Skip Heitzig - 1 Corinthians 10:11-11:1
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Would you turn in your Bibles, please, to the book of 1 Corinthians, chapter 10. A quick reminder, though most know but we could have some who are visiting us, first of all, welcome if you're visiting. We consider it not just great that you're here. We consider it an honor that you are here. And I say that because you're either a child of God or you are a potential child of God. And it's our prayer that if you are not yet His, that before you go home tonight you will make that commitment to be His.
So, Wednesday night is the night where, this is sort of how the church started. It started on a Thursday night Bible study in an apartment complex just down the road. And we have continued this format. We believe it is essential format to give people a working knowledge of Scripture, Old and New Testament, every book of the Bible, every chapter of every book of the Bible, every verse of every book of every chapter of every book of the Bible, Old and New Testament, to get the entire counsel of God.
And, I've read the Bible my whole Christian life. I've taught through it now about four or five times. And I always find something new and awesome in it. And I also discover that every time I read it I have forgotten so much that I once knew and remembered. Oh yeah, I forgot about that! Ever get that? It happens to me all the time. So, we have that need because we are humans, fallen humans, and because our minds let out stuff that we once had in them. And our hearts need to be riveted once again with the truth. We have the need to constantly remind ourselves of it.
So, we're going verse by verse through the New Testament book of 1 Corinthians. We made it partway through chapter 10 because I'm slower than molasses. But we don't care because we just stop and then pick it up next week. And we'll eventually finish it, or Jesus will come back and we'll get the full scoop in heaven. So, it's a pretty easy format. I do have an announcement to make. If you were or have been considering a trip to Israel and you're a little hesitant, Israel just this week is opening its borders to all people, vaccinated or unvaccinated, doesn't matter. So, they finally figured it out. Even though they were pretty severe in their lockdowns, they finally figured out that, look, this is something that we know how to manage. This is something we really don't have to worry about anymore. Or, we have a good handle on it. And so they're letting people from all over the world come in, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated.
So, for some people, that was sort of the deal breaker for them, saying, I don't want to get a vaccine. And I've always said, that's up to you, not me. It's up to, nobody should mandate that, let alone me. So, you have a doctor, you have a conscience, you have a prayer life, you have a God that directs you, you figure it out. But, if in figuring it out you'd like to come to Israel with us, then that kind of frees you now to another degree. We would love to have you with us. We're leaving in May. And it's a good time to go. It's a good time to go to Israel. You might say, it always is a good time. But I would say, given the scenario in the world, this is a really good time to go.
I'm going to touch a little bit on that as we open up tonight. I'm going to do a little bit of a diversion, but I'm going to tie it in to this chapter. I want to talk about something that is going on right now in the world scene. And I'm sharing it, one, because you've heard about it, you hear about it, it's daily news, but number two, I think you need to know where we are and what it means in terms of the gravity of the time in which we are living. But I want to do that by kind of giving you the context of chapter 10 to bring you into that, so that we don't lose our ground from last week. Because we only covered a portion of chapter 10 of 1 Corinthians.
So the big idea in chapters 8, 9, and 10 of 1 Corinthians, by now you know it so well, it's the idea of liberty, Christian liberty. What can I do as a Christian? The Bible is pretty clear what we can do as believers and what we can't do as believers, Old and New Testament. It's pretty clear. It's not ambiguous. However, there are some activities that would be considered not black and white but gray areas. They're not clearly delineated. For some, it might be what music they listen to. For others it might be, can I smoke a cigar or a cigarette? For others, can I have a drink or not?
And for them, in those days, it was, can I eat meat that has been sacrificed at an idol temple and then sold in the common shambles, the meat market? Because, for some people that was a huge no-no. For others it was not a big deal. It was not a big deal because to them they had full knowledge that there is only one true God and that all the other gods and goddesses are fake. It's all fake news. They don't exist. People made them up.
And yet, Paul says, yeah, but not so fast on that one. Even though you have knowledge, and even though you have liberty, and by the way, we do have liberty. Let's just establish that. We are free in Christ. We are not unto the law of Moses at all. We have freedom. We have been set free from the law. And we have a relationship that's dynamic with God, a relationship with the living God.
But though that is true, Christian liberty comes with Christian responsibility. Liberty must be balanced out with responsibility. Responsibility to whom? I'm glad you asked. First of all to God, we want to glorify God. And ask ourselves, is this area that I am questioning, does that glorify God? Second, does it edify other people? I guess third, does it amplify the Word and work and truth of God in my own life? Is it beneficial for me?
