What Does Love Demand?

Photo by Leighann Blackwood on Unsplash

1 Corinthians 8:1-3 Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. 2 And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. 3 But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

I’m sure you’ve all been in a room with someone on a telephone. Nearly everyone carries cell phones nowadays. It’s common today to be speaking with someone, their phone rings, and they put you on hold while they talk to the person on the other side of the phone line. That’s the best way to describe this chapter. The Apostle was visited by three men from Corinth, Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus (Acts 16:17). These men were some of the first Gentiles saved as the Gospel was preached in the Roman Province of Achaia (Acts 16:15). Professor Daniel Balge (Martin Luther College) notes:

“We don’t know whether the(se) three Corinthians walked to Ephesus, a journey of about 900 miles, or spent a week or more crossing the Aegean Sea by ship. … But this we know: Out of love for Jesus they served God and people well in a humble, but vital, task. They reliably carried two letters and linked a pastor to his people. Thus in his letter Paul could speak timely words to urgent problems and timeless truth (in Corinth).”

A Little Background

The three messengers told Paul that the Church was in an uproar over whether to eat meat sacrificed to idols or not.

Corinth, as well as Rome, was a place where there were several very large Pagan Temples where animals were sacrificed to “the gods”. Once the animals were sacrificed, rather than waste it, the meat of the animals was often sold in meat markets at reduced prices. The Gentiles of Corinth, raised among other Pagans who worshiped these false gods, saw no problem in eating the meat of animals that was sacrificed to the idolatrous gods. The Jews, however, had a big problem with this.

When the early Church started, Jesus told His followers:

Acts 1:8 … ye shall receive power, after that the Holy {Spirit} is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Had the Church stayed in in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea there would never have been a problem. The Church would have been nothing but people with Jewish backgrounds. Jewish Christians grew up with Jewish customs. Jewish Christians were well acquainted with the Law of God, and particularly with the Ten Commandments. The Ten commandments start with:

Exodus 20:2-7 … I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. 7 Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Every problem Israel ever had could be traced back to idolatry – so Jewish Christians would be especially frightened of anything idolatrous.

The Jews knew that God was the Only God, and would not worship any other god, Roman or not. Jewish Christians were united in the fact that they would not have anything to do with idols. They would not go into an idolatrous temple, and no Jew would eat meat from animals that were sacrificed the idols.

While the Gospel was going to Jerusalem and Judea, all Christians were Jewish Christians. But as the Gospel went out to Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth, Gentiles began to come into the Church. And as these Gentiles came, they brought with them their backgrounds, and traditions that they had grown up with. BEFORE the Apostle Peter was led by God to the Roman stronghold of Caesarea to the home of a Centurion called Cornelius (Acts 10:1), God gave Peter a vision. Peter was praying at lunchtime – about noon. The Bible says:

Acts 10:10-16 … {Peter while praying} became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, 11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: 12 Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. 14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. 15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. 16 This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.

As a Christian from an Orthodox Jewish background, Peter had never eaten what the Jews considered “unclean”. But as the Lord gave Peter this vision, Peter was told to eat all manner of edible meats. Peter naturally replied with, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. As an ethnic Jew Peter had never eaten what the Lord called forbidden. But the Lord told Him, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. The rules were changed by Jesus. Now that Jesus died on the Cross for our sins, the animal sacrifices, and the issue of clean and unclean, no longer applies. In fact, Jesus, when He walked this earth, declared all foods clean” (see Mark 7:19). Christians are not forbidden to eat any foods that they feel comfortable eating.

Once the Church began to receive Gentile converts to the faith, and began to bring their customs into the Church, it began to cause arguments between Jews & Gentiles.

In one of the first business meetings of the early Church missionaries were sent out to the Gentiles. Though Gentiles who were saved by faith in Christ were not required to be circumcised (as all ethnic Jews were circumcised), they were nonetheless told:

Acts 15:29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.

Gentiles were not required to keep the Law of Moses once saved, but were told to keep themselves from things offered to idols” (Acts 21:25). But here we’ve got a problem.

