Flee From Idolatry 1 Cor 10: 14-33 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
Paul’s exhortation in 1 Cor 10:14-33 is very simply to flee from idolatry. The reasons are fairly straightforward. We must flee from idolatry because:
We are partakers of the Lord’s table [v.21] – 1 Cor 10:14-18 – in 1 Cor 10:14, Paul said, “Wherefore… flee from idolatry,” referring back to verse 7 and verse 11. Idolatry is a sin we are admonished not to commit. Those who had eaten of the same spiritual meat and had drunk of the same spiritual drink [1 Cor 10:3-4], who also committed idolatry, were overthrown in the wilderness.
Paul further explained that when we observe the Lord’s Supper (our spiritual meat and drink), “the cup of blessing” is the “communion of the blood of Christ,” since all saints are saved by his blood. The “bread” is the “communion of the body of Christ,” since we are all members of his body.
Therefore, we are partakers of the Lord’s table [1 Cor 10:21] when we remember his sacrifice for us in communion [1 Cor 11:23-26] in the same way that those who ate the peace offerings in the Old Testament were “partakers of the altar.” See Lev 7:11-17.
We mustn’t partake of the devils’ table – 1 Cor 10:19-22 – in verse 19, Paul reminded the Corinthians that an idol is nothing and that which is sacrificed to idols is nothing [1 Cor 8:4, 8]. However, he added that Gentile sacrifices are to devils and not to God. When Aaron made the golden calf, he said, “Tomorrow is a feast to the LORD,” [Ex 32:6]. Despite saying the feast was to “the LORD,” the sacrifices were, in fact, to the devil, as all sacrifices of the Gentiles are. See also Lev 17:7, 2 Chr 11:15. And we should not “have fellowship with devils,” [2 Cor 6:15-16].
There is a “cup of the Lord” and there is a “cup of devils.” There is the “Lord’s table” and the “table of devils.” The cup of the Lord and the Lord’s table are a reference to the Lord’s Supper where we remember the death of the Lord Jesus Christ [2 Cor 11:23-26]. The Lord’s table is a memorial and not a sacrifice.
By contrast, the Eucharist in the Catholic church is observed as a “sacrifice” where the fermented wine in the cup is believed to become the blood of Jesus Christ and the bread is believed to become the literal flesh of Jesus Christ. This supposedly happens through a process called transubstantiation. However, drinking blood is forbidden in Gen 9:4, Lev 17:10 and Acts 15:20. Eating human flesh is cannibalism. This is obviously not the Lord’s table. This cup is the cup of devils and this table is the table of devils. Their “sacrifice” foreshadows the sacrifice of Rev 17:4-6. See also Ps 16:4.
Paul asked two questions in verse 22. The answer to the first is “yes,” [Ex 20:5] we provoke the Lord to jealousy. The answer to the second is “no,” we aren’t stronger than the Lord.
We must edify rather than offend others – 1 Cor 10:23-33 – just because it is now lawful for us to do “all things,” not everything that we can do will edify others. So, our concern when deciding whether to do anything should be the “wealth” of others. We should ask, “Will this help them; or could it offend them?”
Paul dealt with two specific problems among the Corinthians. The first was buying meat in the shambles. The shambles was the meat market. He instructed the Corinthians not to ask whether the meat had been offered to an idol. That way their conscience wouldn’t bother them. After all, “the earth is the Lord’s,” [Ps 24:1; 1 Tim 4:3-5]. In other words, even if it had been offered to an idol, the meat is still the Lord’s.
The second problem dealt with eating meat at an unbeliever’s feast. Paul said to eat and not to ask whether it had been offered to an idol. However, if someone reveals that it was offered to an idol, then they shouldn’t eat it. It’s still the Lord’s; but Paul wanted them to forbear for the sake of the others who think a Christian shouldn’t eat it. That would keep them from being “evil spoken of” and being “judged of another man’s conscience.”
Paul said we are to give none offense to Jews, Gentiles or the church of God. These are the three categories of people on earth. If you are saved you are neither Jew nor Gentile; you’re the church of God [Gal 3:28]. As the church of God, we should be more concerned about the salvation of others than we are about enjoying our liberty for personal profit. We should withhold personal liberties for the sake of our testimony that might help another person come to Christ.
We must do all to the glory of God – 1 Cor 10:31 – the foremost reason for fleeing idolatry is that we should “do all to the glory of God.” In everything we do, whether its eating, drinking or whatever, we should do it to God’s glory. And if he’s not glorified, then we shouldn’t do it.
Conclusion: so, Paul’s instructions on fleeing from idolatry are easy for us to implement, today. Observe the Lord’s Supper but don’t take the Eucharist. Don’t offend others with your liberty. Do all to the glory of God. Seek the profit of many, that they may be saved. That’s it.