So these are considerations that Paul is writing to the Corinthians about because to them, this eating meat sacrificed to idols was a big deal. Not a big deal to us in America, still a big deal today in India, and Sri Lanka, and lots of Asian countries where idolatry is rampant and there are still food sacrifices to idols. So for Christians living in those countries, these chapters are very germane, very pertinent, very contemporary, and relevant. To us, we emerge with a principle.
But, in chapter 10, Paul wants to make this point. And he made the point last time we saw this point. He said, though you might have liberty, you have to be careful that you don't abuse the liberty that you have. And the example he uses for the abuse of liberty is none other than the children of Israel. They were liberated. They were given liberty from bondage in Egypt, slavery, a physical slavery. They were in bondage to the Egyptians. God gave them liberty from the physical bondage of slavery. They abused their liberty once they were in the wilderness, with idolatry, with craving after things, with not being happy with the provisions of God, complaining at the provisions of God. So they abused their liberty.
Now you and I, likewise, have been given spiritual liberty. We're not unto the Law of Moses. We have freedom in Christ, freedom from our sins, freedom from the demands and dictates of the religions of mankind. But, we also can abuse our liberty. So that's the idea behind the first few verses of chapter 10. To remind you, let's just read quickly through them.
"Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers," Jewish forefathers, "were under the cloud," that's the shekhinah cloud in the Old Testament, "all passed through the sea," that is the Red Sea, when it opened up they "were all baptized" or immersed "into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food," that's the manna, "all drank of the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ." All of that was explained last week. "But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted." We should not abuse our liberty like they abused their liberty.
Now if you go down to verse 11, he picks up on that and says, "Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition," or instruction, "upon whom the ends of the ages have come." That verse is very important verse. And it really stuck out to me as I was reading it again this week. All those things in the Old Testament that were written about were written for our instruction, our admonition, upon whom the end of the ages have come. So, the Old Testament is relevant to New Testament believers. That's the general truth in that verse. The Old Testament is relevant to New Testament believers. In fact, the Old Testament anticipates the New Testament. It was the Old Testament, you remember, that predicted a new covenant.
God said, I'm going to "make a new" covenant, in Jeremiah, the prophet Jeremiah, "with the house of Israel" not like the old covenant. So the old covenant anticipates the new. Or, as Augustine used to love to say, and I've quoted it so many times, "The New is in the Old contained, the Old is in the New explained." That is, the New Testament is contained in part in the Old Testament, anticipated by the Old Testament, predicted by the Old Testament. It's contained in types, and in figures, and in prophecies. Then we get to the New Testament, we see all the fulfillment of that. And the Old Testament is explained by the New Testament.
So, something is happening right now on the other side of the world, something that people just think, wow, that's strange. But those of us who are Bible believers, we're going, I know what's happening. It is the fact that 190,000 Russian troops are on the border of Ukraine about ready to enter in. In fact, reports are many of those have already made an incursion beyond the borderline and are in Ukraine.
So, we know a few things about Russia. We know that Russia, for example, is run by Vladimir Putin, who has been in charge of that country since 2000, so 22 years. It's not like an American presidency of four years and maybe eight. But they're in for the long haul, like a lot of world rulers are. And so, when they make political moves, they don't play. They don't play checkers like we do. They play chess. They think strategic moves down the line, depending on who's going to be in office in the future on the world scene. They've got that figured out.
So, Russia, with Vladimir Putin, it's a very wealthy country. It's a country that has a huge military machine, nuclear capabilities, world influence, allies on its side. And it has a plan with nations around it. So, for example, in '08, in 2008, Russia invaded the Republic of Georgia, not the state of Georgia, the Republic of Georgia on the other side of the world. I was in that country, and they explained to me how that invasion, that incursion, took place. That was 2008.
In 2014 the Russians also invaded Ukraine so that they could annex Crimea the following year in 2015. So they have, in the past, this tendency to want to take land that used to be part of the old Soviet Bloc. It's always been Putin's idea to rebuild the ancient tsar Soviet Republic, the Soviet Union, like it used to be and get more land. It's always been in his sights. The question is, with Crimea, with Georgia, with Ukraine, is that it? Or is it just the beginning?
Well, that's where it gets interesting. Because Vladimir Putin and Russia have had an interesting relationship with Iran for a number of years now. How so? Well, it was Russia that helped build the very first nuclear facility in Iran, giving billions of dollars to this day. Every year, a couple billion dollars worth of arms are sold to Iran every year from the Soviet Union, from Russia. Right now in Iran 1,000 Russian scientists are working on that nuclear capability.
In Syria, we know that Russia has interest in the Middle East because they have a port in Syria, in, I'm trying to remember the name of this town, but it's in the northern part of that town. There's a Russian seaport, and it's a permanent seaport. It's huge, naval base for their naval operations. So we know that they have an interest in the Middle East. They have a footprint in Syria. They have funded Iran. Iran is the largest state-sponsored exporter of terrorism on planet Earth. Iran has said they want to destroy Israel, and they want to destroy the United States.
