Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Can a Christian Eat Food Offered to Idols?

Can a Christian Celebrate Onam Festival and Eat Onasadya?

Question : Hey wanted to ask if celebrating onam is a sin ?? I mean like, I had sadhya with my family at home...Do you think it is a sin in GOD's eyes??

Answer : Greetings in Jesus wonderful name! I am glad that you asked this wonderful question, I also believe that many have in their heart the same question after they have come in to faith in the Lord Jesus and have grown devoted to Him.

The celebration of Onam festival finds first mention in the Sangam age. Sangam period is the period in the history of ancient southern India (known as the Tamilakam) spanning from c. 3rd century BCE to c. 4th century CE. It is named after the famous Sangam academies of poets and scholars centered in the city of Madurai.

Onam is the biggest festival in the Indian state of Kerala. It falls during the first month of the Malayalam calendar which is Chingam (August–September) and marks the homecoming of the legendary King Mahabali along with the heathen deity. The festival lasts for ten days and is linked to many elements of Kerala's culture and tradition. Intricate flower carpets, elaborate banquet lunch, snake boat races are the main attraction of the festival. On the actual day of Onam, the afternoon witnesses the grand meal, Onasadya. The meal is meant to convey to Mahabali that his people are still living happily and are well fed. (For full information regarding Onam and its celebration : http://www.indialine.com/travel/kerala/onam.html)

All the ritualistic celebrations of Onam have their root and allegiance to the pagan deities and its Lordship over the lives of the people who worshipped it as their god.

First of all if you are converted and received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour recently, you will still have unconverted Hindu parents at home. So when you return back home to see them, there is always a temptation to partake in all the traditional festival celebration which you were very much used to since childhood. As every food that is served will be offered to idols or heathen deities especially during onam festivities, in this case, the Apostle Paul said,
"4 Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one. 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live. 7 However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8 But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse." (1 Cor 8:4-8).

It is not a sin to eat 'sadhya' meal if you have just gone to your home and there they are offering you this dish as your food for the afternoon. You can thank God for the food and praise Him for His provision and then eat without any further question
(1 Cor 10:27). The above verses clearly shows that even if we eat things that we already know were offered to idols without the doubtful consciousness of condemnation that it was offered to an idol which affects our inner conscience with fear, then we do well as we eat those things saying thanks to our God the Father in heaven and our Lord Jesus for the food that He has given to us that day (Rom 14:23). The idols and its tradition are nothing before a true Christian and are powerless as the God of all heavens and the earth lives inside of each one of us (1 John 4:4). Those heathen deities of many gods and lords that people revere as god are nothing other than demons as the Bible refers it all (1 Cor 10:20).

However, if a person is newly come in to faith in Christ Jesus, then they do not have a knowledge of God's sovereiegn power over their lives because of coming from a tradition that has made them to fear all the so called three hundred and thirty-three million gods for their protection, provision and prolonging life on earth. So if that newly born again person takes part in onam and his conscience again gets fearful of these demonic gods which he used to worship in the past before receiving Jesus Christ as his one and only Lord and Savior, then through that fear his faith will be weakened and demonic tormentation will continue in his mind. This new believers consicence will be defiled with fear of demons rather than to just have the fear of God within him. Here the main thing is, just because the new believer has eaten the food offered to idol is not the reason he has become defiled, the culprit is the weak conscience which was without the knowledge of God's sovereiegn power over all the universe and his life individually. Our Father God is neither pleased nor bothered with what food you eat, as all the food on earth has been created by Him for all of us so that we could thank Him and praise Him for all His provision of sustenance.

The apostle Paul mentions three places where food offered to idols will be served, that is in temples, houses and marketplaces. Even though no demons can affect a true Christian even if he eats the food provided in the temple, this public act will discourage new Christians in their faith and even have the potential to destroy them who have denounced the idol worship in their lives to serve the living God and so must be avoided at the best
(1 Cor 8:10). The food offered to idol does not carry any spiritual contamination in it to be feared. But if a food offered to an idol is provided in the home when going to meet one's family or a friend, the same apostle told the Christians to eat the food placed before them without asking the question whether the food that is placed before them is offered to idol or not for the sake of the conscience of the one who offers the food, because the person who offers the food should not wrongly think that it is ok and acceptable for the Christian's God to have fellowship with their own gods as He must be one among them (1 Cor 10:27-29). By thinking this wrong thought, his conscience will be darkened further in to deception thus denying him further from receiving the true light of God which only comes in to one's heart through receiving the gospel of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 4:3-4). A true friend or family member though he may be a unconverted person, will never try to trap us like Balaam or Jezebel to take us away from God and his friendship through leading us in to sexual immorality or orgies which will make our Lord angry to judge us (Rev 2:14,20). So it is ok to eat food in a unconverted person's home or a friend's home which has been offered to idol, when we are courteously provided food just by chance when we have visited them.

When it comes to eating foods from the shop, we know that Muslims chant a prayer before butchering animals and Hindus place sweets and savories in front of pictures of gods and goddesses as a symbolic way of saying that they are offering it to their gods first to receive its blessings immediately after making them in shops and hotels. A true Christian need not bother about it, but can freely buy and “eat whatever is sold…. asking no questions because the earth and all its fullness belong to our Lord!
(1 Cor 10:25,26). In other words, all the animals and crops were created by our God who is in heaven, so that we who live on earth can eat it with thanksgiving for the glory of God (1 Cor 10:30-31). Whether some one offers it to idols or not, all the earth and its inhabitants belongs to the Lord God Jesus who created it all by His power (Col 1:13, 16).

In general, when we share the word of God in our rememberance and pray to Lord before eating any food, any place and any time, the food becomes sanctified and ready to eat for the glory of God
(1 Tim 4:4-5; Rom 14:6). So we should not cause a stumbling block by our Christian knowledge and liberty to the nominal Christian, non-christian and Christians alike, but make every effort to share the gospel in its entirety to save them all from sins and to lead them in to the glorious liberty of the Spirit (1 Cor 10:32-33; 2 Cor 3:17; Gal 5:1).

So I conclude saying that if a person is a Christian along with the whole of his family, it is better to avoid these feasts of sadhya and the whole celebration of onam as it is celebrated to exalt heathen deities and worship it. If a person is the only one who is born again or a couple of people in the whole home only have the faith of Jesus strongly, it is ok to eat with the family and love them as much as possible in order to win them all in to the saving knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. At the same time, if a person is newly born in to the family of God and is visiting his unconverted home and is weak in his conscience about eating food offered to idols, it is better to avoid the whole scenario and stay alone in prayer to God for the salvation of the whole of his family. If a sadya meal is sold in the shop, eat it thanking God without asking questions.

As a Christian believer himself is the temple of the living God, it is better to seperate oneself and keep onself from all the heathen festivities like onam and sadya meal which is equal to fellowshipping with the darkness of the belief of people who follow it
(2 Cor 6:14-16). A true Christian must not intimately fellowship with a unbeliever in their belief and celebration of anykind, no matter whether it is a friend, family member or even their own regional or country men (Exo 34:15-16; Deut 32:38; Rev 2:14). He must keep himself holy so that God th Father who has promised to walk among them with His very Presence, might be able to come and bless them when their spirit, soul and body are set apart for Jesus Christ and His purpose to be fulfilled in and through their earthly life (2 Cor 6:14-18; 1 Thess 5:23-24). Be blessed and always be a blessing!

Much Blessings....


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