What about food sacrificed to idols?

food sacrificed I remember visiting a young man years back. There was this unbeliever who had a traditional feast, and shared food from the feast with some neighbors (my host was one). He refused it, saying it was wrong for him to eat such ‘cos it was as though he was a partaker of the worship of another god.

Hey! Have you heard something similar before? Is it true?

The debate over eating meat sacrificed to idols can be dated back to the early church… So what then does the bible have to say about eating ‘food sacrificed to idols?’

As the church grew; with the gospel reaching the gentile nations. It was an issue that was addressed in a letter from the elders at Jerusalem. Eat no food that has been offered to idols; eat no blood; eat no animal that has been strangled; and keep yourselves from sexual immorality. You will do well if you take care not to do these things. With our best wishes.” Act 15:29

I believe this decision was made to foster peace and not in a bid to promote legalism.

Note: There’s a difference between eating food sacrificed to an idol and being a partaker of idol worship by eating foods sacrificed to an idol. Christians should not partake in any form of idol worship, either by bowing to other gods, or even attending ungodly feasts in other to eat and partake of idol worship (Rev. 2:20).

Moreover, Paul also gave some clarity to the subject (1 Cor. 8:4-13), from which we can learn;

1. An idol is nothing. Because there is no God but one. 1 Corinthians 8:4-6

Even if there are so-called “gods,” whether in heaven or on earth, and even though there are many of these “gods” and “lords,” yet there is for us only one God, the Father, who is the Creator of all things and for whom we live; and there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things were created and through whom we live.

2. Food will not affect your relationship with God. 1 Corinthians 8:8

You are no worse off if you eat that food, neither are you better off if you don’t.

3. Exercise constraint because of those who are weak in the faith. 1 Corinthians 8:9-13

Some people have been so used to idols that when they eat such food they still think of it as food that belongs to an idol; their conscience is weak, and they feel they are defiled by the food. When they see you eat these kinds of food, they too might want to do same (even though they still feel it’s wrong). It is for the sake of people as these, Paul encourages the more knowledgeable to keep from eating such food, so that you’re not a stumbling block to someone who’s weaker in faith. This means the conscience of a weaker believer is more important in this case.

What if I’m not aware the meat was sacrificed to idols?

It’s possible you might not be able to distinguish food sacrificed to idols from those that are not. Especially when you were not there when the food was processed and all… You can buy food from the market, not knowing about its origin, you can also eat-out without having details of the origin of the food. So what then? Are you guilty of your ignorance?

From two illustrations in the bible;

1. Buy meat from the market without asking whether it was sacrificed or not. Do this for your conscience sake. 1 Corinthians 10:25

It doesn’t matter if it was sacrificed to an idol or not. Remember that there’s no God but one. The bible says ‘The world and all that is in it belong to the LORD; the earth and all who live on it are hisPsalm 24:1. Hence the meat belongs to God, irrespective of the idol it was sacrificed to.

2. If an unbeliever invites you to dinner?

You can go and eat what you’re served without asking questions (because of your conscience). But in this case, if someone tells you that the food was sacrificed to idols, don’t eat it for the sake of that person’s conscience.

Why? Why must my freedom of expression be limited to another person’s conscience? The bible teaches us forbearance for the sake of others, especially the weaker believers. This is a way to glorify God as the bible urges us to (1 Cor. 10:29-31).

 

Eating food offered to an idol is not wrong. Food will not defile you because it has been sacrificed to an idol. God provides us with everything for our enjoyment (1 Timothy 6:17). However, some believers consider food sacrificed to an idol as defiled, and it is to them, because of their conscience. And believers (more knowledgeable), who are stronger in the faith must forbear the weaker believers in love.

If you’re weak in knowledge today, don’t remain that way, study the bible, find out the truth and build strength in the knowledge of God’s word. This will enable you stand firmly rooted in the truth, which is God’s word.

In summary, no matter the knowledge of scriptures, we should be governed and operate by love, preferring one another to ourselves.

 

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Ozioma Michaels

Mike is passionate about helping people know the truth, understand why they should believe and practice it in all areas of their personal lives; thereby living out their faith in Christ.
His favourite word is ‘conviction’

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