So which is it: Is there one God, or are there many gods?
In the Old Testament, the Bible presumes there are many gods. The Lord says: “You will have no other gods before me.” That would seem to presume that other gods actually existed. Paul, here in chapter eight, after affirming there is but one God, goes on to say there are many gods – though he classifies them as “so-called” gods. Paul refers to “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). But the point is, next to the God of the Old Testament, these are no gods at all.
Since they are nothing, what’s the harm in offering a sacrifice to them?
Paul says the harm comes when someone who believes in these gods sees you offering a sacrifice and concludes that Christianity is a fairly tolerant and accepting religion; it doesn’t matter what you believe, Christians can have it both ways. This, Paul says, simply won’t wash. It makes Christianity less than it really is.
There are some things that are critical to our faith. The notion there is only one God is one of those things. The critical things cannot be compromised, and one’s behavior should not lead an onlooker to think that it can.