Alcohol and the Christian Community

MEMORY VERSE: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” —Galatians 6:1

ROMANS 14:13-23

THE Scripture passage assigned for this lesson has largely to do with eating meat offered to idols, wine being referred to only in verse 21, and that incidentally. Whether or not it is proper to eat meat which has been offered to idols is, of course, no issue among Christians today, but it was in the Early Church, and probably largely because of instructions sent to Gentile believers by the apostles and elders gathered in conference at Jerusalem.—Acts 15:1-29

The chief subject discussed at this conference concerned the Gentiles who were accepting Jesus. Certain Jews from Jerusalem were insisting that these Gentiles should be circumcised before being accepted into the Christian fellowship, but Paul and others held that this was not the plan of God for them. At the conference they finally arrived at a mutual agreement of certain minimal demands which they would communicate to the Gentile converts, and one of these was that they should not eat meat which had been offered in sacrifice to idols.—Acts 15:29

But whether to eat, or not to eat, was governed by a higher principle than whether or not the meat was polluted, and that was the injury of those who had not advanced in knowledge to the point where they could eat this meat without being conscience-stricken. In I Corinthians, chapter 8, Paul reasons this matter to a very logical conclusion, summing up with his own attitude in the matter, which reads: “Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.”—I Cor. 8:13

The matter of causing a brother to offend, as discussed in this context, is sometimes misunderstood to mean that a brother’s feelings are hurt. This is not the thought at all. Rather, the thought is that a brother who believes it is a sin to eat meat offered to idols becomes aware that others—as Paul in the Early Church—eat such meat; he joins in eating it simply because others do, but contrary to his own conscience.

This is an offense, because the brother is led to go contrary to his conscience and therefore has his will to do right to that extent undermined. The brother would be far from happy in taking such a course, and the one who led him into it would be violating the law of love. Paul writes in summing up this aspect of the lesson, “Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. And he that doubteth is damned [condemned] if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”—vss. 22,23

Our memory verse is interesting and timely. In it those who are “spiritual” are admonished to restore those who are overtaken in a fault, “in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” The preceding context reads, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”—Gal. 5:22,23

The “spiritual” ones in the church would be those who give evidence of possessing these fruits of the Spirit, and certainly these would be well qualified to “restore” anyone who had been overtaken in a fault. They would have love in their hearts toward the erring one, and be merciful toward him, which would be quite necessary if the one at fault was to be helped by their example and counsel.

The verse following our memory verse reads, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Certainly a brother who has been overtaken in a fault is burdened, and we can help to bear such burdens by endeavoring to be understanding and sympathetic. We all need this sort of help from our brethren in Christ from time to time. None of us is so strong in the Lord that we do not need the help of our brethren.


Explain the problem in the Early Church with respect to eating meat offered to idols.

How could a Christian in those days exemplify the spirit of love toward his weaker brethren?

Explain the meaning of our memory verse.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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