Thursday, 23 October 2014
“Conscience,” I say, not your own, but that of the other. For why is my liberty judged by another man’s conscience? 1 Corinthians 10:29
In the previous two verses, we were instructed that if we are invited to dinner, we can eat whatever is set before us, asking no question about it for conscience’ sake. However, if someone were to say that the food was sacrificed to an idol, then we shouldn’t eat it, again for conscience’ sake. In this verse Paul explains that by saying “‘Conscience,’ I say, not your own but that of the other.”
He has gone to great lengths to show that an idol is nothing and therefore it can have no effect on the food we eat. The meat doesn’t magically transfer into something else, nor is there anything which adheres to the meat which would cause us to somehow become defiled. It is meat and nothing more. Therefore, with this knowledge, our conscience should never be affected by what we consume. However, the conscience of others may be affected.
If we eat meat that has been openly acknowledged as having been sacrificed to an idol, then those who know that we are Christians might think we are condoning the practice of sacrificing to an idol. Thus, their conscience will be defiled. Whether they are non-believers or weak believers, the result will be a defiling of the truth of Christ in their minds. This is what Paul is conveying.
And to complete this verse he says, “For why is my liberty judged by another man’s conscience?” He states this to show why it is not for our conscience’s sake but for the sake of the other’s conscience. We have full liberty in Christ because Christ is Lord. The earth is His and from Him came all things. Those who are strong in their faith know this and therefore their conscience will not be defiled by the knowledge that the food they are eating was sacrificed to idols. We also know that another man’s weak conscience or unclear thinking on an issue is not the source for judging our liberties in Christ. Rather, our superior knowledge should be the basis of our actions towards them.
Just because someone thinks we are doing something wrong has no bearing on whether we are actually doing something wrong. We are accountable to Christ alone and not to the conscience of another. As we know this, then we should be willing to sacrifice our liberties for the sake of another who doesn’t know these things.
Life application: Once again, Paul shows that there are no foods which are unclean to the Christian. The issue of what is physically healthy isn’t addressed by the Bible. The issue of what is morally acceptable is, and all foods are morally acceptable. However, there is the issue of the conscience of others. If our liberties cause them a moral dilemma, then we need to refrain from engaging in them until our position is explained and understood.
Lord God, You have said in Your word that there is one way and only one way to be reconciled to You, through Your Son Jesus Christ. I will stand on the truth of this message above all else. You are not confused and neither should I be. What You have spoken is what I will proclaim. What is most amazing is that You would even provide one way. The infinite grace displayed in the giving of Your Son is more than I can grasp. All hail the Lamb of God. All hail the name of Jesus. Amen.