1 Corinthians 10:14-33
14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?
17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. 18 Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? 19 What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything?
20 No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer 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 partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22 Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
I COR 10..20-22
If in life, if there are things which are real.. we must also agree, that there are things which are.. unreal.
Most of the “real things” in life, are indisputable..
Our lives our filled with animate objects that are physical and proven..
We touch them, we experience them, we interact and we possess. ++
No doubt about it.. they are the real deal..
These musical instruments up here..
They are real. They interact to the musicians and respond by making melodious sound. ++
The clothing that we wear today.. it’s real..
Otherwise, we’d all face immediate embarrassment and discomfort.. ++
The chairs that we sit upon.. they are real..
Otherwise, we’d all be tumbling to the floor… ++
However, some things, are real, but they don’t posses the same kind of physical make up..
for instance. Most of us celebrate the anniversary of our birthday.
We incorrectly call it our “birthday”.. but we know what that term means.. ++
And on that date, once a year.. there is for each of us.. a significant reality.
On that day, we buy a cake, and we put candles on that cake.. and we blow them out.. ++
This is what we do, to memorialize, or celebrate..
Because each of the candles represents a year..
And by blowing them out.. you are symbolically saying, that you have finished them.. you have accomplished.. that many years..
The birth date anniversary is real.
But the candles.. the cake..
They are just that..
Candles and cake.. ++
They are not the birthday..
They are merely symbols.. points of identity.. behaviors and practices of remembrance..
They are real candles.. real cake..
But that’s all they are. ++
When you graduate from school..
Be it High School or College..
You walk away with a small piece of paper..
That paper, is called your diploma.
It verifies that you have achieved a certain level of education..
Your education is real.. ++
And.. the reality of that education exists in your mind and in your heart..
Is that your education?
No, it’s not real in that sense.. ++
It is a real piece of paper..
It is a real certificate..
But it is not.. a real education..
It is merely symbolic of the completed education. ++
Be it a cake w/candles, a diploma, a turkey at Thanksgiving or your driver’s license.. – there is a distinction.. between that which is real.. and that which symbolizes it.. or .. makes reference to it.. ++
Sometimes these lines of distinction are obvious.. and sometimes.. they are blurred..
Very specifically.. in the areas of religion.. confusion often arises..
Different religions.. different beliefs.. and different denominations..
.. will place an emphasis of reality, upon something that is symbolic.. ++
In our own faith, we will see this mentality popping up…
And it’s very popular in some circles..
You and I know, that our faith is a day by day, minute by minute relationship w/God..
And w/that reality, comes constant accountability..
And a heart, that God looks upon for sincerity and honesty.. ++
But often times.. people aren’t interested in the day by day, minute by minute faith.
They’re not interested in a faith where God looks constantly upon the heart.. ++
So what they do, is place all the emphasis, on symbolic practice.. ++
We know, that baptism is not our salvation..
It is a picture of our salvation, and it is a way of publicly communicating and declaring our salvation.. ++
Yet some have made baptism out to be.. the reality, rather than the reference.. ++
Repentance, relationship and a commitment to the Lordship of Christ are no longer necessary..
These difficult religious endeavors, are replaced.. by one simple ceremony: baptism.
The examples go on and on.. ++
And the differences between the reality.. and the representation.. will always be a point of contention among believers..
These are the essential thoughts and misunderstandings that Paul has been, and continues to address..
Always doing his best.. in his counsel.. in these letters.. in this instructions..
To emphasize and clarify.. the practical.. down to earth realities.. of the heart.
As we have just read....
Verse 14 starts w/the word “therefore”..
so, before we understand the words of verse fourteen..
we need to look back, and put our minds in the right context. The information that follows, is attached the the context which was previously established. ++
Basically, we are facing this reality.. which has been clearly presented in v.s 12 and 13..
We are vulnerable.. We are capable of falling.. Unless we “take heed”..
.. our faith is in jeopardy. ++
Temptations are a real threat..
But they are not w/o restraint..
God limits their power.. and God gives us a way to get away from them.
Therefore.. since we know that we are: prone, sometimes willing, and often times able to fall..
we need to: flee from idolatry! ++
Idolatry is not a practical thing for many of us to put our 21st Century minds around..
But back then, idolatry was a religious means of fulfilling human desire, and dealing w/the consequences of that desire.. ++
Idolatry.. was their avenue to pornography.
Idolatry.. was their avenue to infidelity.
Idolatry.. was their avenue of drunkenness
Idolatry… was identified
And, Idolatry was their method of “aborting”.. the life of an unwanted infant.. ++
Bowing down to a graven image is something we don’t understand..
But the previously mentioned temptations.. are things we can relate to..
The lust of the flesh.. the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.. ++
These things are alive and well w/in us.. and they are the desires that create for us.. temptation..
Verse 12 and 13 made it clear..