But there's another party that's interesting, and that is President Erdogan in Turkey. Turkey was, well, let me go back a little bit in history. For 600 years the Turks ruled the world. The Ottoman Empire ruled the world. In fact, at its zenith, the Ottoman Empire controlled a million square miles on three different continents. The Ottoman Empire came to an end in the mid 1900s because of the West. Put an end to it. Established the State of Israel, the territory of Jordan, they kind of carved out the Middle East to what they thought were amicable solutions.
Turkey has never forgotten that. At one time turkey was a moderate country, and a place where, it's a beautiful country, by the way. I've been there a couple of different times. It's gorgeous. But it was moderate politically. But Erdogan has definitely moved it toward a radical Islamic state. He leans in that direction.
What makes it interesting is that there is this political alliance between Russia, Iran, that fun stuff going on in Syria and Lebanon, and Turkey. Now all of that is interesting because of a prophecy in the Book of Ezekiel. Remember what he said here. All these things were written beforehand for our instruction, our admonition, upon whom the ends of the earth have come, or ends of the age have come.
In Ezekiel, and now I'm turning to the prophet Ezekiel. You can either turn there or not, or just keep in mind this prophet. By the way, 27% of the Bible is prophetic. That's about a third, right? 27%, almost one third of the entire Bible, is predicting the future, God through the prophets predicting the future. About half of those predictions are past tense, have already been fulfilled. About another half, we're waiting for them to be fulfilled. But because half have been fulfilled, pretty good indication the rest are going to be fulfilled, especially when you look at the detail.
So in Ezekiel 36 and 37, it talks about the rise of Israel. Keep in mind Israel has been kicked out of its land, and went into captivity. God promised they would come back. But in chapter 36, let me just give you a quick rundown. Verse 8, it says, "But You, O mountains of Israel, you shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to My people Israel, for they are about to come. For indeed I am for you, and I will turn to you, and you shall be tilled and sown. I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, all of it; all of the cities shall be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt."
That presupposes a destruction of sorts. It presupposes a return into the land to rebuild it. "I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bear young; I will make you inhabited as in former times, and do better for you than at your beginnings. Then you shall know that I am the Lord. Yes, I will cause men to walk on you, My people Israel; they shall take possession of you, and you shall be their inheritance; no more shall you bereave them of their children.
So God promises a restoration, a repopulation, even a spiritual restoration at the end of that chapter. But, in chapter 37, we have an image, a picture, of that principle. The principle is given in chapter 36, or the promise is given of Israel coming back into their land, being strengthened, repopulating it, inhabiting it, growing stronger, producing fruit, et cetera. Chapter 37 is a prophetic image of that.
Verse 1, "The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; indeed they were very dry. And he said to me, 'Son of man, can these bones live?' So I answered, 'O Lord God, you know.'" It's a good way to answer God when He asks you a question that you're not sure is the right answer. Right? Lord, You know all things. What is it?
"Again He said to me, 'Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, "O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God to these bones, 'Surely I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.' "Most of you are familiar with his vision of the dry bones. What he sees in the vision is the bones coming back to life, the sinews, the muscles, the flesh. And it grows into a strong army.
Verse 11, chapter 37, "Then he said to me, 'Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, "Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!"
When would Israel have ever said that? Well, they would have said that in the Babylonian captivity. They would have said that previously in the Assyrian captivity. They would have said that at the fall of Jerusalem, and the incursion of the Romans, and the destruction of the temple, and the banishment of Jews from the land during 70 AD. They would have said that in World War II when 6 million were slaughtered in the ovens of Nazi Germany. There were a lot of times that they could say, we're done. We're kaput. It's over.
"Therefore prophesy and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God, "Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel." I'm going to bring you, as it were, back from the dead. I'm going to resurrect you as a nation. And you'll be strong again in the land that I gave to your forefathers. Great! We got the promise. We got the picture. We keep moving on in Ezekiel. And you say, I thought you were teaching 1 Corinthians? I'll get there. It's a short chapter. So I'll get there. We covered half of it already.
Chapter 38 of Ezekiel, we come to a challenge. And this is where it gets interesting and contemporary. "Now," verse 1, "the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 'Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him, and say, "Thus says the Lord God, 'Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws, and lead you out, with all your army, horses, and horsemen, all splendidly clothed, a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords. Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya are with them, all of them with shield and helmet; Gomer and all its troops; the house of Togarmah from the far north and all its troops, many people are with you. Prepare yourselves and be ready, you and all your companies that are gathered about you; and be a guard for them.'"
