World English Bible translation
8:1Now concerning things sacrificed to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 8:2 But if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he doesn't yet know as he ought to know. 8:3 But if anyone loves God, the same is known by him. 8:4 Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that no idol is anything in the world, and that there is no other God but one. 8:5 For though there are things that are called "gods," whether in the heavens or on earth; as there are many "gods" and many "lords;" 8:6 yet to 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 we live through him. 8:7 However, that knowledge isn't in all men. But some, with consciousness of the idol until now, eat as of a thing sacrificed to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8:8 But food will not commend us to God. For neither, if we don't eat, are we the worse; nor, if we eat, are we the better. 8:9 But be careful that by no means does this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to the weak. 8:10 For if a man sees you who have knowledge sitting in an idol's temple, won't his conscience, if he is weak, be emboldened to eat things sacrificed to idols? 8:11 And through your knowledge, he who is weak perishes, the brother for whose sake Christ died. 8:12 Thus, sinning against the brothers, and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 8:13 Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will eat no meat forevermore, that I don't cause my brother to stumble.
Paul had first dealt with the problems of divisions in the church at Corinth and then with the problems that had come about with sexual immorality in the church there. Not only was there a specific case where a man had taken his father's wife, there was also the more general problems that came from trying to live in a Greek city where the mores and culture were antithetical to Christian beliefs.
Now Paul turns to another problem. In a Greek city, it was difficult to find meat that was for sale that had not already been offered as sacrifice to the God's of the city. Most meat came directly from the temples. Meat that did not, came from vendors who sacrificed the animals to their God's as part of the process of slaughter and preparation. This posed a dilemma to early Christians.
Now the more progressive and enlightened among the Corinthians had rightly concluded that since there is only one God above all things that meat sacrificed to a dead idol was still meat. The act of sacrificing it did not change the meat into anything that would be harmful to the Christian. Moreover, all things in heaven and on earth are given to us in Christ and if they are received in a pure heart and through faith they cannot hurt us. A man of faith that eats meat that has been sacrificed to an idol is not harmed as long as his conscious is clean.
However, Paul reminds them that there are those among them whose conscious cannot be clean when eating meat sacrificed to an idol. There are those whose simple faith recoils at such a notion and there are those that have just recently come from idolatry such that they would still feel guilt at partaking of such a thing. To these Christians, eating meat that has been sacrificed to idols would be sinful.
What Paul tells the Corinthians is that what is right for one person might not be right for another. If a man cannot eat without feeling guilty, he should not eat. Moreover, even those that can should not do so if it causes another Christian to doubt or to stumble. The guiding principle for the strong and the wise is not whether I am free to do something. We are free to do all things of faith in Christ. The Christian must always be guided by love, love for God and love to others. To intentionally act in a way that will harm another is sin.
Every day the Christian is confronted with choices where this principle must be applied. There are many things that we are free to do in Christ, but not all things are prudent and beneficial. Some of them are not prudent and beneficial for us and some of them are not prudent or beneficial for others. In either case, to proceed with a course of action and cause harm to ourselves or to others is unwise. Those that are strong must look after those that are weak. Those that are wise must regard those that are weak. Christ has taught us that we are not alone. We must live for others, even to the point of sacrifice.
Is there any thing or activity that is more important to you than love for your Christian brothers and sisters? Are you willing to sacrifice your personal freedoms to love others more?
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