I am returning to 1Corinthians. I left off in March in 1Cor 8, where I spent two lessons in the first two verses, showing some applications of the deceitfulness of knowledge. Paul applied this to eating things sacrificed by idols.
1Corinthian 8:3-13: But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him. Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one. For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and lords), yet for 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 through whom we live.
7. However, there is not in everyone; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. but food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse.
9. But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?
11. But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wond their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.
In the first century, much of the meat available for purchase was sold by the pagan temples after being offered to their gods. Many believers had formerly practiced idolatry, and had a weak conscience toward those meats which had been offered now that they had turned to Christ. Scripture says anything not done in faith is sin (Rom 14:23), speaking directly to this issue. Thus if they were to eat meats which had been sacrificed to idols without a clear conscience, then they were sinning.
While it was certainly okay to eat the meat, knowing that idols are nothing (1Cor 10:23-33), those who were free to eat were expected to make allowances for those who had doubts.
While meats for sale are not usually sacrificed to idols now, this still has spiritual applications for today. Take the drinking of alcohol, for example. Some believers are convinced consuming any alcoholic beverages is sin. Also, some are addicted and cannot drink for the weakness of their flesh.
Other believers understand that alcohol, in itself, is not sinful, but only excessive use of it. Paul even told Timothy to drink a little wine for some stomach problems – he did not recommend grape juice, but real wine. However, those who are free to drink must make allowances for those who are not by not drinking around them. We are to love them enough that we are willing never to drink again if it help them to not stumble.
For love is the whole of the law. When we walk in love toward God and others, then our goal will be to honor them. Our desire will be for fellow believers to walk in victory with God. We should be willing to set our freedoms in Christ aside for the sake of those who have a weak conscience.
Another application is in regard to keeping the Sabbath. Some hold one day above another, while others regard every day alike (Col. 2:16; Rom 13:3-13). Some believe we should keep the festivals commanded by God in the Old Testament, while others see no need as those were for the Jews as part of their covenant.
Those who are convinced we must keep the seventh day Sabbath are accepted by God. Those who believe worship should be on Sunday in honor of the resurrection are also accepted by God. And those who do not observe a specific day God receives. It is God to whom we must give account.
As long as our heart’s desire is to worship God and live for Him, these outward works ultimately do not matter as regards salvation. We are saved by faith, not by our works. There will be no boasting in heaven how we earned our salvation by eating certain foods or keeping specific holidays.
But our works must be of faith. If I am convinced God wants me to keep a certain day separate, then I am required to keep that day or else I sin. If I believe drinking is sin, then I cannot drink or else I sin. This does not extend to such things as sexual immorality, gossip, murder, hatred, and the like. God’s word is quite clear that these are always sin. Some in the church consider these moral issues as relatively unimportant. But the same Paul who said the keeping of days or the eating of meats are debatable also said those who willfully follow after moral sins will not inherit the kingdom of God (Romans 1 & 2)
Satan comes to kill, steal, and destroy. He is the author of confusion, the one who seeks to divide the church. It is he who magnifies these minor issues of religious works. Some in the church focus on these areas while ignoring the weightier things of living righteously before God in our own lives. Instead of teaching us to ask God what he wants us to do, many instead tell us their own doctrines and opinions. They are like the Pharisees of old, who make all sorts of rules and regulations to follow rather than teaching believers how to seek God.
(John 5:39-40) Jesus told the Pharisees that they search the Scriptures thinking that in them they have eternal life. The Scriptures all tell about Jesus. Yet they refused to go to Jesus that they might truly have life. Instead they made a bunch of rules based on the Law and prophets, and were blind to the real truth when Jesus came.
Questions for reflection: What areas do you judge the way another person chooses to honor God? Are there areas you believe you are led by God to do one thing, while others are free to go another direction – and do you judge them? Or conversely, are you free to do an activity which someone you know is not free to do – do you rub their faces in your freedom? Ask God to reveal any such areas in your life in which He wants you to change your attitude.