How To Govern Knowledge by Agapé Love

Knowledge Must be Governed by Agapé Love

© 2024 C. O. Bishop

1st Corinthians 8:1-6

1 Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. But if any man love God, the same is known of him. As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.

For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.


There are several possible lessons we should gain here:

One is that our knowledge, while it may free us from fear, is not enough to build up other believers. That requires the Agapé Love, considering how to meet the needs of those around us.

Another would be knowing that the food is physically and spiritually undamaged by someone having sacrificed it to an idol.

Still another would be that the idols themselves are nothing: just lumps of clay, stone, precious metals, or wood.

Finally, even the evil spirits associated with the worship of those idols are just created beings like ourselves. They are fallen angels, and we are fallen humans. They are called “gods,” but they can’t be compared with the One True God. He created all of us and them!

Real Life Example:

One of the missionaries we support, Jim Burdett, told of an incident that occurred years ago in Papua New Guinea. He and Gena, his friend and Language Helper, were coming home to Gena’s house one evening. (Gena is one of the Dom people in the Chimbu district of Papua New Guinea.) When they approached the gate, they saw a slim bundle of grasses knotted through the latch of his gate.

To any Westerner, the knot of grasses would have been meaningless…a childish prank at worst. But, to Gena, it was a frightening message. It meant that a witch doctor, or some other practitioner of black magic had placed a curse on his home.

Jim had been living in that culture long enough that he knew what it meant, too. But Gena was a relatively new Christian. So, Jim waited to see how Gena would respond. He did not “decide for Gena.” He wanted to see what Gena would do, on his own initiative.

Gena stood quietly, for a few moments, staring at the taboo symbol knotted through his gate. But then he stepped forward, ripped loose the bundle of grass with his fingers, and he threw it aside. His actions silently discarded the symbol as meaningless. The two men entered the house together, with nothing more to say. But Jim was rejoicing, because he knew that Gena was maturing! He was confident in the indwelling Holy Spirit, not crippled by fear of the Evil Spirits he had once served.

“Knowledge Puffeth Up”

Jim had known the God of the Bible for many years before he ever met Gena. He could have scoffed at Gena’s fear. That would have demonstrated carnality and pride on Jim’s part: (“Knowledge puffeth up!”) But, Jim had taught Gena the principles of the Bible for several years by the time this incident happened. He could see that the attempted curse was going to be a test for Gena: So, he waited. (How would Gena respond?)

Had Gena still been too fearful to enter, Jim might have done more teaching. He probably would have prayed with Gena before persuading him to cast aside his fears.

Also, Gena had the (relatively new) knowledge that the Holy Spirit who indwelt him was immensely more powerful than the evil spirits surrounding him. Just “passing the test” himself was good, but, what if Gena had then turned to the other people living around him and shamed them for fearing the evil spirits? (He did not do any such thing.) If he had done so, he would have damaged his people, forcing them to go where they felt it was unsafe to go, and pushing them to dosomething they believed to be wrong.

“Love Edifieth (Builds up)”

Jim built up Gena’s maturity and strength as a believer, by allowing Gena to handle the situation with God alone as his help. Gena continues to do the same thing today, as a Bible teacher and evangelist in his village and the surrounding villages.

The long-range effects might have been much different if Jim had just stood back and verbally coerced Gena, forcing him to remove the taboo symbol.

Similarly, it is not a loving action, to persuade a “weaker” brother (See Romans 14:2) against their conscience to eat food that they think is forbidden. On the other hand, such a brother is not to accuse those who have the freedom to eat.

Don’t Be An Accuser!

An acquaintance at work confronted my brother-in-law-to-be at lunch, aggressively asking, “Why are you eating ham??” Bill stared at him for a moment with his mouth full of his ham sandwich. So, I blurted out, “Because he’s not Jewish!” Bill swallowed his food and said, “Yeah! It’s because I’m not Jewish!” Both of us understood what God said in Exodus 19:5, that Israel was to be a holy nation, a “peculiar” nation…  “a special case!”  None of the dietary laws that God gave them were to be passed to the Gentiles.

But the man doing the accusing was raised in a Seventh-Day Adventist environment, and he was adamant that pork was forbidden. So, we did not offer him any ham: we only explained that the prohibition against pork was specific to the children of Israel. He was free to maintain his “non-eating” stance.

I don’t know whether he ever changed his beliefs. He was a very troubled man in many ways. But we went out of our way to try to be a blessing to him, for years afterward. I can’t say for certain that it helped any.