We are all susceptible to the fall.. ++
Therefore, vs. 14.. Paul says to us:
Flee! Run away! Keep your distance! Don’t make for yourself an opportunity! ++
At this point, he goes into an analogy..
.. one which will describe the absurdity of fulfilling the temptations..
And again.. here we need to take caution.. ++
For he speaks of communion..
And he’s talking about two kinds of communion here..
The real communion.. and the representative communion.. ++
In vs. 16.. we consider the “representative communion”
The cup of blessing.. and the bread that we break..
The physical wine.. the physical bread..
These things we partake of.. as a symbolic act.. to intimately remember..
.. what His spilled blood did for us..
And what His broken body did for us.. ++
Vs. 17 shows us the reality..
We are many members.. but.. we all partake of the “one” bread..
And that makes us one.. ++
Our unity is not found in the eating of physical bread..
Nor in the drinking of physical wine..
Our unity is found in the reality of communion.. ++
That word.. “communion”.. it also means.. “sharing”.. and, it’s also translated.. “ fellowship”..
Real communion is not the bread nor the wine..
Real communion is w/our common Lord..
Real sharing.. real fellowship.. is what we have, as a family.. as a body.. as individuals..
W/our Lord and Savior.. Our Messiah.. Our Redeemer.. Jesus. ++
You see, Paul gives us an O.T. illustration.
Of how those who ate the meat left over from the offering..
Were partakers of the alter.. ++
They were in communion w/their sacrifice..
They had intimacy w/that which died and suffered on their part..
They shared in the work that was done on their behalf..
They were in fellowship w/the work of that sacrifice.. ++
And they did this.. by eating..
By taking that which was offered to the Lord for them:
.. into them. ++
You see, this is our true communion..
We too.. take that which was offered for us..
.. into us.. ++
We invite Jesus into our life..
We partake of His sacrifice..
We become beneficiaries of His sacrifice..
He is the One that we all have fellowship with..
Which in turn, as Vs. 17 tells us..
.. makes us one. ++
So here’s the conclusion.. that sets us up for the comparison.. ++
As Christians.. we have unity.. and we are unified in that which has saved us..
.. unified in that which has forgiven us..
Unified, in that which has enabled us to be holy before a holy God.. ++
We are unified.. as partakers.. in communion.. in fellowship..
.. w/Yeshua.. ++
If you’re not tracking w/me.. it basically comes down to this..
We have it good.
We possess the best!
There is nothing.. of similar value.. nothing.. that is even close.. ++
We’ve got it good!
W/this in mind.. the true essence of idolatry become a reality.. ++
We partake of Christ..
But.. If we seek to fulfill our lusts..
w/the pornography.. w/the infidelity.. w/the drunkenness.. or.. whatever it might be..
We are not fellowshipping.. or having communion with X..
We are.. in fact, having fellowship w/demons. ++
It’s one thing, to fall into these sins and these behaviors because of weakness..
It’s another thing.. to be so flippant towards the grace of God..
That we would go comfortably, and willingly into the indulgencies of our world.. ++
I believe.. this ideal was prevalent in Corinth..
And, I believe, it’s this superficial mentality that Paul addressed most specifically.. ++
In church on one day.. in the bar the next day.. hoping from one sexual relationship to another all along..
And not having a problem w/it.. because you figure.. God’s grace has you covered. ++
Yes.. you’re right..
God’s grace does have you covered..
And yes, you’re doing what you want..
And yes, you’re having a good time..
But now.. your lifestyle.. your behavior.. your mentality..
.. is not.. at all profitable.. - It’s not useful.. it’s not healthy.. it’s not.. a good investment of the life that Jesus died to save. The grace that has you covered… is not benefiting your life!
Which is why, Paul went on to say:
23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.
All too often, Xtians place too much emphasis on behavior..
Instead of telling people, that they need to receive the free gift of forgiveness that Jesus offers..
They tell them, that they need to change their behavior.. ++
If you did a survey.. amongst people.. on what one must do to be a Christian..
Most people will tell you.. that it’s a behavior based thing.. ++
Clean your act up..
Stop cheating.. stop doing bad things.. dress better..
This is the impression, that the church has given..
But it’s completely wrong.. ++
It’s not our place to tell the world that they are wrong..
What else do you expect them to do?
It’s our place.. to tell the world.. that Jesus loves them.
And that’s step one..
Behavior.. is not an issue.. ++
We read, earlier in the chapter.. that the natural man, cannot receive the things of the spirit of God, nor can he understand them, for they are spiritually discerned.. ++
W/o the H.S… they won’t have the same spiritual understanding as you..
But once the H.S. comes into their lives..
Once they receive and respond to the message of the gospel..
Then, that understanding w/in them.. begins to change.. ++
And as we grow in our spiritual understanding..
We begin to see behavior issues differently..
Some believers, do what is right in their own mind..
.. because.. to them, it’s okay.. ++
And yet, they have no regard for other believers who have different convictions..