The chapter, chapter 38, describes a coalition of armies that gather together at some point, it's never happened before in history, given the names, and will come from the north and sweep down to attack and invade the nation of Israel, the chapter goes on to say. What's interesting is the people that are mentioned in this chapter. First of all in verse 10, "Thus says the Lord God, 'On that day it shall come to pass thoughts will arise in your mind, and you will make an evil plan. You will say, "I will go up against a land of unwalled villages."' Israel always had villages around its cities, around its towns. But today they don't. Today they're unwalled villages and towns because it's a modern culture, a modern society, very, very wealthy one, I would add.
"Who dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, having neither bars nor gates, to take plunder, to take booty, to stretch out your hand against the waste places that are again inhabited, and against a people gathered from the nations, who have acquired livestock and goods, who dwell in the midst of the land. Sheba, Dedan, merchants of Tarshish, all their young lions," on and on and on. The coalition mentioned here are between a few different interesting names. The names, in antiquity, are given in this chapter. Let me give you their modern counterparts. First of all, there's Russia, that is Magog, Meshech, Rosh, all of that are areas to the north of Israel, in the far north, the area of Russia. Persia is mentioned. That's the ancient name for Iran. Also in verse 6, Gomer is mentioned. That's the ancient name for Turkey.
So here the text says that at some point in the future these countries, that include today Russia, and Iran, and Turkey, and others, are going to make a coalition together. And that has never happened before. Now it has happened. It has happened today. It is contemporary as you can get.
Now when that day is, and I'm not here to predict when that day is, but, "it will come to pass," verse 18 of chapter 38, don't worry, I'm about done here. "And it will come to pass at that time when Gog comes against the land of Israel, says the Lord God, "My fury will show in My face. For in My jealousy and in the fire of My wrath I have spoken, surely in that day there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel, so that the fish of the sea, the birds of the heavens, the beasts of the field, all the creeping things that creep on the earth, all the men who are on the face of the earth shall shake at My presence. The mountains shall be thrown down, the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground."
It goes on to describe that when that battle takes place, the coalition of these nations that come against Israel, that God will intervene and wipe out those armies and shake Israel and establish, Now when that battle takes place is a debate among even evangelical eschatological scholars, as to is it before the rapture of the church, is it after the rapture? I've got my own ideas.
However, you're seeing right now in Russia with Ukraine, with their presence in Syria, with their interests in Iran and Lebanon and Syria, and with the coalition with Erdogan and Turkey, by the way the Russians have sold an anti-ballistic defense missile system to the tune of $2.5 billion to Turkey. So, they have already formed a political alliance and coalition. And again, this has never happened historically. It has happened now. So we're reading and hearing about this invasion into Ukraine, and we just think, oh yeah, you know, though, it's on the other side of the world. We are watching an alignment take place unlike we have ever witnessed before. Now on one hand, it's very frightening. But for those of us who are Bible believers, it's awfully exciting at the same time.
And here's what I want to say, if there's ever a time for you to get right with God, it's now! If you're fudging, and I've got time, maybe, I've heard about this, now is the time to walk with God in faith. Because Jesus said in Luke chapter 21, He was giving signs for His coming, He said, when these things begin to take place, when they begin to take place, lift up your eyes and look up, for your redemption is drawing near. So these things, these news, these tidings of Vladimir Putin and what's going on with the Ukrainian people and the tragedy that is about to unfold in that part of the world, it is being set up. And all of that causes us to lift up our eyes and look up because our redemption is closer than it's ever been before.
So, because that was happening overseas, I thought we should at least frame that for you biblically so you know what to look for and you're not surprised when it happens. So, "All these things", verse 11, chapter 10 of 1 Corinthians, "happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition," our instruction, "on whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall." That's a timeless principle, is it not? It's a principle right out of Proverbs chapter 16, "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall."
And then verse 13, "No temptation", this is where we ended last week, "No temptation has taken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." All of us are common men and women. And because we are common men and women, we have common temptations. It happens to everyone who has a flesh, who has a fallen nature. We all get tempted. We all have unique areas in which we get tempted. I bet you have a hunch to what those areas are. And so the Bible says it's common that you'll get tempted, but God will provide a way. He'll make a way of escape.
Now here's the deal, and I touched on it last week, God will make the way of escape. You have to take the way of escape. It's not like automatic, you just sort of sit around and veg out in the Spirit, and then the temptation goes away. You have to look for the way of escape that God makes, and then you have to be the one to take what He has made. Take it. What does that mean? Sometimes you've got to just use your legs, turn around and run. That's what Joseph did when Potiphar grabbed his cloak and said, let's go to bed. You're handsome. My husband's not home. Let's have sexual relations. He was smart. He realized, I'm in a tight spot. I'm in a tough situation. He just turned around and ran out the door. God gave him a way of escape. He took it.
