Don’t Let Your Freedom Cause Others to Stumble

1 Corinthians 10:14-33


Jerry A Collins



Ø      What is behind idols and idol worship?

Ø      Why are all things lawful but not all things are profitable?

Ø      How often should God receive glory?


Idolatry was a special category of sin for the OT people of God. Israel had been special recipients of the revelation of God. But when they could not persuade God to do what they wanted they forsook God to do what they wanted—they abandoned God for pagan gods. When they could not get their pagan gods to do their bidding they even offered their children in sacrifice hoping the intensity of their desire would persuade the gods to relent. Like Israel, if you do not believe that what God wants for your life is better than what you want for it, you probably will sacrifice your family, your reputation, your integrity not in a fire but in a desperate attempt to have your own way. Behind idolatry is not only the desperate attempt to establish our autonomy, but also a spiritual force that encourages that autonomy. A major reason we should not involve ourselves in any practices associated with idolatry, like eating meat offered to idols, is because it involves us with demons, provokes God’s jealousy and jeopardizes our lives.

1. EATING MEAT IN PAGAN TEMPLE FEASTS INVOLVES PARTICIPATION AND UNION WITH DEMONS ‘Therefore’ indicates that in lite of warning about being disqualified from service here is something further to consider. What that is is to ‘flee from idolatry’. There is absolutely no room in Xian life for idolatry or practices associated with idolatry. This includes horoscopes, crystals, eastern mystical practices like meditation and yoga or Mary, Buddha or Mother nature.  (1) Xians participate with Christ and are one with Him in the Lord’s supper 15-17  First, he tells them they are able to understand and discern what he s about to say vs 15. The reason for this statement is because he is preparing them to accept some premises they cannot deny. They should be able to make their own decision based on their own conscience as result. Second, with communion we are sharing in the blood of Christ and sharing in the body of Christ. We are remembering his death for our sins—a common celebration for every believer 16. All believers stand on same ground at foot of cross—as forgiven sinners who possess eternal life 17. So as we eat the bread and drink of the cup in communion we are participating together and in union together in the practice and in its meaning.   (2) Israelites participate with God and are one with Him in the altar sacrifices 18 Looking at the nation of Israel as another example. When an offering was sacrificed, some of it was burnt, some of it was eaten by the priests, some of it was eaten by those who offered it. PT Everyone was involved with the offering, with God and with each other. So there is an alliance with Christ’s invisible but universal body the church when we share communion. So, too, was an alliance as partners in sacrifice in Israel.   (3) Pagans participate with demons and are one with them in their idol sacrifices 19-20.  First, those idols are nothing in themselves. They have no personal or spiritual power or nature in and of themselves. It is a rock, a piece of wood, a thought only 19. There is no corresponding spiritual reality there. However, when you attach religious or spiritual meaning to these things, then demons are the spiritual force behind the idolatry. There is never a god behind an idol but always a spiritual force and that force is always evil. We can create idols all by ourselves but demons also like them and use them. So there is an alliance between the pagan worship and the activity of demons. This is why we are warned about idolatry. Participation with God and demons is impossible vs 21. The sacrifice and meal creates meaningful rela between you and the god you are worshipping. This is only reserved for the Lord. But f you choose to participate anyway, there are further consequences vs 22. God will not allow idolatry to go unpunished nor can anyone escape. Some xians even paid for it with their health and even lives 1 Cor 11:30. Union and participation in idolatrous practice provokes Gods jealousy and we have already seen how God decisively dealt with Israel in her idol worship (1 Cor 10:1-13). So tear up the horoscope, trash the crystals, stop the mantras, the meditations and the yoga. All of these are practices associated with false gods and false religions.

2. EATNG SACRIFICED MEAT IS OKAY UNLESS THE ISSUE OF IDOL RELATIONAHIP IS RAISED Even tho participating in pagan feasts is sin, eating the meat at home was not. Whatever is beneficial, helpful,  advantageous to someone   coming    to  Christ vs 22

-23 requires three rules of behavior:

(1) Eat anything sold in meat market without asking questions 25-26. Unlike Israelites who cold not eat certain meats, in our age we can eat any meat. You do not have to ask if it has been sacrificed to idols.

(2) If an unbeliever invites you to his house eat anything that is set before you without asking any questions 27. We are to socialize with unbelievers, that is, eat meat with them without asking if the meat has been sacrificed to idols.

(3) But is they say ‘this is meat sacrificed to idols’ do not eat it 28. The reason? For the sake of the ne who informed you and for conscience’ sake, I mean not your own conscience but the other man’s 29. The other man obviously sees value in the fact that the meat was sacrificed to idols, that is why he said it. Therefore, to eat that meat would give a message contrary t the Gospel to his unbeliever. So these three statements seem to clearly say that when you know that something is connected to another religion (in this case food offered to idols) it is a sin to participate in it. It is worshipping a demonic god which is communicated to the unbeliever. It does not result in them getting saved. Using horoscopes or crystals or TM or yoga or mantras never communicate the gospel and only create solidarity with the false gods, false theology, false beliefs behind which are demons deceiving people not resulting in their salvation.

So what can we do with this meat?

(1) Do everything to the glory of God. You can eat anything but give thanks for it and do it to the glory of God 30a-31. Every situation needs to be considered in such a way that God’s glory will be the main concern.

(2) Don’t do anything that will cause anyone to stumble 32. There are 3 groups of people we are not to offend, Jews, gentiles, Church of God. We have a responsibility to those outside of and inside of the church.   (3) Do what you can to benefit others spiritually 33. Our passion must be that others might come to know in a personal and saving way the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the ultimate kind of profit we are looking for in the lives of others as we express our liberty in Christ. That includes giving up our freedom, he rite to eat this meat, to be judged by another’s conscience, even to be slandered in order not to give offense in order to not seek or own good but that of our neighbor that he or she or they might get saved.  (4) Follow example of self sacrifice  and selfless service 11:1. The aspect of Christ’s life to emulate is example of His self-sacrifice. We are to selfish. He is the one we strive to follow in this matter al of our lives.