Liberty in Christ Guided by Love

I Corinthians 8:1-13

“DO NOT TOUCH” must be one of the most
terrifying things to read in braille.

The adjective for metal is metallic, but not so for
iron, which is ironic

Today we will be looking at I Corinthians 8.
As you may recall, Paul is answering some direct
questions that have been posed to him by the believers
at Corinth. Let’s look at the first 3 verses of our text.

I Corinthians 8:1-3

The next question that was on the minds of the
Corinthians believers was:
Is it acceptable for us to eat food sacrificed to idols?

Since we don’t have this type of situation today, let’s take
just a moment to discuss what was happening.

Some of the mature believers were eating meat that had
been sacrificed to idols in the pagan temples. Some
would even go into the pagan temples and eat the meat
right there.

They were looking for Paul’s approval to continue eating
the meat because they knew they had freedom in Christ
and they wanted to keep on doing it.

Before he answers the question he returns to the concept
of knowledge that he has mentioned multiple times
Remember knowledge in Corinth was coveted and those
who had it were admired.

But once again Paul points out the danger of knowledge.
He says

Knowledge Puffs Up

Sometimes knowledge leads to arrogance and a feeling of
superiority over others. It can even happen with Biblical
knowledge if we aren’t careful. We can mock and ridicule
others for not knowing as much about the Bible as we do
or make fun of their questions.

You remember the story of the Pharisee and the tax
collector. They prayed two very different prayers.
The Pharisee was very proud that he wasn’t like
the tax collector, he bragged to God in his prayer
about his fasting and his tithing.
The tax collector however humbled himself before
God and thanked God for his mercy towards him.

The Pharisee thought he knew how to live.
However he lacked love and forgiveness that Jesus
modeled throughout His life. He let knowledge puff
him up.

Paul contrasts being puffed up with knowledge by writing

Love Builds Up

Love doesn’t tear others down, it builds them up.
Paul continues on to say that if anyone loves God he is
known by God. God knit us together before the
foundation of the world. He knows us, and he wants us to
know Him as well. Not just to know about Him. He wants
us to know him through a relationship with Him.

God is love and when we know His love, only then are we
able to love others with His love.

I Corinthians 8:4-6

Now Paul shifts the focus back to their question.

The mature believers were fine with eating the food
sacrificed to idols because they know God and they know
the idols are really nothing, so they have no problem
eating the food brought to them for worship.
They understood that

Idols have no existence

They were likely familiar with the words of the Psalmist.

Psalm 115:4-8 “Their idols are silver and gold, the
work of human hands. They have mouths, but do
not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears,
but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have
hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and
they do not make a sound in their throat. Those
who make them become like them; so do all who
trust in them.”

Of course, all of this is true and they do have the ability
to eat meat that was sacrificed to idols.

The problem though was that they weren’t loving their
brothers/sisters in Christ.
They were more concerned with their liberty than
they were with loving the way God loves.

The weaker believers, however, felt differently about the
situation. Some were prone to idol worship so seeing
believers eating this food was distressing to them.

They felt that eating the food offered to idols was an act
of worship to the idol. Many had been saved out of this
pagan lifestyle so seeing believers participate in it was
confusing and potentially a damaging witness.

What Paul is saying is don’t let your liberty affect
your brother negatively.

There is a constant battle in the church between License
and Legalism.

Keep in mind we are talking about the gray areas that
aren’t mentioned directly in Scripture. If God’s word says
we should or should not do something, we must take Him
at His word.

In the gray areas here’s how the divide normally takes
root. Those who feel they have liberty say that if the
Bible doesn’t specifically say you can’t do it then it must
be ok to do.
The other side of the camp says that if the Bible doesn’t
specifically say you should do it then you shouldn’t do it.

There are problems with both sides.
The liberty side tends to take their liberty and use it as a
license to do what they shouldn’t do and claim the grace
of God will cover whatever they do.

The legalism side tends to look down on those who don’t
follow the law exactly and fail to extend grace and
forgiveness. They are puffed up rather than building
others up.

There is Only One God

There may be many little gods, but they were all created
by man. Paul reminds them that there is only one God
and he is our Father and He is the creator of Heaven and
earth. Nothing and no one would exist if it were not for
God. And we exist to serve Him.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ
Jesus for good works, which God prepared
beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Ephesians 2:10

I Corinthians 8:7-13

Here Paul gives 3 Potential Pitfalls to Liberty

Paul understands that there is actually nothing wrong
with eating the food sacrificed to idols because it’s just
food. Food doesn’t commend us to God.

Jesus taught that food does not defile us in Mark 7:18-19
His point was that food goes into our stomach not our

The problem at Corinth was that many of the believers
there were still babes in Christ. They didn’t understand
all of the teachings of Christ yet.
And when they saw the mature believers eating the food

Defile the Conscience of the Weak
They believed that the idols were real and eating food
given to them would somehow defile them.

It could also
Cause the Weak to Stumble

If a weaker brother sees someone eating food sacrificed
to idols, it could create temptation for them to do what
they feel in their heart is wrong.

Leads the Weak to Destruction
This verse is not talking about the death of the believer
or even of the loss of their salvation. It’s more about the
impact this could have on their ministry. Remember
earlier we talked about how God created us for good
works, when we turn back to the lifestyle of sin we are
keeping ourselves from doing what God wants us to.

So the long answer to the question that the Corinthian
believers asked is this.

Yes, you can eat what you want, but not at the cost of
causing a brother to sin.
Paul says that causing a brother to sin is also sinning
against Christ.

Listen to what Jesus said about it in
Matthew 18:6 “but whoever causes one of these
little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be
better for him to have a great millstone fastened
around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of
the sea.”

Even though we have the ability to do something doesn’t
always mean we should do it.
We should let love guide our liberty.


Eating meat sacrificed to idols isn’t something we have to
worry about today, but let’s think about some of the gray
areas that come up from time to time.

Drinking alcohol
Tattoos/ piercings
I’m sure you can think of many more, but the point isn’t
to be all encompassing. The point is to understand God’s
view that
People are more important than your freedom in

We have freedom in Christ

Let Love Guide our Decisions

We should consider these questions before making
● Is it profitable?
● Will it enslave me?
● Does it build others up?

Liberty is neither License or Legalism

We should check our motivation behind our actions.
What is driving our decision?