Text: 1 Corinthians 10:14-33
By: Ogumor, Sunny (Bishop)
This passage cautions us against all idolatrous, and other sinful practices. The partaking in idolatry cannot exist with having communion with Christ. All we do to be to the glory of God, and without offence to the consciences of others.
Paul established two principles in 1Corinthians 8. First, an idol really is nothing.1Cor 8:4. If there is only one God, then anything beyond Him is not God, therefore an idol is nothing.
Second, For Christians, love is more important than knowledge. 1 Corinthians 8:1 Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.
Avoiding Israel’s bad example
“The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.”
Paul reminded us in 1 Corinthians 10:1-11 about the history of the people of God how they saw powerful works of God as they journey from Egypt to the promised land and they still rebelled in the wilderness. These stories that are written down for our learning we read them but we don’t comprehend them, we still live a life of rebellion to God. How can we glorify God with rebellion? There are many people out there who God have blessed like the Israelites but they did not regard God for their blessings instead they relegate God to the back ground in their day to day living. Do not put Christ to test Paul warned 1 Cor 10:9
The generation of Israelites who escaped from Egypt were blessed by God and yet fell repeatedly into idol worship. God severely punished many of them. God delivered his people from slavery in Egypt. He gave them visible image of his presence in the pillar of fire in the night and a pillar of cloud in the day leading them in the journey. Exodus 13:21. He parted the red sea for them to walk through where the pursuing Egyptians perished, Exodus 14:21-31. He gave them manna when there was no food, Exodus 16: 15. He gave them water from a rock, that rock followed them, Exodus 17:6, and the rock was Christ. 1 Cor 10:4. They had everything they needed, God showed them his power but they responded with rebellion. Exodus 17:7
We should learn from Israel’s failure in the wilderness. How did they fail? They lost after evil things; they could not say no to their fleshly desires, they could not keep their focus on God and they started giving themselves to idolatry. The golden calf. Exodus 32.
The Christians should read their example as a warning unless we learn from it, we too, can fall at God’s hand for participating in idolatry. Christians standing in Christ does not mean that God will not act against unfaithfulness to Him with false gods. Temptations are bound everywhere, such temptations are common, some looks simple as lies, gossips, bad words, covetousness, sextual desires, pick pocketing etc. Paul want us to see them as symptoms of greater problem. They are symptoms of idolatry which we should do away with. God promised His children a way to escape from sin, make use of that route. Paul therefore called on Christians to be different because of Christ, and advise that we run away from idolatry and trust in the faithfulness of God. God is faithful they that worship him must worship him in the spirit and in truth.
1 Corinthians 10:14 Flee from Idolatry: Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
To flee is to run away quickly from danger.
Therefore, idolatry is danger that we should run away from, it leads the worshiper to association with demons. Their festivals are sometimes very colorful, in some societies different types of appetizing foods are on display, if not careful it will deceive the very elect. 1 Corinthians 10:6 Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. 2 Corinthians 6:17 Therefore Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord.
And the people lusted.
The little absence of Moses, the liberty they have they forgot all those miracles God did for them to reach that stage of the journey, they then asked for a god that will lead them. Me and you on our life journey have grown to this status, when you think in your heart that up till now, I have not seen God in my life, does he really exist, you have missed the point and that is the beginning of your looking for your golden calf that brought you to life and will take you to your god knows where.
We should not lost after evil things as some of them did and were destroyed by the destroyer. Do not become an idol worshipper of any form or commit sextual immorality as some of them did and twenty-three thousand died in one day. Exodus 32.
Liberty to choose wisely (The table of the Lord or the table of idol)
1 Corinthians 10:15 I speak as to wise men; judge for yourselves what I say. If you are truly wise then think of what Paul is saying, the cup of blessing and the one bread is communion with Christ. Those of us who partakes of the Lord’s Supper identify our self with Christ the same way those who partakes of the things sacrificed to idols identifies themselves with the idol the devil which they represent. So where do you place yourself since you cannot serve two masters, you cannot serve God and mammon, take one and reject the other. Matthew 6:24
The food at the pagan feast is communion with demons. When a man is demon possessed, he has unruly behavior. Matt 8:28. The table at which you eat indicates to whom you have fellowship with.
1 Corinthians 10:19-21: Is idol real, does it mean anything if we eat their food? Paul said an idol really is nothing 1 Corinthians 8:4, this is a good saying for me and you who believe, who understood this to act according to this knowledge but be careful demons takes advantage of men who worship idol. Paul strongly and decisively advised the Corinthian Christians not to enter the temples of idols to partake of their feasts; not to unite with idolaters in their celebration; not to endanger their loyalty to God by these temptations because free food and drinks are surplus there.
The believer’s freedom, 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 “All to the Glory of God”
23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything brings growth (and peace). 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. That is the best way to live together as Christians. Protect your brother who is a weaker Christian so that he will not back slide.
