This example in 1 Corinthians chapter eight is much more serious than just offending someone by hurting their feelings.
The example Paul gives us is about a brother with knowledge who knows that an idol is nothing and therefore to eat the food offered to that idol means nothing at all by itself, it’s not a sin. “But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.”
Jesus also teaches us about this too:
Mark 7:15, 18
“There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.”
“And He saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him”
But, when a believer has knowledge and has the freedom to do something and they do it but that activity causes someone else to sin; they become guilty of sinning too. The weak person in this example doesn’t know that an idol is nothing at all; but they do regard that idol as being a god and so they eat that food out of reverence or worship. They do it because they saw a fellow believer in the faith eating. But that weak brother without knowledge will perish and die because of his sin and his sin came from what was in his heart. It is a sin for the weak brother to eat because of what he believes and he believed in a false god.
The wages of sin is still death for any unrepentant sin. And although the brother with knowledge didn’t sin by eating the food, he has sinned because his actions caused another believer to sin. God says that brother with knowledge has sinned against his brother and Christ. Other scriptures lets us know that if we sin this way and don’t warn our brother and we don’t confess, repent and return, then that person’s blood (life) is on our hands and we will also perish. (Ezekiel 3:18-20)
The key word “defiled” is what happens when we sin and become unclean and unrighteous again which is a state of not being covered by Christ’s atoning blood but we’re placed back into a state of unforgiveness. That is why the weak brother is perishing. That is why we need Jesus as our mediator and high priest to be our intercessor when we come back in confession, repentance and asking for forgiveness daily like the Lord’s Prayer shows us to do.
“Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is DEFILED. But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.”
“For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;
And through thy knowledge
shall the weak brother PERISH,
for whom Christ died?
But WHEN YE SIN so against the brethren,
and wound their weak conscience,
YE SIN against Christ.”
The weak brother is perishing when he eats the meat offered to idols because he is sinning. It’s a sin for the weak brother because he believes in the idol whereas the brother with knowledge knows that an idol is nothing and the mere act alone of eating that food in not sinful. To do something that would cause that weak brother to sin and lose his life (because the wages of sin is still death for any unrepentant sin) is a sin also.
To be defiled is a big deal. It is something that must be taken care of immediately. If left in a state of defilement eternal damnation will be the final result.
Examples of being defiled by sin:
“And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
Jesus tells us what defiles us and how:
“And He said, ‘That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.’”
“Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.”
“And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that IT DEFILETH THE WHOLE BODY, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.”
lest any man FAIL OF THE GRACE of God;
lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be DEFILED”
“Unto the pure all things are pure:
but unto them that are DEFILED
and unbelieving is nothing pure;
but even their mind and conscience is DEFILED.”
“For whoremongers, for them that DEFILE themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be ANY OTHER THING THAT IS CONTRARY TO SOUND DOCTRINE”
“If any man DEFILE the temple of God,
him shall God destroy;
for the temple of God is holy,
which temple ye are.”
The opposite of being in a state of defilement:
“These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.”
“Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have NOT DEFILED their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white: for they are worthy.”
“Pure religion and UNDEFILED before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself UNSPOTTED from the world.”
We know “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” so how can we continue to overcome being defiled and how do we become undefiled, spotless, blameless, clean and forgiven again every time we sin?
“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to CLEANSE us from ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS.”
“If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: BUT IF we walk in the light, as HE is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ HIS Son CLEANSETH US FROM ALL SIN.”
And it came to pass, that, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, one of His disciples said unto Him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. And He said unto them, ‘When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our DAILY bread. AND FORGIVE US OUR SINS; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.”