In chapter 8, Paul talks to the Corinthian church about food offered to idols, and whether a believer should eat it. This subject seems sort of strange to us today, but in Greece, where the city of Corinth is, the worship of many different gods and idols was common. And often, certain foods were sacrificed to these idols before it made its way to the marketplace to be sold.
So the question for some in the church of Corinth was whether or not this food should be eaten. Some felt that food offered to idols was tainted or unclean. Certainly the Jews who were there avoided it for this very reason.
Paul’s teaching on this was surprising to those who thought they should not eat this meat. He said, “Look. Idols are nothing. They aren’t gods. They are just inanimate objects. So eating food offered to them will not separate you from God. He said, “Food…will not improve our relation with God; we shall not lose anything if we do not eat, nor shall we gain anything if we do eat.”
But Paul didn’t leave the subject there. There’s more to it than just eating food. Some of the believers in the church in Corinth had previously been idol worshippers. They had participated in offering meat to these false idols. And they felt that this meat was defiled. So, instead of forcing them to violate their consciences, Paul said that believers who would otherwise not have a problem with this meat should not eat it if doing so would cause one of these other brothers or sisters to stumble. Because for these who had been idol worshippers, it was a sin, since it went against their conscience.
Personal freedom is a gift of grace. But if your freedom causes someone to violate their conscience, thus causing them to sin, then you too have sinned.
It’s all about love, my friend. If I love you, I won’t insist on having my way.