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Puffed up or built up?

Puffed up or built up?

Words of Faith 6-13-17

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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1 Corinthians 8

   Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. [2] The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. [3] But the man who loves God is known by God.

   [4] So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one. [5] For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords"), [6] yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.


       Paul began his reply on marital questions by quoting a Corinthian sentiment. Here he does the same thing-- "we all possess knowledge." Some defended the practice of eating food sacrificed to idols based on the argument that a true knowledge of God made this irrelevant. They had knowledge of the true God, so none of this should matter. But these "me first" believers were disregarding the concerns of fellow believers. Knowledge is power, but it is not a license for selfishness.

       Paul basically agreed that knowledge is the possession of the believer but there was some qualification. The knowledge we have of God is always limited. Paul knew that knowledge about God was always partial-- "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known" (1 Cor. 13:12). Knowledge is essential in correctly responding to life situations, but those who thought they had it did not.

       Paul knew that true knowledge leads to God and a love for Him. Paul also knew that knowledge and love of God will result in and lead to love for others-- "If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother (1 John 4:20-21). This is the goal. Knowledge by itself puffs one up. Knowledge that leads to love, builds up.

       There were many Roman and Greek gods. The Christians in Corinth affirmed that an "idol" indeed was "nothing" (Ps. 115:4-8), for there is only one God (Deut. 4:35, 39). Truly, eating food sacrificed to idols was, in itself, inconsequential. The bigger concern was that this knowledge was not leading to a love expressed toward others.

         Becoming puffed up in our religious knowledge is not a helpful thing if we never get to the point of love that is expressed toward others. This was the case in the time of Jesus when the teachers of the law knew every word of the Torah and yet seemed to continually miss the point about what really makes a person clean with God. Knowledge puffs up. Religious knowledge without love is a bag of hot air.

       For us, it is a thoughtful reflection to consider if there are ways that our "knowledge" is not leading us into the life of love. Our theology and study are an important part of Christian practice. The Word of God is our anchor and sound doctrine is important. But we may do word studies and inductive analyses of scripture in order to discern a knowledge of God's truth and miss the point. For Paul, the question would be whether this leads us into a life of love. At the end of day, or the end of the study, do we love the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and love our neighbor as ourselves? If not, perhaps we do not know as much as we thought!

       One of the most marvelous things about the Christian faith is that that we can study it deeply and never exhaust its wonders, yet one can apprehend its Good News in the most simple of ways. There are people who believe the Gospel who cannot read and only understand the freedom that was proclaimed to them in grace of Christ. There are others who plumb the depths of Scripture in ways that bring us to awed silence. It is all the same faith. It is all the same God. It is all from the same Jesus.


     Father God, keep me from the knowledge that puffs up. Keep me in Your Word but also make me a doer of the Word expressing Your heart in love. In Jesus' Name.


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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2007, 2017

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)      

2820 Business Center Blvd.

Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200

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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.