“Christian Liberties versus Idol worship and Practices” 1 Corinthians Chapter 8
I. Idolatry versus Christian Liberties Chapter 8:1-13
A. The Effect of Agape Love (Verses 1-3)
1. All of us who are converted to God through Jesus Christ have sufficient knowledge concerning idols and idol worship; and we know also the liberty which we have through the Gospel, We’re not bound by Jewish laws, rites, ceremonies, etc. We are saved by grace
Problem: Too many (even the Christians of that day) carried their knowledge concerning this liberty too far, and do what is neither seemly nor convenient, and thus give offence to others." And do and say rash things that hurt others feelings and insulted them.
2. Paul said their Knowledge was puffed up. The Corinthians became prideful and very conceited. They became “bigheaded” their ‘new found knowledge” puffed up the minds with vain conceit, They became bold and rash, quick to pass judgment, quick to condemn, having no regard of the consciences or feelings of others.
3. Love builds up people not condemn them [1 Corinthians 13:4] “Charity (love) suffers long and is kind” (is longsuffering and shows kindness). Real love looks out for the matter and seek to draw all men to Christ
4. Rash people, arrogant and uncaring prideful people don’t care. They usually slam the character of others with no regard of how or what they say to others.
5. You may possess knowledge, but you only have “partial knowledge”!! You don’t know all of what you should because if you knew better…you’d do better.
2 Schools of thought on this matter:
The Kariates held to the letter of the Jewish law: they taught it was unlawful to eat any meat, or receive any benefits from heathen worship or anything offered to an idol. To them, it was unlawful to buy or sell idols or meat offered to idols.
The Traditionist maintained that they could use this meat provided that the “sign” of the idol was not stamped upon it. A “sign” or “markings”, such as a garland, guilded horns and hoofs images of the sun, moon, planets, stars, oceans, rivers, trees, ect.. could be placed on the animal meat, marking it for idol worship and sacrifice.
The problem arose when this meat was sold in a shop and the markings could not be seen on the meat. The karaies, had serious issues about meat sold in the marketplace because they didn’t know or could tell by looking at the meat is it had been used in idol worship. Of course, the traditionalist didn’t care. It meant nothing to them that the meat was offered to an idol.
II. Idols versus the “One True God” (verses 4-6)
A. Idols are many and nothing in the world
B. There’s only One True God Jehovah, Yahweh, El Shaddai, Elohim and Jesus Christ is God “incarnate” (God manifested in the flesh)
C. There are many called gods in heaven, on earth,
The “gods” Paul; talked about were their "pagan divinities", or objects and statues of religious worship; as well as the lords, nobleman who were the rulers in the world, such as the emperors, from the Romans’ point of view were “considered” next to gods, and even some of them were deified. In opposition to these gods he places God the Father, the fountain of plenitude and being; and in opposition to the lords he places Jesus Christ, who made and who governs all things. …….
BUT to US (Christians) there is only ONE GOD:
God the Father- Jehovah :of whom are all things: we are IN HIM (We are made with intelligence for the purpose of “manifesting” HIS glory. We do that by first receiving , then reflecting his wisdom. Goodness, truth. In other words, reflecting the “fruit” of the Holy Spirit of God in our being and behavior.AND.....
Jesus Christ-of whom are all things: we are BY HIM. Christ is the our visible Governor (Lord) both of the world and the church, by whom are all things were created and consist. He is the Creator, the Upholder of the universe. And we by him. We are (through the sanctification process) being brought with a price [the shedding on HIS precious blood], enlightened, saved and pardoned by God to the knowledge of the true God through the revelation of Jesus Christ. It is the Only Begotten Son (Jesus) alone that can reveal the Father. (John 1:14-18)
III. Ignorance: [Read Romans 14:1-23] (verses 7-8)
A. That knowledge (pertaining to idolatry) is not known to every man (vs. 7)
Some both traditionalist and Gentiles both steeped in the “spirit of idolatry” possessed the “conscience” of the idol, that is, these traditionalist and uninformed Gentiles who ate the meat that was offered to the idol, , considered the feast (their meal) as a sacred banquet, in which they believed that they were “having fellowship with the idol”. This had to be dealt with and removed from among the fellowship………….
