R1586-302 Bible Study: Abstinence For The Sake Of Others

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IV. QUAR., LESSON V., OCT. 29, 1 COR. 8:1-13

Golden Text—”We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak.”—Rom. 15:1

The Corinthian Christians were in the midst of an idolatrous people, and had come out from them. They had heard and accepted the gospel of Christ, and now desired to be entirely separate from idolaters. To such an extent was idolatry practiced in Corinth that most of the meat offered for sale in the markets was first offered to idols, and it was not always easy to learn which had and which had not been offered in sacrifice to some heathen deity. Some of the Christians were conscientiously opposed to having anything to do with such meats, while others felt that it made no difference whether they partook of it or not, since the meat suffered no change, and since they had no sympathy with the idolatrous worship. The question was referred to the Apostle Paul, who replied:—

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VERSES 1,4,7. “Now, concerning the idol sacrifices, we know that an image is nothing in the world [that it is only an imaginary god], and that no one is God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth (as there be gods many and lords many), yet to us there is but one god, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. But this knowledge is not in all.” (The intervening lines are parenthetic. See Diaglott) All men were not enlightened by the gospel and so relieved from superstition; and, consequently, the eating of such meats in their presence might seem to them to be an indorsement of the idol-worship; and thus they might be misled into a partial indorsement of idolatry. Or at least the influence of such Christians might be greatly weakened.

Therefore, while he admits that there would be nothing wrong—no sacrifice of any principle—in the eating of such meat (verse 8), he advises that these Christians forego the use of their liberty in this matter out of deference to the conscience of weaker brethren who might otherwise be made to stumble.

And so clearly did the Apostle realize his responsibility for the weaker brethren, that he said that if his eating of meat would cause his brother to stumble he would never eat meat.—Verse 13.

Nor was he inclined to glory over his weaker brother because of his fuller knowledge and consequent freedom from superstition. Mere knowledge, he said, puffs up, but love builds up. (Verses 1-4.) Therefore he preferred in love to seek to build up the weaker brother’s faith and to avoid placing any stumbling block in his way, rather than to boast of his superior knowledge and liberty and to cause his brother for whom Christ died to stumble. The latter course he shows to be sinful (verse 12), while the former is the only one consistent with true Christian love.

The Golden Text from the Apostle’s letter to the Romans, with the two succeeding verses, further enforces this same sentiment, which all would do well to consider in every matter. While with us at this day this principle

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does not involve the eating of meats, it does touch many other things which should be considered in the light of our responsibilities for our brother’s keeping in the faith. It should regulate our general conduct, our conversation, our manners, our dress, our conduct and habits of life, that all may be to the glory of God, to the edification of our brethren, and that our light may shine before the world.


— October 1, 1893 —