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1Corinthians 8 (web)

Dealing with Gray Areas

Food Sacrificed to Idols

8:1 Now concerning things sacrificed to idols: We know that we all have knowledge.

Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.
8:2 But if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he doesn't yet know as he ought to know.
8:3 But if anyone loves God, the same is known by him.

8:4 Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols,
we know that no idol is anything in the world, and that there is no other God but one.

8:5 For though there are things that are called "gods,"
whether in the heavens or on earth; as there are many "gods" and many "lords;"
8:6 yet to us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for him;
and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we live through him.
8:7 However, that knowledge isn't in all men.
But some, with consciousness of the idol until now,
eat as of a thing sacrificed to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.
8:8 But food will not commend us to God.
For neither, if we don't eat, are we the worse; nor, if we eat, are we the better.

8:9 But be careful that by no means does this liberty of yours
become a stumbling block to the weak.

8:10 For if a man sees you who have knowledge sitting in an idol's temple,
won't his conscience, if he is weak, be emboldened to eat things sacrificed to idols?
8:11 And through your knowledge, he who is weak perishes,
the brother for whose sake Christ died.

8:12 Thus, sinning against the brothers,
and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.

8:13 Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble,
I will eat no meat forevermore, that I don't cause my brother to stumble.

Discussion Questions

Indentifying gray areas:
Fill in the blank: What are examples of behavior in the world that you see is commonly adopted by Christians and causes other Christians to stumble?

When it comes to controversial issues, or "gray areas", whose opinion should we conform our behavior to?

If an institutional church is engaging in a behavior offensive to "weak" brethren, should they change their policy, or should the "weak" ones look for another church, or should the "weak" ones simply tolerate what they reckon to be "sinful behavior" by other Christians? If these "weak" brethren share their convictions with others in such an institutional church, under what circumstances would that be considered "divisive"?


Knowledge Puffs Up

1Cor 8:1-3  Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God.

The practice of Christian living is not simply about gaining knowledge and revelation. It's more importantly about applying what you know in love. While there are those who are proud of their knowledge, what good is knowing something unless you're doing something constructive with it? What good is seeking knowledge apart from the intention of applying it in love?

People may be proud of their factual knowledge. But apart from humility, "such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions." Col 2:18b Being puffed up with knowledge is contrary to living by faith. "See, he is puffed up; his desires are not uprightó but the righteous will live by his faithó" Hab 2:4 and "we walk by faith, not by sight." 2Cor 5:7

The Truth about Idols

1Cor 8:4-6  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. For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords"), 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.

There is but one God and there are no others. Yet the Bible speaks of gods. Mic 4:5 "All the nations may walk in the name of their gods; we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever." In reality "all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens." Ps 96:5

Isaiah mocks idolaters saying, "He cut down cedars, or perhaps took a cypress or oak. He let it grow among the trees of the forest, or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow. It is manís fuel for burning; some of it he takes and warms himself, he kindles a fire and bakes bread. But he also fashions a god and worships it; he makes an idol and bows down to it. Half of the wood he burns in the fire; over it he prepares his meal, he roasts his meat and eats his fill. He also warms himself and says, 'Ah! I am warm; I see the fire.' From the rest he makes a god, his idol; he bows down to it and worships. He prays to it and says, 'Save me; you are my god.' They know nothing, they understand nothing; their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see, and their minds closed so they cannot understand."

As for Jesus Christ, "Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men." John 1:3,4 And it also says of Christ, "In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands." Heb 1:10

Don't Violate Your Conscience

1Cor 8:7-8  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. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.

"The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking" Rom 14:17a But it is a matter of the conscience. Paul writes, "The goal of this command (warning against false doctrines) is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith." 1Tim 1:5 "Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them." Heb 13:9 But if one's conscience is bothered with the idea of eating foods which had been sacrificed to idols, then one should follow their conscience in the matter.

Afterall, there are those who have grown up in idolatrous cultures. They may have formerly offered sacrifices to other gods. And so it is reasonable that their conscience would be weak in that realm. And likewise concerning other gray areas - matters of conscience - the Christian may run across.

Don't Violate Other People's Conscience

1Cor 8:9-13  Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.  For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idolís temple, wonít he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience,  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.

Rom 14:1-3 Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One manís faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him.

When it comes to disputable matters, gray areas of the Christian life, one must not only follow their own conscience as the Spirit leads, one must also take into account the conscience of others, lest others be defiled while you feel you're walking in a good conscience. For what kind of love is it if in exercising my freedom I defile the conscience of another?

And remember that Jesus said, "If anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. "Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!" Mt 18:6,7

Therefore let not your freedom lead others to violate their own conscience, which would be sin.

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

Aug 15,2020