This issue looks at Part One of Food Sacrificed to Idols.
SINCE YOU ASKED
Until lately, I never paid a lot of attention to those biblical passages about food sacrificed to idols. It was neither something I could relate to nor something I found especially significant. That all changed when I read about the meat and poultry companies that are slaughtering animals according to Islamic “halal” standards. As I explained in a former post, “halal slaughter” involves cutting the trachea, the esophagus and the jugular vein and letting the blood drain out while speaking words of Islamic dedication, including “Bismillah allahu akbar” – “in the name of Allah the greatest.” (Turkey Image courtesy of lisahaney.com)
Since there is only one true God, anything or anyone else to whom sacrifices are made qualifies as an idol. Considering what goes on during the process of halal slaughter, I’d say we have a current example of food being sacrificed to idols and served in our meat markets. The question before us is how we should deal with this. It’s time to take a closer look at Chapters 8, 9, and 10 of I Corinthians. Here are some of the most significant passages from these chapters:
So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one (8:4).
Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do (8:7-8).
Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons (10:19-20).
Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible, but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it. If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. But if anyone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told and for conscience’ sake-the other man’s conscience, I mean, not yours. For why should my freedom be judged by another’s conscience? If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for (10:23-30)?
AS I SEE IT
I never thought I’d be dealing with this issue. The world I’m now living in bears little resemblance to the world I grew up in-further evidence that we’re living in the last days of the end times. So, how should we respond?
These verses tell us that believers are free to eat anything because all food belongs to God and is unaffected by any ceremonial or ritualistic procedure. We are free to eat anything sold in the meat market that is not identified as having been sacrificed according to some religious standard. It’s a biblical version of don’t ask, don’t tell. However, if we know that certain companies routinely follow halal standards, we are not to purchase the product for several reasons:
1. Doing so makes us participate in demonic activity.
2. Doing so sends a bad message to anyone else who may know about your purchase. If he is a new believer who is just learning about the freedom we have in Christ, he will not understand your decision and his conscience will be weakened. If he is not a believer, he will think the whole idea is no big deal.
The bottom line: Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but even expose them (Ephesians 5:11).
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE
My friend Phil recently told me that he had given up eating between meals, but it was a real snackrifice.