This passage is talking about eating the meat sacrificed in the local pagan temples in
Corinth which was sold in the market at a reduced price. It begs the question; are there actually other gods (small “g”) than the one True God Yahweh as revealed to us in Jesus Christ’s person that they needed to worry about eating meat given to them? The answer in this passage is emphatically NO, but the underlying concept of exercising Christian liberty at the cost of causing our brothers to sin in their minds is the bigger issue, and does not have to stop with the subject of eating meat. See my post on Romans 14, and 15 which deals with this topic as well. How does this passage apply to our lives today? What is an idol in our society today? And how do people serve those idols today that our Christian liberties cause other believers to sin who do not share the same convictions of faith? Often it involves legalistic practices and traditions not being kept to another Christian’s expectations. And conversely practices by one Christian which are deemed as unchristian by another.
Food Sacrificed to Idols
8 Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2 The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. 3 But the man who loves God is known by God. 4 So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one. 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. 7 But not everyone knows this. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. 8 But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do. 9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, won’t he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.
As we ponder God’s character from the above passage, I wonder if God would answer our signature question below in the following way…
Who are you Lord?
I AM the Only God. Let’s get one thing straight. I the Lord am one, and there are no other gods beside me. I AM known as Yaweh in the Old Testament and Jesus in the New Testament because I became flesh and dwelt among men. I created you to live through me and I saved you so that I could live through you. Idols are nothing but man-made items to replace me in your lives. Anything that replaces me from my rightful place in your life is an idol. Even my daily blessings can be idols if you live for them. Idols demand your time and resources away from me for which you will give an account one day. By your devotion to them, you have elevated those things and activities to a status of divinity in your life. But they are false, and you will be devastated because of them in the end when you stand before me, the one true God, and answer for them.
I AM the God of Love AND Truth. You cannot effectively live without both. It is not one or the other, it is both. You need truth to combat the error of this world’s system, but you need love to help one another grow in grace and knowledge of me. Do not flaunt your knowledge, but love does not leave people rot in ignorance of the truth either. Rather help others come to the same understanding that you have in the faith. And let them help you to understand where they are at. No one individual has all truth. You need each other to gain a fuller perspective; this is the principle of the body of Christ.
Love is not an excuse to not “Tell them the TRUTH”
In Paul’s day there was the outright worship of man-made idols in temples. The Jewish believers were offended by the practice of other believers who didn’t care about eating the cheaper meat sold in the markets left over from the temple feasts. These believers knew that idols were nothing so they thought nothing of taking advantage of the situation. The council of Jerusalem made mention of this to Gentile believers. But Paul wanted to get to the heart of the issue… What is the bigger picture here?
It is interesting that those who cling to legalism i.e. abiding by dietary laws, even the Mosaic law, are considered the weak believers see Romans 14:1 (whereas they would consider themselves the strong ones, the principled ones) and those who eat meat are called the strong believers see Romans 15:1. So what does the term offend mean? It does not mean the same today as the use in the scriptures. Too many Christians who don’t like what another Christian does, uses this word to get their way in disagreements. NIV translates it “causes someone to sin”. When someone does what we do in our liberty but does not have the faith to do so, in his conscience he sins and is destroyed in the faith (Heb 11:6). It does not refer to just petty preferential differences of opinion.
Not everyone will agree with my posts, I realize that I have just one perspective and there are many different opinions for which we must extend love and respect. We are not excused from withholding truth about contentious issues just because of love. Ephesians says we are to speak the truth “in love”. Love actually wants others to grow in maturity and in understanding of truth. Love does not just go its own way without bringing others along in truth. But love does not flaunt truth – or liberty either. Besides issues like working on the Sabbath, how to do Communion, Baptism, etc. issues like alcohol, smoking, TV, various recreations, all can be divisive within Christianity. When our reasons for abstaining become our measure of spirituality, then they become legalistic idols. God’s Spirit is no longer the perfecter of your faith, your relationship with God is no longer your goal, rather your adherence to human stipulations become the mark of Christianity like the Pharisees held over the Jewish people. In issues of contention that are not issues of salvation, choose your battles carefully so as not to be considered unnecessarily divisive or legalistic.
More to come,