1 Corinthians 8
Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God.
Matt 6:24-27 "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
Knowledge is a wonderful thing, but only if it is accepted and used in Love. Outside of Love, knowledge is useless and degrading because it is no longer of Love but of pride and prejudice.
And pride and prejudice eat up our time and talents so that what should be meaningless to us becomes of paramount importance and what is of paramount importance becomes quite meaningless. Even to the point of eating and drinking this issue shows up. For many it has even taken on the role as having something to do with holiness where people begin to see their relationship to God as having something to do with what they eat. And it is interesting how this idea begins to take on a view of offense when presented in any other way than what is demanded by those who see food as having a paramount importance in their life.
All this is done while God’s Word is forever clear as to the freedom He has given and what our concerns really should be.
John 6:26-27 Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval."
Why are we so quick to defend what we put on our plates or in our mouths? Is it so important that we see the need to mount up a defense against anything else that might call for a change in the way we see the world around us?
God is saying that there are two kinds of food, One that He gives you that is about our spiritual lives and another that we may physically put into our mouths and that sustains us for a moment. But in today’s world the priorities have been reversed and man is more interested and concerned with what he eats rather than what happens to his soul.
The food that we are to consume is that bread that came from heaven, and that bread is our life.
John 6:28-59 Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent." So they asked him, "What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'" Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." "Sir," they said, "from now on give us this bread." Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven." They said, "Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, 'I came down from heaven'?" "Stop grumbling among yourselves," Jesus answered. "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: 'They will all be taught by God.' Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever." He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
Depending on what each person sees in this issue makes all the difference in the world as to their relationship with God. Either food (the things of this world that can feed us for a moment) will become our modus operandi of living, or we will choose to live eternally in God (Love) and become a part of a ever growing Temple (Kingdom) that is not of this world nor a part of this creation.
John 6:60-66 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?" Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, "Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him." From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
Scenario: A young person is putting together a weight set he purchased to begin his new exercises to ‘get in shape.’ Just as he was getting the last pieces together an older person walks into the room and sees what is taking place.
Older person: Well, what do we have here?
Young person: I just bought this new weight set and I’m going to start getting in shape so I can have a good looking body.
Older person: Interesting idea. But be careful, once you start you cannot stop or you will lose the body you worked so hard to get. In other words, you will become a slave to your own body.
God has set before us what we are to become a slave to. This kind of slavery is NOT a slavery of chains but of righteousness (doing right) it is a slavery to the best kind of Love that sets the captive free. When we experience that Love we realize what things are truly meaningful and what things have no real meaning at all.
So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one. For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords"), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
For those who believe this and know their Lord and Savior, they know what is meaningful and what is not. They know that God will not mislead them and has provided what they need to do His will.. Does that mean that whatever one feels is right to do is the right thing to do? No, but for the one who lives in God whatever God requires of them is right to do. But the right thing to do will ALWAYS be done to the glory of God and will always take into consideration every aspect of what God has spoken in His Word about His righteousness and vengeance and justice and Love.
But not everyone knows this. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.
Israel was to look to the Creator when they ate the manna in the desert. But instead they began to grumble and complain. The Levites were to look to God as they ate part of the offerings offered up on behalf of the sins confessed by their relatives, the Israelites. But instead, the motions they went through as God had commanded them to perform in the temple service became things done to make men holy. And then they mingled their service with pagan worship and applied pagan ideas of food and rituals as something that pleased the gods. These same practices abound today and the view of God is lost to rituals and teachings about this and that.
1 Cor 10:31-11:1 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, DO IT ALL FOR THE GLORY OF GOD. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God- even as I try to please everybody in every way. FOR I AM NOT SEEKING MY OWN GOOD BUT THE GOOD OF MANY, so that they may be saved.
It is time to seek the Way of God and stop looking at each other or human leadership to guide us as we seek to obey our Lord and Savior. In Him we will find our nourishment and will stop feeding our bodies what does not belong in them. If we will do this as the body of Christ then we will not be a stumbling block to anyone or try to sit in judgment of anyone but instead judge between righteousness and evil. Then when the offence is taken out of our eyes first, then we may be able to help our brother and sister to have the same kind of relationship that we have so they too may remove their offence from their eyes.
Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol's temple, won't he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.
As Christ before him, Paul took on the responsibility of being his ‘brother's keeper,’ the very thing that mankind tries to distance themselves from every moment of every day. But for those who live in Christ, they know that every action and reaction to life has a consequence attached to it that touches everyone around them and that the greatest concern is the desire to have others experience the same Love and Grace that has set them free in their life and that others can have that same experience in theirs.