“Now concerning food sacrificed to idols: we know that ‘all of us possess knowledge.’ Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” (1Corinthians 8:1)
This is a long passage believed reader, and there could be much to say about it. So far this week we have talked about the raising up of prophets for God’s people and what such prophets should say and do. The writer of 1 Corinthians gives good advice. However, the writer also says, “Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge” (verse 2) which seems to contradict my assertion. The writer continues by saying “but anyone who loves God is known by him.”(verse 3) Remembering the passage from Deuteronomy where it says “I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet” and the passage from Psalms 111 where is says the God’s great works are studied by those who delight in them may help us to understanding this seeming paradox. It is love of God, and love from God, produces knowledge (another term being wisdom) that is appropriate for the Christian life.
“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.’ Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as in fact there are many gods and many lords— 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.” (Verses 4-6)
This is basic and primary wisdom, that there is only one God who is worthy to worship and praise. And therefore only one God against whom all other things should be measured.
“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. ‘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.” (Verses 7-8)
Again, harking back to the Deuteronomy passage and the Psalms passage, food and drink are not articles of faith and belief, nor part of the wisdom that comes from God. But the writer of 1 Corinthians cautions . . .
“But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling-block to the weak. 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? So by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died are destroyed.” (Verses 9-11)
Those who possess knowledge/wisdom from God must take care that their deep wisdom and understanding of God’s nature and guidance does not wound others. The writer of 1 Corinthians explains . . .
“But when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 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. (Verses 12-13)
God’s grace and mercy covers many things. Actions, attitudes, words etc done in ignorance but are contrary to Christian living can be a source of distress and hurt. One could successfully argue that knowledge (that is wisdom) prevents not only these flaws from happening but brings with it the knowledge of God’s grace and mercy. It is a poor “prophet from God” that would would fragile believers. Or for that matter, strong believers who are taken in by poor or false prophets.
May you beloved reader mature in your faith; and if called by God, be caring and diligent in the example you show. Selah!