Impact of Head vs. Heart Knowledge
1 Corinthians – Chapter 8
- 1 Cor 8:1-3 – Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up
- 1 Cor 8:4-5 – We know that eating food sacrificed to idols has no effect on us
- 1 Cor 8:6 – For us there is only one God and only one Lord
- 1 Cor 8:7 – Those who do not understand are defiled by eating food sacrificed to idols
- 1 Cor 8:8 – Because we have understanding, this does not affect us
- 1 Cr 8:9-11 – Be careful that your knowledge does not become a stumbling block to the weak
- 1 Cor 8:12-13 – If we wound the weak, we sin against Christ
Love and Knowledge
In this chapter Paul compared the effects of head knowledge and unconditional love by the results they produce (1 Cor 8:1-3). Our head knowledge makes us proud. Our unconditional love makes us stronger. This has practical implications for which we should give priority.
There is more to knowledge than having some information. The Greek original is clearer than the English translation. In the English translations (I checked 10 different ones) the only one reflecting the original is the Amplified version.
Types of Knowledge
The verb to “know” has two different meanings in English. One implies a mental knowledge of facts or information, the other, heart knowledge, involves an experiential understanding. For example, you may know the concept of being “born again” but until you actually are and have experienced it, you really don’t know what it means. Someone may explain to you what you must do to become born-again, but still it’s not enough. You must take those steps and finally experience it. After you have experienced it, you “know” what it means, even if you cannot explain it in words. head knowledge is superficial and of limited impact. Experiential, heart knowledge has the power to change you. The change it produces depends on your experience.
Similarly, love is something we can only describe by the manifestations associated with it, such as in 1 Corinthians 13, but that description also is not enough. To get something out of that description, you must meditate on it until you can actually experience it. This is because meditation is experiential, goes deeper that your logical thinking and involves your heart.
The Danger of Knowledge
This is important because often we think we “know” some spiritual truth, but we only have some facts about it. We really do not understand and discern it and that is enough to get us in trouble.
You may have heard the saying, “A little knowledge can be dangerous.” This is true also spiritually. Spiritual knowledge “always” involves discernment (1Cor 2:14), something that many in the Corinthian church did not have. Discernment goes beyond logical thinking and analysis. It goes with experience and wisdom. It goes with a daily communion with the Holy Spirit, who knows all things and teaches them to you (John 16:13).
Eating Food Sacrificed to Idols
This chapter shows us one example of this principle as it relates to eating food sacrificed to idols. The principle applies in many other situations more common today: what we drink, how we dress, how we speak, our attitude, the places we go to, the entertainment we enjoy, the music we like, the friends we associate with, etc.
Your decisions in these areas must consider the effect of two factors:
- The effect that a decision will have on you, and
- The effect that you could have on others.
For the first factor, some of these things may be permissible but not beneficial to you (1 Cor 6:12). Being exposed to the wrong ideas and behavior will at first make you insensitive, then used to it, and finally you may end up accepting it. An example of this is spending time with people who have an unclean language.
Guard Your Heart
The Bible warns you to guard your heart with all diligence (Pro 4:21-27). Being exposed to wrong things affects your heart and makes you vulnerable. Often you don’t really know your weakness until you fall. You must be proactive in this area.
Be Considerate of Others
The second factor does not mean that we should try to be accepted by others or not criticized by others by being politically correct. Jesus and the Apostles were not politically correct but produced strong reactions (Lk 6:22, Mt 10:24-25).
We must consider what we do to avoid damaging those of weak or without understanding. We don’t want to give them excuses to sin or to put themselves in tempting situations (Mt 18:6, Mk 9:42).
The Bible calls us to be the light of the world (Mt 5:14-16).
Prayer of Faith
Lord, help me to know the difference between mind and spiritual knowledge! Give me a sensitive heart that can discern the effect I have on others. Teach me to love unconditionally. I want that my attitude and walk may be pleasing to you and an inspiration for others.
In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
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