9. 1 Corinthians 8:1-13
The Mouse has found that running a blog is often about knowing stuff, and here Paul shows us what type of knowledge fails us and, at the same time, what type of knowledge can serve us well. Mouse is also very keen on his rations, so it’s good to know the non-reality of idols and the resulting insignificance of the food sacrificed to them. However, Paul shows us that there are two ways here that eating can be sinful—and we’re not actually talking about greed! >ᴥ<
1 Corinthians 8
1 In the matter of food sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge leads to pride, but love promotes spiritual growth,
Knowledge in the flesh “leads to pride,” which is offset against love because the best antidote to pride is love. Love promotes spiritual growth both among the saints as they love one another, and within each individual disciple as he practices love. Like all spiritual knowledge, idols and idol sacrifice need to be known by revelation through our position in Christ, not by memorising facts.
2 and if anyone considers himself knowledgeable about anything, he has not known anything yet in the way it must be known,
Considering oneself knowledgeable is an expression of the pride of the flesh. The idea is that knowledge in the flesh, in this case regarding food sacrificed to idols, is not the way forward as it leads to setting traps for each other in our pride; though not necessarily deliberately. However, if our knowing is by revelation from the Holy Spirit, we find that it is humbling, in itself, and leads us to love. We are to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5).
3 but anyone who loves God is known by him.
If we come to understand things by hearing from the Spirit, in love, loving God in our obedience, we actually learn about the reality of those things and, at the same time, we will discover that God will fellowship with us, deeply and intimately, leading to our spiritual growth through humility.
4 So, concerning the eating of idol sacrifices, we know that an idol is nothing in the world and that there are no gods apart from one;
In Christ we properly learn that there are no other gods, so idols are nothing and deserve no attention. Responding in any way to them, positively or negatively, is an expression of the flesh, and is just a waste of time that would be far better spent on the one true God.
5 for even if some are called gods, whether in heaven or on earth, even as there are many gods and many lords,
6 nevertheless, for us there is just one God, the Father, out of whom come all things, and we are in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ through whom is everything and we through him.
If we are in God (in Christ) then we need have no concerns at all regarding idols because we are not of the world but in God’s reality, where idols are nothing.
7 But not everyone knows this; some, whose conscience is still influenced by idols, eat the sacrifice as something offered to the idol, and, because of the weakness of their conscience, it is defiled.
Paul is not saying the meal is defiled, nor the idol, since both are nothing, but the conscience of the doubting saint.
8 But food cannot get us closer to God; we are no better if we eat, neither are we worse if we don’t.
Faith, love and obedience get us closer to God—food is entirely beside the point, whether we eat something particular, or avoid special foods. We must approach both our food and our freedoms in love, by faith.
9 So take care that your freedom doesn’t in some way become a stumbling block for the weak,
10 for if a weak brother sees you who have this knowledge eating in a shrine, won’t his weak conscience be encouraged to eat things [he sees as] offered to idols?
Which would be sin for him. It’s not that eating is good or bad, but if we do something contrary to our faith, whatever our thoughts, we fall into sin as we have not acted in faith, but by comparison and reasoning. Action that is not from faith is sin (Romans 14:23 MCV).
11 Then should the weak brother, for whom Christ died, be lost through your knowledge?
Note that this weaker brother has been snared into sinning—and Paul says that he might actually be lost through doing so! Throughout his letters he consistently maintains the deepest horror of sin in all its forms. This also confirms that “once saved, always saved” is simply a fiction.
12 In sinning in this manner against the brethren, injuring their weak consciences, you are sinning against Christ,
Since Christ died to save each one of us, to then stumble a brother is to undo Jesus’ sacrifice for him—truly a serious sin against the Lord.
13 so, if my food snares my brother, I will eat meat no more, in order to spare him.
Paul again utterly determined to avoid sin at all costs. This particular concern doesn’t really apply to us in the west today as we would never be in a pagan shrine looking for something to eat in the first place (though we might be offered a dish containing halal meat by a friendly neighbour).
The point of the above applies to any situation where we allow our understanding of spiritual principles to release us to do something which a less knowledgeable brother would be uneasy doing, but might feel it’s acceptable once they see us do so. We must prayerfully consider how our behaviour might be observed and refuse to do anything which might undermine a weaker brother or sister—because we must avoid sin at all costs, particularly involving leading another into sin. For this we need to be alert to the ‘check in our own spirit’ where the Holy Spirit lets us know that the situation is tricky.
Bless you folks, Geoff >ᴥ<