Jesus told His disciples that all foods are clean.
Jesus told Peter in the vision that all meats are clean.
Jewish Church leadership told Gentiles not to eat things offered to idols.
Gentiles who are saved are eating meats offered to idols.
Jewish Christians are offended by meats offered to idols.

This is a big mess in Corinth, and not just at Corinth, but in Rome as well. In Romans chapter 14 the Apostle deals with the same problem he is dealing with in this chapter of Corinthians. So the local Churches, instead of growing, are fighting internally. Stalled spiritually, the Corinthian and Roman congregations are busy arguing about who is right, while they should be sharing the Gospel.

The devil loves that!

It Doesn’t Matter Who Wins The Argument
Love Is The Key!

1 Corinthians 8:1-2 Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. 2 And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.

On the matter of things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Both sides knew that they were right. The Jews, with a long cultural heritage of avoiding idolatry, knew that any compromise with idolatry is a slippery slope. Some of the Jews that are now Christians perhaps used to be Scribes or, like Paul, Pharisees. They were well versed in the Law, and knew how idolatry had hurt Israel. “We know we are RIGHT”.

The Gentiles, saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, knew that an idol is nothing but a figment of a man’s imagination. The Psalmist wrote:

Psalm 115:3-7 OUR God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased. 4 THEIR idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. 5 They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: 6 They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: 7 They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat.

The God we serve is real. He controls all things. Our God is Sovereign, and speaks to His people through His Word and through His Spirit. But THEIR idols are just made up things, nothings, ciphers. “They have ears, but they do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths” (Psalm 135:16-18). They are just dead statues, empty things. If I as a Gentile eat discounted meat from a Disneyland Temple, what does it matter? After all, meat is meat. And Jesus said all food is clean!

So both sides are right, and the other side is wrong. There was an old song years ago that said:

There’s battle lines being drawn
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong

The Apostle says:

Knowledge puffeth up

Word Study: “I KNOW that I’M RIGHT”. You may be right. Both sides may have a kernel of right. But Knowledge puffeth up. The phrase puffeth up is the Greek φυσιόω physióō, {pronounced foo-see-o’-o}, which means “to cause to swell up, to make yourself lofty, to be proud”. The image is of a weight lifter who, posing for the crowd, swells up his chest and thumps it, much like Tarzan would do. Consider who were the ones who ordered Jesus to His death. They were all knowledgeable people. Those on Jesus’ Death Row Committee were:


Everyone of them had “knowledge”, so much knowledge that they executed Jesus Christ, the Messiah. They knew what they knew. But the Apostle said, none of the princes of this world knew {Jesus was Messiah}: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. Knowledge puffeth up! Knowledge often gives us a swelled head.

… but charity edifieth

Word Study: The Greek agapē oikodomeō, “love builds the House”. The Bible says in Psalm 127:1, “Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it”. When I have KNOWLEDGE this puffs me up, and those who follow me. But when I have love as Jesus wants us to love, then the House of God, the Church, will grow into a beautiful Temple that honors God. Paul says:

1 Corinthians 8:2 And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.

As humans, we always think we know everything. Yet truthfully, our knowledge is so very finite.

  • Darryl Zanuck of 20th Century Fox, in 1946 said “Television won’t be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night”.
  • The Surgeon General of the United States (1967) William Stewart said, “The time has come to close the book on infectious diseases. We have basically wiped out infection in the United States”.
  • Back in 1977, Ken Olson (Chairman & Founder Digital Equipment Corp) said, “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home”.
  • In 1995, Robert Metcalfe the developer of the Ethernet said, “I predict the Internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse”.

We all think we know so very much. But in time, we discover what we thought we knew, was incomplete, or inaccurate. The only time we will have full knowledge is when we are face to face with Jesus in eternity. The Apostle said:

1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

Only God knows what is best at all times. Only God possesses all knowledge. We know so very little, even with all of our technology. Though our knowledge grows, errs, and often goes out the window, one thing we can know with all certainty:

1 Corinthians 8:3 But if any man love God, the same is known of Him.

If you love God – if you love the Lord Jesus and follow His will – He has promised:

John 14:15-16 If ye love Me, keep My commandments. 16. And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever;

John 15:10-14 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. 11. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. 12. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

Being right with God is a simple matter of love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. Love God more than you love anything or anyone else. If you love God, God knows you, for you are His Child. If you love God, you will do as God said, and love one another, as {Jesus has} loved you. Love is the guiding truth and the strength of the Christian faith.

