2020-10-25 – 1 Corinthians 10:14-33 – American Idols
2020-10-25 – 1 Corinthians 10:14-33 – American Idols
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us today.
This morning we are going to talk a little about the subject of Idols. Most people when they think of Idols picture something like these: Some manmade object that people worship and bow down to. But the fact is idolatry comes in many different forms. We can even take good things and elevate them to the level of idols. So what is an idol? Tim Keller wrote about this he said, “It is anything more important to you than God. Anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God.” So I got to ask, What absorbs your heart and your imagination?
Here in America many people claim to know and worship God. But what “god” or idol are they really worshiping? Many Christians even go to Church on Sundays but then forget about God the rest of the week! Instead of spending anytime with God, their free time is wasted really on idol worship. How much time do we spend on our phones, on social media, watching TV, and playing video games? How much time do we spend making money in order to pay for things that really don’t matter? How much time, energy and money do we spend on our favorite sport, hobby or thing that becomes in effect our idols? That is what we are going to talk about today, idol worship.
Please turn now to 1 Corinthians 10:14, page 1017 in your pew Bibles, which is the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God. Prayer..
We are more than half way through this letter/book or epistle of Saint Paul’s, written to the Christian church in the city of Corinth, which was a major commuter city in what is now the country of Turkey. Paul is writing them this concerned letter of instruction in response to what was reported to him about some troublesome issues within the church body. Verse 14 reads:
14 So then, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. 15 I am speaking as to sensible people. Judge for yourselves what I am saying. 16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, since all of us share the one bread. 18 Consider the people of Israel. Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? [SLIDE]
19 What am I saying then? That food sacrificed to idols is anything or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but I do say that what they sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons! 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot share in the Lord’s table and the table of demons. 22 Or are we provoking the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
Idolatry in my opinion is one of the most serious and contaminating of all the sins, because it strikes directly against the person and character of God. That’s why out of the Ten Commandments, the first three of them are directly related to idolatry, because that’s the beginning of everything that’s sinful in the eyes of God. If you don’t have a true perspective of God, then everything else is lost.
The subject of idolatry is addressed by Paul here because of the fact that some of the Corinthian Christians, in the name of Christian liberty, in the name of their so-called freedom in Christ, were attending idolatrous activities. They had decided that for the Christian, an idol is really nothing, and they were right; an idol isn’t anything to a Christ follower. And recognizing its insignificance, they thought it wouldn’t hurt if the Christians got involved. You might recall in previous chapters they first asked the question about meat offered to idols. Is it wrong to eat meat offered to idols? In their society, a lot of offerings were made continuously to the literally hundreds of gods that were around. And so, some of the Corinthian believers were starting to get back into the swing attending idol feasts.
And Paul writes to that very issue here in 1 Corinthians, and his word to them in verse 14 is very clear, “So then, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.” You see it’s one thing perhaps to eat a piece of meat that you bought in a butcher shop, meat that might have been offered to an idol; or maybe going to somebody’s house for dinner and eating something that they give you that may have been dedicated to an idol, but it’s something else to push that to the point where you’re attending idol festivals and bowing down to them. And that then becomes the theme of what he is saying here in this section, why a believer should avoid idolatry.
In these first verses, Paul uses the Lord’s Supper as a comparison illustration, which is a very vital aspect of the life of the community of believers then and even now today for us here.
Regarding the Lord’s Supper, we should recall, that the night before Jesus was crucified, in Matthew chapter 26 it says, “As they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take and eat it; this is my body.” 27 Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks, he gave it to them and said, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins”.
So somewhere in the midst of the Passover meal, Jesus transitions their supper to His Supper which is effectively a memorial of the pending death of Christ, and it becomes the what we now refer to as the Lord’s Supper, something which is now basic to the Church throughout all of its history. Now, this service becomes the basis of Paul’s entire argument here in 1 Corinthians chapter 10. Paul is saying that a believer should avoid idolatry because it is an insult to the meaning purpose of the Lord’s Supper.
Last week we just touched on this word and sin of idolatry. Paul is now saying to the Corinthian Christians and us, that idol worship dangerous, and there’s only one response to idolatry: that we should run from it. The phrase used here is in its present tense, thus meaning to “continually run or flee from idolatry.”
In general, idolatry is slandering God’s character. It is also an erroneous or an unworthy thought about God. When you doubt God, that too is idolatry. When you disbelieve God, that too is idolatry, because you have effectively manufactured a god who can’t be trusted, and that is not the true God, because the true God can be trusted. Idolatry is to think anything less or more or other about God than what is true. Idolatry is also worshipping other things more than God, such as images, angels, devils, or dead men. Like the Israelites worshiped that golden calf made of their own hands in the desert. Idolatry can also be anything you elevate to a point of reverence. According to Ezekiel 14, “men have set up idols in their hearts and have put their sinful stumbling blocks in front of themselves. So and idol of the heart could be money, fame, prestige, lust, drugs, or whatever. So, Paul says “Flee from idolatry.”
And then in verse 15, he says, “I am speaking as to sensible people. Judge for yourselves what I am saying.” Paul is appealing to their intellect. Paul is asking them to think about what they are doing. So many times in my own life I wished I would have contemplated my actions. Paul is wanting them to consider their sin.
He wants them to understand that in worshiping idols, they are defiling their relationship with God. So Paul elects to remind them of their commitment to God as they experienced with the Lord’s Supper. Verse 16 says “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ?. Paul’s thought is this, “When you take the cup, and when you take the bread, you are communing with Christ in a very real way, in a very precious and genuine way. That feast, that relationship celebration that we enjoy should never be taken for granted.
