1 Corinthians 8:1-13 NKJV
8 Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. 2 And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know. 3 But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him.
4 Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one. 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), 6 yet for 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 through whom we live.
7 However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8 But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse.
9 But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? 11 And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 12 But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.
The Corinthians asked Paul if it was acceptable to eat meat sacrificed to idols. Would eating the sacrifice make them partakers of the sacrifice to a pagan idol and make them idolaters? Paul responds that “an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one.” Scripture at times calls other beings—usually leaders of the church—gods, such as in Psalm 82:6. The gentiles made their ancestors into gods and gave them divine honors and worship. But these are not gods in the true sense. There is only one God, the Father, His eternal Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit that proceeds from them. This is why “idols are nothing in the world.”
Paul sees that the real issue isn’t eating this meat but about the effect such eating could have on the consciences of Christians whose faith was weak. The weak in this instance are Corinthian Christians who were former idolaters and still had scruples that such meat was truly offered to another god. Their knowledge of the one God was frail. These Christians would see the more certain Christians eating meat previously sacrificed to idols and be scandalized, imagining that their brothers and sisters in Christ were partaking in idolatry.
Christian freedom is not always easy to understand and practice. Those who have understanding must be careful for those who are weak in understanding. If meat scandalized a brother Paul would never eat meat again. So we are to be careful not to use our freedom to scandalize others. However, neither are we to allow the weaker brother to remain in his weak state. Thus Paul can write that those with knowledge should temper their knowledge with love while those who are weak should consider that there is, in fact, only one God. Let us love the brethren so we neither scandalize them in free matters nor allow them to remain in their weak understanding. Let us pray: Heavenly Father, increase in our hearts our knowledge of the gospel as well as love for others, so that in all things we confess our faith and live in love. Amen.