"Law, Grace, and the Sin of Idolatry"
Note: The majority of the people that were members of the Corinthian church were “Gentiles” Paul wrote this part of the Corinthian letter to them because the "saved Gentiles needed to understand the history of the saved Hebrews among them in the church and how God dealt with the worship of idols. He uses their history and how God dealt with their ancestors to further enforce why the Gentile Christians needed to turn completely away from the sin of Idolatry".
I. Israel’s “Wilderness Examples” Their History (Psalms 105:39) (Verses 1-5)
Paul told them: “I don’t want you to be ignorant about Israel’s past” How Judaism was the “precursor to Christianity. It was “Christianity under a veil” wrapped in “types and hints.”
A. Your Jewish forefathers were “under a cloud” and all passed through the sea. (They were under a “divine covering and conduct”)
B. God protected them with His “Sheikinah” Glory Cloud
The cloud protected them 3 ways: A shiny cloud of light on one side , to show them their way. A fierce cloud of dark on the other to hide them from the pursuing Egyptians; God protected them and drowned the Egyptians when they passed through the Red Sea. and sometimes spread itself over them as a mighty sheet, to defend them from the burning sun in the hot sandy desert,
C. They were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.
They were brought under the Mosaic Covenant in the same manner that we are brought under the Christian Covenant and Law
D. They all ate the same spiritual meat and drink the same spiritual drink
The manna represented a type of “crucified” Christ. The water came from a “struck” rock and followed them all throughout the wilderness. The rock was a type of Christ (solid rock), the foundation on which the church is built.
E. God was not well pleased with many of them: “God overthrew the parent generation in the wilderness” because of their "rebellion and ingratitude".
Note: A whole rebellious (parent) generation was dead in the wilderness within 40 years.
II. Example and Object lesson: Don’t do now what they did back then (verses 6-11)
A. Don’t lust after evil things like they did : that is, after their "fleshly desires".
Many died because God sent plagues the extinguish their raunchy behavior
B. Don’t be idolaters like they did:
They sat down and ate, at the idolatrous feasts then rose up to play (to folly and evil) worshiping a golden calf in singing songs, doing sexually suggestive dances and participating in indecent debauchery( having open orgies in the temples)
C. Don’t commit sexual immorality like they did i
In (Numbers 25:1-9) 24,000 who came in sexual contact (prostitution and others) with the daughters of Moab people died as a result 23,000 by a plague God sent. The other 1,000 were killed by Phinehas (judge)and Grotus (priests)
Note: There was a valid reason Paul warned the church of Corinth against this vile behavior:
It was common practice among all idolaters; especially the "financially well of" and the "social elite" and those business traders who frequent the Corinthian temples in Corinth. The majority of those who lived there were notorious for exemplifying this vile behavior. It was the prevalent vice there. To "Corinthianize" was a term synonymous among the ancients with licentiousness. It was so common in Corinth, that, there were no less than 1,000 prostitutes operating and flaunting their craft in any temple of idolatry there. Foreigners would flock there for the prostitutes among other reasons as well as transact other business ventures. The Corinthian church was completely surrounded by these wicked devices. and members were constantly tempted by their unsaved piers to continue to indulge in the wicked behavior around them even though the were now saved and delivered but hampered by the vast exposure of idolatry, thus putting the members at risk.
D. Don’t tempt God (Christ)
Don’t “test” the waters. That is, don’t try his patience, to provoke his anger, or to act in such a way as to see how much he will bear, and how long he will endure the wickedness and perverseness of people. The Israelites tempted him, or "tried his patience and forbearance," by rebellion, complaining, impatience, and dissatisfaction with his dealings.
E. Don’t murmur (constantly complaining, never satisfied)
1. The Israelites complained about the manna, they claimed it was a light bread-something incapable of affording them nourishment.
2. They constantly complained about a longing to return to Egypt and acted as if God’s plans and promises for them for Canaan has failed. They were destroyed by serpents, and by the destroyer or plague; Apparently, the Corinthians were murmuring against God and Apostle Paul for prohibiting them from partaking of the idolatrous feasts, just as the Israelites did in the wilderness in reference to a similar subject.
F. Reinteration: We are living in the “last” (latter) days. Take heed! (verses 11-15)
. Don’t rely on your own strength: Anyone that think that they are “that” firm in the love of God, and in the knowledge of his truth; that regards ourselves as secure, Beware! When things are going well, many of us tend to stop relying on the direction and strength of God and rely on our own strength: That’s a prime set up for a person who becomes self reliant to fall Into sin, idolatry, or any other form of iniquity.
G. Concerning “Common Temptations” (verse 13)
1. We are tempted by “familiar things” (Faithfulness to God will keep us)
2. God always offers us a way of escape. (God is faithful)
3. God allows testing (temptations) and with this allowance, He give us a way out or undergird us to be able to endure the testing.
4. If God allows it. God will not let the temptation (testing) take us out but uses it to strengthen us, purge us and prepare us for something greater that we are not able to handle right at this moment.
5. No matter the circumstances, God is in complete control of every facet of that trial, including the part that the devil plays in the process.