The Food Is Unchanged.

There is no change to the food, because of having been sacrificed to an idol: it is not “dangerous” in any way. But some people are deeply afraid of such things, supposing that they could be attacked spiritually through the food, because of the contact with idolatrous worship.

In Mark 7:15, Jesus said, “There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.”

This is an important concept: When I was a child, I had a classmate who was alarmed to see me swallow my chewing gum. He insisted that it would “stick to my heart” and kill me. I tried to explain that things we swallow do not just “trickle down” past our internal organs to approach our stomachs: they go directly there, through the esophagus, and eventually out the other end.

But the boy was adamant, saying, “My grandmother told me!” So, we asked the teacher. He seemed quietly amused by the question, and confirmed that there was no danger of the gum “sticking to your heart.” But he was kind about it: he did not shame the other boy in any way.

It is What Comes Out That Defiles Us

Jesus also said, later in the Mark 7 passage, that the things you take into your mouth do not enter your heart. (Meaning the seat of emotions and the soul, not the blood-pumping organ.) He said that the things that come out of the heart defile the man, and listed some in Mark 7:21-23. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”

Food has no spiritual value. Is it possible to poison good food? Certainly, it is! But that is not the question in this passage: The people thought that some “spiritual danger” was attached to the food because it had been sacrificed to an idol. But, in reality, the food was unchanged.

The Idol Itself Is Nothing

I am always a little disturbed to see physical idols in our society: but some more than others. Buddhist figurines are the most common, but so “foreign” that I am not alarmed by them: They are just a curiosity. Statues of Mary and other humans who have been elevated to semi-deity status are more disturbing because I have known so many people affected by that particular teaching. One rarely sees the statues of specifically satanic idols, but they are truly chilling: Probably because we see that people today are willingly enslaving themselves to evil.

Siddartha Buddha

But the historical man, Siddartha Gautama (Buddha,) despised idols, and he taught against them. So, it is especially ironic that there are more statues dedicated to him than any other deity.


Mary was a Godly, young, Jewish woman, living in Nazareth. She only gave one recorded command in her life: She told some servants at a wedding (in John chapter 2) to do whatever Jesus said to do. She would be deeply offended by the images of her now in existence! The Jews were forbidden to have images of any kind, specifically to avoid idolatry.

So, as a Godly Jew, she would be horrified that the images were made at all, and even more, that She is now called the “Queen of Heaven!” Why? Because “the Queen of Heaven” was a specific female pagan deity, by whom the Jews had gotten into trouble with God, in Jeremiah’s time!

(Jeremiah 7:18 says “The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.” There are more verses about this female deity, in Jeremiah 44. The people insisted that they would continue to worship the queen of heaven.)

Other Idols

The various other deities, once common there, also included Molech, the vile god to which people sacrificed their children. And today, there is a large statue of a character called “Baphomet:” a monstrous creature with a goat’s head, horns, and hooves. The picture is very disturbing.

But What is the Real Danger?

When we look at the picture more closely, we see that the abominable carved image includes images of little children worshipping at the knee of the monstrous idol. There is the real danger: people are drawn away from the living God to serve idols, and their children become the slaves of those evil spirits that are behind the idols.

In Galatians 1:6-9, Paul warns against “false gospels.” He says that anyone bringing a false gospel (in contrast to the Gospel of Christ,) is to be accursed! Even if the person bringing it seems to be a wonderful (or even angelic) person, they are to be accursed.

We do not take lightly the danger of cults and false religions. We also do not tremble in fear of them. As born-again believers, we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God, and He guarantees our security. But the danger is very real for anyone who is not one of God’s children.

The Evil Spirits Cannot Undo the Work of Jesus at the Cross.

Remember that Satan was unable to do anything to Job without God’s permission. The Evil spirits are defeated enemies.

The Creator God of the Universe now lives in you in the person of God, the Holy Spirit. He is the only “Real God” there is. Jesus said so, in John 17:3 addressing the Father as “the One True God.” In John 14:17, Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would be in the believers. In John 14:23 Jesus promised that He and the Father would also take up their abode with them. As Pat James used to say, “You’re bullet-proof!”

Next week we will talk about how we are to use our freedom in ways that do not damage others, nor mar our testimony with others.

Lord Jesus, please awaken in us the reality of the indwelling Christ. Let us follow You intentionally, choosing moment by moment to do the things that please and honor You.

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