1 Corinthians 8

This devotional is written by Peter Russell.

1 Corinthians 8

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Concerning food sacrificed to idols
Now about food sacrificed to idols: we know that 'We all possess knowledge.' But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. 2 Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. 3 But whoever loves God is known by God.

4 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.' 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many 'gods' and many 'lords'), 6 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.

7 But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. 8 But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.

9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling-block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol's temple, won't that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.


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A few years ago I attended a huge prayer event at Emirates Stadium. It was what you’d expect - a mix of prayer and worship. Mid-afternoon a worship leader broke from the usual worship classics into the 1990s dance-floor anthem ‘Free’:

'Cause you're free
To do what you want to do
You've got to live your life
Do what you want to do

It was a bold move for a fairly broad-church event.  I had a grudging respect at his confidence though I remember wrestling with its inclusion.  

The problem is that it’s true. We are free. Free from the consequence of sin. Free from captivity.  So why was I so uncomfortable?

Part may stem from hang-ups (the result of a good dose of legalism from my fairly conservative Christian background) though part was the discomfort at the implicit selfishness of the lyrics.  Live ‘your’ life and do what you want to do.

Today’s passage is not about removing freedom; it is simply about working out when not to exercise it.

It fascinates me that, to some extent, sin is sometimes subjective and contextual to each person. If we decide something isn’t right to do, then to do it, it effectively becomes sin.  Therefore to encourage someone to do it is also wrong.

So how do we proceed?  The natural response is to consider if the freedom we exercise may cause others to stumble.  It is certainly worth asking God to give us open and generous hearts which consider others.  

However if like me you are one of the ‘weaker’ ones perhaps reflect if there are areas of legalism which have been allowed to remain in your life. They may sound like the voices of people who spoke them over you.  Take time to ask God whether they are truly things that do not honour Him and allow Him to lead you fully into His freedom.

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