Thursday, March 23, 2017
The Use of Knowledge
Today’s Bible Reading: Joshua 15-17; 1 Corinthians 8
SCRIPTURE: 1 Corinthians 8:1-13
1 Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2 The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. 3 But the man who loves God is known by God.
4 So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one. 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords"), 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
7 But not everyone knows this. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. 8 But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.
9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol's temple, won't he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 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 8:1-13 NIV).
Paul is specifically addressing the subject of eating food that has been first offered as a sacrifice to false gods. Is it okay to eat it or not? However, it should be understood that Paul is not just using “food sacrificed to idols” specifically, but as representative of a greater concept. The greater admonition here is about how we use knowledge we have acquired, what liberties such knowledge gives us, and how we should and should not exercise those liberties.
The acquisition of knowledge is not a bad thing. God created us with the ability to reason. Therefore, as good stewards of what God has given us, I believe the exercise and development of our intellect is to be pursued. However, regardless of how much knowledge we attain; as bright and free thinking as we may become; as skillful as we believe our powers of reasoning have become honed, it is downright foolishness and narcissism to believe ourselves ever to have “figured it out.” If we should attain the absolute height of all possible human intellect, we are still as mindless microbes next to the omniscient Creator. To love Him and be known by Him is of infinitely greater importance, and is not a factor of intellect, accumulation of knowledge, or superior reasoning (vv. 2-3).
We humans like to show off our smarts. We love to argue and debate. We relish using our intellectual prowess as a weapon to win—to show ourselves as superior. The greater our understanding, the more free we feel. “I am not bound by ignorant superstition. I am free of the restraints supposed by the less informed,” we tell ourselves. We then, in our arrogant liberty and ignorance of knowledge, lead the weak to destruction and sin against the God who gave us our liberty and our ability to reason (vv. 4-13).
Greater understanding comes as we study, learn and grow in humility before our God and place the best welfare of others before ourselves.
Thank you Lord for the gift of my mind. May I ever be aware that you have also given me my spirit. May the one never supersede the other, but grow in tandem for my best health, to the benefit of others, and for your glory. In Christ. Amen. -AP