Because their conscience in God’s eyes was considered being weak- because they were not properly instructed in “divine things”, they are considered defiled. Any one of them that performs what he did as an act of religious worship, became guilty of idolatry because of their conscience .In the beginning of the Christian movement, (this early church), many of those “converted” Jews incorporated the rites of the Mosaic Law with the principles of the Gospel. Also among the Gentiles, there were several who did not abandon and cease their practice in idolatry or idolatrous notions, but kept and continued to practice some of its more spiritual and imposing parts. Apparently, they thought it necessary to combine pagan idolatrous feasts with the rites of Christianity.
B. Feast yielded no Spiritual advantage either way (vs.8)
Eating didn’t give them a spiritual advantage and not eating didn’t hinder them spiritually either.
IV. Christian Liberty: Results of misuse (verses 9-13)
A. Misuse causes a stumbling block to the weaker members. Knowing that an idol is nothing and continuing to frequent those idolatrous feast.
B. Based on your profession of Christianity, you have no business attending a known. Non-Christian temple (church) mosque, Buddhist temple, Kingdom Hall, etc..and participate in their worships or practices.
C. Because you were taught that YOUR conduct would not bring any harm in whatever you were doing. You must understand that YOUR misuse of God given liberty causes the weaker member to both grieve the Holy Spirit, and become “darkened” in their spirit, hardened, causing them to slip back into idolatry, die in it and finally perish..
D. Your actions of idolatry makes you are guilty of sinning against he weaker member ….and against God! You are a "stumbling block" to them and yoiur actions makes it easier for them to fll back into Jesus said; whatever you do to these the “least” of my brethren, you do it also unto ME!
E. Rather than give any occasion to a Christian to sin against God or a fellow weak saint causing them to harden their conscience that they should return to idolatry and perish, I would not only abstain from all meats offered to idols, but I would eat no flesh, should I exist through the whole course of time, but live on the herbs of the field, rather than cause my brother to stumble, and thus fall into idolatry and final ruin. Don’t knowingly do anything that would cause your brother or sister to perish
The Following Commentary was taken from Clarke’s Biblical Commentary. For your benefit, it’s a “Conduct list” of how the “stronger saint” ought to behave first, especially around any weaker saint.
1. The greater our reputation for knowledge and sanctity, the greater mischief we shall do by our influence and example if we turn aside from the holy commandment delivered unto us. Every man should walk so as either to light or lead his brother to heaven.
2. It is the duty of every Christian to watch against apostasy in his own case, and to prevent it as much as possible in that of others.
3. It is natural for man to wish and affect to be wise; and when this desire is cultivated in reference to lawful objects, it will be an indescribable good; but when, like Eve, we see, in a prohibition, something to be desired to make one wise, we are then, like her, on the verge of our fall. Though extensive knowledge is not given to all, yet it is given for all; and is the public property of the church. He who does not use it for general edification robs the public of its right. For the misuse and misapplication of this talent we shall give account to God, as well as of other gifts and graces.
4. Persons of an “acute temperament” (feelings get easily hurt) and scrupulous conscience may be very troublesome in a Christian society; but as this excessive scrupulosity comes from want of more light, more experience, or more judgment, we should bear with them. Though such should often run into ridiculous extremes, yet we must take care that we do not attempt to cure them either with ridicule or wrath. Extremes generally beget extremes; and such persons require the most judicious treatment, else they will soon be stumbled and turned out of the way. We should be very careful lest in using what is called Christian liberty we occasion their fall; and for our own sake we must take heed that we do not denominate sinful indulgences, Christian liberties.
5. Though we are bound to take heed that we put not a stumbling block in the way of a weak brother, yet if such a brother be stumbled at any part of our conduct which is not to blame in itself, but of which he may have taken a wrong view, we are not answerable for the consequences. We are called to walk by the testimony of God; not according to the measure of any man's conscience, no matter how sincere he may be.
6. Many persons cover a “spirit of envy” and “non-giving” with the "name" of godly zeal and tender concern for the salvation of others; they find fault with all; (backbiters) their spirit is a spirit of universal censoriousness; none can please them; and everyone suffers by them. We should not possess the ‘”leaven” of the Pharisees. These destroy more souls by tithing mint and cummin, yet neglecting the weightier matters of the law. Such persons have what is termed, and very properly too, sour godliness.