Friday, 22 August 2014
However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 1 Corinthians 8:7
Paul has been speaking of “knowledge” “concerning things offered to idols” for the past two verses. He now enters into the fact that “not everyone” has that knowledge by stating “however.” This then is in contrast to what should be obvious, but it is knowledge which is lacking in some for whatever reason. And so he continues by saying that “for some, with consciousness of the idol.” There is a definite hindrance in their ability to accept anything offered to that idol, even though it is actually nothing at all.
Their conscience tells them that if something was offered to an idol and they were to “eat it as a thing offered to an idol,” then they have somehow done something wrong. As an understandable example, suppose you were to go to the local Buddhist temple because they have a great farmer’s market there. While there, you see meat being sold too. Because you’re a big fan of steak, pork chops, and lamb cutlets, you decide to buy a few of each. But then you hear that the animals were sacrificed first as an offering to the idol at the temple, is it ok to buy that meat now or not?
Paul has just said that “an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one.” After that, he clearly explained what he meant in the next two verses. And so the answer is “Yes, you may buy the meat.” Your conscience tells you that there is no God but one and you know that the sacrifice has no validity at all. Therefore, your conscience on this matter is undefiled and your devotion to God through Jesus Christ is unhindered when you buy and eat those tasty delights.
However, there is another consideration to be made. Those who have a conscience about the idol, not understanding that it is nothing in all the world, may not recognize your liberty in Christ. This is because “their conscience, being weak, is defiled.” If you buy and eat meat in the presence of someone like this, what will be the result? Paul will continue to analyze this situation, explaining that love for that weaker brother is more important than your correct knowledge of the matter. He will also further address the issue later in the book. As he said when he began this chapter, “Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.”
Life application: If you find yourself in a situation where you may harm the conscience of a weaker brother, what you need to do is first act in love and not do what would cause them greater confusion. After that, you should take the time to properly instruct them in the matter, showing them directly from the word of God what is correct. Once you have done this, you have shown love and respect for them and validated the stand by God’s standard. If after that, they still disagree, you can do no more. They have willingly failed to see the true intent of the matter because there is no higher authority than what God has presented through His word.
To understand this, think of an issue from the US Constitution, owning a gun for example. If you have a gun and another person says, “You shouldn’t own a gun; that is just wrong.” All you need to do is take them to the 2nd Amendment and read it to them. After that, you show them your permit which authorizes you to own the gun within whatever state you belong to and maybe you even take time to show them your bill of sale. If they still say (and most lefties will) that you shouldn’t own a gun, then disregard what they say. You are no longer under any obligation to be concerned with their conscience. It was defiled, you attempted to show them the valid proofs of their error, and they rejected the proofs. You can do no more. Go enjoy target practice without them.
O precious heavenly Father, how I cherish my time talking with You. When I get up, I know You are there… “Good morning, Lord.” When I head out, You are with me… “It’s a glorious day, Lord.” When I see a beautiful rainbow in the clouds… “Why thank You for that, Lord.” When a friend who hasn’t called on You comes to mind… “Lord, show them the truth of Your Son.” Throughout the day, You are with me… “Whoo hoo, Lord! A dollar on the sidewalk, thank You.” During each meal, “Gracious God, thank You for this food.” And as the day ends I know Your hand is still upon me… “Thank You for the wondrous life You have blessed me with. Good night Lord.” O precious heavenly Father, how I cherish my time talking with You. Amen.