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One of the struggles in the early church concerned meat which had been sacrificed to idols. Debates over what to eat might seem strange to most of us in modern society, but to the first-century bel...
Over 80% of Indians worship idols. Christians are hardly 3.5% there. We are constantly challenged to befriend the non-Christians, especially the Hindus who are the largest segment of our society, in order to share the message of the love of God with them. When invited they gladly join us for our birthday parties and Christmas dinners. They have no problem in eating the food we serve after offering thanksgiving prayer. But when they invite us to their festival dinners or send us sweets on their festivals, we hesitate and they are offended. Relationships get strained. Some believers eat anything freely, whereas others are apprehensive. What does the Bible say about this? Conditions similar to ours existed when the New Testament epistles were written. Eating food offered to idols was one of the hot issues apostle Paul addressed while writing to the young Churches. In his first Corinthian Epistle he discussed this issue at length in two chapters, 8 and 10. Read them carefully. Here is what we learn— • Strictly speaking, idols are "nothing" (8:4; Isa 37:19; Jer 16:20; Gal 4:8). As such any food offered to them cannot be desecrated. However, for the idol-worshipper it symbolizes something supernatural. Commenting on their point of view Paul calls idols as "demons" (10:20). This figure is in their mind. According to the idol-worshipper the food becomes sacred when offered to idols. No Christian can accept food from an idol-worshipper if it is given in this sense or with this understanding (10:20,21,27). We can politely refuse it with a smile. If they still insist, we can receive it but later quietly give it away to a foodless platform-dweller or a beggar. • The apostle mentions three places where food offered to idols will be served—(a) temples (b) houses (c) marketplaces. A Christian under no circumstance can join a dinner inside "an idol's temple" (8:10). This public act will dishonour Christ and discourage new Christians who have denounced idols to serve the living God. But when invited to a family dinner of an idol-worshipper we can go and eat "asking no question" (10: 27). No true friend will try to trap us like Balaam or Jezebel (Rev 2:14,20). Next comes what is sold in shops. Muslims chant a prayer before butchering animals. Hindus place sweets and savouries in front of pictures of gods and goddesses immediately after making them in restaurants or stalls. We need not bother about these things but can freely buy and "eat whatever is sold... asking no questions" because the earth and all its fullness belong to our Lord! (10:25,26). All animals and birds and plants and trees belong originally to the Lord and they are for us to enjoy because we belong to Him! Everything is sanctified by the Word of God and prayer of thanksgiving (1 Tim 4:4,5). • The underlying principle that Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 8 & 10 as well as Romans 14 is that no knowledge of the truth or liberty in Christ should be used to "wound the weak conscience" of our brothers and sisters or to "become a stumbling block" to them (1 Cor 8:9,12). While there is nothing wrong, in the absolute sense, in eating whatever is served to us, it is sin if our eating makes a brother "stumble" or "perish" (1 Cor 8:13,11). Nothing we do must offend others (1 Cor 10:24,32,33; Rom 14:14,15,21). To summarise: Don't compromise on the truth; Don't antagonize idol-worshipping friends; Don't despise weak believers. 1 Corinthians 10:32 can be paraphrased as, "Give no offense, either to the nominal Christians or to the non-Christians or to the born-again Christians!"
the key take away in this subject is one that sin can vary from person to person because of their understanding be it strong or weak. We need to be careful not to lay a stumbling block for our weaker peer. To willfully do or engage in any act with the knowledge that it might be sin violates/taints our clean conscience toward God. to know to do good and not to do it becomes sin, an intentional act even if it is not really sin can become sin, as it is an act of disobedience. It is not intended as a tool to manipulate people to a view of abstention ( which is the most common usage)but to make us aware to be sensitive and considerate of the circumstance and spiritual level of His children(elect and beloved). A similar lesson is found in eating in front of the church, It is wrong not because it defiles a building but because it is an act that shames or belittles those precious ones God has redeemed at such a great price. God has ordained the ministries for three purposes to do the work of the Gospel( reconciliation) to edify the church , and to perfect the saints or to aide them to grow strong in faith, knowledge and understanding of the manifold grace and love of God. As you grow into warriors, the things your conscience convicted you of will likely change. As you receive the truth of the Word into your spirit your faith in that understanding will become an effective shield that stop lies and heresy like fiery arrows that would cause you to become weak. Love one another care for Gods elect as the great treasure they are and beware that you yourself as a parent would remove any threat to their well being He as our Father and The only living God, and Almighty Creator is not to be tempted unless we should anger Him and we be made an example of. Consider they were bought at the greatest of prices and though we can be quite a handful with our sinful natures He promises retribution to those who make even the slightest offence.
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