The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the CORINTHIANS – Chapter 8
1 Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up.
2 If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know.
3 But if anyone loves God, he is known by God. – 1 Corinthians 8:1-3
There is a great spiritual danger in having knowledge, and that is it causes pride. In verse 2 Paul states if you think you know something in fact you have more to learn. In reality a person who truly grows in knowledge will admit that they know so little. Matthew Henry puts it this way “He that knows most best understands his own ignorance, and the imperfection of human knowledge.” We should grow in the knowledge of the grace of God and fully comprehend the gospel. The Lord created us with rational logical minds and we are not called to “blind faith” but to a comprehension of the character of God, who will never fail us or leave us, whatever the circumstances around us look like. We have the privilege to love God and be known by God. Being known by God is far more important than any knowledge we may have.
And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. – 1 John 5:20
4 Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.”
5 For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth-as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”-
6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. – 1 Corinthians 8:4-6
Is there only one God? Well to us yes but to others that may not be clear. The god of this world manifests himself in so many guises. From idol to self image, from political leader to self knowledge and in all forms of worship to anything other that the Living God. So yes there are many gods but only one True God. Verse 6 can be a bit hard to grasp especially in the NKJV but the New Living Translation says this:
But we know that there is only one God, the Father, who created everything, and we live for him. And there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom God made everything and through whom we have been given life.
Thank God we have been given life through Jesus. This verse can be used to help explain the trinity or the fact there is one God. Paul is now going to talk about the issue of eating meat sacrificed to idols and this is his starting point: there is only one True God.
7 However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.
8 Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.
9 But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. – 1 Corinthians 8:7-9
God the Father, through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit created us and has given us all things to enjoy and we will be with Him for eternity. But Paul acknowledges not all have this knowledge. Although there is nothing wrong in the act of eating meat bought from the temple of an idol someone seeing you do it may be caused to stumble. A bit like drinking alcohol. In moderation there is no harm but is a recovering alcoholic in the church sees you drink that may lead to him to giving into his weakness. Sadly the enemy, who seeks to devour us, only needs us to respond to our fleshly thought that ” just this once will be alright”. That so often leads to a falling into sin. It could be smoking, it could be porn, it could be illicit sex. Proverbs is so clear on this.
23 For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life,
24 to preserve you from the evil woman, from the smooth tongue of the adulteress.
25 Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes;
26 for the price of a prostitute is only a loaf of bread, but a married woman hunts down a precious life.
27 Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned?
28 Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched?
29 So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; none who touches her will go unpunished. – Proverbs 6:23-29
This applies to any fleshly desire. But we have the power to flee temptation, for:
4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.
5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. – 2 Corinthians 10:4-6
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13
We can encourage the weak with these words, not cause them to stumble.
10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols?
11 And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died.
12 Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.
13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble. – 1 Corinthians 8:10-13
Paul further explains his point that our example is so important. Reading Lee Strobel’s work on the Case for Faith he points out that people make millions of decisions in their life which culminate in their eternal destiny. We as Christians influence others all the time. Some in a positive way others in a negative way, in their concept of Christianity. We all have an intrinsic value, God has created all of us equal and He loves us all equally. But those who consistently reject Him will, in the end, exist without Him. God will not destroy any of His created beings but He will allow them to exist away from His presence – hell. We therefore have the responsibility to be humble before God and refrain from things that may cause another person to stumble, just in order to show them love. That very love that gave Himself totally for us on the cross
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.