As we enter 1st Corinthians chapter 8, Paul is trying his best to get the Corinthians on the same page about a variety of issues from resurrection to spiritual gifts! In the past few weeks we have hammered out chapter 7 (via a mini-study we titled “Questions about Marriage”). Now we come to a new section and another conflicting issue for those Corinthians believers.
The next few chapters begin with a discussion of “meat sacrificed to idols”. While this was a big issue for the Corinthians, I am certain it is not for us! I can’t imagine that, before sitting down for Thanksgiving turkey, any of you asked your host, “Hey, where did you get this meat? Was this sacrificed to an idol?” Have you ever felt weird about going out for Indian food — all of the statues and pictures of Hindu gods? (Especially the weird elephant-looking one, Ganesh to be exact). Probably not!
OK, so their specific issue was a little different than what we face today. But, while I will make sure to paint the cultural picture so we can all understand their issue, we will focus on the underlying principles that help Paul answer their dilemma. Those principles are ever so relevant to us today!
The reality is that in our lives as Christians we are so secure in a loving parent/child relationship with God. There is no judgement and no condemnation and no fear of God withholding love. So our decisions don’t affect that relationship at all. We do not talk in legal terms, but in loving terms! We want to please our father because we love him. We don’t obey because we are afraid of Him, but because of love.
But our actions affect the quality of our own lives and the ability of others to know the God who loves us. “All things are lawful, BUT NOT ALL THINGS ARE BENEFICIAL”. Step one in decision making: Is it good for me? Does it bring health and godliness to me? Does it draw me closer to God? A second question will arise in this chapter: Is it good for others! I may be free to do it, but what will it do to others? Will doing this thing help them draw closer to God? Will it bring benefit to their lives?
Listen in and see how a discussion of meat and idols leads to freedom and decisions!