For others of you, it's change the channel. Go to a different website. Get off the computer. Stop talking to that person. Don't go near that facility, that place. God gives you a way of escape. Take the way of escape. "With the temptation will also give you a way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." A lot of us flee temptation, but then we give the devil our forwarding address.
I love what Martin Luther said. He said, "You can't stop birds from flying around your head, but you can certainly stop them from making a nest in your hair." So the devil does tempt your flesh because you are common man, common mankind, men and women. And temptation will knock at the door. But it's your fault if you invite temptation in to come to dinner. So when Satan knocks at the door, say, Jesus, would you answer that please? And call upon the name of the Lord. Call on the name of Jesus. Ask Him you'll be surprised just what a simple, heartfelt prayer during a moment of temptation can yield.
Therefore, back to the point of what we began with. Therefore, and now we'll finish the chapter, see where we are? Look at it. Come on, not a problem. "Therefore, my beloved", I love that about Paul! The Corinthians were not the easiest people to get along with. They were divisive. Some liked Paul, some like Apollo, some like Cephas. They were divided as to what leader they followed. Some of them challenged Paul's authority over them as an apostle. And even with all that challenge and all that blowback, I love that the apostle, take this to heart, pastors, staff pastors, men and women of God who lead groups, "Therefore, my beloved,"
Even with that he didn't say, therefore you idiots, you lowlifes who don't trust my authority. He said "my beloved." I love you deeply and dearly. "Flee from idolatry. Flee from idolatry." Now again, let me frame this for you. He said the children of Israel were given their liberty. They fell into idolatry in the wilderness. They abused their liberty. You have freedom in Christ. You live in Corinth. And I told you that in Corinth it was replete with idolatry. They were polytheistic. That is, they worshipped many gods.
They were also polydemonistic, they believed there were demons everywhere in the air. And they believed that demons attached themselves to food. Remember that a couple of weeks ago? And that they would alight upon the food, and they would work their way into your life by a person eating that meat. The only way to get rid of it in paganism was to sacrifice an animal or sacrifice the meat, or dedicate the animal or the meat to an idol, to a god. The god would be so flattered that you called upon him or her in that sacrifice that they would neutralize the demons on the food. True story. That's how whacked it was.
So it was a city filled with idolatry, idolatrous notions. So, Paul writing to Corinthian Christians says, "Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry." Now he's going to explain that in detail and answer all of these issues that we have been sort of using other examples to fortify. Now he's going to kind of bring it all to a close. Keep in mind, they're still wondering, OK, they sacrifice to idols, they sell the meat in the market.
Also, I have unbelieving friends who invite me over to their house, and they serve me meat that may or may not have, been probably was, offered to an idol in the city. So, I have knowledge. I know that the idol is nothing. It's fake news, not a real God, not a real goddess. There's only one true, living God. So what's the big deal? I'm not participating in idolatry.
And it also seems, according to most scholars, that the Corinthians were, many of them, Corinthian Christians believed they could go to pagan festivals with the idea that, I want to use this as a platform to lead people to Christ. So I'll go to these pagan festivals, but I won't really worship the demon, god, or goddess that they're worshipping. But I'll be there. So those people weaker in the faith, or just starting out in the faith, or considering the Christian faith can see me there, and I can use that as a platform to witness. So just keep that in your mind as we go through this. "Therefore, my beloved," flee idolatry. I speak to wise men; judge for yourselves what I say." Use your logic here. Use your mind. I was going to say "lose your mind", don't do that. Use your mind.
Now, here's an example. He's going to give a couple of examples. Then he's going to make the point. "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?" He is speaking about the Lord's Supper. And in those days the Lord's Supper was often accompanied with a meal, called the love feast, an agape feast. They would gather the church together. They would have a meal together, sharing in what people brought, like a potluck.
Some Christian like to say "pot faith, because Christians don't have luck," and so they've got to make a big deal out of it. Anyway, I've been around too many Baptists that have told me that, so, and then at the end of the meal they would take communion together. And by the way, the Lord's Supper, we also call it communion, and here's why we call it communion, because it shows up in verse 16. "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?" So, when we take the Lord's Supper together there's two dimensions. There's a vertical dimension, us with God. We're communing with Him. And there's a horizontal dimension, we're communing with each other.
In fact, in the truest sense we are becoming one with each other because the very bread that we break and distribute goes inside of you, gets assimilated into your body. It actually becomes a part of your body, eventually, cellular structure. Likewise, the bread that I take becomes a part of me. So because we're taking from the same source, we are literally becoming one with each other. We are communing with each other. And, it talks about bread in that verse. It says "The bread which we break, is it not the communion?" The word here for bread is "loaf", singular. And that's because the early church, generally when they had communion, took one loaf of bread, distributed each part to the different people who had come to the assembly. They were communing with each other over the meal, becoming one with each other.
