Principles of Liberty and the Weaker Brother
Verse 1 – Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.
Verse 2 – And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know.
True knowledge will make us humble, modest, and kind to others. It will not puff us up, and it will not lead us to overlook the real happiness of others.
Verse 3 – But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him.
There is no true knowledge that is not connected to God. Being attached to God and seeking to serve Him, is not mere knowledge, it comes from the heart towards God. Love will prompt us to do what’s right. God knows you, if you love Him.
Verse 4 – Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one.
Verse 5 – For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords),
Verse 6 – yet for us there is only one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.
Verse 7 – However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.
Verse 8 – But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we better, nor if we do not eat are we worse.
Paul is telling the Christians at Corinth not to be bothered by the food that was offered as a sacrifice to the worthless pagan idols – they are meaningless. As Christians, they know there is only one true God. The ones that were bothered by others eating sacrificed meat to idols, were weak in conscience and were defiled by their thinking.
Verse 9 – But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.
Therefore, if the weaker or less mature believer misunderstood their actions, out of consideration, avoid eating meat offered to idols. Christian freedom should never be flaunted.
Verse 10 – For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscious of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols?
Verse 11 – And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?
Verse 12 – But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.
Paul is not talking about just food, and he’s not talking about sinning against the lost who have no conscience of sin until they come to Christ. He’s talking about offending intentionally, doing something that we know good and well is wrong, in front of a believer. Because Christians that still think they can’t eat certain foods and have to wear certain clothes in order to be holy, are weak in conscience. Paul is telling us to have respect and don’t be a stumbling block to them. What’s right for one may offend another because of a lack of understanding.
Verse 13 – Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.
Let me give an example of this: If a Christian has no problem with drinking a glass of wine with their dinner, they shouldn’t flaunt it in front of a Christian who might have had a problem with alcohol before being saved. They would then think they could also have wine which could easily cause them to fall back into alcoholism. That’s making a brother or sister stumble. We are not to be hard-headed or stubborn about these things. We are to be loving and caring about the welfare of our fellow believers!