Don’t Misuse Your Knowledge

1 Corinthians 8

Jerry A Collins




Ø      Why is knowledge so dangerous?

Ø      How is a conscience weak and defiled?

Ø      Why should we not cause a xian to stumble?


You may find yourself, like I have, sitting around a table with friends and during the course of the evening conversation drifts into slander, gossip and malicious opinion about someone we all may know. Somehow, because of the nature of the person we are talking about we feel justified in tearing them down, attributing bad things to them. Calling them names or questioning their motives or ability. We are doing this with the knowledge that slander, gossip, backbiting, envy are all sins God has told us not to participate in. But our knowledge of this has made us arrogant enough to believe that in this case it is okay to do this. A newer believer, listening in or participating in this may assume it is okay to do so even tho it is clearly sin. So our knowledge has actually puffed us up and now not only makes us guilty of sinning ourselves but also attributed to a weaker brother’s sinning too. The issue of eating meat offered to idols is a similar concern. Here we will learn that arrogant knowledge is insufficient but must be governed by love that builds others up and not encourage another to sin.


The issue is things sacrificed to idols. Specifically that would be eating meat that was offered at pagan temple worship vs 4. In the greater context of the NT eating food sacrificed to idols was sin. (1) Council at Jerusalem of apostles and elders concluded that new gentile converts abstain from things contaminated by idols Acts 15:19. (2) 50 yrs later in 90’s apostle John evaluating churches of Asia wrote to Pergamum I have a few things against you…you eat things sacrificed to idols and to Thyatira I have this against you…you eat things offered to idols. (3) Paul wrote to Corinth in 10:20 the things which the gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God and I do not want you to become sharers in demons. So eating food sacrificed to idols is sin. First, they know food is okay to eat and idols are not God. Their conclusion is to arrogantly eat food offered to idols as okay. Second, love edifies-it is the medium thru which Gods truth is communicated. Arrogant knowledge puffs up and love builds up. Third, you may believe you know all you need to know and yet that knowledge can miss what it is that God requires vs 2. So what a knowledgeable person ought to know is that he does not know anything without the revelation of God. Fourth, it is the person with a continual love toward God that when combined with knowledge has a much greater benefit vs 3. This person who is also known by God has genuine knowledge which does not generate pride.   So knowledge leads to pride, is incomplete, and does not necessarily mean we love God.


In vs 4 we get back to the original point being addressed and there are a number of things that we know about this. (1) No such thing as an idol in the world 4. Whether stone, metal or wood, there is no kind of god behind it. It only reflects the imagination of the one who designed it. (2) There is no God but one. So there is no other being which possesses the quality of God except for one Deut 6:4. (3) The world has many kinds of gods 5. Assuming for the moment that there are other gods even tho this is not true even if they are believed to be in heaven or on earth—the world still creates them. In India alone, there are over 3 million kinds of gods. (4) There is only one God and one Lord 6. This is true for everyone whether they believe it or not. Here is a contrast between world worshippers and xian ones. The world wishes their gods exist—God has revealed Himself to us. First, our God is qualified as a Father. He is the eternal first cause of existence. He is our end and we are to live for Him and His glory. Second, Our understanding of God includes the Lord qualified as Jesus Christ. The pagan has many gods and lords but xians have one God and Lord. It is this Lord through whom all things are created. We, too, as believers are His new creations. He has saved us, delivered us, redeemed us, reconciled us and made us new. This is the way things actually are and those with this revelation from God have the kind of knowledge that will build up and not puff up. It is  the   kind That keeps things in proper perspective.


First, there are some not having this knowledge. This may be because they are new believers or even carnal xians, less mature, weak in consciences. They eat this meat conscious it is food of idol sacrifice. They defile their conscious in process 7. They make their conscious dirty. Second, however, eating or not eating food has no spiritual significance in itself 8. But when having religious significance then eating it becomes significant and even sin. Third, He says this liberty of yours that is, from their arrogant knowledge, can become a stumbling block to the weaker. A reference to something lying in their path that will trip them up or cause them to stumble. In this case, to cause them to sin by eating meat offered to idols 9-10. This would be especially dangerous when they see you—the ones with knowledge—what knowledge? Arrogant knowledge that communicates it is alright to do that like sitting around the table gossiping. The result will be that his already weak conscience will be strengthened in it’s weakness, in a negative direction. Fourth, this arrogant knowledge will actually ruin the weaker brother—the one for whom Christ died 11. The one with arrogant knowledge actually encourages  the weaker bro to sin. It destroys him or her because the conscience will be bent  in direction of thinking it is okay to eat meat offered to idols. If he sees those sinning he will be encouraged to sin. Fifth, so he person with arrogant knowledge actually has a double sin (1) they eat this meat (2) sin against Christ by leading another believer away from Christ toward worship of demons (10:20). Sixth, so to avoid this stumbling mentioned twice in 13 uses a double negative never & not meaning I will let love toward God and His truth and not pride from my knowledge guide me.

(1) A believer can only stumble over issues that are really sin. Not drinking, like not eating meat is a legalistic rule not a sin issue today. Being drunk is a sin issue. I cannot cause another believer to stumble if I take a drink. But if I get drunk, like eating meat I know was sacrificed to idols, I can cause him to stumble. It sends the message it is okay t get drunk which Be prohibits.

(2) Be careful that your knowledge does not get you to practice something sinful. Then you have 2 sins-the sin itself and the sin of disobeying the conscience of newer believer who instead of correcting you will follow you. If my knowledge shows me homo is genetic then I must tolerate it. Bu whether it is proven genetic or not it is still sinful. So if I say homo is okay because its genetic an older more mature believer would correct me but a younger new believer or even carnal Xian might then agree or even practice homo.

(3) Knowledge without medium of love only rewards arrogance. Knowledge tends to isolate you and unless you also learn a loving way to communicate it increases arrogance.