Christian Liberty - Flee From Idolatry
                                                         1 Corinthians 10:14-24

1 Corinthians 10:14-15
[14] Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.  [15] I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say.

Idolatry was a temptation in Corinth.  There were several heathen temples in Corinth and they were very popular.  These statues of wood or stone were not evil in themselves, but people mistakenly gave them credit for what only God could do.  For example they credited these idols with doing such things as:
·Providing good weather.
·Providing good crops.
·Providing children.

Idolatry is still a serious problem today, but it takes a different form.  We don’t put our trust in statues of wood or stone.  We are more likely today to put our trust in paper money or plastic credit cards.  However, trusting anything for what only God alone can do is idolatry. 

Our modern idols are symbols of:

1.How can you tell if an idol has gained a foothold in your life?

2.What action should you take if this happens?

1 Corinthians 10:16-19
[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?  What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything?

Paul’s argument is quite logical - he says that an idol is nothing.  If you offer meat to an idol, it affects nothing - the meat is not affected at all!

1 Corinthians 10:20
[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.

Paul is still talking about Christian Liberty.  The idol is just a thing - not a god.  However, behind the idol is demonism.  Paul recognizes this and so should we!

1 Corinthians 10:21
[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.

For some people to eat meat that had been sacrificed to idols would be idolatry.  A believer would have to examine his heart very carefully.  The idea of unity and fellowship with God through eating a sacrifice was strong in Judaism and Christianity as well as in heathenism.

For example, in the Old Testament days, when a Jew offered a sacrifice, he ate a part of that sacrifice as a way of restoring his unity with God, against whom he had sinned.  Christians participate in Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice when we eat the bread and drink the cup symbolizing His body and blood.  Recent converts from heathenism could not help being affected if they knowingly ate with heathens in their feasts meat that had been offered to idols.

As followers of Christ we must give Him our total allegiance.  We cannot partake “of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons.”  Eating at the Lord’s Table means communing with Christ and identifying with His death.  Eating at the demon’s table means identifying with Satan by worshipping and promoting heathen (evil) activities. 

Are you trying to lead two lives following the desires of both Christ and the crowd, or the world?  The Bible says that you cannot do both at the same time!

1.The Bible asks ‘What fellowship has light with darkness?’  Can a room be well lit and dark at the same time?

2.Can we have fellowship with God (light) and Satan (darkness) at the same time?

1 Corinthians 10:22-24
[22]Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?  [23] “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.  [24]Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.

Paul says that he has the freedom to do these questionable things - things on which the Bible is silent as to their right or wrong.  Paul probably attended the Olympics and many of his illustrations are taken from athletic events that were carried on in the great Colosseum and stadiums of that day.  Paul says such things are lawful for him, but all things are not expedient because of the fact that the thing he could do might hurt a weak believer. 

Paul says, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful.”   In other words, they don’t “build me up in the faith.”

Paul tells us that the Christian has tremendous liberty in Christ.  However, he brings out two points in verse 24:
·We are to seek the welfare of the other person.
·We are to seek what is best for them.

A Christian’s life should not be primarily directed and dictated by liberty.  Our liberty is limited by love.  A Christian is not pinned down by legality - he is not surrounded by strict rules.  However he is limited by love - he should be concerned about his influence and effect on others.

Sometimes it is hard to know when to defer to the weaker believer.  Paul gives a simple rule of thumb to help in making the decision - we should be sensitive and gracious.  Some actions may not be wrong, but they may not be in the best interests of others. 

While we have freedom in Christ, we shouldn’t exercise our freedom at the cost of hurting a fellow believer.  We are not to consider only ourselves, but we must be sensitive to others.

Our freedom should be less important to us than strengthening the faith of a brother or sister in Christ!!

1.Which is more important to a Christian - liberty to do what we want, or the impact of our actions on others?

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