Look back at vs. 15.. Paul is speaking to these people… as if, they are sensible… or, as if… they are wise ++
Hey, if you’re wise.. if you’re growing..
If you’re maturing..
Then you won’t think about your behavior and your freedom to do things in the same way.
Instead.. you’ll think first.. of others.. ++
You’ll consider your actions.. and how they might effect other people.
You’ll think of the scenarios that may or may not happen..
Here, Paul said.. “all things are lawful for me.”
I can do all kinds of stuff.. ++
I have the right, and the freedom.. to do things that my legalistic brothers find offense in..
I am free.. and God’s not telling me I can’t.. ++
But! Here’s the part that depends on ears of wisdom and maturity..
But.. these things.. these legal things.. that I am free to do, in the grace of God… ++
May not be helpful..
They may not build up..
They may not profit me..
They may not be a good investment, of the life that Jesus gave me.
24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. 25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 26 For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.”
24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. 25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 26 For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” 27 If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— 29 I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? 30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks? 31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.
1 COR 10:
27 If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— 29 I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience?
1 cor 10. 27
30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks? 31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.
1 COR 10.30
Here’s the message..
Be selective.. be considerate.. and know who and what is around you.
Sometimes you may.. sometimes you may not..
But.. The real issue.. isn’t what you are allowed to do.
The real issue is not.. “behavior”..
The real issue.. is.. other people.. ++
What is your priority? IS IT THE THINGS YOU ARE ALLOWED TO DO, OR IS IT A DESIRE TO SERVE, IN HUMILITY, THE PEOPLE WHO ARE AROUND US? ++
Paul is pretending that his readers are sensible… and if they are sensible, or wise… they will be more concerned about ministering to others… than they will about their personal freedoms.
So… the sensible person will ask themselves…
How can I be productive.. in someone else’s life?
How can I be a blessing.. to my brother, or my sister.. that is weaker in their faith?
How can I be, non offensive..
Not only to the church..
But also.. to the world? ++
If it’s okay for you to eat that meat which came through the pagan temple..
then give thanks.. and eat it..
But if a fellow believer is around..
And they think it’s wrong..
Then, to the glory of God.. refrain.. for the sake of your brother..
Whether you eat, or drink.. or whatever you do..
.. do it, to the glory of God. ++
God is glorified.. by our love for one another..
God is glorified.. when we set our freedoms aside, for the sake of someone else..
God is glorified.. when our actions, are motivated for someone else’s gain..
And not ours. ++
Years ago, we took a few trips to Mississippi after Katrina hit… and some of you might have gone down on one of those trips…
It wasn’t easy work..
It was hard work..
But you did that, for someone else’s benefit..
And God.. was glorified. ++
I’ve discovered, in life.. that we often go through a series of: climbing and leveling.
These are the processes we experience as we move ahead..
Moving back.. adds to this, the process of stumbling, falling and laying around..
But moving ahead.. is not easy.. ++
Learning the guitar..
there are many plateaus
You climb.. and then, it seems like you hit the wall.. ++
You get good up to a point.. then you can’t go any further..
But if you press on.. over time.. you discover.. that you’re again climbing..
Growing.. learning more.. ++
Growing spiritually.. is sometimes like this too..
We get to places spiritually.. and level off..
Unfortunately.. and far too often..
Many Xtians level off far too soon..
They haven’t experienced a lot w/the Lord..
They live, much like they always did..
W/the addition of a little church attendance.. and maybe some more ethical practices.. ++
I’m always encouraging y’all to grow..
And it’s… for you.. for your benefit… so that you will be profitable. ++
Sometimes we see spiritual maturity as a downer..
You gotta give so much up.. and life’s just not as fun if you become a fanatical Christian..
But.. such is not the case.. ++
I have a lot of fun.
And the things I’ve given up.. I’ve been given the willingness to do it..
It hasn’t been a problem.
We were made to grow..
It’s part of God’s design..
And through it, we experience more and more of Him..
And more and more of His understanding..
And believe me.. that’s good stuff. ++
Paul was calling the believers in Corinth to take that next step..
To grow into a place of maturity.. where the focus wasn’t so much on self..
The focus wasn’t so strong on.. “me and mine”..
But rather.. the focus, begins to fall on others..
For the betterment of other people.. ++
The comfort and provision of other people.
This is a big step.. ++
And I’ve seem a lot of people take it..
And I’ve seen, as a result.. great blessings come upon those.. who do.. ++
I’m not preaching prosperity here..
I’m preaching fullness..
You will experience more of God..
More peace.. More love..and… More purpose..
For many here.. this is review.. or this is education..
But maybe today.. for some of you..
This is the voice of the H.S. ++
Calling you, to look up, and start climbing again..
This plateau, is not good enough..
You have a life that is too focused.. inwardly..
And God wants to take that focus.. outward.