The early Jewish Believers insisted that the new Gentile Believers should be circumcised and should also obey the Law of Moses (Acts 15:5). The Apostles and Elders deliberated on this issue and James who chaired the Council of Jerusalem meeting in Acts Chapter 15 made this declaration (upon the unction of the Holy Spirit)….
19 "It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.
The Council then wrote to the Gentile Believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia saying…
28 It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: 29 You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.
NIV Notice that it was the Holy Spirit who Sovereignly ruled on this issue of contention (Verse 28).
Acts 15:20 and Acts 15:29, therefore, state unequivocally that ALL BORN AGAIN CHRISTIANS are to ABSTAIN FROM FOOD OFFERED TO IDOLS, SEXUAL IMMORALITY, FROM THE MEAT OF STRANGLED ANIMALS AND FROM BLOOD.
All other verses pertaining to Food offered to idols in the New Testament DO NOT AND CANNOT CONTRADICT THESE VERSES. In fact all the other verses must be interpreted in the light of Acts 15:20 and Acts 15:29. Let us examine these other verses one by one…
1 Cor 8:4-13
4 Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol 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 are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.
7 However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.
8 But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat.
9 But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.
10 For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol's temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols?
11 For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died.
12 And so, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.
13 Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.
Some may contend that 1 Corinthians 8:4-13 seems to be ambiguous. The Bible says that ‘All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,’ (2 Tim 3:16). How can God’s Inspired Word, which is used for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness be ambiguous? The thought itself is blasphemous!
First of all, if it is sin for the young believer to eat food offered to idols, then it is also sin for the mature brother to do so. This is the basic premise in the verses mentioned above. The Mature brother by sinning (eating in an idol’s temple) causes the younger brother to stumble and sin.
Secondly, 1 Corinthians 10:19-21 clearly states that eating food sacrificed to idols is an act of participation in both the Lord’s Table and that of ‘other spirits’ and this is ‘Anathema’ to God.
1 Cor 10:18-22
19 Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons.
21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord's table and the table of demons.
Paul goes on to say, further on in the same Chapter, that if you are invited by an unbeliever for a meal, eat whatever you are served without raising any issues pertaining to your conscience. But if he (the Unbeliever) says to you that the food has been offered to idols then you are to refrain from partaking of it. This cannot be any clearer….
1 Cor 10:27-29
27 If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. 28 But if anyone says to you, "This has been offered in sacrifice," then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience' sake- 29 the other man's conscience, I mean, not yours. For why should my freedom be judged by another's conscience?
Paul also tells us to eat things sold in the commercial market without putting ourselves into unnecessary bondage…
1 Cor 10:25-26
25 Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26 for, "The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it."
Lastly, these final Words of warning from the Risen Christ…
14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. NIV
20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.
Notice that the eating of food sacrificed to idols is equated with sexual immorality. The latter is Physical union whilst the former is Spiritual union OUTSIDE THE WILL OF GOD. Both are ‘Anathema’ to God!
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