‘Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God.’ (1 Corinthians 8:1-3)
i) LOVE BUILDS UP
The Corinthian church are having to work out how to deal with meat sacrificed to idols. Much of the meat that was available in the markets would have been offered to idols - should they eat it? Many social occasions happened in the temple precincts of these idols - should a Christian attend and eat the meat that was offered? Many at Corinth assumed that they ‘possessed knowledge’ that allowed them to eat whatever and wherever they wanted. Paul is correcting their arrogant attitude by telling them to act in ways that build others up.
To those at Corinth who were damaging the faith of others by their liberty, Paul contrasts knowledge that puffs up with love that builds up. True knowledge is a gift of God for the building up of the church. Our knowledge of anything is revealed by the good use that we put it too. Particularly in the realm of biblical truth, we know as we ought when we serve others and edify them.
ii) THOSE KNOWN BY GOD
Paul adds the very important truth that ‘whoever loves God is known by God’. How we love authenticates our salvation. We are saved by faith alone, but without love for God and others, we are not born again of the Spirit. Jesus wrote about the link between love and salvation,
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
What we know must be put in service of others. Like a river, we will only remain fresh and healthy and be kept from being puffed up if we have an outlet of service. Christians are called be builders. We are to build up our brothers and sisters in any way that we can.
Take some time to pray about how you can build others up. Is there anyone in particular that you can help and encourage at this time? How can you and I love our church more faithfully?
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
Do you have any encouragements to share from how God has been speaking to you from His word recently?
3. Recap of Sunday's message - please share in your group
On Sunday, we continued with our series 'Becoming Love' from the book of 1 Corinthians.
i) CHRISTIANS ARE BUILDERS (8:1-3)
Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God. (8:1-3)
Many at Corinth felt that they were free to eat meat sacrificed to idols and attend gatherings in their temples. These Christians were tempting those who have come out of an idol-worshipping background to go back to their old attitudes. Paul teaches them that love builds up. True Christians - those 'known by God' - build others up. All Christians are builders!
ii) LOVE BUILDS THOSE WHO ARE VULNERABLE
‘So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.’ (1 Corinthians 8:5-8)
As Christians, the Corinthian church worshipped the Father and the Son (and the Spirit) who is the true God. No idol compares to Him. However, if they ate idol meat and are seen to be worshipping in their temples, weaker Christians would assume that it was okay to worship God and idols. How we use our liberty can be dangerous to others, particularly the vulnerable.
iii) LOVE IS CAREFUL NOT TO TEAR DOWN
‘Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.' (1 Corinthians 8:9-12)
These so called maturer and more knowledgable Christians were not being careful and were being a stumbling block to weaker Christians. They were destroying their faith by teaching, through their actions, that idolotry and Christianity were compatible.
iv) THEREFORE - HOW CAN I LOVE AND BUILD OTHERS UP?
‘Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.’ (1 Corinthians 8:9-13)