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One God, One Lord

1 Corinthians 8:4-8
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.' For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many 'gods' and many 'lords'), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, 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. (NIVUK)

When we are used to thinking in a certain way, we assume that is true and normal. The new Christians in Corinth had been brought up from childhood to believe that the many pagan gods were real and had real power, which is why they were worshipped and sacrifices made to them. So the gospel brought a massive personal and cultural change. Paul taught that there is only one God (Deuteronomy 4:39) and that the so called 'gods' of Greek and Roman culture, and the mystery 'gods' of the tribal religions, had no reality, personality or power (Psalm 135:16-18).
 
By contrast, God has revealed Himself as the originator of everything (Nehemiah 9:6). He is not just a force but a person who revealed Himself as the Father of the Lord Jesus, and the Father of all who put their trust in Jesus (1 Peter 1:3). Jesus Christ is God the Son who was the chief executive of creation (Colossians 1:16), and also the person of the Godhead who gives eternal life to all who repent and receive Him (John 1:12): so He is the Lord to be obeyed.
 
Some Corinthian believers struggled to fully embrace such a different way of thinking and living. Belonging to Christ changed their social interactions as well as their worship. But some apparently still felt that there was something important about the idols. They did not like to eat the meat from pagan sacrifices, believing that it was unfit for Christians. Their consciences were weak but the rest of the church needed to help them to understand the truth gently. The kingdom of God is not about what we eat or drink, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17).
 
Coming to Christ involves all sorts of changes. Turning from the idols of materialism, pleasure or popularity is as significant as Corinthians refusing to worship in pagan temples with their friends and family. We need to be gentle with each other because there are remnants of our past lives which may distract us from the grace of Christ, and do not need to be stirred by thoughtless Christians whose consciences are not troubled in that area. Consider how you might help other believers, perhaps in your workplace, to grow stronger in faith by choosing not to stir their weak consciences.
 

Prayer 
Creator God. Thank You that there is no other God except You and that You love me so much and want me to learn how to become an effective disciple of Jesus Christ. Forgive me for being unloving toward my Christian brothers or sisters by not thinking about the issues which might cause them to be distracted from loving, worshipping and serving You with a clear conscience. Help me not to exploit my own freedoms if that will disturb another believer. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams

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