Monday, March 23, 2009

Basis of Dietary Standards

I Corinthians 8:1-7

Many of those who had come to Corinth after Apollos left had brought in new standards of conduct. Surrounded by idolatry and heathen practices, spiritually weak people didn’t know what to accept or reject. Chapters 8 through the first part of chapter 11 are devoted to those standards that are pleasing to God, and how they are to be set. These guidelines for setting standards are not based on Paul’s opinion, but on Gods commands.

We are told that Corinth was an idolatrous city. The people would take food offerings to their various idols to obtain favor and worship them. The food would then be taken to the market and sold for money for the priests and the temples. Some of the teachers who came to Corinth were apparently teaching that it was wrong to eat food sacrificed to idols, and thus they should not buy in the market because they didn’t know if it had been offered to idols or not. Paul addresses the issue.

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.” (I Corinthians 8:1-7)

Christians know that idolatry is wrong. That is not the question. The problem is that that knowledge, about any subject, can lead to pride, setting ourselves above others, rather than a desire to help others attain their maximum potential. When we start with the idea that we have the answers, we only demonstrate our ignorance, because we have not yet begun to learn. Even if we take the right position, it is not based on sound premises, and may be improperly applied. Even those things we are convinced are right need to be carefully studied to be sure they are actually true, and that we apply them properly.

God knows who loves him and is trying to serve him. They do not need to do something to show him. They are accountable to him according to Romans 14:4, and it is God’s place to judge, not ours. Our standards need to reflect that.

Talking about the specific question of eating what has been offered to idols, there are some things that need to be recognized, Though others think of that idol as a God, he isn’t. He has no power, and worshiping him gives him none. There is only one God, and one saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. Our salvation is through him. Food offered to some other God is simply wasted food.

Unfortunately, some people do not know this, And when they eat that food, they are thinking about it as a sacrifice to some god. In their minds, they are worshipping that god, rather than God. and for them it is sin to eat that food, though there is nothing wrong with the food. It is the heart attitude that matters.

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