“Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies. If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.” (1 Corinthians 8:1-3)Arrogance values personal liberty over personal sacrifice. As the Gospel spread through out the gentile world, questions arouse regarding former customs as to whether or not they were consistent with a Christian lifestyle. Specifically, in this passage, the question was whether or not a Christian should eat meat that had been sacrificed to idols. Paul acknowledges that an idol is really nothing; there is one God and Father whom we server. Sacrificing meat to an idol does not change the meat; it is still food that has been given to us by our Father in heaven for our nourishment and enjoyment. The real issue is not, “should we eat or should we abstain?” Paul reassures us that, “food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat.” (1 Corinthians 8:8) The real issue, however, is our heart attitude.
When Paul says, “knowledge puffs-up,” he is not condemning knowledge nor the pursuit of knowledge but rather he is cautioning us about how knowledge, apart from love, can cause us to be indifferent to the weaknesses of those around us. As we grow in the knowledge of the things of the Kingdom, our knowledge allows us to shed some of the old taboos that are no longer consistent with the teachings of the Gospel. In this case, eating food offered to idols. Yet, just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should do something. Just because we can eat meat offered to idols doesn’t mean we should be first in line at the idol’s temple to get the best cut of meat. Our personal liberties offered us by our knowledge must be tempered by the needs of those around us. Sometimes, personal sacrifice is of greater value in the Kingdom of God than individual liberties. This is why Paul says, “For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died. Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.” (1 Corinthians 8:11, 13) Love is willing to sacrifice what is ours by right that our brother may be built up.
“So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.” (Colossians 2:16-19 NKJV)Arrogance values religion over relationship. All over the world there is an increasing hunger to find and understand the supernatural. People want to get in touch with the spiritual; they want to understand what they cannot see. Many people are becoming aware that there is a whole other reality out there, one that emanates from the spirit realm. They seek what is spiritual, but where is their journey taking them? There are many people who claim to know the way. They have enlightenment, they have had visions and visitations, they can show us the disciplines and spiritual practices that will bring us closer to the “spirits”, but do they really know the way? How can we distinguish the spiritual charlatans from the truly godly ones? Paul tells us that the one distinguishing mark of the false guides is that, in their arrogance, they “hold not fast the Head.”
Spiritual answers are not found in a religion, they are not found in philosophy, and they are not found in supernatural experiences, visions, or trances. Spiritual answers are found in a relationship with the Head; a relationship with Jesus Christ. When we think we have it figured out, then it is a clear sign that we don’t. When, however, we know Him, then we have Him who is the answer to all our questions. Anyone who tries to sell you on their plan, their revelation, or their insight into the spirit is merely puffed-up by what he supposes he knows. But anyone who leads you to Jesus is a true messenger of God and truly loves others. What we know and have seen matters little, but who we know can make all the difference in someone else’s life. Love would rather point others to Jesus than to our own brand of religion.
More to come… David Robison