Something else, I just can't pass this up. I want you to just get this. Notice it says "the cup of blessing." "The cup of blessing" happens to be a technical term. Paul was Jewish. He was a rabbi. The cup of blessing in the Passover meal, the Passover meal had not 1 cup, but you know how many? Four cups, four cups throughout the evening for the Passover meal. The cup of blessing was the third cup. The first cup was the cup of sanctification. The second cup was the cup of celebrating the judgments and the inheritance of God's people from the Egyptians. The third cup was the cup of redemption. The fourth cup was the cup of praise or consummation.
Jesus took the cup of blessing, the third cup, the cup of redemption, and He said "This is My blood, the blood of the new covenant, shed for you." But then something interesting happened. If you look at the accounts of the Last Supper, the Passover Seder that Jesus had with His disciples, there's a record that He took the cup. So He had taken cup one, two, and three, the third cup of blessing.
And then He made a remark. He said, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine anymore until I drink it with you in My Father's kingdom. And there is not a record that Jesus took the fourth cup, the cup of praise. It just is recorded that after the third cup, they sang a hymn, and they went out toward the Mount of Olives. And then we have Jesus entering into the Garden of Gethsemane.
But what's interesting is in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed and He said, Father, if it's possible, take this cup from Me. Nevertheless not My will, but Your will be done. I think the cup He was referring to was the cup of consummation that He did not drink that night at the Passover, but He said, I'm going to drink it alone. We can drink together these other cups because we're celebrating what happened in the past. But this is something I must bear alone. Father, not My will but Thine be done. And He resigned. He consummated the sacrifice in taking the fourth cup, the cup of suffering, to Himself.
Anyway, that's just a little FYI. A little, no extra charge on the Bible study. When he says "the cup of blessing," it's the third cup that we take from that, the cup of communion. So these are rhetorical questions that he's asking in verse 16. "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?" Answer, yep, it is. "The bread that we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? Yep, it is. So these are rhetorical questions meant to have an affirmative answer. "For we, being many, are one bread, one body; for we all partake of that one bread." Amplifying the truth.
Now, that's one example. Here's another example, the children of Israel going to the temple. First example Christians getting together for communion, the Lord's Supper. Second example, Jewish people going to the temple to offer sacrifices. Let's look at it. "Observe Israel," verse 18, "after the flesh", that is physical Israel, the descendants of the tribes of Israel. "Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?" So if you are Jewish, or you were Jewish, and you went to the temple back then with your animal sacrifice, you would give it to the priest. The priest would kill it. The priest would offer it. A portion of the sacrifice would be given to the priest to consume. A portion would be given for you to take home and eat and enjoy. And a portion would be offered to God.
So, he is giving two examples to make a greater point in verses 19 and 20, which are, "What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or that what is offered to idols is anything? But I say that the things which the Gentile sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons."
So, go back to those two examples. When you and I take communion together, we take the bread, we take the cup, we are showing solidarity with each other and with Christ when we take communion. Example number two, the children of Israel with their sacrifices going to the temple, they are showing solidarity to their God and to each other by that sacrifice. So, his point being is this, if you go to a temple sacrifice, a temple ceremony, and you indulge in the meal there at the temple, that pagan temple, you are showing solidarity with that pagan deity and with those pagans who are there.
You say, now wait a minute Paul! I have a problem with that! Because in chapter 8 you said, we know that an idol is nothing. That's right, I did say that, Paul would say. I did say, you have knowledge. But I also said, though you have knowledge, you have to balance your knowledge with the responsibility of something else. An idol is nothing. An idol is a piece of wood, piece of stone, piece of metal. That's all it is. That's all it is. But, it represents something. And what it represents is not just a made up god, but actually, according to Paul, demons.
You say, aww, that was Paul. He was by this time a little narrow and legalistic. No, actually, you'd be wrong if you said that because way back in Deuteronomy chapter 32, Moses said to the children of Israel concerning them, their forefathers, "They provoked God to jealousy with foreign gods; with abominations they provoked him to anger. They sacrificed to demons, not to God, to gods they did not know, to new gods, new arrivals that your fathers did not fear."
So behind that worship system, behind that little idol in Corinth was actually a demon entity. So Paul said, I don't want you to have fellowship with demons. You show solidarity to Christ and to each other when you take the Lord's Supper. You show solidarity if you're a Jewish person at the temple in Jerusalem. Even so, you could be showing solidarity to paganism if you are going to these public festivals and eating what is there with you, for you.
