We've been discussing a question that the Corinthian church had apparently asked Paul: “can we eat the meat after it’s been sacrificed to idols?” (See 1 Corinthians 8:1)
Some said that since idols were nothing, with no power, they were free to eat that meat. Others said eating the meat caused them to think back to their own idol worship and they didn’t want to eat the meat.
Who was right?
Paul gave them an answer they may not have expected. In verse 9, he asked that those who were free not becoming a stumbling block to the weak. He places some labels in the verses to follow: those who exercise freedom and those with weak consciences.
Maybe you think that Paul has now announced who is right in this controversy. But he hasn’t.
Instead, he admonished those in freedom to care for their weaker brothers. "When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ." (1 Cor 8:12)
Some in the church understood that gods are nothing. But when they were seen eating the meat, they put a temptation before their weaker church members. Those who did not know that gods are nothing could be drawn back into their idol worship.
Paul did not declare, in this chapter, which side of the controversy was correct. Instead, he urged each side to be considerate of the other side. The issue for Paul wasn’t the food, but the heart of the church.
Notice what he declared for himself: "Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall." (1 Cor 8:13)
In America, we believe in individual freedom. But Paul was urging the believers to set aside their individual freedom when it caused another to fall. That’s a challenge to Americans but we need to hear Paul’s words.
He was willing to give up that which could cause another to stumble. That’s love for others above love for self and that was his answer to the Corinthians’ question: love others above your own knowledge and rights.