Idolatry Examined

Text: 1 Corinthians 10:14-33


Introduction

Last time, we have discussed about the things that the Israelites did during the time of Moses. And because of those things that they did, God gave judgment over their sinful acts.

Starting today, we will be talking concerning those things that they have committed. And we will start about the issue of idolatry.

Similarity of Idol Feast and The Lord’s Supper (v.14-22)

In 1 Corinthians 8, we already have discussed that there is no other God but one. That the food sacrificed to idols is nothing more than food. However, in these few verses Paul is explicitly making a comparison of what it looks like when we give in ourselves to things that the world do abusively.

The Lord's Supper

The Lord's Supper

Starting in verse 14, Paul is making a comparison about the Lord’s supper and partaking of those foods sacrificed to idols. The food is nothing but a food. The idols are nothing, they have no power and they cannot do anything against a person. This is in contrast to what other people believes that images and idols have the power to repel against dark powers. The Bible says they DO NOT have any power.

However, the main idea of this part of our passage is that, eating food sacrificed to idols has the picture of participating with the demons. Again, the idols itself and the food cannot do anything to harm  us, but the picture of joining people who eat food sacrificed to idols has the picture of participating in the works of the devil.

This is why there are people who stumble in seeing a fellow brother in Christ eating food sacrificed to idols and in our culture includes drinking alcoholic beverages and participating to disco. Please see my article: Why Alcohol Drinking Is Not For Christians.

Verse 21 it says that we “Cannot” drink the cup of the Lord and drink the cup of demons, we cannot take part in the table of the Lord and take part in the table of demons. But can we still do it anyway if we like it? The answer is yes. However, verse 22 gave us a question to answer, “Are we trying to provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we really stronger than he is?”

The Church cannot really stop people to do these things, but apostle Paul gave us the questions above as a warning. Nobody forces people to abstain from eating food sacrificed to idols, but it is very clear that there is a huge danger in eating those food.

Freedom In Christ Is Not To Be Abused (v.23-29)

“Freedom” as William Wallace shouted in the movie “Braveheart”. In our world today, most people shouts for freedom. The same thing is true to our teenagers. They shout for freedom against the “tyrannical rule” of their parents, which is at least in their own personal view.

In our spiritual life, when we accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, we also have accepted freedom from the bondage of sin. And definitely, we have the right to eat whatever we want, and do whatever we want to do. Our passage also say something about this freedom that we have.

Sinulog Festival

Sinulog Festival

Yes we have received freedom. But such freedom was not meant to be abused. It was not meant to be over used so as we neglect other people’s conscience and personal convictions. The passage tells us that we have to consider other people as they see us as a model of God’s grace. A model of Christian living. In contrast to this, many Christians have already forgotten even the purpose of their calling. They did not know or probably they have forgotten that each of Christians were called to become a model of Christianity.

Many Christians now live a nominal life. This is one reason why other people thought that becoming a Christian is totally a religion thing instead of relationship with Christ. It is because the change in our lives is supposed to be evident and exemplifying. Yet, what they see is totally the same old nature in us. This is why instead of becoming a blessing to others, we become stumbling blocks not only for those who do not know Christ, but also even to the community of believers.

In verse 23, it says “Everything is lawful, but not everything is beneficial and not everything builds others up.” Yes, we have the freedom to do anything, but apostle Paul encourage us to do things that builds up others, those that which produces benefits.

Doing Things For The Benefit of Others (v.30-33)

Whatever we do, should not negatively affect others, but rather builds them up in their spiritual lives.

One of the main deceptions of Satan in our world is the over valuing of our own selves instead of looking for the benefits of others. Sometimes, loving ourselves too much more than our love of God which in one way a form of idolatry.

The following verses, 25-29 tells us about the things that we do when an unbeliever invites us to dine with their feast, and we decided to go. Please do note, that in this illustration Paul did not missed the situation where we can definitely decide to whether or not we accept or turn down the invitation. Another thing is worthy to take note here is that Paul gave the illustration that “someone invited us”. It is because some Christians instead of waiting for invitation, they are the one who presents themselves to be invited in feasts in honor of an idol. We have to remember earlier that though food and idols are nothing, participating in these kinds of activities has the picture of participating in the works of the devil.

Now in this illustration, granted that we decide to go there, we are not to raise question “for conscience sake”. Yet if the one who invites told you (or “anyman” told you from KJV) that the food were sacrificed to idols, Paul made it clear that you are to abstain for the sake of the conscience of the one who invited you. Again, putting ourselves in those Christians who were in the feasts, can we say no to the food even if they told us that those food were sacrificed to idols? I guess not, at least for most cases.

That is why it is better at the first hand to say “NO” to the invitation. Was it offending if we say no to the invitation? It is only you who say it is offending. But let us say they were offended with your “No”, was it not for their own good? Was it not for their benefit? Was it not for the benefit of the testimony of the body of Christ?

Verse 32 is worth to take note. It says: “Do not give offense to Jews or Greeks or to the church of God.” Sometimes, it is ok to give offense to the church of God as long as we do not give offense to the unbelievers. It is very important that we need to be sensitive in our own particular situation that we will not give offense to anybody.

Conclusion

Idolatry is not only confined within the graven images. If we love anything more than God is a form of idolatry. Paul concluded this matter in verse 31; “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.”

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