So, what does that teach us? What is the overarching principle? Simply this, and don't miss it, there is only one true God in the world. There are not many gods. You say, well there's thousands of religions. Yes. All of them are demonically inspired. All of them are demonically inspired. Every world religion, every system created by man throughout history, except for the revelation given to us by God and Holy Scripture, is nothing less than a false worship, and behind that false worship are demon entities.
Why would they be there? Simple, distraction, man. They want to distract people from what is true, what is real. So they offer a counterfeit. They offer a counterfeit experience, a counterfeit expression, counterfeit scriptures. The god this age, Satan, has blinded those eyes, those minds of those who believe not, Paul said. So Paul is saying, I know I did say in chapter 8 an idol is nothing. But now I'm telling you, be careful because it represents something demonic. So have that knowledge as well.
Verse 19 "What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? But I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I don't want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and of the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?
All things are lawful for me," this is now the summary of it all. "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful; all things are lawful for me, but all things do not edify." Now let me recap something I mentioned in chapter 6. I want to tie these ends together because we're reading like a chapter a week, maybe. We've done two chapters, but that's like by God's good grace and your patience, but half a chapter last week. So anyway, in chapter 6, verse 12, he introduces this same principle. He says, "All things are lawful for me, not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any." That's chapter 6, verse 12.
Now he reiterates part of that and adds a third. "All things are lawful, not all things are helpful; then, all things are lawful, but not all things edify." So, we now have our answer. If we're faced with uncertain areas, gray areas, not black, not white, can I do this, can I do that, it's not clearly delineated in the Scripture, I apply three principles.
Number one, the test of utility, does it help me? Is it beneficial to me? If I do this thing, if I get involved in this, if I eat this or drink this, or perform this activity, is this something that is expedient for me? Does it help me? Does it benefit me, especially in my Christian walk? If not, do I really need to do it or have it? That's the test of utility.
Second is the test of authority. Am I going to control it, or is it going to control me? Do I have the authority to say yes or no to it, or is it going to eventually form a habit, an addiction, so it's controlling me, I'm not controlling it? "All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any," chapter 6, verse 12. That's the second test.
The third test mentioned here in verse 23, "All things are lawful for me, but not all things edify." That's the test of charity, love, what he mentioned in the previous chapter. Yep, you have knowledge. You can do all things. But, I've been telling you, you should balance that out with how you love people who are watching what you do. Let love be your guide. Is it helpful? Will it control me? Will it bless other people, or will it hinder other people?
So here's an example. I've had people come up to me with this example. A couple, not married to each other, living together, but they say not having any sexual relations at all with each other, in separate rooms, but they're doing it simply for economic reasons, combine their incomes, defray costs. All things are lawful.
But, somebody looking at that union, are they going to understand it? Or would a brother or sister who doesn't understand it be stumbled by it? And could you be placing yourself into a temptable position, where God has given you a way of escape, but because you're around each other all the time it becomes easier and easier not to take the way of escape, and you would eventually compromise. There's other issues at play. The Bible doesn't say, thou shall not live together to defray expenses, didn't say that.
But you apply these three principles, and the answer will come easier than you think. Principle of utility, principle of authority, principle of charity, apply that to any area of your life, and you'll come out the other end smelling pretty sweet. Verse 24, capping or attaching to the end part of verse 23, "Let no one seek his own, but each one the other's well-being." That's part of the law of love.
Now, don't be confused by all that because Paul almost seems to go back and forth a little bit. He goes, "Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience's sake; for 'the earth is the Lord's, and its fullness.'" So you go into the marketplace called the "shambles," you're not going to a festival at a pagan temple. And at this point, you're not at a friend's house. You're just buying meat in the meat market. When you're going through the shambles, and you go to a meat market, and you see a good deal on beef, or lamb, or pork, or chicken, or whatever, and you see it, you go, wow, it looks good. You could say, hey, was this offered to an idol? Paul says, don't ask. If it's a good deal, take it. Don't even ask questions. He says, "for conscience's sake." Why does he say that?
Now he's giving you, by the way, this is a very un-Jewish principle. You know about Judaism, right? They eat kosher meat. It has to be signified by a rabbi that it's kosher. There's kosher and non-kosher. But Jesus said in Mark chapter 7, it's not what goes into a man that defiles him, it's what comes out from his heart. So for the Christian there is no kosher, un-kosher, lawful, unlawful. You can eat anything you want. You just give God thanks and eat it. Now it's not necessarily good for your heart, but that's a medical issue. That's something different.
