1Cor 8:4                    Meats Offered to Idols                               5/2/2010         ßà   

  • Knowledge Puffeth Up (1Cor 8:1-13, Hos 4:6)

 

 

 

 

 

 

#1.       What Is an Idol? (1Cor 8:4, Isa 44:8, Acts 15:20)

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Things Offered to Idols (Gen 9:3, 1Tim 4:4)

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2.       Our Liberty in Christ (Matt 5:17, Rom 3:31. 1John 4:11, 1Cor 8:9-11)

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3.       The Weaker Brother (Acts 15:20, 1Cor 8:11,13, Matt 18:6, Rom 14:13-15,20-22, 1Co 10:27-28)

 

 

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Prophecy of First Corinthians, 1Cor 8:1 (2X). We have here an entire chapter that is dealing with the question: What do we as Christians do with meat that was offered to idols? In the first century AD this was an important issue, especially in Corinth. There were many idols in that city and there were many festivities accompanied by sacrifices of animals, and there was much meat floating around because of those sacrifices. When Christians visited their heathen friends they were invited to partake of food that was often from meat that was offered to Idols. When people shopped for meat on the market, there was a great chance that this was meat that was offered to idols. And so, I chose for the title of this sermon, “Meat Offered to Idols” (2X). Let us read 1Cor 8:1-13,

  • Knowledge Puffeth Up (1Cor 8:1-13, Hos 4:6)

1Co 8:1-13  Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. But if any man love God, the same is known of him. As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

What is God saying in the first two verses? How did a letdown on knowledge get into this subject matter of meat offered unto idols? In the church at Corinth there were already teachers who had certain diverse opinions about this subject matter, even though they had no knowledge at all about God’s opinion about it. Paraphrased the apostle starts by saying, “We all have knowledge about these matters; we all seem to know it already, and do not seem to be in need of learning. But let me warn you that we all must be teachable in everything. And let me contrast “knowledge” with “charity”, which is the Greek word “Agape”, or “love”. Knowledge makes you proud, or puffed up; but charity edifies both the giver and the receiver.” But here again we must not take this little piece of exhortation out of context. God is not saying that we must abstain from knowledge. God says in Hos 4:6, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” It is very dangerous to always quote out of context that “knowledge puffeth up”. God wants us to have knowledge about every-thing that He has written in the Bible. But we need to be aware that our knowledge is only in part. We do not have complete knowledge about anything. In fact, anything that we think we know, we do not know it as we ought to know. Therefore, we must be teachable. But when we compare knowledge with love, or Agape, or charity, we can see that love is so much superior. We cannot go wrong when we practice love, or charity, for love always edifies both the giver and the receiver. And this I say when we consider horizontal relationships, between man and man. But when we consider vertical relationships, between God and man, then a whole new set of principles apply. For, if any man loves God, it must be that God loved him first. Therefore, if the evidence exists that a man, or a woman, loves God, then we must conclude that this person is known of God; this person is blessed of God, for God has known him, or her, from before the foundation of the world. And when God says that He knows you, it means that you are a child of the only true God, the Creator of heaven and earth. Let us now consider verse 4.

#1.       What Is an Idol? (1Cor 8:4, Isa 44:8, Acts 15:20)

1Co 8:4 ¶  As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.

God says that an idol is not an image of another god, for there is no other god. Please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of Isaiah, Isa 44:8 (2X). An idol is an image made of gold, or silver, or wood, or stone, and it is an image that reflects the ideas of man about a heavenly being. And so, if a man has pleasant ideas, then the idol he makes invokes pleasant thoughts, such as love, and comfort, and safety, and good will. For example, a statue with open arms and a friendly smile and showing a loving heart will be such an idol. If a man has fearful thoughts, and fears the events of the last day, then the idol he makes shows the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, with angry faces, treading down people in their anger. And so, an idol can be anything that is man made, and particularly it is nothing more than a reflection of the artist himself. It cannot speak, or move, or do anything. God says in Isa 44:8,

Isa 44:8  Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.

And so, ignorant people worship their idols. Some worship a black Madonna, some worship a white Madonna. Whatever your taste, there is an idol for everyone. In this 20th and 21st century idolatry is at an all time high; it is practiced now more than at any time before. You see, the primary cause for an idol to exist is that it is man-made. The idols of the 21st century are mostly in the minds of people. For example, if someone has a false concept of God, that is an impotent idol. If someone has a false concept of the sovereignty of God, or someone believes in a free-will salvation program, that is again an impotent idol which cannot save. If man’s concept of God is not in the Bible he is not worshipping the God of the Bible, but another god foreign to the Bible. And so, when we ask ourselves, in what church should I worship? The answer must not be: “In the church that I like”, but the answer should be: “In the church that God likes, because He alone is worshipped there.” Therefore we must study the Bible to develop our knowledge of who God really is, for “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Every week, all over the world, people bring their tithes and offerings to their idols without questioning the motives of their religious leaders. God is not pleased with their ignorance, for thereby they are supporting and propagating the kingdom of Satan. This was already in evidence in the first century AD, when the apostle Paul preached at Corinth. But how did the animal sacrifices of the heathen become an issue for the Christians? Please turn in your Bibles to the Acts of the Apostles, Acts 15:20 (2X). The First Jerusalem Council, which was recorded in Acts 15, drafted a letter to the Gentile churches in which were listed four things that they should not do. Instead of giving a list of Ten Commandments, the council decided to give them only four commandments. We read in Acts 15:20,

Ac 15:20  But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.

