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1 Corinthians 8


But even though idols are nothing, evil spirits (demons) are something—their existence and power is very real (1 Corinthians 10:20). These spirits or demons lead people to worship idols. When a person of fers a sacrif ice to an idol, he is actually of fering a sacrif ice to an evil spirit. However, the meat that is sacrificed to an idol doesn’t change in any way; it still remains meat.

6 We have one God, our heavenly Father. And we have one Lord, Jesus Christ.

Paul says here that all things have come through Christ. God and Christ are one, and their work is one (see John 10:30 and comment). God has done all things through Christ. He created the world through Christ (see John 1:3; Colossians 1:16 and comments). He saved the world through Christ (see John 3:17 and comment). And, in the end, He will judge the world through Christ (John 5:22).

7 But not everyone knows this. That is, not everyone knows that an idol is nothing at all (verse 4). As a result, such a person’s conscience is weak. A person with a weak conscience should not eat food sacrificed to idols. Even though such food is clean in itself, if a person thinks it is unclean, then for him it will be unclean. And if he eats it, his conscience will become unclean too (see Romans 14:14 and comment).

Food itself does not defile a Christian (Mark 7:18-19). It is doing something one thinks is wrong that defiles him; it defiles his conscience (see Romans 14:23).

8 It makes no dif ference to God whether we eat a certain food or not.25 Food itself doesn’t bring us closer to God; food itself doesn’t make us better or worse (see Romans 14:17).

Some of the Corinthian Christians openly ate food sacrificed to idols right in the idols’ temples in order to demonstrate how strong their faith was—their faith that idols were nothing at all. But they were mistaken in doing this, because faith is not demonstrated by what people eat. Food is for man’s body, not for his heart or spirit.

9 In this verse, the weak are those believers who have weak consciences; they do not know that idols are nothing (verse 7). Those who have the knowledge that idols are nothing are free to eat food sacrificed to idols. But they must not use their freedom to cause their weaker brother to stumble (see Romans 14:13,15,20-21 and comment). Our freedom is not the most important thing; rather, the most important thing is our love for our brother.

10 In New Testament times, the citizens of Corinth used to hold great feasts at the temples of various idols; here they would come not only to worship the idols but also to meet each other and have a good time. Some of the Corinthian Christians also went to these feasts to enjoy themselves.

However, warns Paul, a brother with a weak conscience might see a brother with strong faith eating at one of these feasts, and he might decide to follow the strong brother’s example and eat also. But after eating, the weak brother may feel badly and think that he has sinned. And, indeed, if the weak brother thinks he is doing something wrong as he eats, then he is sinning. Thus those who have this knowledge (that an idol is nothing) will have led their weaker brother into sin because of their knowledge (verse 11)—that is, because of their freedom to eat anything. Let this not happen, says Paul. Let the stronger brothers not go to the temple to eat.

11-12 Our knowledge has made us free to eat food of fered to idols. But our knowledge (or freedom) can destroy our weak brother. And when we sin against our brother in this way, we also sin against Jesus, who died on the cross both for us and for our brother. If Christ did that much for us, can we not give up a little bit of our freedom for our brother’s sake? (see Mark 9:42; Romans 14:15).

So let us always remember that knowledge can destroy others, but love always builds up others (verse 1).

13 In this verse, eating meat is only an example of the kind of activity that can cause our brother to fall into sin. There are, of course, many other things that will cause our brother to stumble. Even if these things are not sins in themselves, we must never do them if there is any chance that they will cause our brother harm.

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