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8
CHAPTER 8.
1NOW concerning those things that are sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up; but charity edifieth.
2And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he hath not yet known as he ought to know.
3But if any man love God, the same is known by him.
4But as for the meats that are sacrificed to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no God but one.
5For although there be that are called gods, either in heaven or on earth (for there be gods many, and lords many);
6Yet to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we unto him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.
7But there is not knowledge in every one. For some until this present, with conscience of the idol: eat as a thing sacrificed to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.
8But meat doth not commend us to God. For neither, if we eat, shall we have the more; nor, if we eat not, shall we have the less.
9But take heed lest perhaps this your liberty become a stumblingblock to the weak.
10For if a man see him that hath knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not his conscience, being weak, be emboldened to eat those things which are sacrificed to idols?
11And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ hath died?
12Now when you sin thus against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.
13Wherefore, if meat scandalize my brother, I will never eat flesh, lest I should scandalize my brother.
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.