Call to Worship October 11 2020
Thoughts on Corinthians 10:14-33
These verses are somewhat difficult to understand in detached form, but are part of an ongoing argument against idolatry. Paul has warned of the great condemnation of idolatry. He carefully parsed the importance between liberties regarding those secondary elements used in idol worship – like meat – with actual worship of false gods. He presented God’s grace in striving against sin, particularly idolatry, and that God always presents a way of escape. These are the concluding verses of caution and command against idol worship which began earlier in Chapter 8.
Paul used an illustration to help them come to a final judgement concerning idolatry and its ultimate effects. In verses 15 through 22 he helps the Corinthians understand that any ritual with symbolism points toward a real effect. When believers take the bread and the cup they are doing so in memory of Christ’s perfect person and work on the earth. Along with that memorial they are recognizing the people of God as one people in Christ. Furthermore, there is a genuine effect – the Spirit works through the Lord’s Supper to mend our souls to Christ in confession. The eating of the bread is not supernatural, but the memorial symbolism is used by God to cause us to remember the Gospel in confession. We are not actually eating Jesus’ physical body. Yet, we are truly worshipping the Triune God in the ritual of the Lord’s Supper.
Therefore, Paul demonstrated this truth of true worship to finalize the case against idolatry. In Gentile worship the problem was not necessarily the element present in the meat of an animal. The issue was the effect of their worship; “No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons” (1 Cor. 10:20 NAU). The effect of worshipping demons is Paul’s greatest concern. The meat from a meat market was simply meat, but the thinking and devotion behind the sacrifice was the issue. Paul said those worshippers were devoted to demons and He did not want the Corinthian believers to share in demon worship. If you are invited to a Gentile home then eat the meat and do not ask about its previous use (vs. 25-27). Yet, if you are asked to join in the actual worship of the idol by the use of the meat, or any other element of worship, then that is off limits. So be reminded, any worship of anything other than the One True God is demon worship.
Paul concluded his thoughts with some limitations and reminders of liberty. Be careful and thoughtful of how you use your liberty. Offense should never be the first goal of a Christian in secondary matters. Something may be lawful, but not wise or profitable (vs. 23). Moreover, remember not to actively seek to offend others with your liberty (vs. 28-29). Also, there are those whose consciences at times may be bound not to partake. Do not be too quick to judge your brother for something not sinful in which they partake of and give God thanks (vs. 30). These thoughts at times still leave fellow believers in a quandary with one another. It reminds us that liberty in secondary matters still takes the grace of God to work in us by the power of the Spirit through the word. Let us continue to stand firm in the essentials of the faith and grow in grace with one another according to the scripture in secondary matters. Soli Deo Gloria!