A New View of Freedom

When Paul starts talking about food sacrificed to idols in 1 Corinthians 8, we might be tempted to think, “we’re off the hook!” In our present, Western context, it feels distant and irrelevant. But it turns out that what Paul is really addressing – how we think about and exercise our freedom – is incredibly relevant for us today. Without a doubt, one of the supreme values of America is freedom, but the Bible’s take on the topic varies greatly from the modern conception of freedom as personal autonomy. Like the Corinthians, we need to be reoriented to the true meaning of freedom and what it’s about.

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. 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.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.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 8:1-13

Prayer Points

1. Pray that your group would embrace God’s view of freedom and seek to use it in a way that
honors Him.

2. Pray that God would give wisdom and discernment to your group and to our church as we try and
live out what this text is calling us to.