Today's Devotions

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Showcase:Dealing with Pride

  • Everlasting Love: U2 video +

    Everlasting Love by U2 The amazingly wonderful way that love from God opens up ones life and the power of Read More
  • The Weakness of My Motivations +

    What motivates me? Often it is pleasure—reading a good book, skiing, playing with the kids, sex, even work. I enjoy Read More
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Don  Carson

APPARENTLY SOME CHRISTIANS in Corinth, secure in their knowledge that idols are nothing at all, and that all meat has been created by the one true God so that it is good to eat even if it had been offered to an idol, feel wonderful liberty to eat whatever they like.

Others, converted perhaps from a life bound up with pagan superstition, detect the demonic in the idol, and think it unsafe to eat food that has been offered to them (1 Cor. 8). The thrust of Paul's argument is plain enough. Those with a robust conscience on these matters should be willing to forgo their rights so that they do not damage other brothers and sisters in Christ.

It may nevertheless crystallize the application if we underline several elements:

(1) The issue concerns something that is not intrinsically wrong. One could not imagine the apostle suggesting that some Christians think adultery is all right, while others have qualms about it, and the former should perhaps forgo their freedom so as not to offend the latter. In such a case, there is never any excuse for the action; the action is prohibited. So Paul's principles here apply only to actions that are in themselves morally indifferent.

(2) Paul assumes that it is wrong to go against conscience, for then conscience may be damaged (1 Cor. 8:12). A conscience hardened in one area, over an indifferent matter, may become hard in another area—something more crucial. Ideally, of course, the conscience should become more perfectly aligned with what God says in Scripture, so that in indifferent matters it would leave the individual free. Conscience may be instructed and shaped by truth.

But until conscience has been reformed by Scripture, it is best not to contravene it.

(3) The "weak" brother in this chapter (1 Cor. 8:7–13) is one with a "weak" conscience; that is, one who thinks some action is wrong even though there is nothing intrinsically wrong in it. Thus the "weak" brother is more bound by rules than the "strong" brother. Both will adopt the rules that touch things truly wrong, while the weak brother adds rules for things that are not truly wrong but that are at that point wrong for him, since he thinks them wrong.

(4) Paul places primary onus of responsibility on the "strong" to restrict their own freedoms for the sake of others. In other words, it is never a sufficient question for the Christian to ask, "What am I allowed to do? What are my rights?" Christians serve a Lord who certainly did not stand on his rights when he went to the cross. Following the self-denial of Jesus, they will also ask, "What rights should I give up for the sake of others?"

1 Samuel 27; 1 Corinthians 8; Ezekiel 6; Psalm 44

Reflections to Consider

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Audio & Video

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  • Canticle of the Turning by Gary Daigle, Rory Cooney & Theresa Donohoo +

    1. My soul cries out with a joyful shoutthat the God of my heart is great,And my spirit sings of Read More
  • Come Alive (Dry Bones) by Lauren Daigle +

    Through the eyes of men it seems Read More
  • First by Lauren Daigle +

    Before I bring my need Read More
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Hidden Blessings

  • Holy as God is Holy +

    As Eugene Peterson says, the book of Leviticus shows how God brings everything into his holy presence and transforms it Read More
  • Jeremiah: The Importance of Repentance +

    As Eugene Peterson has noted, Jeremiah is used by God to call the people of Israel to repentance. Read More
  • Balaam: What Happens When You Try To Strong-Arm God +

    In Numbers, the surrounding nations watch as God pours out blessing and good fortune over and over on the Israelites. Read More
  • Born of Water: A sign of our new creation in Christ +

    Baptism is like a wedding vow. Read More
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