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Making Ourselves Servants of All (1 Corinthians 8,9)

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1 Corinthians 8

Food offered to idols
Now concerning things sacrificed to idols. We know that we all have knowledge; yet knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2 If anyone thinks that he knows anything, he does not know anything as he ought to know. 3 But if anyone loves God, the same is known by Him.
   4 Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that no idol has real existence and there is no God but one. 5 For though there are those called gods, whether in heaven or on earth, as there are gods many and lords many, 6 yet to us there is only one God, the Father, of whom are all things and we are everything to Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, for the sake of whom are all things, and we exist for His sake.
   7 However there is not in all men that knowledge, but some being used until now to the idol, eat things sacrificed to an idol, and their conscience being weak is defiled. 8 But food will not commend us to God. Neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. Nor, if we eat, are we the better. 9 But take heed, lest by any means this freedom of yours becomes a stumblingblock to the weak. 10 For if a man sees you who have knowledge dining in an idol's temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be encouraged to eat things sacrificed to idols? 11 For through your knowledge he that is weak perishes, the brother for whose sake Christ died. 12 And thus, sinning against the believers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will eat no flesh again, so that I do not cause my brother to stumble.


8:1 We can use knowledge, including spiritual knowledge, wrongly- even if the knowledge is theoretically correct. If we live in love, our concern will be to edify or build up others, and we will use and apply our knowledge appropriately and sensitively.

8:3 The wonderful thing is that God knows us; not so much that we have some limited knowledge of Him.

8:4,5 Contrary to the popular beliefs of the time, Paul teaches that idols don't exist. He speaks of the idols as 'demons' (10:21); the people believed in the existence of demons as demi-gods, and made idols to them on earth. The Corinthians were tempted to worship both God and also the demons / idols. Paul is clearly stating that demons don't exist; the language of 'demon possession' in the New Testament is simply using the language of the day for unexplained [often mental] illnesses.

8:6 The only God is God the Father. The false doctrine of the Trinity claims that the one God exists in three persons, one of which is "God the Father". But the Bible teaches that the one and only God is God the Father. Therefore Jesus is not God. His existence as a separate entity from God is made clear by this verse.

8:9 We are free to eat what we want; but our decisions must be overshadowed always by the concern as to what effect our example will have upon others less mature in the Faith. This is a principle we often need to apply in our decision making. 'I see nothing wrong with it... it's OK in my conscience' is a spiritually selfish attitude. Our examples have more influence upon others than we imagine. If our example causes another to stumble, then we have sinned against Christ and His death for that person is as it were wasted (vv. 12,13). So what may not be a personal sin for us becomes sinful if it causes others to stumble.