1 Corinthians 8:1-13
8:1 Now concerning food sacrificed to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.
8:2 Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge;
8:3 but anyone who loves God is known by him.
8:4 Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “no idol in the world really exists,” and that “there is no God but one.”
8:5 Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth–as in fact there are many gods and many lords–
8:6 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.
8:7 It is not everyone, however, who has this knowledge. Since some have become so accustomed to idols until now, they still think of the food they eat as food offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.
8:8 “Food will not bring us close to God.” We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.
8:9 But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.
8:10 For if others see you, who possess knowledge, eating in the temple of an idol, might they not, since their conscience is weak, be encouraged to the point of eating food sacrificed to idols?
8:11 So by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died are destroyed.
8:12 But when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.
8:13 Therefore, if food is a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall.
Being raised in the church I was always taught that if there is ever anything that one does that will offend someone else, I should not do it. However, sometimes this passage can be taken to a great extreme and be applied to things such the type of earring you wear, the color of shirt you put on that day. This passage is not written to cater to one’s personal opinions. It is targeting those things that are deemed to be morally offensive and are being used to distract others from following after Christ.
For example, the idea of eating is being presented here. Eating in of itself is not wrong. We need to eat in order for us to be healthy and live out our normal lives. However, if we start idolizing food and making food our number one love and priority, we end up falling into sin. Anything that is placed above our love for God becomes an idol. Furthermore, if we are to be examples for other believers around us and not become stumbling blocks, we need to actively make sure that just because we truly enjoy doing something, that it does not take over our love for God.
All that we do in this live is to be done for the Glory of God and the sake of spreading the Gospel. Everything we have been given in this life is a gift from God and we are to pursue loving Him above everything else this life. Placing Christ first will then shape and fuel your desire to pursue Him more and use what God has given you for Him and His Glory.
The early church, especially in pagan areas, struggled with food options. In the Corinthian markets a lot (if not most) of the meat was previously sacrificed to an idol. The Jews would not eat such defiled meat. The early church was made up of both Jews and pagans. Naturally, there arose divisions between those who refused to eat the meat at the market and those that found it to be a silly superstition, since idols are not real.
Paul’s solution to this problem was two-fold. First, the church members must understand that idols are man-made and they are not real. Furthermore, Paul claims that “food will not bring us close to God” and that “we are no worse off if we do not eat and no better off if we do.” Thus, Jesus’ words in the gospels declaring that “Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them,” are held up by Apostle Paul. Those who’s conscience would not allow them to eat meat were instructed to not eat meat, but also that those people were called “weak” in their faith.
Because of the weaker Christians Paul states that those Christians who have more liberty in their conscience should also abstain from eating the meat, so that they do not become a stumbling block for the other Christians.
This is one of the more applicable passages in the New Testament. The bottom line is that we have to be careful in what we do as Christians so that we do not become a stumbling block for new Christians or for weaker Christians. For example, if you know some members in the church are recovering alcoholics or that they have taken a pledge to not drink alcohol, then do not drink around them. Do not be a stumbling block for them. Sometimes we must sacrifice our own freedoms to make sure we protect those who are new or weak in their faith.