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Christian Liberty – Flee From Idolatry – 1 Corinthians 10:14 – 11:1

May 17, 2020

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Introduction

Even though as Christians we have "liberty," freedom under the "Royal Law" of Christ (Matt. 22:36-40), we must still avoid idolatry.

Because of the harm it causes to our witness and the potential for offending or harming another's conscience.

Idolatry at its base is rebellion before God and covetousness that leads us away from God.

An "idol" is nothing of itself (1 Cor. 10:19), but it can be used by Satan to lead us into sin.

With this truth in mind, let us make application of Paul's writings to the Corinthian believers as they relate to our "liberty" in Christ.

Remembering that Christ's liberty will produce the fruits of righteousness as we are led by Christ's Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).

Exposition

Idol Feasts and the Lord's Supper

(Verses 14-22)

Verse 14

           "...flee from idolatry..."

                 * Flee from idolatry, don't try to stand with it or against it.

                 * The Israelites were judged harshly for their idolatry. (Ex. 32:2-10)

 

Therefore, “'Come out from them and be separate,' says the Lord. ‘Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.'”

(2 Cor. 6:17)

            * Fellowship at the Lord's table requires separation.

Verse 16

           "...the cup of thanksgiving..."

                 * A blessing over wine, thanking God for His provision (Lk. 22:17)

          "...participation in the blood of Christ..."

          "...participation in the body of Christ?"

                * By taking the elements during communion, we have fellowship with Christ and identify with His sacrifice and the "new covenant."

In the same way, after the supper He took the

cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood,

which is poured out for you."

(Luke 22:20)

              * We are commanded to take communion (Acts 2:42).

Verse 17

           "...one body...one loaf..."

               * Christ is the head of the Church.

                  * We are its "body," when we eat from "one loaf," we are one in                         Him (1 Cor. 12:27).

Verse 18

            "...those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar..."

                  * As in ancient Israel, and pagan idol worship, eating the "sacrifice" established a relationship with either God or the pagan deity.

Verse 19

            "Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that    an idol is anything?"

                * Idols, and sacrifices to them, have no power in and of themselves (1 Cor. 8:4-6).

                * But the demons associated with idols are the problem (Vs. 20).

Verse 20

              "...the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons and not God...do not...participate with demons."

                  * To eat at an idol's table could mean fellowship with demons (Deut. 32:15b -17).

2 Corinthians 6:14-16

 Verse 21

            "You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons."

                 * Again, Paul reiterates the importance of separation from evil (2 Cor. 6:14-16).

 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

(1 Cor. 15:33)

 Verse 22

             "Are we trying to arouse the Lord's jealousy..."

                  * Our God is jealous for us in a good way, as for His children.

                  * He has every right to be jealous (Ex. 20:3-6)

 For we often fail Him, and "arouse" His "jealousy."

They made Him jealous with their foreign gods and angered Him with their detestable idols. They sacrificed to false gods, which are not God— gods they had not known, gods that recently appeared, gods your ancestors did not fear. You deserted the Rock, who fathered you; you forgot the God who gave you birth.  The Lord saw this and rejected them because He was angered by His sons and daughters.

(Deut. 32:16-19)

It is dangerous to play with sin and tempt God!

The Christian's Freedom

(Verses 10:23 - 11:1)

Verse 23

            "...not everything is beneficial..."

                 * Because others associated sacrificed meat with the demons behind the idol, a Christian should abstain from eating this meat.

                 * Even though we have liberty to do so. (Vs. 27-28)

           “…not everything is constructive.”

                * Constructive – “Edifying,” building up, especially the Church.

Verse 24

            "No one should seek their own good, but the good of others."

                * Simple, self-explanatory.

                * The second part of the "Royal Law" - Love others (Matt. 22:39)

                 * We are commanded to build up our brethren and "seek their own good."

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

(Phil. 2:3-4)

Remember, the Christians life should not be directed solely by his "liberty," but his liberty should be constrained by his love for the brethren (1 Cor. 8:1-13).

This is one of the greatest signs of a Christians maturity.

Verse 25

            "Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience,..."

               * Everything that God has made and provided for us is good (Jms. 1:17).

               * But, for conscience sake, it is best not to ask, and stumble a weaker brother (Rom. 14:14-15).

 Verse 26

             "For the earth is the Lord's and everything in it..."

                   * The Jewish believers would have understood this as it was part of the meals blessing (Ps. 24:1).

                    * The reality is that everything belongs to God, not demons, and they have no power over it.

 

Now Paul will give instruction about eating with unbelievers.

Verse 27

           "...eat whatever is put before you..."

                 * To not eat could be perceived as an insult or slight, ruining your witness.

 

“When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you."

(Lk. 10:8)

Verse 28-30

             "...this has been offered in sacrifice...then do not eat it..."

                    * Again, for the sake of the others "conscience."

              "...why is my freedom being judged by another's conscience?"

                     * Again, to keep another from "stumbling." (Rom. 14:15)

Verse 31

            "So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."

                 * Paul's reply focuses on a great truth:

We are responsible to glory God in all things!

(Rom. 14:17)

We cannot glorify God by causing another to

stumble and sin!

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

(Col. 3:17)

Verse 32

           "...Jews...Greeks...the Church."

               * All people belong to one of these groups.

               * Hopefully, all from the first and second will become part of the third.

               * If we cause them to stumble, it can hinder their salvation.

Verse 33

            "...so that they may be saved."

                * Paul's and, hopefully, our primary concern for others.

"I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some."

(1 Cor. 9:22)

Verse 11:1

              "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ."

                   * Paul could honestly say that!

Can we?

Conclusion

As Christians we have freedom (liberty).

It was purchased for us by Christ on the cross, at the highest price.

Freedom is made stronger by our knowledge of Christ:

 "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

(Jn. 8:32)

But, "knowledge" must be balanced by "love" or else it will destroy rather than "edify" (build up).

Knowledge and freedom must also be balanced with experience and responsibility:

"Take heed, lest ye fall."

 or it can lead to arrogance and failure before Christ.

"All things are lawful..."

But:

  1. Will they lead to freedom or slavery? (1 Cor. 6:12)
  2. Will they make me a stumbling block or stepping stone? (1 Cor. 8:13)
  3. Will they build me up or tear me down? (1 Cor. 10:23)
  4. Will they only please me or glorify Christ? (1 Cor. 10:31)
  5. Will they win the lost to Christ or turn them away? (1 Cor. 10:33)

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