Meat Offered To Idols - RR274F12a

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Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Meat Offered to Idols
Course: Course - Godly Social Order - 1 Corinthians
Subject: Subject:Sociology
Lesson#: 21
Length: 0:28:29
TapeCode: rr274f12a
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Godly Social Order - Corinthians.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission.

Let us worship God. Lord I have loved the habitation of Thy house and the place where Thy honor dwelleth. I was glad when they said unto me let us go into the house of the Lord. Let us pray.

Almighty God our heavenly Father we come again into Thy presence, mindful of how rich we are in Jesus Christ. How poor we are in and of ourselves. We thank Thee for the grace and mercy unto ourselves. We thank Thee that thou hast given so great an inheritance in Jesus Christ. So that in Him and through Him we are by the adoption of grace Thy sons and daughters. That we have an eternal destiny in Jesus Christ. Now Father we come again to commit ourselves afresh unto Thy word and unto Thy spirit. Work in us what Thou wouldt do. Give us grace to receive what Thou wouldst have us to receive. Give us in all things a contented heart that we may always praise Thy holy name. And ever be mindful of how rich we are throughout all eternity by Thy grace unto us through Jesus Christ our Lord, in His name we pray, Amen.

Our scripture is First Corinthians 8:1-13. Our subject: Meat Offered to Idols.

“Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. But if any man love God, the same is known of him. As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many, But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.”

Paul now turns to the question of eating meat offered to idols. [00:05:17]

Charles Hodge felt that at this point Paul although...[edit]

Charles Hodge felt that at this point Paul although present at the council of Jerusalem goes directly against it. It is no pleasure to descent from Hodge, one of the greatest of the commentators, but he is here clearly wrong. What the council dealt with according to Acts 15:20 was the eating of things strangled and the eating of blood. Both forbidden in the law. The problem in First Corinthians 8:1 is different. Shall we abstain from meat offered to idols? Butchering of meat for public sales was in an area then attached to temples. And the meat portions were a sacrifice. There is no reason however not to believe that in an area as cosmopolitan as Corinth the butchers did not as a matter of good business cater to the particular requirements of some nationalities, notably the Jews. The Corinthians raised no question about things strangled or the eating of blood, only about meat sacrificed to idols and butchered in a temple area and this is an entirely different matter. Remember, some of the people in the Corinthian church were Jewish. If the eating of blood and things strangled were involved they would have raised the question at once. It is not tenable to confuse the two issues. Paul’s answer makes clear that the illegal strangulation manner of killing, which left the blood in the meat, was not in mind, only the temple setting. There is no disrespect in Paul’s mind here for the apostolic decision of the council. It is noteworthy because of our Christian heritage in this country in the process of butchering the meat is drained of its blood. [00:08:32]

Now I’m sure that because of disrespect for Christianity...[edit]

Now I’m sure that because of disrespect for Christianity they will possibly depart from that, but most Christians would become sickened at the thought whether they have biblical scruples or not. Paul says we know that we all have knowledge; we all know that idols are nothing. There is no spirit, no power, lurking in or behind them. To eat meats offered to idols thus means nothing unless we believe in the reality of those idols that is in the false gods. Now having the knowledge that they are false we can be puffed up, rather than charity blesses us. If we move only in terms of knowledge we can look down on those who are fearful, but if we are charitable and full of grace it will bless us in our dealings with others. We need to be charitable to those whose weakness makes them fearful of those false gods. The man who is puffed up by the knowledge of the meaningless nature of idolatry may feel that he is learned but his knowledge is improper and shallow Paul says in verse two. Then he goes on in verse three: those who love God are those are known of him. And they combine knowledge with a charitable view of weaker men. An idol is nothing. Only our God is real, living and true and to know this is to know that this formality of sacrifice is nothing as verse four makes clear. [00:10:57]

Paul is thus calling for charity in dealing with weaker...[edit]

Paul is thus calling for charity in dealing with weaker brothers who want to force their weaker and often false views on the church. Those of you who were at the Sacramento conference last Saturday heard Peter Hammond speak. He described how the church of which he is a member, now this is one of the two great missionaries in Africa, Aaron [unintelligible] and Peter Hammond. And because he smuggled Bibles forbidden by the U.N. to the Sudanese Christians and because he worked with them and encouraged them and did everything to bring aid to them, again illegal in terms of the U.N. rulings, the church of which he was a member in South Africa put him on trial charging him with violating Romans 13 by disobeying the U.N. law. Instead of reacting with anger Peter admitted the charges but he said I had a choice. I had to obey either God or the U.N. And which of the two would you have me obey? Of course they could not answer him. But he handled their weakness and their foolishness with charity. [00:13:21]

Those who love God have a charitable view of weaker...[edit]

Those who love God have a charitable view of weaker men. They know that an idol is nothing. Only our God is real so the formality of sacrifice, Paul says in verse four is nothing. In the pagan pantheon there are many gods also many lords verse five tells us. For us however there is only one God, the Triune God whose incarnation is Jesus Christ our Lord. All things come from this God. We are totally His creation. Not all churchmen fully grasp the biblical revelation. Man still fear the spirits of pagan gods and supernatural beings because their faith is weak they are defiled and feel defiled by eating meats offered to idols. Their conscience is still governed by pagan presuppositions so they live as it were in two worlds, the one of pagan powers and the other being Christ and his power. Neither the eating nor the non-eating of meats makes us morally stronger, so that to equate either abstinence or eating with morality is wrong, Paul says in verse eight. Neither position is valid. Those who recognize that eating such meats does not taint us nor put us in communion with idols have a freedom in such knowledge. Clearly failure to recognize that eating such meats is not an act of communion can cause moral problems for many. The strong who aware that the eating of such meats does not compromise ones faith must, Paul says in verse nine, take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak. [00:16:29]

