#542 (22/2/22) MANY GODS AND LORDS
‘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.’ (1 Corinthians 8:4-6)
i) FOOD SACRIFICED TO IDOLS
What is meant by ‘food sacrificed to idols’? This includes more than simply buying meat in the market or going to someones home for a meal in which case it was okay to eat anything (See 1 Cor. 10:25-27). This is also about eating meat that one knew had been involved in the worship of idols or, more seriously, going to an idol’s temple to eat. No Christian is to be seen to be or be mistaken for a worshipper of false gods. Our actions are not to teach that we can worship more than the one true God.
Paul is quoting the Corinthians, and they are right to say ‘we know that an idol is nothing’. The Corinthians are also right when they say, ‘There is no God but one.’ However, they are wrong to think that to be seen to be and inspire others to be involved in idol worship was okay because they knew that, in their hearts, they worshipped the one true God and not these idols.
ii) MANY GODS AND LORDS
Paul corrects their knowledge by saying that ‘indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”’ The Corinthians are failing to understand that there are dangerous demonic powers involved in false religion. They are also failing to understand that God will not allow His people to be seen to be giving any sort of worship to a false god. In the next chapter we read,
‘Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons. Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy? Are we stronger than he?’ (1 Corinthians 10:18-22)
Are we complacent about demonic powers? We must protect ourselves from anything that glorifies the demonic. We should not visit or be involved in any form of worship to a false god. Do we watch films or read books that glorify sin or even speak lies about Jesus? Do we pray daily, ‘Keep us from temptation, deliver us from evil’?
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)