1 Corinthians 8
Food Sacrificed to Idols - Freedom With Responsibility

1. What’s the big deal about food sacrificed to idols?

A: This is food offered on pagan alters. Meat left over might be eaten by the priests or even by the offerer and his friends at a feast in the temple. Some might even be sold in a public meat market. Some Christians felt if they ate such meat they participated in pagan worship and compromised their testimony for Christ.

2. In 50AD at the Council at Jerusalem, there was much discussion about what should be required of Gentiles to become a Christian. Peter, Paul, James, and the others finally agreed on four requirements for Gentiles. They are... (Acts 15:20)

A: James sums up the discussion in Acts 15:20 - “Instead, we should write and tell them to abstain from eating food offered to idols, from sexual immorality, from eating the meat of strangled animals, and from consuming blood.” Thus, some early Gentile converts to Christianity felt they could not eat food that had been offered to an idol even if later they had been told that all food is acceptable to Christians.

3. Summarize what Paul is saying verses 8:1-3. (1 Timothy 6:4)

A: 1 Tim 6:4 - “Anyone who teaches something different is arrogant and lacks understanding. Such a person has an unhealthy desire to quibble over the meaning of words. This stirs up arguments ending in jealousy, division, slander, and evil suspicions.” In other words, your limited knowledge can puff you up with false pride and cause you to get into disagreeable arguments over relatively minor matters and lose sight of Christian love for one another.

From the Message: “The question keeps coming up regarding meat that has been offered up to an idol: Should you attend meals where such meat is served, or not? We sometimes tend to think we know all we need to know to answer these kinds of questions—but sometimes our humble hearts can help us more than our proud minds. We never really know enough until we recognize that God alone knows it all.”

4. Verse 8:3 seems almost to be an afterthought, but may be the most important verse of all. Explain. (Psalm 1:6, Jeremiah 1:5, Galatians 4:9, 1 John 4:7-8)

A: Psalm 1:6 - For the Lord watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.

Jeremiah 1:5 - “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”

Gal 4:9 - But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?

1 John 4:7-8 - Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

The bottom line here is that a person who tempers his knowledge with love toward God shows that he is really known and thus accepted by God as one of God’s own children.

5. Verse 8:6 is a basic statement of Christianity. Let’s trace this building of the Christian faith from the Old Testament to the New Testament. (Deuteronomy 4:35, Isaiah 46:9, Malachi 2:10, John 1:3, John 13:13, 1 Timothy 2:5, Ephesians 4:5-6)

A: Duet 4:35 - You were shown these things so that you might know that the LORD is God; besides him there is no other.

Isaiah 46:9 - Remember the former things, those of long ago;
      I am God, and there is no other;
      I am God, and there is none like me.

Malachi 2:10 - Have we not all one Father? Did not one God create us? Why do we profane the covenant of our fathers by breaking faith with one another?

John 1:3 - Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

John 13:13 - Jesus said, “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.”

1 Timothy 2:5 - For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

Ephesians 4:5-6 - one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

6. Paul’s central theme in Verses 7 to 13 might be summed up as “Freedom with Responsibility.” How would you explain this in your own words. (Romans 14:13)

A: Eugene Peterson in the Message says, “say you flaunt your freedom by going to a banquet thrown in honor of idols, where the main course is meat sacrificed to idols. Isn’t there great danger if someone still struggling over this issue, someone who looks up to you as knowledgeable and mature, sees you go into that banquet? The danger is that he will become terribly confused—maybe even to the point of getting mixed up himself in what his conscience tells him is wrong.

Christ gave up his life for that person. Wouldn't you at least be willing to give up going to dinner for him—because, as you say, it doesn't really make any difference? But it does make a difference if you hurt your friend terribly, risking his eternal ruin! When you hurt your friend, you hurt Christ.”

Romans 14:13 - So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.

7. What are some similar situations today? In other words a situation where one Christian thinks it is wrong to do something, you “know” it is not wrong, but doing it in front of the other person might cause him to stumble.

A: Drinking alcohol, smoking, dancing, going to the movies, etc. There are many things that some Christians have been taught or come to believe is wrong, things that are not prohibited by the Bible or any of God’s laws.

8. Is there a potential backlash here? If all Christians behave in a way that conforms to the beliefs of the “weakest” one, isn’t that like everyone having to slow down to the speed of the slowest car on the road? Should we “knowledgeable” ones try to educate the other believers? (Matthew 18:6, Romans 14:21, Galatians 5:13)

A: Matthew 18:6 - But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.

Romans 14:21 - It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another believer to stumble.

Galatians 5:13 - For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.

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