Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God. (1 Corinthians 8:1-3)
If you’re someone like me then you enjoy food…immensely. Especially food you know very well that’s bad for you. As a result of my “knowledge” of this temptation that myself and my wife share we choose to predominantly engage in a healthy nutritional protocol but will occasionally indulge in unhealthy meals. Does eating healthy in any way make us more spiritual, a better Christian, or closer to God than our fellow brothers or sisters in Christ in any way, shape, or form? NOT AT ALL. This way of thinking was so prevalent in the days of the early church that Paul had to dedicate an entire section of his letter to the Corinthians to it.
The passage above indicates that it is absolutely possible to be right about something in your mind, but be absolutely wrong in the Kingdom of God. Paul is very clear that “knowledge” tends to “puff up”. It’s human nature, and when we have a certain “knowledge” we tend to look down on others that we see do not. The Way is heart knowledge not head knowledge.
What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them. (Matthew 15:11)
Even Christ Himself says that food is a neutral point in The Kingdom. It’s a “grey area” of scripture which Paul spends an extensive amount of time preaching about in his epistles. Subject matters that do not have a definitive answer in The Word. There are many objective truths in The Bible, but there are also many “grey areas” and one’s nutritional preferences is one of them. In Corinth, Paul conveys that even if you and I have a certain “knowledge” about food we should not be enforcing that “knowledge” on the person who does not possess the same “knowledge”, or does, and they simply don’t care because he or she feels they have the freedom to eat whatever they want to eat. However, there is a caveat to the “free” Christian in that if their “freedom” is a stumbling block to the Christian that abstains then they should be able to display sacrificial love and not partake in their “freedom” when in the presence of the abstaining Christian. None of this applies to children however whom we are teaching how to live a healthy lifestyle.
Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. (Colossians 3:20)
Instead this directly applies to those who are able to make a decision based on their own discernment. My wisdom is not your wisdom, and when it comes to neutral “grey areas” of The Way then I should not enforce my wisdom on to others. Why, because it’s not my job to instill my wisdom on a “grey area” onto someone else… it’s Gods’, and I need to trust in the Lord. I need to trust that those who I notice who are not “eating” in the same fashion as I am that He will instill wisdom in them for their own good and that it’s not my responsibility. Each and every portion of the body of Christ is different from one another. There is no portion of the body that is identical. Just like our physical bodies, our parts have major differences or there are slight variations but no body part is precisely the same. Our relationship with Him is like a fingerprint. We all have them, but none of us share the same fingerprint.
As it is, there are many parts. But there is only one body. The eye can’t say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” In fact, it is just the opposite. The parts of the body that seem to be weaker are the ones we can’t do without. The parts that we think are less important we treat with special honor. The private parts aren’t shown. But they are treated with special care. The parts that can be shown don’t need special care. But God has put together all the parts of the body. And he has given more honor to the parts that didn’t have any. In that way, the parts of the body will not take sides. All of them will take care of one another. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honored, every part shares in its joy. You are the body of Christ. Each one of you is a part of it. (1 Corinthians 12:20-27)
So if Christ and Paul are both very clear that food does not defile us then what are we to think of this?…
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
There are some who use this as their “ammunition” when attempting to educate or enlighten someone else who may not share the same view of this passage in terms of their nutritional preferences. This is a great example of using text out of context, and why it’s so important to understand the “background” of scripture. Without it you’ll end up pulling passages out of The Bible and using them to “fit” into your own lifestyle preferences or agenda. When Paul was conveying this message about our bodies being “temples” he was in the midst of a church that was practicing rampant sexual immorality. There was homosexuality within the church. There were men marrying their mother in laws. Church members were participating in sexual acts of “worship” with temple prostitutes to worship pagan gods as well as Christ. In other words this church was the very definition of “woke” and they were proud of it. They enjoyed proclaiming… “look how tolerant we are!”
There were also legal matters taking place as in church members were suing each other left and right within pagan judicial branches. There were also church members who believed they were more righteous because they didn’t eat foods that were dedicated to pagan gods and deemed the foods “defiled” and “unclean”. Just as we have members of the church today who will not go anywhere near pork or meat for that fact because of a “misguided” implementation of works based Levitical food laws into their faith. There were also false prophets abound and members “speaking in tongues” that were obviously not edifying the church and instead elevating themselves. Paul had to tell the church at Corinth that this was not The Way.
So when applying the “treat our bodies like the temple” attitude to our lives what Paul was conveying was to not be sexually immoral, don’t practice incest, stop suing each other and work it out like children of God, abstain from false zeal of spiritual gifts, and last…stop telling each other what to or what not to eat. Yet, when we abuse our bodies through poor hygiene, substance abuse, self-harm, or junk food addiction in a gluttonous manner we are not taking good care of His temple. Eating unhealthy is not sin in itself, but when we continually stuff ourselves with it to the detriment of our bodies, our bank accounts, and our witness, it may have become an idol.
But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do. (1 Corinthians 8:8)