Most people don’t think of eating as spiritual. But the Corinthians lived in a culture where eating and worship were often closely connected. Idol feasts were a common occurrence. While Paul agreed with the Corinthian assessment that “an idol is nothing at all in the world” (1 Cor. 8:4), that did not mean these feasts were safe.
Citing Israel’s history in the wilderness, the apostle reminded the Corinthians that eating and drinking had led God’s Old Testament people into disobedience and idolatry (10:7–10). Israel’s experience was not some historical oddity but was “written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come” (v. 11). Paul saw a direct parallel in Corinth. Not only were idol feasts occasions where people ate and drank to excess, but the cultural practice of religious prostitution often led to sexual temptation as well.
Paul also pointed to the church’s meal, known as the Lord’s Supper, to show the incompatibility of attending idol feasts with a Christian profession (vv. 14–17). The fact that an idol held no power over them did not mean that nothing sinful was happening in pagan worship. Sacrifices offered to idols were offered to demons (v. 20).
With this in mind, Paul offered practical guidelines on whether Christians should eat meat sacrificed to idols, beginning with the principle of verse 24: “No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.” Food sold in the marketplace could be eaten “without raising questions of conscience” (v. 25). The same was true in the home of an unbeliever (v. 27). But if someone pointed out that the food had been offered in sacrifice, they were to refrain from eating for the sake of the other’s conscience (vv. 28–29).
>> Even in something as fundamental as eating, Christians are to live by the basic principle that we are not to please ourselves only. Everything we do should be done for the glory of God.
How do we eat for Your glory, dress for Your glory, rest for Your glory? As we seek to honor You, help us understand what it means to do everything to glorify Your name.