Two questions. 1 Corinthians 10:25-28
- Liberty to buy: Is it right to purchase and eat the meat which had been sacrificed to idol and took to the market for sell? 1 Corinthians 10:25. To this Paul replies, that as no evil could result from this, as it could not be alleged that they purchased it as meat sacrificed to idols, and as all that the earth contained belonged to the Lord, it was not wrong to purchase and to use it. But if this was pointed out to you as having been sacrificed to idols, he then cautioned them to abstain from it. 1Corinhtians 10:28
- Liberty to eat: Is it right to accept the invitation of a pagan, and to eat their food? Probably that which had been offered in sacrifice? 1 Corinthians 10:27. Paul said generally the principle is, you need not ask questions in regard to what was set before you, but if the food was expressly pointed out as having been offered in sacrifice, then do not eat, because if you eat, it means you have publicly recognized the idol; 1 Corinthians 10:28-30. Paul then concludes the discussion by stating the noble rule that is to guide Christians in all actions: that “everything is to be done to the glory of God” 1 Corinthians 10:31. Therefore, the effort of the Christian should be to act in all things as to honor God, and not to lead others into sin; 1Corinthians 10:32-33.
1 Corinthians 10:29 “Conscience,” I say, not your own, but that of the other. For why is my liberty judged by another man’s conscience? Anything can become a sin when it is used to violate a person’s conscience Rom 14:23. 1 Cor 8:7. This means the conscience in question for this principle is not that of the individual Christian concerned. It is that of others; either the person who tells them the food is sacrificed to idol or for the sake of the weaker Christians who may be present. Skipping the idol food is the best, to avoid leading another person to believe that Christians approve in any way of the worship of idols.
1 Corinthians 10:30 But if I partake with thanks, why am I evil spoken of for the food over which I give thanks? The answer obviously is that by eating this sacrificial meat, the weaker Christian’s conscience becomes offended, and he is made to sin. This is the reason why Paul would be evil spoken of if he eats. The Christian can give thanks to God for whatever he or she eats, but we should limit our own liberty out of consideration for what other people think is proper. Nevertheless, we should be willing to change our behavior for the sake of unbelievers. See 1 Cor. 9:19-23.
1 Corinthians 10:31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
1 Peter 4:11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. whatever you do, you must do it so as to bring glory to God. This is a sufficient rule to regulate every man’s conscience and practice in all things, where there are no express commands or prohibitions.
Idolatry then and now
Now many people have given up the idea of going to shrines and babalawos or village feasts to seek divine help, but there is a lot of spiritual harloting. They have embraced modern idolatry. What is modern day idolatry? Colossians 3:5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
Anything that you love, treasure, prioritize, identify with, or look to for needed fulfillment outside of God, can be acting as an idol in your heart and life. Modern day idolatry is alive and well. Any person or thing that consumes your thoughts, words, time, energy, or money other than God is an idol. Any person or thing regarded with blind admiration, adoration, or devotion” There are so many things we can indulge in therefore whatever the preaching condemning those things is not our concern we are not bulged even if we are touched, the minute, we walk out of the church door we are in the status quo.
How do I know if something is an idol in my life? Typical example a person who has a big impact on your life in any way, instead of glorifying God, you glorify the person continuously, God does not send manna from heaven again but uses person to help person, so, if someone help you thank the person, then give the glory to God. It could be your dad, mum, preacher, minister, pastor, celebrity, musician, comedian etc that becomes as your idol. He is the most respectable and important person in your life. He has influenced not only my life but the life of my entire family. Some persons turn their hair to dada, ear rings and bangles everywhere just to emulate their idol. Some wear the picture of such person or make a tattoo of them in their body. It could even be a piece of equipment, musician, footballer, entertainer just name it, when he or she is in town or performing the attention is to that first, God service should wait. Is your phone an idol? An easy way to test whether something in your life is an idol is to ask yourself, “Does this make me look good, or does it make God look good?” All false gods, religions, and idols are tools people use for their own purposes.
Tim Keller, in his book “Counterfeit Gods” answers what an idol is this way: “An idol is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, and anything that you seek to give you what only God can give”. Therefore, Paul tells us that we should practice godliness in our conduct. First, our conduct should glorify God. Second, we should consider the impact on other brethren, on non-believers and on the church of God before we act.
Some things that are allowable are not helpful. If Christians think of others before they think of themselves, they will refrain from certain things so that others will not copy them and become weakened spiritually as a result.
The Corinthians should understand that the reason why they must not join in idol feasts is that eating involves fellowship with the idol and its demons. It is not that the physical properties of the food are in any way changed. Therefore, when Christians buy food at the market or eat in the house of pagan friends, they must not create unnecessary problems by asking whether the food has been offered to idols. If they do not know, it does not matter. They should eat the food and be thankful to God who gave it. If, however, someone tells them the food has been offered to idols, they should not eat it at all. They do not want others to think they agree with idol worship. Christians do wrong when they use their personal liberty in a way that causes others to sin. If by eating food they harm others, their thanksgiving for the food becomes meaningless.
To summarize, Christians should be guided in their behavior not by their knowledge of the rights they have, but by their consideration for the glory of God and the well-being of their fellows (1 Cor 10:31-32). This is the way Paul lives, and he wants the Corinthians to follow his example, just as he follows that of Christ.
May the Lord add blessings to His word in our hearts in Jesus Name Amen.