1 Corinthians 8–10: Tempering Knowledge with Love

This entry is part 147 of 162 in the series 365 Key Chapters of the Bible

Joining Truth with Love (1 Corinthians 8)

In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul answers the Corinthians’ questions about whether they should eat food offered to idols. Although most Christians today do not have to deal with this precise issue, the principle Paul employs can apply to any area of a believer’s life.

First, Paul acknowledges the truth of the matter. “We know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one” (1 Corinthians 8:4). Since God created all things, even the meat sacrificed to so-called “gods” is part of God’s good creation. There is therefore nothing objectively wrong with a believer eating this meat when it is sold in the marketplaces.

Paul then comes to the heart of the matter. Knowledge must be tempered by love for the edification of other believers. We must not allow our liberty to become a stumbling block to others. Even though the thing itself may not be sinful, if it wounds a fellow believer’s conscience, it is the same as sinning against Christ (1 Corinthians 8:12).

Spiritual knowledge by itself will make us arrogant. Truth and love must go together so that truth leads to edification and not stumbling.

Everything Matters (1 Corinthians 10)

Having shown the importance of tempering knowledge with love in chapter 8, Paul then gives a strong warning in chapter 10 for those who turn their liberty into lawlessness. Some of the Corinthians not only ate meat offered to idols but actually participated in the idolatrous ceremonies. As a deterrent, Paul cites examples of the disobedience of the Israelites and the judgment that followed. These things, Paul says, happened as examples for us so that we will not follow in the same path (1 Corinthians 10:6).

Discover ways to glorify God in seemingly mundane matters in Life in the Presence of God: Practices for Living in Light of Eternity.

Though we may not attend idol ceremonies, how often do we make the same mistake as the Corinthians? We trivialize the seductions of the world, failing to consider how they draw us away from Christ. Paul reminds us that everything we do matters—even the way we eat and drink (1 Corinthians 10:31). No matter how trivial the situation appears to us, we should seek to act in whatever way is most profitable for the edification of fellow believers and for our witness to unbelievers. In this way, everything can be done to God’s glory.

This teaching is based on Ken’s Handbook to Scripture

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