We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world.” 1 Corinthians 8:4 (NIV)
Remember, conscience functions according to knowledge, so what we know is important: “We know that ‘An idol is nothing at all…’ There is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live” (8:4, 6).
Imagine a man named John who goes to church in Corinth. He’s a Christian, and he knows that an idol is nothing more than a creation of man’s vain imagination; so he goes to the butcher, buys his meat, and eats it with a clear conscience. “We know that an idol is nothing at all… but not everyone knows this” (8:7).
Conscience is the ability to act with knowledge. That means the way your conscience functions will depend on the knowledge it is working with. Other Christians in Corinth are still so accustomed to idols that their conscience tells them it’s wrong to eat this meat.
Imagine Mary, who attends the same church as John, but she was brought up in this world of idols. She has horrible memories of idolatrous festivals, and now that she has become a Christian, she feels that it would be wrong for her to eat meat that was slaughtered after one of these festivals. So just to be sure, she has decided that she won’t eat any meat at all.
One evening Mary meets John and they go out to eat. John orders a T-bone steak and Mary orders a salad. John says to Mary, “Why are you ordering a salad? I’m buying. Have a steak!” Mary says, “I don’t feel right about that.”
How do you think Mary and John ought to resolve this?