A Sermon About Biblical Teachings About Food Sacrificed To Idols

This issue is probably one of the old issues that I continuously encounter in my pastoral ministry. With all kinds of reasonings coming from people who justifies what they do, I believe this sermon is a very good insight about how does the Bible stands for it. And I do hope that this sermon manuscript will enlighten us about our stand in abstaining from Food Sacrificed To Idols.

Title: Biblical Teachings About Food Sacrificed To Idols

Text: 1 Corinthians 8

Introduction
Food, elements that are essential to nourish our bodies. And, the Bible speaks about specific teachings concerning food. Paul also added some more teachings about food when conflicts concerning these arises inside Christian Churches.

Whether or not it is forbidden in our time, it is very important that we know what the Bible says about food sacrificed to idols, why was it forbidden and why do we abstain from partaking it in our time.

What are food sacrificed to idols?

In the New Testament time, many meats sold in the market were first sacrificed to idols just before they were sold in the market. This is due to the influence of the Greco-Roman culture which is generally a pagan culture. However, as we have just discussed, the food sacrificed to idols were considered to be “unclean” for the Jews in accordance to the commands given to them.

In our time, food sacrificed to idols are equivalent to the food prepared during Fiesta in honor of a saint or any person other than the Lord God himself. Having the influence of the Spaniards who first brought Christianity mixed with idolatry here in the Philippines, our culture now have adopted the Fiesta. Fiesta or what we call “Feast”. Filipnos celebrate feast in honor and thanksgiving for the patron saint of a particular place.

Food sacrificed to idols are simply food and nothing more. As Paul made it clear in 1 Corinthians 8:4-13 idols are nothing and can do nothing to harm us except if we indulge ourselves to these idols where we will become sinners and idolaters ourselves.

Why In The World Do We Abstain From Eating Food Sacrificed To Idols?

To Avoid Causing A Fellow Believer To Sin

Paul have discussed this matter several times. He made mention of the same teachings in the book of Romans 14, and here in 1 Corinthians 8 and 10. Furthermore, this is one of the main issues that has been resolved in the book of Acts 15.

In 1 Corinthians 8:4-13, Paul made it clear that eating food sacrificed to idols are really nothing since an idol is nothing at all and cannot do anything. However, the issue not about whether or not it is moral or immoral, but it is the issue of being considerate and respecting a fellow believer who has a weaker faith.

Here’s a story taken from www.gotquestions.org

“There are two 1st-century Christians named Demetrius and Clement. Both are former idolaters, now saved by faith in Christ. Demetrius shuns everything to do with his old way of life, including the meat sold in the marketplace, because, for him, eating such meat would constitute a return to paganism. Clement avoids the temple and refuses to participate in the pagan festivals, but he has no problem eating the meat from the market. Clement understands (correctly) that an idol has no power to corrupt good meat, and, for him, eating such meat is a non-issue. Then one day, as both men are in the marketplace, Demetrius sees Clement eating meat that was sacrificed to idols. Demetrius is horrified, but Clement laughs it off and encourages Demetrius to eat some, too. When Demetrius hesitates, Clement cuts off a piece and hands it to him. Demetrius—emboldened by Clement’s confidence—eats the meat. Biblically, both believers have sinned. Clement sinned by violating the conscience of a fellow believer. Demetrius sinned in that he essentially returned to idolatry—at least, that’s what his conscience is telling him. More importantly, Demetrius is learning how to ignore his conscience—a very dangerous thing to learn.”

To Keep An Above Reproach Testimony

One of the misconceptions of many Christians in our time is the liberty that they have gained in Christ. They thought that the liberty that we have gained would mean absolute freedom. However, the freedom that God has given us is freedom from and against sin. And such freedom should not be against righteousness which can cause us to sin.

Such freedom can be noted in 1 Corinthians 10:23-24; “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.”

There is only one common reason why many Christians continue to eat food sacrificed to idols, that is because the Bible did not actually prohibited it. Same thing in the issue of drinking intoxicating liquors and smoking. These things have not been directly prohibited in the Holy Scriptures. And indeed, yes, it was not prohibited. However, our very dear apostle Paul made this statement clearly, “Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.”

Do we think that eating food sacrificed to idols during fiesta can edify our fellow brethren even after knowing that those food were sacrificed to idols? I think No. In fact, as far as experience is concern many Christians are not edified in doing it or seeing a fellow brethren doing it. The only advantage that it can do is that it satisfy our “WANTS” and not the need specially the spiritual needs of others.

Furthermore, how then can we teach people to focus our lives to our Lord? How then can we teach effectively if against vice and a life glorifying God to others when they see our lives a little bit far from that what we profess when our weaker brethrens sins by thinking differently from what we are thinking?

To Avoid Compromising With The World

One of the most tragic facts of abusing our liberty in Christ is the temptation of falling from the sin of compromise. Many Christians who prefer to get what they want without considering others just because of their freedom usually falls to the sin of compromise.

In Revelation 2:14 and 20, Jesus judged the Church in Pergamos and the Church in Thyatira with various sins. And included in those sins was eating food sacrificed to idols. We have to take note however that the context here is different from the context Paul was discussing here in the book of 1 Corinthians.

The Church in Thyatira seems to be feasting and partaking with the pagan practices of “love feasts” which is engrossed with immorality.  The problem was, Christians of Thyatira knows about the feast. They know about the idolatry going on, yet they did not do anything against this woman Jezeebel who by the way call herself prophetes, deceiving many.

In our time and in our culture, we know that there is no fiesta that was not in honor of a patron saint. We already know that this is a form of idolatry. What business then should we have with this when we know it is not for the Lord? What good then it is if we are seen with those who eat and drink with those people whom we believe to  have offered those food to an idol?

Conclusion

Eating food sacrificed to idols are not totally wrong and as Paul have said, it does not and will not do anything to harm us. However, we can see that Paul does not encourage to do this since  we it does not edify either.

Here are four principles that we can learn from this sermon.

  • Having the “right” to do something does not mean we are totally free to do anything we want in all circumstance, regardless of its effects towards others.
  • Our liberty in Christ should be voluntarily limited for the benefit of others not causing our brethren to sin because we chose to use our liberty. We have to remember that our liberty should be limited to love.
  • Continuously living in unity would sometimes lead for the sacrifice of our own personal rights and liberty
  • We are to avoid doing things that would make our brethren who are weaker in faith to think less about our faith or would make an unbeliever to feel more at ease in his sin.


Paul concluded:

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense either to the Jews or to the Greeks, or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. (1 Corinthians 10:31-33).”

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