The Way to an Idols Heart is through His Belly – 1 Corinthians chp 8

Just added to our section on 1 Corinthians:

1 Corinthians chp 8 vs 1 to 4 – The Way to an Idols Heart is through His Belly – JS Gillespie – 27012015


Notes available from this message:

We saw in 8:1-3:

1. A Question which Should never have been asked (v1)
2. An Attitude they should never have had (v2)
3. A Truth they Should never have forgotten (v3)


1. A Question which Should never have been asked (v1)

Simply because it aught never to have needed to have been asked!
If those who knew that that they knew, were as spiritual as they thought they were, then they would have been marked by:

i. Sensitivity – to their brother
ii. Sacrificial attitude to one another
iii. Spirituality – seeing the big issues of love, spiritual welfare as the big issues and the small matters of food as that. They ought to have had a sense of spiritual perspective.


2. An Attitude they should never have had (v2)

They were marked by pride, arrogance and were puffed up
‘we know that we know’
Knowledge is not wrong in itself
We are exhorted in many places in scripture to “add to your faith virtue and to virtue knowledge..” (2 Peter 1:5-8) and to value knowledge, wisdom and understanding

Pro_2:2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;
Pro_2:6 For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.
Pro_2:11 Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee:
Pro_3:13 Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.
Pro_4:5 Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.
Pro_4:7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.


“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2Pe 1:5-8)


The problem here was not so much about WHAT I know but HOW I know.
It is about the effect that knowing has on me
It is about ‘ego’ – self as known to self.
The ‘ego’ can become inflated because of value / virtue we see in ourselves
That value / virtue may be:


or in the attainment of something of more enduring value than this:

the knowledge of God

To ‘know God’ is the greatest thing a man can possess:

To know the eternal in time
To know the spiritual in the midst of the temporal
To know the enduring when all is passing
To know God in a world of men
To know purpose when all seems aimless
To know hope in the midst of despair
To know order in the midst of chaos
To know peace in the midst of turmoil
To know answers when all else have only questions

This is the greatest possession – to know God


“Wisdom is the principal thing” (Prov 4:7)

How does that puff up?


“For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.” (Pro 8:11)

“How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!” (Pro 16:16)

1. It affects the way I think about myself (1 Co 8:2) – with such a rich possession of knowledge, owning something that endures beyond time, my view of self becomes inflated (Prov 8:1; 16:16).
2. Knowledge can produce prosperity and success (Ezek 28:4-5) that also inflates the ego
3. Knowledge in the hands of an imperfect person can become corrupted (Ezek 28:17 and Solomon)


‘I know that I know’ – this was an attitude they should never have had (v2)
Because the knowledge of God is the product of “love” (8:3) (John 3:16; 1:18)
The love of God towards us brings us all knowledge by the revelation of Jesus Christ
It is only by loving God that I gain knowledge
Therefore all knowledge is the product of Divine Grace
This effect of being puffed up by knowledge or by thinking I have knowledge is perhaps most clearly seen in John chp 9; not only in what those Pharisees claim to know but in the confidence with which they approach what they don’t know.
If they have confidence where they lack knowledge (“we know not from whence He is,” (9:29), “how opened He thine eyes?” (9:26); then that confidence is not in their knowledge, that confidence is in themselves.
Whilst in the context of 1 Corinthians chp 8 this is an attitude which is emerging amongst believers, this is surely an attitude which is very familiar to us today, amongst opponents of the Gospel; an attitude of confidence in ignorance.
There is an abject ignorance of the Word of God, a superficial knowledge of what pro-ports to be an alternative – atheism and evolution and materialism, and a yet a firm confidence in their rejection of Christ. This confidence is not in their knowledge; for they do not have any of any great significance, that confidence is in themselves.


3. A Truth they Should never have forgotten (v3)

For truth to be the truth of God
For knowledge to be the knowledge of God
It is utterly dependant on love
It is the love of God which is ultimately responsible for the revelation of all truth (John 1:18; 3:16)
For me to know anything of God I must first love God (8:3)
Love, the love of God ought to be demonstrable in all of our knowledge
If his love is not demonstrable in all of our knowledge then our knowledge is spurious.

What is the issue here?

Do you ever overhear or even arbitrate in an argument where you ask yourself the question; what was all that about?
What is the problem?
What is the agenda?
What is the point of all of this?
It all seems to be a bit pointless!


