Let’s take our Bibles this morning and turn again to First Corinthians. First Corinthians chapter 10 is where we find ourselves as we’re just marching right along here through this book. First Corinthians chapter 10. Versus 14 through 22 is where we are this morning, and I want to read those for you. First Corinthians 10 beginning in verse 14.
Therefore, my beloved flee from idolatry. I speak as to sensible people. Judge for yourselves what I say. 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? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. Consider the people of Israel are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar. What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything? Or that an idol is anything? No. I imply that what Pagan sacrifice they offered to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. 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. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
In the field of sociology, there’s a theory that is known as social constructionism. According to this theory, a social construction of reality is the way in which a particular society agrees on the meaning or value of something, regardless of what things really are. They are assigned their meaning by consensus. And there’s a sense in which the basic idea of this theory is a helpful attempt to explain certain realities. Think of money, for instance. A dollar is only a piece of paper anymore, and maybe a dollar is just a number on a screen. But it only has value because we as a society have agreed that it has value, and we need that in order to have a basis for our economy. But when we apply this theory as a general rule for interpreting truth, it becomes extremely dangerous.
Modern versions of social constructionism are more prone to take into account the observations of science when assigning value to objects and ideas. But when it comes to postmodernism, it has little interest even in those observations, because the heart of postmodern thought is an unmitigated skepticism about truth. The postmodernist believes that what is true for you may not necessarily be true, and what’s true for me may not necessarily be true, because each of us is viewing things through our own particular lens. But to have any sort of meaningful societal interaction, we have to agree on some basic definitions of what is true about certain things, and postmodernists realize this. That’s the quandary in which they find themselves. And therefore, postmodernism borrows the concept of social constructionism, but removes from it all the vestiges of the reliability of objective observation of reality. And the result is that you get the sort of society we’re beginning to see today, where, for instance, a biological male can ignore all the natural markers of maleness and claim to be a female, and society in general is just supposed to go right along with that as true. This is a social construction of reality that, as anyone who’s operating on a rational worldview knows, is in fact a categorical denial of reality.
We as Christians understand that truth is anything but relative. Truth is objective. It’s absolute. And it’s revealed to us in a general sense in nature. And it’s revealed to us in a specific sense in the pages of holy Scripture. But truth is always under attack, and we can’t be so naive as to believe that our culture and our society does not have an effect upon us and our view of truth and reality, especially when we begin to feel the pressures of society to conform–perhaps the potential of losing a job if we don’t go along; perhaps the potential of losing a treasured relationship. Christians are facing questions and being put into complicated positions involving every sphere of life that most of us never even dreamed possible. And the flood of these things keeps coming at such a rapid pace in recent days that it’s really hard to keep up with it. And because of these pressures, it’s very easy for us to accept the world’s relentless push to infiltrate and indoctrinate with its lies. And of course, this doesn’t happen in one fell swoop. It’s more like eating an elephant. It’s one little concession here and one slight little compromise there until you’ve consumed the whole thing.
Do you think that I’m wrong about that? Recent developments, even among conservative evangelicals, have shown us that Christians are certainly not immune to caving into those pressures and even attempting to use the Bible to justify it. Rick Warren, who’s the pastor of one of the largest churches in America and has been called ‘America’s Pastor’, has been in the headlines recently because of his church’s removal from the Southern Baptist Convention. They were disfellowshipped, which is a big deal in the Southern Baptist Convention. And the reason for the disfellowship is Warren’s and Saddleback church’s change in their view on the issue of women serving in the role of pastor. In an interview with Russell Moore in March of this year, Warren said this:
I actually had to change my view on this because of Scripture. Culture could not change me on this issue. Anecdotes could not change me on this issue. Pressure from other people would not change me on this issue. What changed me was when I came into confrontation with four scriptures nobody ever talked about that I felt had strong implications about women and ministry and nobody had ever shown to me.
And of course, the Scriptures he mentions have nothing at all to do with women serving as pastors. The first one he brings up is the Great Commission. Where do you get women pastors from that? Then he brings up the day of Pentecost and he just keeps going on. But he’s totally convinced. You know, whenever someone prefaces the reason why they’ve taken a certain position with, “Culture couldn’t convince me…and anecdotes couldn’t convince me…and pressure from people couldn’t convince me”–you know that those are the very things that convinced them! We must always be on guard in order that we might not be conformed to this world, but rather transformed by the renewing of our minds.
