Today’s passage fascinates me because it explains why it is possible that there can be certain practices and customs in our church which seem to be at variance with that which is taught in the Bible. Here, Paul explains to the Corinthian church, that although all Christians who are mature and deeply rooted in their faith know that it makes no difference to God what we do or do not eat, not all new believers are yet fully aware of this. Therefore it is more important to help new believers feel supported in their young faith by minimising any potentially difficult clashes of culture. Often their new faith requires a large change in their lifestyle, and they need to learn the “new rules” and see them being lived by mature Christians. Later they will learn that the true freedom of Christ means that the “rules” we live by in faith are very few, and that ultimately we are only really bound by the rules of love.
1 Corinthians 8:1-13 NLT
Now regarding your question about food that has been offered to idols. Yes, we know that “we all have knowledge” about this issue. But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church. Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much. But the person who loves God is the one whom God recognises. So, what about eating meat that has been offered to idols? Well, we all know that an idol is not really a god and that there is only one God. There may be so-called gods both in heaven and on earth, and some people actually worship many gods and many lords. 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. However, not all believers know this. Some are accustomed to thinking of idols as being real, so when they eat food that has been offered to idols, they think of it as the worship of real gods, and their weak consciences are violated. It’s true that we can’t win God’s approval by what we eat. We don’t lose anything if we don’t eat it, and we don’t gain anything if we do. But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble. For if others see you—with your “superior knowledge”—eating in the temple of an idol, won’t they be encouraged to violate their conscience by eating food that has been offered to an idol? So because of your superior knowledge, a weak believer for whom Christ died will be destroyed. And when you sin against other believers by encouraging them to do something they believe is wrong, you are sinning against Christ. So if what I eat causes another believer to sin, I will never eat meat again as long as I live—for I don’t want to cause another believer to stumble.
When I first heard about Jesus as a child, I believed. But it took me until I was in my mid-thirties before I had enough experience to understand the deeper significance of faith in Jesus and fully commit my life to him. For many years I had felt unable to reconcile the love of Christ I had heard preached, with the arrogance, self satisfaction, and outright condemnation I had seen in the church. My goal now is just to trust in the message that it is love that strengthens faith, and through that love comes knowledge, not the other way around.
Nehemiah 5:14-7:73a, 1 Corinthians 8:1-13, Psalms 33:1-11, Proverbs 21:8-10