1 Corinthians 10:31 and Pleasurable Experiences

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Midas

Puritan Board Freshman
Greetings, everyone! After reading the PuritanBoard as an onlooker for a while, I've decided to join it. So, for my first post, I wanted to ask what thoughts you all might have regarding 1 Corinthians 10:31 and its command for us to do everything for the glory of God. The way I presently see it, this command requires us to always have an underlying intention to do acts that will glorify God. This underlying intention, I think, need not be consciously contemplated at all times, but should always be guiding one's behavior, akin to how a father's intention to provide his family with food guides his behavior as he performs hard manual labor for payment, even though he may not be consciously contemplating his intention or his ultimate goal while working. So, to use a concrete example, watching television should be done with the underlying intention to glorify God, perhaps through the relief of stress, which then will enable one to more effectively serve the Lord. It is worth noting that if someone really does have this underlying desire for something, then one will usually refuse to engage in acts that are not conducive to that end, just as the working father in the case above will (usually) choose not to, say, play drinking games with his friends after work since playing drinking games does nothing to help him to provide food for his family. So, my questions are:

(1) Is the command of 1 Corinthians 10:31 applicable to us today, or was it applicable only to the Corinthians? If the former, then how might one show this exegetically?

(2) Is the account of action I gave above in accordance with the biblical teaching from 1 Corinthians? If not, what would be the proper account?

(3) How does one deal with cases in which one can achieve the same goals through other means. Suppose, like in the example above, one desires to relieve one's stress through watching television. If there were such thing as a stress-relieving pill that was known to produce the same result, would it then be impermissible to watch television since television can carry more spiritual risks than the pill would? When we engage in merriment, should we do so only when it is necessary for us to glorify God?

Thank you for reading, and I look forward to seeing how we might go about answering these questions.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
1 Corinthians 10

1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;

2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;

3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat;

4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.

7 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.

8 Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.

9 Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.

10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.

11 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.

12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

14 Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.

15 I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.

16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?

17 For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.

18 Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?

19 What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing?

20 But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.

21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils.

22 Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?

23 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.

24 Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth.

25 Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake:

26 For the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof.

27 If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake.

28 But if any man say unto you, this is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof:

29 Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience?

30 For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?

31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

32 Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:

33 Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

Context, context, context.

Scripture interprets Scripture. The less clear in light of the clear. God's Word is intended to be understood by His people.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
(1) Is the command of 1 Corinthians 10:31 applicable to us today, or was it applicable only to the Corinthians? If the former, then how might one show this exegetically?

It was applicable to them, it is applicable to us.
(2) Is the account of action I gave above in accordance with the biblical teaching from 1 Corinthians? If not, what would be the proper account?

It's a bit more than the intention of the creature to do things "to the glory of God."

It's about doing right things with right motives, and a right perspective informed by Scripture. Not merely what the creature might imagine glorifies God, not the creature deciding as his own arbitrator of goodness, or merely doing what the creature wants and then attributing a notion of glorifying God in it.
(3) How does one deal with cases in which one can achieve the same goals through other means. Suppose, like in the example above, one desires to relieve one's stress through watching television. If there were such thing as a stress-relieving pill that was known to produce the same result, would it then be impermissible to watch television since television can carry more spiritual risks than the pill would? When we engage in merriment, should we do so only when it is necessary for us to glorify God?

That's quite a hypothetical, with a lot of presumptions and generalizations.

What are you watching on television? Why is that chosen as means to "relieve stress." How would a pill relieve stress in the same way? Is this purely mental stress, or is it emotional, or physical? Does God want someone to suffer well in a situation and pray for that or escape it?

The perspective needed is that of a Holy God, sovereign in all the affairs of our life, Creator of all things, who has revealed Himself in a general way through nature so that men are without excuse to not obey Him. He has special revealed Himself through His Word, and that is how these things are all approached.
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
Wait till you have a problem with that area down there and you will change your mind.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
I would say that, by legitimate extension, everything even to the most mundane activity is properly done to the glory of God.

This conviction is borne out in WSC #1, that ultimately our highest and eternal aim is to "glorify God," (one of the prooftexts is 1Cor.10:31) and so all of our other aims are properly ordered to support the ultimate. Any activity that terminates its good in itself or upon ourselves is ultimately idolatrous.