And believe it or not, the issues we face and the societal pressures that we feel are not so far removed from what Christians living some 2000 years ago in a Greco-Roman world were dealing with. While the Judeo-Christian moorings of our society are crumbling and we’re devolving into paganism, the believers in Corinth were living in a society that for generations had had paganism just at its core. And therefore, the passage before us this morning is very significant and instructive in helping us to understand and to navigate the cultural chaos in which we find ourselves. The specific issue here is idolatry, and there are all sorts of nuances of this scenario with the church in Corinth that have striking parallels for us in application.
Remember, Paul has been addressing the issue of meat sacrificed to idols since chapter 8. This is quite a bit of instruction about this issue. The Corinthians had asked him a question about this, and from the context it’s clear that they weren’t asking permission to eat meat sacrificed to idols. Actually, what they were doing was asking why they weren’t permitted to do so. Remember that prior to Paul’s coming to Corinth, the apostles had met in Jerusalem to discuss the conflict that had arisen among believing Gentiles and Jews in regard to the place of the Old Testament law for the Christian, and the decision was made there at that council to write a letter to the Gentile churches which would make it very crystal clear that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, not through the law of Moses. And yet in order to communicate the fact that their freedom in Christ did not mean that they were absolved from all morality, they did write to them to say that they needed to abstain from three basic things that are kind of no brainers. And this was early days. This is kind of like, “Okay, we’re going to give you some basic parameters here.” And the first one on the list was to abstain from eating what had been sacrificed to idols. And then abstain from things strangled and abstain from sexual immorality. And we see why they had to write those things in the church at Corinth, because these people were so immersed in paganism. And we saw in chapters 5 through 6, and even on into chapter seven, with some application there, that Paul has already dealt with the issue of sexual immorality that was being tolerated among the Corinthian believers. And now, in chapters 8 through 10, he deals with their persistent propensity to push back against this prohibition of eating things sacrificed to idols.
But instead of just shutting them down and putting them in their place, Paul is actually fleshing this out with reason to show them, look, that letter was a concise way of saying something. We’re not talking about legalism here. And so he’s showing us that this is actually a category that’s rather gray. There are nuances where it may be okay to eat meat that’s been sacrificed to an idol somewhere along the way. We’ve already seen that, and we’re going to see that very clearly next Lord’s Day, Lord willing. However, the issue here is actually attendance at an idol temple where there’s a sacrifice taking place and they’re eating that meat right there in the midst of all of those other people that are engaged in the worship of an idol.
Remember, just to review, Paul has shown us that eating meat sacrificed to idols can wound the conscience of weaker brothers and cause confusion for unbelievers, becoming a hindrance to the gospel. And then he turned the corner in Chapter 9, and he showed them that meat sacrificed to idols can be dangerous for them themselves personally and then cautioning them about their pushing back to say, “Is this really an issue of you craving something in your heart from your old life?” Remember that in verse six of chapter 10 he uses that first generation of Israelites and their rebellion as examples to say these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. So here in verses 14 to 22, he really gets to the substance of the issue of why idolatry is so dangerous for the Christian. And the real issue is that it’s not about the meat at all. He’s already agreed with them that meat is just meat. And he’s going to go on, as I said in verses 25 through 27 of chapter 10, to give them the green light to eat whatever is sold in the meat market–which most of that had been sacrificed to idols at one time or another–without asking questions about it for conscience sake. He says, “Don’t even worry about it, just eat it”–unless things come up and then he’s going to deal with that, as we’ll see.
But the real issue that posed a threat to those believers was, as I said, their attendance of these pagan sacrifices at these pagan temples of these false gods. And no matter how they tried to spin this, Paul is saying, when you do that, it is what it is. You’re participating in idolatry. And so, he gives the command in verse 14: “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” But you remember back in 6:18 the similar command flee sexual immorality. There are certain things that Christians need to just run from. The Corinthians were trying to convince Paul that it was no big deal for them to go to those idol temples, and the reason why is because they were the hub of social activity. As we’ve said, if there was a party or a wedding or a business deal, you would get together at that temple and the sacrifice to the false idol was just part of the whole thing. And so, they were trying to convince Paul, “Hey, it’s no big deal for us to do this.” And Paul says, “Actually it is. It’s a huge deal and you need to run away from it!” And he prefaces what he’s going to say with an appeal to their sensibilities. Notice that, he says, “I speak as to sensible people. Judge for yourselves what I say.” If you’ve been with us in our study, we’ve noted, especially like back in chapter four, that Paul has been very ironic and sarcastic at times with the Corinthians. But that’s not what he’s doing here. He’s not being sarcastic. He’s genuinely acknowledging that they’re sensible people with a grasp of the scriptures and upon that basis he’s calling them to make a sound judgment about what he’s going to set forth to them. And what he does is set forth three reasons to flee from idolatry. Three reasons to flee from idolatry. We’re going to look at each one of them, and then we’re going to reflect on the parallels of application for ourselves. At least a few of them.
