Sunday, 19 October 2014
Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience’ sake; 1 Corinthians 10:25
Paul’s words in this verse take us right back to the discussion of verse 17 which said, “For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.” In that analysis, the question was raised, “Does the taking of the communion bread result in our being one body?” Paul’s answer here shows that the answer is “No.”
He instructs the Corinthians (and thus the Gentile-led church) to “eat whatever is sold in the meat market.” When we go shopping, there is nothing sold there which is forbidden. If we see a tasty delight of whatever kind of meat and regardless of where it came from, including from the sacrifice at an idol’s temple, it is simply meat. If the eating of the meat (comparable to the taking of the bread) resulted in our being united to the idol, then we couldn’t follow through with Paul’s instruction. However, meat is meat and bread is bread. The eating of either doesn’t result in our being united to the idol (meat) or united to Christ (bread).
Rather, it is the participation in the ceremony which others would see and thus identify us with the entity represented by the sacrifice, whether we actually were or not. Therefore, as perception is important for conscience’ sake, we are to keep our conscience clear and at the same time we are to not negatively affect others’ conscience through our actions. Understanding this, Paul continues with his thought by saying about our meat-shopping experience, “asking no questions for conscience’ sake.”
If we ask questions about the meat, what will the result be? If it was first sacrificed to an idol and that knowledge was passed on to us, it would then become a point of conscience, not merely of eating. But what if it wasn’t sacrificed to an idol? It would make no difference at all. And so we see that either way by not asking then no matter of conscience is connected to the meat. The meat doesn’t change by the sacrifice; the meat in relation to us changes by the conscience (perception) of what the sacrifice means.
In this, we can see the truth of the statement “Ignorance is bliss.” There is no defiling of our conscience by having others assume that we are participating in an idol’s sacrifice, and there is no defiling of another’s conscience by their assumption that it makes any difference at all to us about where the meat came from.
Life application: When Paul wrote to those in Corinth about buying meat, he said that we should “eat whatever is sold in the meat market.” Two obvious points come up which have been shunned by many sects and cults. 1) The meat sold does not in any way adhere to the dietary laws found within the Law of Moses. And so, 2) the type of meat also does not in any way adhere to the dietary laws found within the Law of Moses. If your church, pastor, denomination, etc., tells you that you shouldn’t eat any type of meat (pork is always a good example), it’s time to leave and find a new place to worship. Paul is rather clear here.
Heavenly Father, I thank You that even though I don’t adhere to the dietary laws of the Old Testament, I am still considered clean in Your eyes. My obedience isn’t found in rituals and observances, but rather it is found in the fulfillment of those laws by Another. My trust is in the finished work of Christ, not in my pitiful attempt to meet standards that no one has ever met except Him alone. It is with great thanks that I can rest in Him and be found faultless in Your eyes. Surely He has done all things well! Hallelujah and Amen.