A Weaker Conscience – I Corinthians 8:4-13

by Pastor John Fredericksen

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My father had a good friend and neighbor, named Clarence, with whom he grew up.  The friendship was so strong that this man served as his best man during the wedding of my mother and father. Clarence also had a clear testimony of knowing Christ as his Savior, godly deportment, and consistent involvement at church. For decades after my parents were married, Clarence and his family visited our home, but then it abruptly stopped. The deal breaker was that our parents frequently played innocent card games when hosting guests. Without a clear verse to substantiate his position, Clarence believed playing any kind of cards was sinful, so he separated company with my parents.

Christians should always have concrete Pauline Bible references to prove any standard they seek to uphold. Without this as our basis, anyone can consider, in their own mind, that virtually anything is a sinful practice, i.e.: wearing blue jeans, eating products with sugar, dying gray hair, or even owning a car. To avoid foolish conclusions and legalistic practices, we must base what we seek to live out primarily from the epistles of the Apostle Paul. But beyond this, it is important that we who understand the liberties of living under grace not be calloused in what we allow for ourselves. The Apostle Paul addresses this in I Corinthians 8:4-13. The specific issue was that some believers who realized idols were only dead inanimate objects were purchasing and eating cheaper meat that had been offered to idols. Paul admonished: “But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak…and through thy knowledge shall the weaker brother perish, for whom Christ died” (vss. 9,11). The word “perish” here means to mar or destroy. Paul is certainly not referring to a Christian “brother” losing his salvation or suffering eternal punishment. Paul is saying it is wrong to stubbornly insist on using one’s liberty to practice things that offend other believers. It is far better to abstain in their presence or to forgo one’s liberty altogether. Our impact on other believers is so important Paul strongly states, “But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ” (vs. 12).

Sincere Christians need to reevaluate choices, like consuming alcohol, styles in hair or clothing, and places that one goes. If the practice is questionable, particularly being addressed in Paul’s epistles, choose to avoid it (vs. 13).

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Start each day with short, devotional articles taken from the book Daily Transformation by Pastor John Fredericksen. As Pastor Fredericksen writes in the introduction:

"We welcome you, as you journey with us..., to not only learn information, but to benefit from examples of faith and failure, and seek to apply God’s Word to every day life. Together, let’s transition from only studying theories of doctrine, to applying God’s truths in a practical way every day. May God use these studies to help you find daily transformation."