The first reason that he gives to flee from idolatry upon which the other two are going to hang, is this, because idolatry is participation in the worship of demons. Idolatry is participation in the worship of demons. I want you to note with me the words participation and participants in verses 16 and 18 and 20. Your translation may use the word sharing or communion–which is where we get our word communion for the Lord’s Table–or fellowship. Same word. And that word carries all those nuances. It’s koinonia. It’s the idea of fellowshipping, participating in this in a corporate way. And note also the word partake in verses 17 and 21. The main point that Paul is setting forth in these verses, then, is that someone who is present at the sacrifice to a false idol is not merely present, they are participating in it. You’re participating in this. And to argue that point, he sets forth the reality of what’s taking place in the observance of the Lord’s Table. Now, in Chapter 11, he’s going to come back and flesh out what it means to observe the Lord’s Table more, so we’re not going to delve into all the nuances of that here. We’ll come back and draw from this when he gets to that. His point here is not to tell us how we’re supposed to take the Lord’s Table, but his point is to explain a bit about how what we’re doing is so significant and how that affects what we do when we take that principle and apply it to idolatry.
Now I want you to note what he says there, “the cup of blessing which we bless.” He brings that up first. That was the third cup in the Passover meal, the cup that was blessed, the cup of blessing. And you remember that when our Lord Jesus observed the Passover meal with His disciples, the Last Supper on the night in which he was betrayed, that was the cup that he took. And that cup was a symbol of his blood that was shed for us. Look over in Chapter 11 verse 25. Note his words there: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.” It was a symbol of Christ’s blood that was shed to inaugurate the New Covenant. And the bread symbolizes his body. And notice there in our passage in verse 17 there that there is a special symbolism of the bread, because what’s communicated by it is the fact that there is one body and there’s one bread that represents that body, and we all partake of that one bread. So, we do learn something here that when we’re taking the Lord’s Supper, we’re symbolizing the fact that we’re all one in Christ. And that’s really the issue. When we take the Lord’s Supper, we’re remembering what Christ has done for us, and we’re also communing together, remembering that we’re united to one another by virtue of being united to our Lord. And so there is a horizontal communion and there is a vertical communion that’s going on. There’s a real participation and sharing together at the Lord’s Table.
A second consideration that he sets forth is the Israelites. And this was written before the destruction of the Temple, so there were still sacrifices going on in the temple. And of course, you could look back to the Old Testament, and Paul says, look at the nation Israel again, and just look at the fact of how they do their sacrifices according to the law. “Are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar?” And you look at the Old Testament law and of course the priests would eat of the food that was offered as sacrifice. So, there was a participation in this. And what Paul is doing is drawing our attention to the fact that if you’re there and you’re eating that in front of this when this is going on, you are a participant. So, the point is, is that there’s no way of getting around the fact that if you’re doing that in the temple of an idol, you are participating in idolatry. You’re not just observing. It doesn’t matter what you say, you are part of it.
Now in verse 19, Paul anticipates that the Corinthians are going to respond by accusing him of being inconsistent. And making much ado about nothing here, because back in chapter 8 he had already agreed with them that in reality an idol is nothing, because despite what the pagans may believe, there’s no such thing as a false God, and so the idol that’s supposed to represent that false God is really nothing. Look back there with me in chapter 8. In verse 4. Paul says:
Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that an idol has no real existence and that there is no God but one. For all, though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many Lords, yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we exist.