There are other clear implications in the discussion. Lawful activities should be done in such a way that they do not subvert but serve ultimate aim. We do not always have to have a carefully worked-out scheme as to how such activity will do so; sometimes we simply act in faith. saying: "This is God's good gift, I do not intend to abuse it; by God's grace I will not abuse it as I enjoy it and acknowledge God as my benefactor." An otherwise lawful act subverted becomes a sinful act, and cannot be done to the glory of God.

Likewise, unlawful activity (sinful, contrary to God's law) cannot be "done to the glory of God." God will get his glory upon it, but it comes by judgment. It is not possible to do wickedness, and then dress it with a sanctimonious gloss, "I'm doing this as a Christian, therefore it is to God's glory." Paul has harsh words for such a protest of innocence, Rom:3:5-8,
But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unjust who inflicts wrath? (I speak as a man.) Certainly not! For then how will God judge the world?
For if the truth of God has increased through my lie to his glory, why am I still judged as a sinner? And why not say, "let us do evil that good may come"?--as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say. Their condemnation is just.
It is an attitude incompatible with genuine Christian profession.
 

Miss Marple

Puritan Board Junior
Can I posit that happily enjoying your life and all its gifts is to the glory of God? People notice happiness! It's rare. And it's hard to fake. If you are really usually happy and content and enjoying your favorite tv show, the ride to the park, your new shoes, playing your violin, talking to your friend, whatever, it seems to me you are truly glorifying God. I do believe He wants us to be happy in Him.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
I would just add that we've got a great deal of freedom under God's law, in addition to the fact that we are set free from the slavery of being law-breakers by Christ, fully-so when we depart this life. It is not God's will that we become anxious about such matters as whether we choose strawberry, vanilla or chocolate ice cream or whether we put on our brown or black shoes today.

Sent from my HTC Wildfire using Tapatalk 2
 

JimmyH

Puritan Board Senior
Can I posit that happily enjoying your life and all its gifts is to the glory of God? People notice happiness! It's rare. And it's hard to fake. If you are really usually happy and content and enjoying your favorite tv show, the ride to the park, your new shoes, playing your violin, talking to your friend, whatever, it seems to me you are truly glorifying God. I do believe He wants us to be happy in Him.

I really do appreciate Miss Marple's post above. It is a perspective that I have heretofore been unable to perceive. I sort of identify with the OP's question. Assuming I know where he is coming from. I find it takes effort on my part to avoid drifting into legalism, for myself, if not in my view of others. It is so difficult to accept that in spite of our ongoing sinful nature our Lord 'paid it all.' I think particularly my coming from an Arminian background, before being introduced to Calvinism, I find it hard to distinguish what is 'to the glory of God.' In spite of myself that Arminianism persists to some degree, whether consciously or subconsciously.

I haven't watched television or a movie in a couple of years. At least not at home. I have been exposed to some of the prime time sit-coms, reality shows and the like when visiting friends. I find the "comedies," and the rest of it, to be of the world to an extent that I don't want to expose myself to that mindset. I have a collection of DVDs of, great, and some not so great, classic movies from the silents up through the '60s and '70s.

Most are dramas, some comedies and such. I could watch those and there is basically nothing in them that would be nearly as offensive as what is routinely found in "entertainment" nowadays, but I feel as if I would be neglecting time that I could be reading my Bible or commentaries, devotional books, and the like. In other words,, I would feel guilt if I took time out to watch them. Love not the world or the things of the world, where to draw the line ?

Yesterday I took a 223 mini 14, and a Browning single shot with a bunch of 38-55 cartridges I had reloaded to the range and shot targets. Had a really nice time, but I did not do it 'to the glory of God.' I've read that Jonathon Edwards would go on long walks in the woods, praying and worshipping God for hours.

I ride a bicycle around the neighborhood every day and sometimes do the same. Other times I'm just focusing on cadence and effort. Saying that to say ..... I think of the 1st commandment, and the 2nd being like unto it. Who among us can obey them ? We have all like sheep gone astray and turned to our own way ...... speaking for myself a good percentage of the time.

So if it were not for our blessed Lord taking our sin upon Himself we would all be destined for that lake of fire wailing and gnashing our teeth for eternity. Sorry if my thoughts are disjointed, such as I have give I unto thee.
 
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