Pod Prep: 1-26-18
Examine: How Not To Undermine A Weak Brother
Disprove The Statement: Paul Did Not Eat Meat Based on I Cor 8:13. 2.
AN IDOL IS NOTHING, BUT THE EMOTIONAL ATTACHMENTS CAN BE POWERFUL
When reading I Cor. 8:13, the meaning is obvious if one bothers to consider the context. Paul is saying he will only consider not eating meat if it makes a brother stumble from Christianity. If a weak brother is at risk he will consider it. Note the passage.
1Co 8:13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble. (NKJV)
Paul dramatically affirms that he will stop eating meat if necessary to save a fellow Christian. If he surmises that the brother can be saved no other way he will then stop eating meat. It is clear that Paul eats meat and is not asking other Christians in normal situations to stop eating meat. Well, what is the emergency that may require Paul to stop eating meats designed by God for our nutrition?
1Co 8:4 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. 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), 6 yet for us there is 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. 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.
These newly converted raw gentiles still had strong feelings for their previous pagan memories. For them meat involved with paganism when once eaten they still believed the god was in the meat. The meat had special significance since it was offered to say Dianna or Aphrodite, the goddess of sex and fertility. They wanted the meat yet feared their conscience was being defiled. The logical part of their mind believed the teaching of the church, that idols are nothing, but their past and its emotions still had a grip on them. If we want to see an example of how powerful is the emotional attachment of people to pagan idols note this piece of church history.
Ac 19:27 "So not only is this trade of ours in danger of falling into disrepute, but also the temple of the great goddess Diana may be despised and her magnificence destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worship." 28 Now when they heard this, they were full of wrath and cried out, saying, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians!" 29 So the whole city was filled with confusion, and rushed into the theater with one accord, having seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians, Paul's travel companions. 34 But when they found out that he was a Jew, all with one voice cried out for about two hours, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians!"
Think of the emotional power revealed in an entire city screaming for Dianna the goddess for hours. Wow! If any pagan was converted by the Apostle Paul out of that city, could one really expect within a short period of time, for them to remove all pagan emotions from their minds and souls, probably not for most. A knowledgeable Jewish member or one who is a proselyte of a Synagogue before converting to Christianity, would be starkly unimpressed from where the meat originated. The strong brother considering the weak brother is the real meat issue. Some of the brethren in these newly formed congregations in the pagan Greek world, were full of weak and vulnerable people. The knowledgeable or stronger members were not helping.
DO NOTHING TO ABUSE THE WEAK BROTHER EVEN IN EATING MEAT
The context of I Cor. 8:13 clearly proves it is not a verse regarding the pros and cons of vegetarianism. Paul is not giving advice on whether one should eat meat or that he recommends giving up meat. The issue is a weak brother does not need to view you eating pagan blessed meat in a pagan ceremony or dinner. Paul has an opinion that knowledge without a heart is wrong.
1Cor 8:7 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. 8 But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse. 9 But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol's temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols?
The liberty of the experience brothers, the believers who have no deep emotional attachment to paganism's allure are free to eat anything in the city. If they get invited to banquet, regardless of the religious connections, and they think it advantageous to go, no problem for their minds. Maybe they get prime rib for nearly nothing. However Paul's main concern is the effect on the weaker brethren. The strong Christians must think of others first before themselves like Christ.
Php 2:2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the things of others. 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
Strong church members should take care of themselves but also in an unselfish manner care for the weak. Do not think of self first but be like Jesus . Be unselfish, think of others first! Be humble ! What is at stake, possibly the eternal salvation of other church members based on the influence of the strong. This is thereby a very serious responsibility. I recall a church that met in a hall with many worldly church statues. The experienced members considered them just art work more or less. But newer members from Latin America felt somehow uncomfortable around the statues which caused a split and trouble. Probably the stronger members should have had more concern for the others and moved. Why lose brothers over such matters.
I Cor 8:11 And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 12 But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.
When we do not help the weak brother, but do things to let them fall away, we are wounding Christ. Our examples mean a lot potentially. Paul shows that the idol itself is nothing; however something is behind the services at pagan temples. We never want to do anything that could draw a weak brother toward evil.
I Co 10:19 What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? 20 Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and of the table of demons.
Paul is saying that if eating meat in one of the idol temples would cause a brother to sin in his spirit, then do not do it. One might even for a time have to give up eating meat from unknown sources. But Paul is not a vegetarian. Paul calls the brother weak that could not eat any meat out of fear of the pagan contamination in his letter, see Romans 14:1-2. Further note what he writes to Timothy.
1Ti 4:1 But the Spirit speaks expressly, that in latter times some shall apostasize from the faith, giving their mind to deceiving spirits and teachings of demons 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, cauterised as to their own conscience, 3 forbidding to marry, bidding to abstain from MEATS, which God has created for receiving with thanksgiving for them who are faithful and know the truth. (DBY)
Some of the pressure for vegetarianism was also coming from the ascetic pagan philosophies as well. I wonder if earth worshipers today have a similar spirit?
HOW TO HELP, NOT UNDERMINE THE WEAK BROTHER IN OUR AGE
Do nothing as a stronger experienced believer that would lead a newer weaker person astray. They may look up to us and are thereby be even more vulnerable. The stronger should set a high bar of expectations. Setting a low bar might leave some more vulnerable to worldly pressures. If they see that you have poor church attendance, they may follow. If they see you not attending key Holy Days like Pentecost and the Feast they may follow. Set a high bar that discourages excuses.
If they are being troubled by addictions. Do nothing to discourage them from continuing to resist and fight the addictions. For instance if they are unfortunate enough to inherit a weakness to alcohol do not talk about or invite them to your favorite bar. Do not tell them of movies that might encourage their addiction. Be sensitive to the weaknesses of others.
Ro 15:1 We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. 3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me."
1Co 9:21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I do for the gospel's sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.
Adjusting to the weak is prudent, but Paul in the same section of the letter,- has a warning to us experienced and stronger believers. We need to put pressure and discipline on ourselves. Because after advising others we might fall away and lose our salvation as well.
1Co 9:25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
Those who wish to take I Cor 8:13 and other scriptures to advance a false no meat agenda or unclean meats simply have taken the Bible out of context. Yet when we study these areas we find wonderful and helpful deeper truths.