So, Paul has been clear. You know, pagans can call these things whatever they want, but there’s really no existence. And so, an idol is really nothing. And yet there’s something real going on here, I want you to know that. Really, what Paul is saying is that the false gods and the idols of the pagans are what modern sociologists would call social constructions of reality, right? They’re not real. People have gotten together and decided that we’re going to make up this god. And so, you know, we bow down and worship it. We make an idol that represents it, but there’s no such thing as that god. Not at all. And yet there is something going on behind it. Note what Paul says–he kind of comes back with something they don’t expect, and he does so by asking these rhetorical questions. He says, “What do I imply then, that food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything?” And then he fills in the blank for them because those questions expect the answer “No.” He says no, I’m not being inconsistent. I’m not going back on anything that I’ve said. But there is something you’re overlooking and that is the fact that while the idol is nothing and there’s no such thing as a so-called god, there is such a thing as Satan and there is such a thing as demons. There are real evil spiritual forces at work out there, and they’re behind every falsehood, and every form of false worship in the world, and they are in reality what’s behind that idol. And therefore, when you attend the temple of an idol and you claim, “Well, there’s nothing going on here because the idol’s nothing, no such thing as false gods,” be that as it may, you’re worshipping a demon.
That sobering reality leads to a second reason to flee from idolatry. And that’s because idolatry is not merely participation in the worship of demons, but by virtue of being that it’s incompatible with the worship of the Lord. Look at verse 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.” They’re incompatible. It’s not just inconsistent or unthinkable or outrageous, Paul says. It’s actually impossible. It’s like oil and water. They don’t mix. The word there cannot is dunamai. You could translate it, “you’re not able to do this.” You’re not able to–you’re not able to drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You’re not able to partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. In fact, the idea is so strong that Paul repeats it again in Second Corinthians. The same idea–turn over there with me–Second Corinthians chapter 6. Now these verses that are probably familiar to you. Second Corinthians chapter 6. Verses 14 and following–he says,
Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what coin? O’Neal, there’s that word? What? Partnership. What participation has righteousness with lawlessness? What fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belisle another name for Satan there? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said, I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.
Therefore, flee idolatry, right? “Go out from their midst, be separate from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch the unclean thing.” That’s the application. All these rhetorical questions, what do these things have in common? The obvious answer is “absolutely nothing.” So, what are you doing there? Get out of there. Run for your life. And this should come as a slap in the face to the Corinthians, and really to us as we apply it. There’s not a leg to stand on in defense of attending a pagan temple. The sobering reality is, is that while you may do so a time or two in ignorance, if you continue in that then there’s something that says about you.
That’s Paul’s point in the third reason that he gives to flee idolatry. It’s not just a participation of worship of demons and incompatible with the worship of the Lord, but idolatry is a provocation of the Lord’s wrath. You provoke the Lord if you do this. That’s the point with these two rhetorical questions that Paul gives here. He’s drawing this idea of jealousy from the direct statement of the third commandment in Exodus chapter 20 versus 4 through 5. There it says:
You shall not make for yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I, the Lord your God am a jealous God. Visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
Again, Deuteronomy 4:24: “Take care lest you forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which he made with you, and make a carved image, the form of anything that the Lord your God has forbidden you for. The Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” Now we cringe at the idea of jealousy, right? I mean, that’s sin for us to be jealous, but that’s because we have no right to desire our own glory or honor or praise. But God is the self-existent, Creator of all things, and therefore He’s worthy of every ounce of glory and honor and praise–and more. Revelation 4:11 says as much: “Worthy are you, our Lord and our God to receive glory and honor and power. For you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” Therefore, God will not share his glory with another–listen, especially with a demon of all things. God is jealous for his glory. And he will, as he said, bring destruction upon the one who persists in idolatry. Look back in Chapter 6 with me. Remember Verse 9? “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived, neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters…(and the list goes on)…will inherit the kingdom of God.” We saw right here in chapter 10 where we are, that that first generation of Israelites who participated in idolatry were met with swift judgment. God killed tens of thousands of them. He strewed their corpses all over the wilderness. God’s not playing around with this. He’s angry with this and he will bring judgment. And that’s why Paul asked that question, “Are we stronger than he?”
And so, what Paul is doing with these questions and application is he’s saying, Look, I think you’re confused about what’s going on here. Let me set it straight. What you’re doing is participating in the worship of demons. And as you do that, obviously that’s incompatible with the worship of the Lord. So are you going to continue to do that? And if you fill in the blank–if you continue to do that–destruction awaits. And that’s where he’s coming back to this issue of what’s really in your heart. Is your heart really regenerate? Do you really desire the things of the Lord? If you do, you are going to run from idolatry. You’re going to be repulsed by the idea that you might even possibly be flirting with the worship of demons. And so, folks, we need to check our hearts. Are we craving evil? Is that really our desire? Do we really want to run back into those things from which the Lord pulled us out, if indeed we are pulled down? For the Christian, obviously we get this warning. If we’ve been doing something and we come to the knowledge of what’s really going on here, we’re going to run, we’re going to turn away.
