Friday, May 24, 2013

Save Weak Conscience!

1 Corinthians 8:1-13 NIV

Concerning Food Sacrificed to Idols

1Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. 2Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. 

3 But whoever loves God is known by God.a

4So 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.”5For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), 

6yet 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.

7But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. 8But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.

9Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 

11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 

13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.

In this chapter another subject is discussed, which had been proposed by the congregation at Corinth for the advice of the apostle. "Whether it was right for Christians to partake of the meat that had been offered to idols?"

On this question there would be doubtless a difference of opinion among the Corinthian Christians. When those sacrifices were made to pagan gods, a part of the animal was given to the officiating priest, a part was consumed on the altar, and a part was the property of him who offered it. This part was either eaten by him at home, as food or it was eaten at a feast in honor of the idol; or it was in some cases put out for sale in the market in the same way as other meat.

Whether it would be right to partake of that food, either when invited to the house of a pagan friend, or when it was exposed for sale in the market, was a question to a conscientious Christian. The objection to partaking of it would be that to partake of it either in the temples or at the feasts of their pagan neighbors, would be to lend their face to idolatry. On the other hand, there were many who thought that it was always lawful, and that the scruples of their brethren were needless.

 Some of their arguments Paul has alluded to in the course of the chapter: they were that an idol was nothing in the world; that there was but One God, and that everyone must know this; and that there was no danger that any worshipper of the True God could be led into the absurdities of idolatry, 1 Corinthians 8:4-6.

To this the apostle replies that though there might be this knowledge, yet:

(1) Knowledge sometimes puffed up, and made us proud, and that we should be careful lest it should lead us astray by our vain self-confidence, 1 Corinthians 8:1-21 Corinthians 8:7.

(2) All did not possess that knowledge 1 Corinthians 8:7; and still regarded an idol as a real existence, as a god, and worshipped it as such. He left the inference, therefore, that it was not proper "from this argument," to partake of the sacrifices to idols.

A second argument in favor of partaking of that food is alluded to in 1 Corinthians 8:8, that it must be in itself a matter of indifference; that it could make no difference before God, where all depended on moral purity and holiness of heart, whether a man had eaten meat or not; that we were really no better or worse for it; and that, therefore, it was proper to partake of that food.

To this Paul replies:

(1) That though this was true, as an abstract proposition, yet it might be the occasion of leading others into sin 1 Corinthians 8:9.

(2) that the effect on a weak brother would be to lead him to suppose that an idol was something, and to confirm him that an idol should have some regard, and be worshipped in the temple, 1 Corinthians 8:10.

(3) that the consequence might be that a Christian of little information and experience might be drawn away and perish, 1 Corinthians 8:11.

(4) that this would be to sin against Christ, if a feeble Christian should be destroyed like that, 1 Corinthians 8:12.

(5) That as for Paul himself, if eating meat was in any way the occasion of making another sin, he would eat no meat as long as the world stood 1 Corinthians 8:13; since to abstain from meat was a far less evil than the injury or destruction of an immortal soul.

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