Thought Question: How much can we really bear? Here’s the Correct answer:
(Taken from Barnes Notes Commentary)
"God knows what His people are able to endure, and as He has entire control of all that can affect them, He will adapt all trials to their strength, and will enable them to bear all that is appointed to them. This is a general promise, and is as applicable to other Christians as it was to the Corinthians. It was to them a positive promise, and to all in the same circumstances it may be regarded as such now. It may be used, therefore:
(1) As a ground of encouragement to those who are in temptation and trial. God knows what they are able to endure; and he will sustain them in their temptations. It doesn’t matters how severe the trial; or how long it may be continued; or how much they may feel their own feebleness; yet He who has appointed the trial is abundantly able to uphold them. They may, therefore, repose their all upon Him, and trust to His sustaining grace.
(2) It may be used as an argument, that none who are true Christians, and who are thus tried, shall ever fall away, and be lost. The promise is positive and certain, that a way shall be made for their escape, and they shall be able to bear it. God is faithful to them; and though he might suffer them to be tempted beyond what they are able to bear, yet He will not, but will secure an egress from all their trials. With this promise in view, how can it be believed that any true Christians who are tempted will be suffered to fall away and perish? If they do, it must be from one of the following causes; either because God is not faithful; or because He will permit them to be tempted above what they are able to bear; or because He will not make a way for their escape. Since no Christian can believe either of these, it follows that they who are converted shall be kept unto salvation.
Verse 14 is the warning and Paul's conclusion that the Gentiles were to flee from Idolatry.
III. Three Different Fellowships (verses 15-24)
A. Church fellowship (Communion with Christ) (verses 15-17)
The “Cup” of Blessings ( the “wine” taken at the Lord’s Communion) vs. 16
Christians, by partaking of the Lord's Supper, (breaking of the bread and drinking of the wine) are solemnly set apart to the service of the Lord Jesus; We acknowledge HIM as our Lord, and dedicate ourselves to him, not to idols worshipping or pagan idol feast. Taking communion also says that we identify with Christ in HIS suffering on the cross for us. We are “one” bread, that is one body in Christ.
B. Fellowship of Israel (Sacrifices at the Altar: a form of communion) (verses 18-19)
The Hebrews presented their offereings to the priest at the altar. The people ate their part, the priest ate their part and the part was offered as a burnt offering to the Lord.
C. Fellowship of the Gentiles-(unsaved) (Sacrificed to Idol gods) (Verse 20-24)
1. Converted Gentiles were to participate in Holy Communion not offer sacrifices to pagan deities or participate in pagan feast anymore. (vs. 20)
2. Paul warned these Gentile converts they could not commune with both God and devils. They must denounce their former ways.
3. To continue in the old path (paganism and idolatry) after accepting the new (Christianity) would provoke God to wrath.
D. Christian Liberty: (Concerning All Things Lawful) (some aren’t edifying or wise) (verse 23-24)
1. All things are lawful, but all things don’t build up the church.
2. All things are lawful, but conventional wisdom suggests that you lay them aside for the gospel sake.
3. Both Christian and pagan meat were sold in the marketplace. The meat in and of itself is harmless and may not be marked as offered to idols.
4. For conscience sake. Don’t ask if it is or isn’t.
5. The earth’s is the Lord, the fullness thereof and the world that dwell therein.
IV. Feasts (Christian , Pagan) the Pagan Conscience (verses 27-32)
A. Invitation to a non-religious feast at a private home- you ate permitted to eat whatever is on the table but not drink every beverage offered……unless….
B. You are told that the food was offered to idols- you have the right to refuse it.
C. Whatever you eat, drinlk or do, do all to the glory of God
D. Give no offence.
Very Important things we really need to be aware of: For all of our Benefit
(1) Having confidence in our own security is no evidence that we are safe. We still must both pray without ceasing, draw near to the Lord everyday and die daily to the flesh
(2) Having such a confidence may be one of the strongest evidences that we are in danger. Those are most safe who feel that they are weak and feeble, and who feel their need of divine aid and strength. They will then rely on the true source of strength the Holy Spirit ; and they will be secure. We are only secure in Jesus Christ and when we rely and submit to God’s will as we are led by the Holy Spirit
(3) All professed Christians should be admonished.Remember, we are still going through sanctification. We are still a work in progress, We are still being separated from the power of sin. We have separated from the penalty of sin (eternal death) through our confession of faith in Jesus Christ as our savior and Lord. Until we are completely cleansed, we all are capable and still in danger of falling into sin, and of dishonoring the faith and the calling profession. We can’t stress this enough
We are the most vulnerable when we are permitted to approach near to God, and when the joys of salvation fill their hearts, should exercise special caution. For:
(a) Then the adversary will be especially desirous to draw away their thoughts from God, and to lead them into sin, as their fall would most signally dishonor the Christian religion.
(b) Then they will be less likely to be on their guard, and more likely to feel themselves strong, and not to need caution and solicitude. Accordingly, it often happens that Christians, after they have been especially favored with the tokens of the divine favor, soon relapse into their former state, or fall into some sin that grieves the hearts of their brethren, or wounds the cause of the Christian religion.
So it is in revivals; so it is in individuals. Churches that are thus favored are filled with joy, and love, and peace. Yet they become self-confident and elated; they lose their humility and their sense of their dependence; they cease to be watchful and prayerful, supposing that all is safe; and the result often is, that a season of revival is succeeded by a time of coldness and declension. And thus, too, it is with individuals. Just the opposite effect is produced from what should be, and from what need be. Christians should then be especially on their guard; and if they then availed themselves of their elevated advantages, churches might be favored with continued revivals and ever-growing piety; and individuals might be filled with joy, and peace, and holiness, and ever-expanding and increasing love.