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"Therefore, Beloved: Flee!"
1 Corinthians 10:14-22
Wednesday AM Bible Study
September 26, 2007
Theme: Those who linger close to the edge of sin put themselves in danger of falling into its clutches.
Some people—almost as a matter of pride—seek to see how close to the edge of this world they can be; whereas, in reality, the godly man or woman seeks to stay as far away from the sins of this world as they can get. The Corinthians were very much in danger of falling into sin through the arrogance with which they exercised their "right" to eat meat served to idols; and Paul writes to warn them of the danger.
His warning applies to us as well. We may not have any temptation to fall into idolatry through eating meat that had been offered to idols; but we can very easily fall over the edge in other ways. Any time we flirt with worldly sins through our over-confident assertion of our "liberties" in Christ, we're placing ourselves in the same danger that Paul wrote about in our passage this morning.
I. THE GENERAL APPEAL (v. 1).
A. Paul speaks to his readers in a respectful but logical way. He uses a word, here translated "therefore", that speaks strongly of the logical consequence of what preceded it (vv. 1-13). It can be translated, "Wherefore" or "As a consequence". Paul is here building on the warnings he gave in verses 12-13. It is a call (1) not to be so overly confident in our own power to "stand"; and (2) to flee, lest we fail to take the way of escape from temptation that God has provided. Paul makes this strong appeal; but he makes it respectfully and affectionately—calling them "my beloved".
B. The appeal he makes to them is to "flee idolatry". They thought that they could dabble close to the edge of idolatry through the eating of meat served to idols and remain unaffected by it. But there are some sins that you don't linger around and resist. You must not try to negotiate with them; but actively flee from them (see also 6:18).
II. THE REASONABLE DEFENSE (vv. 2-18).
A. Paul knows that he is speaking to those who think themselves "wise" and "knowledgeable" (see 8:1ff). And so, he speaks to those who are wise men; and invites them to judge for themselves what he says (see Acts 17:11). Paul here respects the Corinthians. He doesn't simply order them to do what he says; but invites them to look into the matter more carefully so that they'll be motivated by their own recognition of the truth of what he says.
B. Paul first points to the example of the believers' celebration of the Lord's supper to show that those who participate in a rite become partakers of it. He argues that those who partake of the cup of the Lord's table, with which we "bless" or "give thanks" to God for Christ's sacrifice, are symbolically partakers of His blood (see 11:17-34; also Matthew 26:26-30; Luke 24:28-31). Likewise, those who break the bread (thus eating of it) also enter into communion with the body of Christ. There is not many "breads", but only one loaf—just as there is only one body of Christ (Ephesians 4:4; 1 Corinthians 1:13). Therefore, those who "partake" of it actually "participate" in it.
C. Paul also points to the Old Testament, regarding "Israel after the flesh" (that is, in regard to its outward ceremonial laws). Those who eat of the sacrifices (that is, the priests; see Lev. 7:6, 15, 18-20), are partakers of the altar upon which the offering had been made. They, in the eating of the offering, actually become identified with the offering itself.
III. THE CLEAR WARNING (vv. 19-22).
A. The point that Paul seeks to make in this is not that the idols are anything, nor that the things offered to them are actually affected (see 8:4-6). But there are spiritual forces involved. The things offered to idols are, in actuality, offered to demons; and the man or woman of God is to avoid such things (Deuteronomy 18:9-14). To participate in the things that are involved in the worship of these idols is to involve one's self with a demon.
B. Paul gives a sober warning in this regard: that the man or woman of God cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of a demon; nor participate in the table of God and the table of a demon. To do so is to temp our jealous God—who has betrothed us to Himself—to stand up and defend His interest in us. "Are we stronger than He?" Paul asks (Hebrews 10:31).
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The nature of some aspects of this world is such that we cannot be partakers of those things without also becoming participants in the sinful aspects of them. This gives us cause to evaluate those aspects of our culture that we feel the liberty to be partakers of. What do we allow ourselves to be entertained by? What kind of places do we go to for social interaction? What sort of business agreements do we enter into? Are we being drawn into sin by that which we feel free to enjoy?
As Paul says, "All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify" (1 Corinthians 10:23). May we heed the warning of the Holy Spirit; and not allow ourselves to be drawn in to that from which we should flee!
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