Now you may be saying, well, look, I don’t attend demon temples, so I’m good, right? Obviously, this has some very real life one to one correspondence for some in other countries–maybe even in our country, some subcultures here–but obviously in places like India where Hinduism is, you know, just filled with this sort of thing. It’s the very fabric of society. But you know, there are many Christians enamored by the experience of other cultures who make light of doing things like going to a Buddhist temple or something or a Hindu temple and, you know, just kind of seeing what they do–ringing the bells with them or whatever. When you do that, you’re participating in the worship of demons. May sound shocking. May sound over the top, but that’s exactly what he’s saying here. That’s a one to one correspondence. Stay out of there. I remember on our way to Grace Community Church from Santa Clarita every time we’d go to church when we were there for a couple of years, as you turned the corner on to Roscoe Blvd–on Coldwater Canyon Drive, right on the corner–there is a Buddhist temple there. I remember every time we’d drive by, I think it was my little Leah would say, Dad, that’s the idol church. I’d say that’s right. Don’t go in there.
You know, you’d probably say, well, look, I wouldn’t do that. I’m not interested in that at all. But here’s the thing, folks. Satan and his demons are behind every lie and every form of false worship. You question that? John chapter 8, Jesus said Satan is the father of lies. First, Timothy chapter 4, verse one says that the false teachings around, even teachings about moralities and things that lead us astray from the cross are the doctrines of demons. Satan and his demons are behind this kind of worship, so Christians will often accept the invitation of a Mormon who says I’ll go to your worship service if you go to mine, thinking they’re having the opportunity to win them to Christ. Guess what you’re doing? You’re going to the temple of demons because Mormons do not worship the same God as us, despite what their vocabulary says. They have an entirely different dictionary, and it’s a demonic dictionary. And the same goes for any cult out there or any false religion.
Christian ministers will oftentimes accept invitations to interfaith prayer meetings when there’s been a national crisis. We saw a lot of this during 9/11. You know, so you got, you know, a Muslim and a Jew, and you’ve got, you know, someone from a liberal Protestant church that doesn’t believe the gospel. You got another guy who’s an evangelical pastor and they’re praying together. What’s going on there? It’s a worship service. What else could it be? What does it mean to pray? And who are they praying to? I’m not saying it’s not okay to go into an environment like that if you’ve been given the green light to say whatever you want and you want to preach the gospel. Well, go for it. But that’s not what’s going on in most of those kinds of things. And it’s covered over with, you know, a lot of well wishes, you know, well, I just, you know, I’m trying to give the appearance of loving others and not being divisive and you know, wanting to keep relations and opportunities and this, that and the other. And God says that’s all well and good, but it is what it is. It’s the worship of demons.
Now, beyond the pale of the so-called religious–and by the way, folks, we can’t really make a firm dichotomy between what is sacred and what is secular, okay? All of life is worship for a Christian. And when we think about the secular world and the enormous pressure in our society to accept things like so-called same sex marriage, many Christians are faced with the dilemma of being invited to those kinds of things. And many Christians, not wanting to offend or lose a relationship, will acquiesce to that same sort of thing with the same sort of pretense that the Corinthians believers were doing by going to the pagan temples. And we’ll go to those ceremonies, and we’ll say sort of like the Corinthians did, oh, well, you know, there’s no such thing as a false God, so the idol is nothing. So, it’s no big deal. And we’ll say, you know, there’s no such thing as same-sex marriage. Marriage is defined by God as between one man and one woman and so there’s really nothing going on here. I’m just going to, you know, support my loved one and show them that I love them and keep the relationship and so on and so forth. But when we do that, we draw the wrong conclusion that our presence there is just presence. Actually, what lies behind that is demons. You say that sounds crazy, pastor. Well, what’s behind every false thing in this world that tries to divert attention away from God that distorts his truth at the most basic levels? Who else is it? What else is behind it? It’s Satan and his demons. Therefore, when you go to a service like that, you are not just observing, you are participating. And by the way, I add just at a kind of a practical level, that if you go to a wedding ceremony, you’re not just there to eat the cake and the cookies or whatever, you are affirming what’s going on. You’re a witness. I mean, there are official witnesses that have to sign the documents still, as far as I know. And you’re one of those. Just because your signature isn’t on the certificate, you are actually one of them. And it might as well be. And so, at least in principle that would be another way that we might participate in idolatry.
