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8
Regarding meat offered to idols
1-4Now as to the question of obtaining meat which has been first sacrificed on one of the city altars (and meat is not often purchasable nowadays which has not been killed in this way). The idea of course in the minds of those who have been accustomed in the past to partake of these sacrifices is that there is some connection between the meat so sacrificed and the god to whom it has been rendered as a sacrifice. That is a very fixed idea in the minds of many, that to enter the precincts of the temples, purchase the sacrificial meat as prepared by the priests and their acolytes and take it home with you, is to subject yourself to all sorts of evil influences from the spirits, gods, devils who haunt these scenes and acts of worship. 5Now recollect our point of view — that these gods or demons, however real they may be to those that believe in them, a vast congregation indeed of gods and masters of all kinds, so called and so believed, — well, all that world of supposed beings has nothing whatever to do with us, and their images are absolutely nothing at all. 6That is our knowledge, our science — One God alone, from whom come all things, and for whom alone we exist, and one Lord Jesus Christ through whom comes the universe, the sum total of all things, inclusive of ourselves whose means of existence are found in Him alone. This divine oneness and allness is our faith, and contrariwise an idol is nothing, and a god is nothing. 7But do all possess this spiritual science? Alas! no, many there are to whom these beings, of which they were quite recently worshippers, are still somewhat of a dread reality, and to see any one of the brethren enter an idol's shrine and there purchase the meat which is sold in it, alarms the conscience of those whose faith has not yet won clear of the fear of these things. 8Now to you and me food is a small matter. Meat will not bring us any nearer to God; whether we eat it, or not, makes no difference to our condition. Our fulness, or our wants are dependent on things spiritual, not on physical food. 9But it is important that he whose faith still exists fearfully and haltingly should not be led by your example to do that which is going to have a darkening and dangerous effect upon his mind. 10For if with his weak conscience and his fears and semi-belief in the beings he has so recently rejected, he return to their shrines and take a part in their feasts, is it not likely that this will have an influence upon his mind, and work on him to his own destruction? 11And so your clearer knowledge is likely to rob him of his chance to escape, you are doing your best to make the way out more difficult for him, and so defeat the very purpose of Christ's death, which was to free our weak minds and souls and consciences from idols. 12O sooner than that, sooner than handicap him in his fight with the old falsehoods, what a small matter it would be to eat no meat again for ever! 13Yes, we all have some knowledge perhaps but remember this — knowledge by itself only tends to make us self-satisfied: it is love that builds.
8
Concerning Food Sacrificed to Idols
1Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. 2Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. 3But whoever loves God is known by God.#8:2,3 An early manuscript and another ancient witness think they have knowledge do not yet know as they ought to know. 3 But whoever loves truly knows.
4So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” 5For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), 6yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
7But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. 8But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.
9Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.