Many of the Corinthians offered animal sacrifices. I cannot say that they offered it once a week, since the 7 day week did not exist yet. In the Roman Empire an 8 day week or a 12 day week was practiced. What did they offer to their idols? Meat! Meat was given to the priests. Meat was given to the temple, who sold it on the marketplace. And meat was given to the person who gave the animal for sacrifice. But that was then, almost 2000 years ago. You would be hard pressed today to find meat that was offered to idols. Then why did God put this in the Bible? The Bible is not a history book. The Bible was not written to tell us about incidents in the culture of those days which are now a curiosity. Please turn again to the First Epistle to the Corinthians, 1Cor 8:5 (2X). The Bible was written for today, and it was written for all people, and it was written to tell us about salvation. How does the issue of meat offered to idols translate to any of our business dealings today? That is really the practical application of this chapter we should be looking for. And so, the question of the Christians in Corinth boiled down to simple economics. Are they allowed to buy the inexpensive meat that was offered to idols? Are they allowed to eat at their friend’s house meat that was offered to idols? And God’s answer from 1Cor 8:5-8 was: Yes, you may eat that meat, and you may buy that meat, for you must understand the absurdity of idolatry. An idol is not real. An idol exists only in someone else’s mind. That someone else will bow down to his own idol, which is sin, but it is not your sin. And so, what are some of the things that are offered unto idols these days?

  • Things Offered to Idols (Gen 9:3, 1Tim 4:4)

#1.       The Internet. We can honestly look at the Internet and recognize that the driving forces to expand the Internet and make it do more, was for the purpose of people to play games and for pornography. Secondly it was for businesses to do more advertisement. And for these purposes the Internet was an ideal and inexpensive tool. But our church, and a few other religious organizations, have taken this inexpensive tool to bring the Gospel to all the nations of the world. This was meat that was offered to idols, but we used it for evangelical purposes with great success. We must thank God for bringing us such an inexpensive tool of modern technology and use it for His purposes. We must also thank God for bringing us the people who could use this technology and build us a beautiful website.

#2.       Music. Many of us listen to beautiful Christian music that is brought to us from an apostate religious organization. When they try to bring us their brand of a gospel, we turn them off, and when the music is back we turn them on again. The expenses of their radio station is the meat that was offered to idols. We simply use it to give us relaxation from the stresses of the day. We thank God for giving us the opportunity to hear His Word when they fall back to straight reading from the Bible. Likewise we benefit from other radio and TV programs that are broadcast by heathen organizations.

#3.       The Workplace. Most of us are not employed by God glorifying employers. In fact, most of our employers have not earned our respect. They are ruthless business people who have only their own welfare in view. But in their goal to conquer the world they have invested in buildings and equipment and the supervisors and the managers they have hired are often inept. All these things are the meat that was offered to idols. We benefit from this meat, for it provides us food for the day and covers our daily expenses. We thank God for providing for us through the actions of those who really did not have our welfare in view.

#4.       Bombs. If at the time of my salvation I would be employed by the Pentagon to make bombs, for example hydrogen bombs, does my religion force me to look for another job? The answer is: NO! I am gainfully employed; I am not robbing the place; it is an honest job in service of the defense of the country. The government has spent a certain amount of money to be offered unto idols. It certainly has not been spent to pray unto God to help us, but it has been spent to make our own swords sharper and quicker than that of our enemies. We benefit from this meat that was offered unto idols, for it provides us an income from which we must pay our daily expenses.

#5.       Unclean Animals. Please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of Genesis, Gen 9:3 (2X). The OT makes a clear distinction between clean and unclean animals. But the NT does away with this distinction, for it was only in the ceremonial law to make us see God’s elective program of salvation. When you are born as a sheep, you remain a sheep; when you are born as a wolf, you remain a wolf. When Christ died on the cross the entire ceremonial law was done away, and the rules for choosing food returned to that which God gave to Noah in Gen 9:3. There we read, “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.” Everything that moves you may eat. That includes hairy caterpillars, rattlesnakes, frogs, snails, pigs, monkeys, locusts and other bugs. Everything that moves you may eat.

