Be Sensitive to Conscience

Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. 2 And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know. 3 But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him.

4 Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one. 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.

7 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. 8 But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse.

9 But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? 11 And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 12 But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

— 1 Corinthians 8.

Love must reign supreme over knowledge, especially in dealing with areas difficult for others to work out, such as things offered to idols, and in facing up to the fact that we do not know as much as we may think we do.

The mature Christian knows that an idol is a mere inanimate object with no intrinsic power. Human-made ‘gods’ are nothing, and we know God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, the source of life and all good things. However, some in Corinth feel that they are defiled by eating food offered to idols, possibly because they think the idol is stronger than it is. The mature Christian, while knowing that the food is the same whether offered to idols or not, must be sensitive of the conscience of the weak Christian in this matter.

A lack of love and sensitivity can lead to a stronger Christian causing a weaker one to stumble, by ignoring his problem with his conscience in these matters. It will be better for the stronger Christian to abstain from the food that offends, rather than wounding the weak conscience of the less-established child of God. Otherwise, the liberty of the mature Christian can make the weaker Christian stumble, and, in that, he ‘would sin against Christ’. [The Bible Panorama.]

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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