Monday, May 8, 2023
“Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22 KJV).
Could we follow today’s Scripture to prevent the founding of another false religious system? (Yes!)
Re-read 1 Corinthians chapter 8. Should believers eat foods offered to idols? As part of their worship services, heathen (lost) Gentiles consumed food that had first been sacrificed in temples. Though idols cannot contaminate the meat, and eating the meat is not equivalent to idol worship, some Christians had great difficulty distinguishing the two. To these spiritually immature souls, eating such sacrifices was idolatry, an evil activity to be avoided at all costs.
Hence, Paul deemed it best to take the following approach: “ For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;  And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?  But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.  Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend [stumble], I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.”
The subject is also discussed considerably in Romans 14:1-23 (which read in full, describing how weak Christians chose to eat just vegetables so as to eliminate all possibility of eating meat offered to idols). Highlights include: “ Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.  I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.  But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.”
While Paul (and other mature Christians) knew the idols had not tainted the food, and while Paul knew eating such food did not constitute idolatry, for the weaker Christian’s sake he would prefer not to eat—thereby not sidestepping merely evil but abstaining from even the appearance of evil (today’s Scripture). Again, this is adult Christian thinking….