It does not mean walking two inches above the floor with spooky music in the background, and with an ethereal pious glow on your face. It means a life suffused with love and gratitude.

The second great factor has to do with whether your liberty is a point of stumbling for others. This has been addressed at length earlier in the chapter, and will be mentioned again in the next verse (v. 32).

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5 comments on “No Ethereal Pious Glow

  1. I feel like “motive” and “relationships” are not the only two things to consider here. For example, there are times when you may drink too much alcohol with an innocent motive, and no one else is caused to stumble, but your actions still end up being self-destructive.

  2. I wouldn’t say that means that it is “sin”, but it would still be a good idea not to do it. There are plenty of things in life which might be better not to do even without necessary being defined as “sin”.

  3. “All things are lawful (for the Christian). But not all things are profitable.”

  4. [...] All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. “Not profitable” means sinful, of course. [...]

  5. Jonathan, I’m not sure of your example, because drunkenness is specifically prohibited.

    Can you think of an example of someone doing something to harmful excess with innocent motives that is not in itself unlawful? I’m having a hard time thinking of such an example — for example, it’s hard to imagine eating too much in a way that is really self-destructive (as opposed to causing temporary discomfort with no lasting physical or spiritual effect) out of a sense of pure bonhomie, wholly uncorrupted by gluttony.

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