1 Corinthians 8:1…
God hates idolatry because God knows man becomes like the object of his worship.
When a man freely engages in the worship of the true and living God, he becomes closer and closer in relationship to Christ, and so becomes more and more like Christ in the process. A man’s thoughts, appetites and attention is placed upon Christ – and more and more on Christ alone – as everything else pales by comparison. The more time a person spends with Christ the more time a person desires to spend with Christ.
Since God has created us to be worshipers – for this very purpose– He hates idolatry because it transfers our worship from what is true to what is false. When we choose to worship what He knows we know is false, then our lives become based upon falsehoods.
Idolatry is very dangerous. It is the basis for the first Commandment given by God: “You shall have no other gods before Me.” God knew in placing any other god between ourselves and Himself we block our view of Him, and that is tragic. When our attention is focused on even a very small object, we can completely block the vastness our of God in the same way we can block the vastness of the sun by placing our thumb in front of it.
Which brings us to meat sacrificed to idols, which was a common practice at Corinth since the temple of Aphrodite loomed over the city perched upon the massive Acrocorinth, the name given to a huge rock plateau rising above the city from which it derived its name.
Would you knowingly eat meat which had been sacrificed to Aphrodite?
This is apparently the question put to Paul which he answers in 1 Corinthians 8: Can we eat that meat – which is cheap – or can we only eat the more expensive meat which we know was NOT sacrificed to an idol?
Now we bring in an economic argument, which puts all this in tension. Since we Christians KNOW an idol is nothing, what difference does it make if we eat meat that was sacrificed to an idol? It makes perfect sense to eat that meat since it is cheap. The idol is fake, but the meat is real. “Let’s eat!”
But hold on a minute. For some people of faith, eating meat sacrificed to an idol conveys some sort of allegiance to that idol, especially since there is a perceived economic benefit to purchasing that meat instead of the more expensive “pure” meat.
There is no way they would or even could bring themselves to eat meat they knew had been sacrificed to an idol. This would bring them too close to idolatry for comfort. Rather to not eat meat at all than to eat meat sacrificed to an idol.
As always, the Holy Spirit employs Paul to provide a masterfully balanced view of this situation which also provides us an example by which to view all such disparities in the Body of Christ.