What is the agenda here?
What is the big deal here?
Was it just a disagreement here about wither or not you could eat food offered to idols, some feeling you could, some feeling you couldn’t?
Why is this such a big deal?


1. There was obvious common ground – why not share it?

If those with knowledge would eat anything and those with a sensitive conscience would only eat meat not sacrificed to idols, why not just eat meat not sacrificed to idols which would be acceptable by both groups?
Apart from pride (8:1) – what would hinder them?


2. Who really knew what you were eating anyway?

Who knows where you shop?
Who knows where the meat came from in your fridge?
Is anyone going to be checking up?


3. It was an old debate – the Jews had been there and done that years ago

They were obviously suspicious of anything linked with idolatry as it was an abomination to God.
The Rabbinical writings rejected meat offered to idols as being fit for Jewish consumption on the basis that there was no guarantees that the ritual food laws had been adhered to in its slaughter (Gen 9:4; Lev 17:10ff; Deut 12:23ff)

What was the big issue here?
Was this just some intellectual debate about the legitimacy of meat offered to idols?
I want to suggest that the issue was bigger than that and more sinister than that.
This was not really an argument about wither or not meat offered to idols was suitable for eating by Christians.
There was a far bigger agenda:

1. Things offered to idols (8:1)
2. The eating of those things offered in sacrifice to idols (8:4)
3. Sitting at meat in the idols temple (8:10)
4. “neither be ye idolators” (10:7)
5. “neither let us commit fornication” (10:8)


What was this all about?
The flesh was pulling
The flesh wasn’t going to come clean and be upfront about what it wanted
The flesh wasn’t going to come out in the open and say what I want is to go back to idolatry, pagan religious worship and the sexual immorality that is linked to it!
The flesh will say; ‘but what’s wrong with meat offered to idols?’
The flesh wasn’t really that interested in the food offered to idols, it all tastes the same anyway.
The flesh wanted the idols.
Eating meat sacrificed to idols was just a stepping stone to get there!


Watch for this in your own Christian life!
Not so much the slippery slope – that would suggest something passive and accidental, this is altogether deliberate; perhaps not consciously planned by the sinning believer but nonetheless it is the inevitable destination and active pursuit of the believer.

This path has been tread before:

Numbers chp 25

25:1 – fornication

25:2 – people did eat

25:2 – called to the sacrifice

25:2 – bowed down to their god

25:6-8 Sexual immorality

25:8-9 – Divine judgment


1 Corinthians

5:1 – fornication

8:4,10 – Food offered to idols

10:7 – idolatry

10:8 – sexual immorality

11:30 – mortality

The pattern of Numbers 25 is the pattern of 1 Corinthians chapters 5 to 11
I don’t think that the real agenda is in eating food sacrificed to idols
I think the real agenda is getting the idols that the food is sacrificed to!
The way to an idols heart is through your belly!
This may seem all a bit academic; what they did, what they really wanted
It would be a bit academic if this were the only time it ever really happened.
Its not the only time that the flesh has ever operated like this :
Leading towards where we want to go without taking us immediately to where we intend to be:

1. Hebrews 2:1 “lest at any time we should let them slip”
2. Lot – camping in the plains, moving into the city and sitting in the seat of Sodom.

We can place ourselves in situations, we can make decisions, we can head in directions, which perhaps of themselves cannot be faulted, but spiritual insight into the geography of the land will tell us that we have just left Abraham behind and pitched our tent in the plains because it is en route to Sodom!

There may be nothing wrong with the son of Luke 15 having an advance on his inheritance but that is but the means to an end.
He is not for investing that inheritance or setting up in business to support himself and his father in his old age!
Neither is there anything wrong with migration nor of emigration – Exodus is full of it.
All of this was a means to and end, once in the far country with his inheritance he would spend it on ‘riotous living’ and squander it on harlots.
This was freedom financed for fornication (Luke 15:30)
Not a slipper slope

This is the deliberate abdication of our guidance to the flesh; we are responsible for the ultimate destination
The flesh leads in a very definite direction:

1. Lust – Romans 13:14 “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof”

2. Corruption – Galatians 6:8 “for he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption…”

3. Death – Romans 8:13 “for if ye live after the flesh ye shall die; but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body ye shall live.”

This is no slippery slope
This is calculated and deliberate and deginite
In abdicating to the flesh they remain responsible for the ultimate destination.
As the flesh directs our drift into destruction it often distracts by constantly affirming that this is definitely no drift into destruction.
What blows the agenda out of the water is: