Paul makes clear today that Christians are to live in a way that draws others into the fellowship of Christ without concern for our own personal comforts. He tells the Corinthians, who are wrestling with whether they can eat meat purchased at the temple markets that has been sacrificed to idols, that there is only one God, so food sacrificed to the false gods doesn’t really matter since those gods are nothing. Some Corinthians have this knowledge, so they freely eat the meat with a clear conscience. But other Corinthians do not have this knowledge, so eating the meat sacrificed to idols weighs on their conscience. Therefore Paul tells them, ”But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.”
Paul is less concerned about the food and more concerned about the Corinthians’ care for one another. He does not want them to be puffed up with their knowledge but to have love for each other. Paul uses his life as an example to them. He says that he lives in a way to further the gospel no matter the cost to himself. Although Paul has the right to be financially supported by the church, he chooses to support himself, not burdening the church. Paul says he lives his life serving others, becoming all things to all men, so that his life might draw people to salvation.
Paul warns the Corinthians not to become idolaters, sexually immoral, and complainers like the people did in the wilderness with Moses during the Exodus Era – “Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.”
The Israelites were not unique with their idolatry, sexual sin, and complaining. Paul explains that we all suffer from temptations in this lifetime, “but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
Paul’s life is an excellent example of being the light of Christ. He forgoes his own personal comforts and lives with the sole purpose of bringing others into the fellowship of Christ. Paul knows truth, and the truth is that heaven and hell are real and the only way for eternal salvation is through a relationship with Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Therefore Paul says, “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.”
(1 Corinthians 8:1-11-1)