Some people were involved in public or business dinners...[edit]

Some people were involved in public or business dinners held in the temple precincts. For them such dinners were not moral problems. For the weak members they can become emboldened to eat such meat and fall prey to the belief that this is an act of pagan communion. One can thereby imperil for whom Christ died, Paul says in verse eleven. It is a sin against Christ to wound the weak conscience for whom Christ died. This is a sin against Christ, verse twelve. Then in verse thirteen Paul concludes that if meat causes his brother an offense he will eat no meat while the world stands. Now this is Paul’s comment but not his final word on the subject. He speaks on the matter more than once. He opposes the tyranny of the strong and also the tyranny of the weak. If either forces his beliefs on the conscience of others they are wrong. Neither has the right to govern the church by his strength nor by his weakness. It is not their church but Christ’s church and it is the Lord’s word that must prevail. Paul thus does not rule in favor of either the weak or the strong but in terms of the supremacy of Christ the Lord and his law word. [00:18:52]

He sets aside neither the council of Jerusalem or biblical...[edit]

He sets aside neither the council of Jerusalem or biblical law. Rather he insists on the priority of the Lord, of the Lord’s purpose and the Lord’s word. When Paul says in verse thirteen ‘I will eat no flesh while the world standeth lest I make my brother to offend’ he is not conceding the case to the weak. His priority is that any sin against Christ and His word be avoided. Such a sin can either come from the strong or the weak. Paul makes this very clear. All will understand the Lord and His law better if they see it in the context first of loving God and second of loving our fellow believers. Christian liberty is not to be abused and made into a divisive premise. But neither are we given the liberty to batter the strong. Paul’s council is not one of expediency but of faith. Brotherly love must be manifested on both sides neither has the priority but the kingdom of God always does. If the eating of things strangled and of blood were in mind here Paul would have said so. And the Jewish members at Corinth would have objected to side stepping those laws. Obviously these were not a problem but idolatry was. Paul thus goes beyond Acts 15:20 because the problem has now entered into another dimension. Failure to recognize this fact warps the meaning of the letter. The decision at Jerusalem is neither set aside or disregarded. We are here at a further stage of the problem and it is motivated by faithful concern for obedience to God’s law. Let us pray. [00:21:45]

Our Lord and our God we give thanks unto Thee for this...[edit]

Our Lord and our God we give thanks unto Thee for this Thy word. Grant that in all things we seek first to love and obey Thee and then to show love and kindness to our weaker brethren. We thank Thee that Thy word is clear. Thy word is truth; Thy word is a joy unto us because it is a light in a dark world. Our God we thank Thee in Christ’s name, Amen.

Are there any questions now about our lesson? Yes?

[Man speaking] Rush when you were speaking I was thinking about Romans chapter fourteen which deals with a similar issue. When Paul says in chapter 14:1: “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.” Do you think what he means is that we should accommodate the weak in the church unless they become disputation and dictate?

{Rushdoony] Yes, he’s saying don’t ridicule them; don’t despise them for their weakness. Instead, be respectful of their conscience and action and in word try to guide them into a stronger faith. This is what Paul does because the weak are very much present in Corinth, so he tells them that we know that idols are nothing. He lays down the basic premise of those who have become strong. Are there any other questions? [00:24:03]


[Man speaking] Would it be fair to say that one of the problems of pietism is that it tries to- it is the weak trying to batter the strong with guilt where there is no sin?

[Rushdoony] A great deal of pietism is the weak trying to impose their ways upon the strong. We have had this problem very often in evangelical churches in the United States and many, many of them have at times made the requirements of the weak a matter of church membership. This is all together wrong. For example, when let us say in a congregation there is somebody likes a little wine with his meals, he comes from a background where he is used to it, never overindulges, never makes a fuss in public about drinking. And yet I have known of instances where if they visit in such a home or if the deacons call or if there say a woman’s meeting there or a committee meeting and they spot evidences of wine anywhere in the house a great to-do is made of that. Now that’s morally wrong. It is a case of the weak trying to force upon others their weakness. And we are only to impose the law of God upon one another, not our strength or our weakness. If on the other hand those who are strong and used to from childhood a very moderate use of wines, for them to ridicule those who are very sensitive on the subject or have a weakness is also morally wrong. But is a problem that in spite of all that scripture teaches has not been resolved in the churches. And it has led to more than a little tyranny. Are there any other questions or comments? [00:27:15]

Well if not let us conclude with prayer...[edit]

Well if not let us conclude with prayer. Our Lord and our God give us grace to heed Thy word, to love, honor and obey Thee in all things. And to manifest grace and charity towards one another. We thank Thee our Father for Thy grace. Teach us by Thy spirit to manifest grace one to another. And now go in peace, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost, bless you and keep you, guide and protect you, this day and always, Amen.