August 17, 2003
MORE ABOUT STRONG AND WEAK
Romans 14 & 1 Corinthians 8
Romans 14:1 thru 15:7 addressed the issue of strong believers receiving weak believers whose scruples made it difficult to let go Jewish teachings which had been ingrained for centuries. Jewish converts might be reluctant to eat anything Moses had taught was "unclean." See Romans 14:14.
Believing Gentiles had a similar problem regarding eating things sacrificed to idols. Paul addressed this issue in 1 Corinthians 8, "concerning things offered to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up," and "concerning...eating... things...offered...to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one" (8:1, 4). Yet "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 [food] does not commend us to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better;" or "if we eat not are we the worse" (8:8). Clearly eating (or not eating) is not an issue!
"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 (the strong) who has knowledge dining in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him that is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; and through your knowledge shall the weaker brother perish, for whom Christ died?" (8:11). We ask, How could this weaker brother perish? He is called a brother and Christ died for him! What can the words mean, "Destroy not him with thy food, for whom Christ died," and "For food destroy not the work of God" (Rom. 14:15,20)? How could "perish" and "destroy" apply to a believer? The context is clear that the weak person's eternal destiny is not at risk! His spiritual growth and fruit in his life are the subject!
Many can say with Paul, "I know, and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean [or defiled] of itself: but to one who thinks it is unclean [defiled], to him it is unclean..." (14:14). We are nevertheless admonished to take heed lest our liberty be used in any way to cause weaker brethren to stumble or to embolden them to behave contrary to their restrictions or scruples of their con-sciences. Be sure to not let our "good be evil spoken of" (14:16).
Ivan L. Burgener