#6.       Made in Japan. We notice that certain ethnic groups trade only from within, for they first want to establish their group as strong enough to buy from others. And so, the muslims buy from other muslims, the Jews buy from other Jews, the Arabs buy from other Arabs, the Vietnamese buy from other Vietnamese, and so on, and so on, but the Christians buy from all over the place. Why is that so? When we buy products that are made in Japan, should we not be concerned that we are buying from those who give part of our money to Buddha since the majority of the Japanese are Buddhists? But you see, they have already given their share to Buddha, and now what is left over is like meat that was offered to idols. It is like the Corinthian heathen who have already offered to their idols, and now what is left over is for sale to the Christians. The same reasoning applies to made in China, or made in anywhere else.

#7.       Science. Products that are developed by science are available at lower cost. For example, GM foods, which stands for Gene Modified foods are available at lower cost than conventional foods. For example, when you see spinach leaves that are 20 inches long, or you see carrots that are 16 inches long, or you see gigantic celery sticks, you know that thee are GM foods. But realize that the idol has already been paid. The idol is the chemical industry which has invested in the science that allowed growing such huge products. Whether those are good for your health is a different matter, but buying them is no sin. And of course, when you eat at a friend’s house, do not ask where the food comes from. And so, we can look around us and see many applications of meat that was offered to idols. God says that we should always give God thanks for supplying our food. We read in 1Tim 4:4,

1Ti 4:4  For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving.

And so, we should always thank God for all the food that He sends our way.

#2.       Our Liberty in Christ (Matt 5:17, Rom 3:31. 1John 4:11, 1Cor 8:9-11)

What is the liberty that we have in Christ? First of all, we died with Christ when He died, which means that we died to the law. When Christ died He completely fulfilled the law, not only by His perfect obedience, but also in all the prophecies concerning Himself. The Lord Jesus said in Matt 5:17, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” And so, the law did not die, but we died to the law. Therefore, the law has no more hold on us, for we are saved by grace through faith. But does this now mean that we can sin, that grace may abound? No! God says in Rom 3:31, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” We want to establish the law, for this is what pleases God. Our obligation is not any more to obey the law so that we do not go to Hell, but our desire is to obey the law because we want to please Christ, because we love Him. But to love Christ also means that we love the brethren. God says in 1John 4:11, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” And therefore we must be aware that God warns us that there may be occasion to hold back on the liberty that is ours. God says in 1Cor 8:9, “But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.” How can my liberty become a stumbling block? God says in 1Cor 8:10-11,

1Co 8:10  For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;

1Co 8:11  And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?

Let us consider now what this means.

#3.       The Weaker Brother (Acts 15:20, 1Cor 8:11,13, Matt 18:6, Rom 14:13-15,20-22, 1Co 10:27-28)

The weaker brother is one who is a beginner in the faith. Christ died for him, which means that he is certainly on the way to salvation, or he is already saved. But he is a brother who needs the milk of the word. He is a brother whose heart is still fragile, and whose conscience can be easily overburdened. He is a brother who believes that to eat meat sacrificed to idols is a grievous sin, for was this not one of the four things that the Jerusalem Council decided we should keep ourselves away from? The letter from the Jerusalem Council stated in Acts 15:20, “that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.” There you have it: “Abstain from pollutions of idols.” And is not eating meat that is offered to an idol polluted by the idol? The real answer is NO. But the weaker brother does not understand this. And so, when the weaker brother sees one of the elders of the congregation eating meat that was offered to idols, he would be troubled by seeing this occur not once, or twice, but many times. How then would the concept of sin be developed in this weaker brother? And how would he develop as a witness of Christ? He would be a total mess and a poor witness at best. That is why we read in 1Cor 8:11, “Shall the weaker brother perish, for whom Christ died?” Well, if Christ died for him then he cannot totally perish. But as a witness for Christ he can be very bad, because his concept of sin is totally haywire. We need to be aware that not everyone in the congregation is at the same level. Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Romans, Rom 14:13 (2X). While you look that up, let me read to you what the Lord Jesus said of those who offend a baby Christian. And by this I do not mean only little children, but I can also apply this term to adults who have just come to the faith. They too are in spirit like baby Christians, in need of milk rather than solid food. We read in Matt 18:6,

Mt 18:6  But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

One of these little ones which believe in Me” refers exactly to the weaker brother of 1Cor 8. The passage in Rom 14 deals with the same subject matter as 1Cor 8. Therefore we read in Rom 14:13-15,

Ro 14:13-15  Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way. I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.

To him who believes that the meat was polluted by the idol, indeed to him it is sin if he eats from that meat. Therefore God continues this essay in verses 20 through 22. There we read,

Ro 14:20-22  For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.

Meats offered to idols was frequently occurring in the first century AD. That is why it was recorded not only in 1Cor 8, and in Rom 14, but in other paces as well. We find it again mentioned in 1Cor 10:27

1Co 10:27-28  If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake. But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof:

And so, we fully agree with the words God ended 1Cor 8:13, where we read,

1Cor 8:13, Wherefore if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

            AMEN.                       Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.