This study on 1 Corinthians 8-9 was given on 14th January 2024 by pastor Barry Forder.
In these chapters, Paul continues addressing the questions the Corinthain believers had raised, particularly here in regard to whether or not they should eat food offered to idols. To understand the context of the question, David Guzik comments: “The meat offered on pagan altars was usually divided into three portions. One portion was burnt in honor of the god, one portion was given to the worshipper to take home and eat, and the third portion was given to the priest. If the priest didn’t want to eat his portion, he sold it at the temple restaurant or meat market. The meat served and sold at the temple was generally cheaper. Then, as well as now, people loved a bargain (including Christians).”
Some believers, knowing that idols were really nothing but figments of man’s imagination (see Psalm 115:4-8 / Jeremiah 10:3-5), had no qualms about eating this meat that could be purchased at a discounted price. However, for other believers, this was a real problem of conscience. Paul’s teaching is emphatic “it is a sin against Christ to sin against your brother by encouraging him to do something he thinks is wrong. So if eating meat offered to idols is going to make my brother sin, I’ll not eat any of it as long as I live because I don’t want to do this to him.” (Living Bible Paraphrase).
Paul’s message is clear: Don’t do anything that, although you may a freedom of conscience regarding, is going to be a stumbling block to another believer. We should not be set upon serving ourselves, but upon thinking about and serving others. Our ‘knowledge’, however great, should always be subservient to love. Loving one another is more important than making a point to prove we are right!
This in no way negates the importance of the truth, but we are admonished to ‘speak the truth in love!’ (Eph 4:15).
May you be encouraged and blessed by this teaching.