However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat. But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols? For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died. (1 Corinthians 8:7-11)

And we think today’s church has problems! Imagine seeking to combine into one fellowship people as diverse as a devout Jew who was converted to Jesus and a devout idol-worshipping Gentile converted to Jesus. Each person followed entirely different religious rules prior to conversion, had entirely different moral values, lived entirely different lifestyles, worshipped different gods, had different concepts of divinity, and often despised each other. Does that not sound like wonderful “church material”?

Even in matters held in common, they clashed. Both ate part of the sacrifices they offered as worship (read 1 Samuel 1:1-11). Both regarded that eating as an act of honoring the god (God) worshipped.

Irony: a Christian who understood could eat a pagan sacrifice in a pagan temple and not engage in worship. Why? (1) He knew the pagan god did not exist. (2) He knew that what one ate or drank in a sacrificial ceremony was without religious significance in purity matters. That was (is) correct! Yet, for the sake of someone who did not understand, he would refuse to do what he correctly understood to avoid offending the conscience of someone who incorrectly understood. In concern for a person for whom Christ died, the Christian would forego correct knowledge. A heavy spiritual concept!

Christians are (and have been) big on rules and regulations concerning “right” and “wrong” purity concerns. We tend to be more confrontational and less flexible than God is. God responds without concern to things that deeply concern us.

For example, as a personal test (not a “body/church” test) list your 5 favorite T.V. programs.

Honestly tell yourself why you enjoy these programs. Then tell yourself how they help you pursue a closer relationship with God. In matters of personal purity, in all of life, can you see it is a personal situation involving an objective—far more than learning and keeping a set of “rules and regulations”?

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 9 October 2008

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