But let’s bring it a little closer to home. I know some of you are dealing with that kind of thing right now. And if not, you will. Maybe I will. I haven’t yet, praise God, but I may. But maybe you’re not, and maybe you never will deal with that particular thing. But there are all sorts of other applications. But let me just bring it closer to home in case you think you’re off the hook here. I recently quoted John Calvin, who said that “The human heart is a perpetual idol factory.” How true that is. We can make anything an idol. We can make even good things idols.
One of the greatest examples of this is money. Money is not necessarily a good thing, but it’s a neutral thing. Turn over to Matthew 6 with me for a moment to this familiar passage. Matthew Chapter 6 is the right in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount. And I want you to note what our Lord Jesus says in verse 24: “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” It sounds a lot to me like verse 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.” Now notice the application: “You cannot serve God and money.” It’s interesting to me that the King James Version, I think the New King James as well, actually just transliterate that word, which is mammon. And it actually, in in the context, almost personifies it, almost as if it is a God that you’re bowing down to. Money becomes more important than worshipping God, and so you skip church regularly for work. I know that there’s times that people have to do that, maybe for a period of time. But if you do that constantly, without any inkling of ever getting into fellowship with the people of God, I’m sorry, on the authority of God’s word, Hebrews 10:24, 25, you are forsaking the assembly. And therefore, you’re in disobedience. And you are you are not making use of all of those glorious means that God has given you to grow. And so, you’re probably beginning to falter in your faith. Money becomes more important than sacrificing for the kingdom, so you hoard instead of give. Opportunity to give for the kingdom, and no, no, I’m not going to give that up. Money becomes more important than obedience to God’s word so you’re willing to cut corners in business deals or sponsor things that are diametrically opposed to the word God. We could just keep listing them off. You see, money can become an idol. This is more important to me than God. And I am going to bow down and worship it, as it were. And as we know, money is just one thing among virtually anything that we can become more important to us than God.
When we give ourselves to idols, despite what we may say or believe, our actions state the true condition of our hearts. This was the warning to the Corinthians. They were continuing to go to the idol temples and participate in pagan worship and justifying it through their sophisticated reasoning because the temples were the local community centers of the day and that’s where all the social stuff happened. And Paul says stop making excuses for dabbling in sin and instead flee from idolatry. Get out! And it’s going to cost you. That’s the issue, folks. It’s going to cost us. And there are all sorts of issues of conscience that we are going to have to work through and make some hard decisions about lest this culture begin to warp our idea of what is true and right and good, and before we know it, we find ourselves at the doorstep of idolatry, participating in the demonic. Paul said, I count all those things as rubbish. Dung. Worthless. I’ve turned away from all that. I’m running to Christ. Why would I go back there? Why would I try to keep dabbling there? Remember what our Lord Jesus said:
Whoever loves Father or Mother more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever loves Son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Let’s bow together. Our Father in Heaven, these are sobering truths. And the applications that we find here shake us up a little bit. They’re not so far removed as we first think. Lord, we’ve only named a few of them that are perhaps the most obvious, but there is a myriad of others because idolatry is so ingrained in the heart of man. Lord, I pray that we would not be those who provoke the Lord to jealousy. That we would be those that instead flee any hint of idolatry, whether it be participation in something that is wholly ungodly and completely opposed to the truth or whether it be nursing those idols of our hearts that perhaps we’re even keeping secret from others. You know that. Lord, would we be open and honest with you in our hearts? Would we flee from those and instead pursue Christ. Would we be willing to give up whatever it is that you call us to give up in order to gain that glorious fellowship that we have with you. Lord, thank you that salvation is full and free through our Lord Jesus Christ. That all we’re talking about here is nothing that affects our standing with you if we’re in Christ, and I’m sure there’s some here that would say, you know, I’ve dabbled in that, I’ve been doing that. I pray that they would rest assured that they belong to you if they heed the warning this morning and turn from those things in obedience. And Lord, I pray for those who may be here and are not willing to give things up, that you would convict their hearts. May they not be deceived into thinking that they can continue to pursue their idols and still have fellowship with you. Lord, we thank you for your grace and your kindness and mercy. Thank you for your word that instructs us, and sometimes just hits us in ways that we didn’t even realize with fresh truth and application to life. So, this morning would we take all of this to heart. Would we respond in obedience by Your grace, we pray. In Jesus’ great name and for His glory. Amen.