When we partake of the elements it is supposed to trigger in our minds and our hearts again Christ’s death; it makes it vivid; it makes it real; Each time I take it, it intensifies my sensitivities to the reality of Christ dying for me. You see? It isn’t just a symbol; it is a symbol that is activated by the Spirit of God to make Christ’s death a living reality to me again and again. That’s the communion.
It reminds us also that God gave Himself to us as a human being in order that He might suffer what we suffer, in order that He might hurt the way we hurt, in order that He might be tempted like we are tempted. He did all that for you and me because He loves us.
In verse 17, he goes further. “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body since all of us share the one bread.” There’s only one bread, and it’s Christ. And so, everybody who partakes of that one bread is one with everybody else. And this is the second great point of communion, since we are all joined to Christ. So, we are inseparably joined to each other as well.
And then Paul uses an illustration in verse 18, “Consider the people of Israel. Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar?” The altar there refers to God. When they came to do their sacrifices, they give some of the food to the priests, they then took some for themselves, and some of it was burned up by for God. What Paul was insinuating in these verses was there was a communion between all of them. The Jew, the priest, and God all partook of the altar. So likewise, when we have Communion with Christ at the Lord’s Supper, that means fellowship with Christ and with everybody else at His Table.
So understanding all that, Paul was now trying to get the Corinthian believers to recognize that when they attend those idol worship feasts and celebrations,
that means they fellowship with that idol and everybody else who’s there too. And that is not good, it is effectively a slap in God’s face. It’s giving an impression that you are part of their belief system, and therefore it should be avoided.
In Christ we have liberty, but if you’re liberty takes you out to the places and events where the world is communing with its own systems or idols, then you’re considered a part of that whole fellowship. Your participation also helps fuel those endeavors, and that does not honor God. And that is Paul’s first point here.
Second point is that idolatry is not only inconsistent with your Christian walk, it’s also demonic. Look at verse 19 & 20, “What am I saying then? That food sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but I do say that what they sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons!”
What Paul is intending us to understand is pretty clear here. Satan is all over these false religious activities. When you go out and do what the rest of the world does, when you participate in the rest of the world’s activities, you are sometimes actually communing with demons. Our Bible tells us over and over that Satan is the prince of this world, and because he rules in this world by the use of his demons, his demons are involved in all the other religious systems of the world.
Again Paul says, “I do not want you to be participants with demons!” Then in verse 21 says, “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot share in the Lord’s table and the table of demons.” Paul couldn’t be any clearer here. If you recognize that when you take the Lord’s Supper that you are in communion with God and the saints, then you must realize it comes at a cost. It cost Jesus everything and it should cost us as well. We should feel guilty now when we partake the things of this world. When we partake in idol worship and when we do things that scripture tells us clearly that we should refrain from.
Then verse 22 gives us another great reason not to hang around idols, and that is because it is offensive to the Lord. It reads “Or are we provoking the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?”
I don’t know about you but I don’t want to make the Lord jealous? In many places in scripture we can see clearly that God deals very strongly with idolatry. Deuteronomy 7 & 16, Jeremiah 25 & 44; or Revelation 14 & 21 for example. There are many examples about the vengeance of God against idols and idol worshippers. Paul is suggesting that the only way you’ll ever want to provoke God to jealousy is if you’re stronger than He is, and nobody comes close to being that.
This last set of verses is very similar to what we have covered in the previous chapter. I will not go into detail about them but instead just convey their relevance to today’s topic. Verses 23 through 33 reads:
23 “Everything is permissible,” but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible,” but not everything builds up. 24 No one is to seek his own good, but the good of the other person.25 Eat everything that is sold in the meat market, without raising questions for the sake of conscience, 26 since the earth is the Lord’s, and all that is in it. 27 If any of the unbelievers invites you over and you want to go, eat everything that is set before you, without raising questions for the sake of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This is food from a sacrifice,” do not eat it, out of consideration for the one who told you, and for the sake of conscience. [SLIDE]
29 I do not mean your own conscience, but the other person’s. For why is my freedom judged by another person’s conscience? 30 If I partake with thanksgiving, why am I criticized because of something for which I give thanks? 31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. 32 Give no offense to Jews or Greeks or the church of God, 33 just as I also try to please everyone in everything, not seeking my own benefit, but the benefit of many, so that they may be saved.
As said previously, we are free in Christ beloved, that’s true. You are free in Christ; I am free in Christ. But we have to keep two things in mind. How will my freedom affect others? I don’t want to do anything that will offend them. How will my freedom affect me? I don’t want to do anything in my liberty that’s going to expose me to idolatry in Satan’s system and catch me in sin and then be subject to the wrath of our jealous God. So don’t allow any other worldly or religious system to come between you and God. Don’t allow any thing or any activity come between you and God. Don’t hold on or support anything that pulls you away from God. For He loves you so, and He is worthy of your time and attention.
So now as we prepare to close this message and prepare our hearts to receive today the Lord’s Supper communion, let me ask you to consider before we pray, how much time and energy do you give to God each day? If you have idols in your life, then you are in great danger. In Galatians 1:4 it says that Christ “gave Himself up for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age…” Christ died for the ungodly (Rom 5:6), and He offers forgiveness to those who repent (Acts 2:38). God wants you to have eternal life (1 Tim 2:3-6) and He doesn’t want you to perish in your sins (Ezekiel 18:30-32). Trust in Jesus and begin Following Him today! As the apostle John once said, I say to you now, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”
Would you please rise as we prepare for our closing hymn.
Order of the Lord’s Supper
1 Corinthians 11:23-32 Paul Wrote:
23 The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
“A FRIENDLY CHURCH IN A FRIENDLY TOWN”