The Mature Believer Knows That An Idol Is Nothing

1 Corinthians 8:4-6 As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. 5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) 6 But 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.

We know that there are many that are called gods by many different people. One article I read noted:

“Throughout recorded history, we can count between 8,000 and 12,000 gods who have been worshiped.”

As the Apostle said, there be gods many, and lords many. But for the believer in Christ, there is but one God, the Father. The Bible teaches there is but ONE God, the Triune God of Scripture. The testimony of Scripture is the Lord He is God; there is none else beside Him” (Deuteronomy 4:35). Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the Lord he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else” (Deuteronomy 4:39). Throughout the Old Testament, God revealed Himself to His people as Yahweh, Elohim, El Shaddai, and other descriptive titles. But in the New Testament God is revealed to us as “Father”. Though God was called “Father” in a few Old Testament texts (see Deuteronomy 32:5-6; Isaiah 63:16; 64:8; Jeremiah 31:9,20; Hosea 11:3-4; Malachi 1:6; 2:10), it was only when Jesus Christ came from Heaven to Earth that we fully learned this loving aspect of God. God is our “Father”. Jesus told us to pray:

Matthew 6:9 … Our FATHER which art in Heaven …

Jesus commanded us, in Matthew 23:9 “call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Jesus saw the phrase “Father” as a precious statement as to how much God loves us all. There is “one God and Father of all, Who is above all, and through all, and in us all” (Ephesians 4:6). Oh, how God loves us. There is one God the Father, “of whom are all things, and we in him.

And there is one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. Jesus Christ is our Lord. In His title Lord we acknowledge Him as the Ruler of our lives, and co-equal to God the Father. Jesus is called the great GOD and our Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). We are saved because of the great love that Jesus has for us. He gave His everything on the Cross of Calvary so that we might be saved.

It is God’s love that SOUGHT us out, and God’s love that SAVED us. It is God’s love that SECURES us for Heaven, and God’s love that STAYS with us daily.

If you love God, believing in Jesus Christ Whom He hath sent, then God loves us, and brings us into His family. We do not earn nor deserve this salvation that the Lord bestows on the believer. It is all of grace, all of love.

God’s Actions Matter, Our Actions Matter

Even though we knew little, and know little still, God reached out through space and time to save us by the sacrifice of His Beloved Son. Because Jesus died for us, we are born again into the family of God by faith in Him. God’s actions showed us that He loves us. Jesus’ actions show that He loves us. As the Apostle says:

1 Peter 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

We know and understand very little about God, other than the fact that He loves us. We are also to love one another. Returning to the explosive subject of eating meat once offered to idols the Apostle says:

1 Corinthians 8:7-9 Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. 8 But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. 9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.

We as Christians have the liberty to eat any type of meat that we want to eat. But not every Christian understands this truth. The Jewish Christian, raised to despise anything related to an idol, is offended by anyone eating idolatrous meat. I have liberty, but I need to be careful lest my liberty trip another up in his or her Christian walk. The Apostle says:

1 Corinthians 8:10-13 For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; 11 And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 12 But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. 13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

This scripture can be applied to many things in our world today. We as believers are to walk with love toward those around us. As Christians, we have wonderful and glorious liberty. And yet, I must never use my liberty without first asking myself, “how does my brother or sister believe about this?”. In the Church at Rome the Apostle tackled the same problem. He wrote:

Romans 14:1-4 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. 2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. 3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. 4 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.

Love should be the governor on all of our liberties. As believers, we are to carefully consider the spiritual blessing of our fellow believers. We are, together, the Church of Jesus Christ. We are to love our God, and love one another as our God loves us. We are to consider the other when it comes to the “gray areas” of our faith.

Romans 14:6-8 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. 7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. 8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.

Let us love one another as Jesus has commanded. Let us walk so as to build up the Body of Christ, the Church – and not to tear it down. May God the Holy Spirit guide us through His Word, and to His Will. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen and Amen.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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