But as far as a biblical freedom issue, eat anything you want. Don't ask questions. Why? Because "the earth is the Lord's," Psalm 24. He's quoting Scripture. Psalm 24, verse 1, "The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof, the world and all who dwell in it." That's the text. So Paul is saying, God has given us these things. Enjoy them. But look at verse 27. "If any of those who do not believe invites you to dinner, and you desire to go," so now you're going to dinner at an unbeliever's house. You're going into their home. They're giving you a meal. "Eat whatever is set before you, asking no question for conscience's sake."
So what if you go into an unbeliever's house? You get invited to dinner. And they say, thank you for coming, man. We're really glad that you're a part of our family. And we have a beautiful meal prepared. And you say, well, I'm glad to be here because I'd like to tell you about Somebody that I met that changed my life. And I hope we get to talk about Him over dinner. You're going to witness to them. But what would it be like if you brought your own food in, and said, listen we brought our own meat to cook that hasn't been sacrificed to your idol. You are going to end the conversation. You're not going to have any inroads at all. They're going to ask you to leave because in that culture that was an insult. Paul just says, go to dinner. Don't ask questions. "For conscience's sake.
But if anyone says to you, 'this was offered to idols,' then he says, don't eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for conscience's sake; for 'the earth is the Lord's, and all of its fullness.'" So if they volunteer the information, they say, hey, before you eat that, I just want you to know this was offered to an idol. Now who would do that? An unbeliever might do it. An unbeliever might say, hey, this was sacrificed to an idol. And the unbeliever might say that to a believer to test the believer. Keep in mind, at that time, Christians, to most pagans, were a subset of Judaism. They knew that Jews had strict dietary laws. So, they would say, oh, this is a sacrifice to an idol, and then he'd watch to see if you're going to eat it or not. How dedicated and sincere you really are about it? Or it could be a believer who says, this was sacrificed to an idol. And that person may or may not have a sensitive conscience. So, Paul just says, don't eat it. If they tell you it's sacrificed to an idol, just don't do it. Make it easier.
"For the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness." Now why would he quote the same verse? Simply, the same God who provided meat that anybody can eat at any time, go ahead and eat it, don't ask questions, is the same God who provided other stuff you can eat besides the meat that you shouldn't eat because it bothers somebody. Right? There's a lot of other things out there God has made. Eat that.
"Conscience, I say," verse 29, "not your own, but that of the other. Why is my liberty judged by another man's conscience? But if I partake with thanks, why am I evil spoken up for the food over which I give thanks?" Of course, the answer is, simply because I don't want to offend the conscience of somebody else. I want to, I'm going to withhold my liberty for the sake of somebody else, for the sake of the Gospel, if they're an unbeliever; for the sake of the scruples of a weak brother or sister, if they volunteer the information.
"Therefore," verse 31, we're almost done. "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God." So whether you're Jewish, whether you're a Gentile, whether you're a believer, with any of those two backgrounds, do all to the glory of God. "Just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit," that's chapter 9 he's referring to. He was the grand example in that chapter. "But the profit of many, that they may be saved." And then verse 1 of chapter 11, which belongs in with the rest, "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ."
We did it. Even with a diversion in chapter 36 through 38 of Ezekiel. Interesting times we live in. Interesting, interesting times. 40 years ago when I started studying prophecy, 50 years ago, I's, wow! I did not think I would see the day that I'm seeing today with Russia, Turkey, and Iran so unified against Israel. By the way, it presupposes Israel has been out of the land and is now suddenly back in the land. They had been out of the land until May 14 of 1948, so that's a recent development. It also presupposes that Israel, unlike its past, will have the kind of wealth in that country that other nations, including huge nations to the north will want. And they do. All of that is true. The economy of Israel is one of the strongest on the earth. And it has become the eye and the envy of people like Iran and like the Soviet Union and Turkey all together have an interest in it. So we're living in that day that the prophet spoke about. How utterly exciting it is! So we look up because our redemption draws near.
Father, thank You that we are living in these days. Thank You that You have given us the Scriptures that reveal to us so clearly, so plainly, some of these events that we are now witnessing. Lord, I pray for those whose lives aren't what they should be, who aren't walking with You, who do not have communion with God, let alone with God's people. I pray they would come to make Jesus their King, their Lord, their Savior, that You would transform lives.
And just before we end praying, with our heads bowed, our eyes closed, if you're with us tonight and you've wandered away from God, you're not walking with Jesus Christ, maybe you had some experience in your past, some thing that happened in your earlier years, your youth group, but tonight you're not walking with the Lord, you're not living in obedience to Him, you're not glorifying Him. And perhaps the Spirit of God is awakening you. Maybe COVID has awoken you. Maybe what's going on, on the world scene is waking you up. If that's the case, good. As Paul said, now is the time to awake out of your slumber. It is high time.
So if that's you, or if perhaps you're here and you've never given your life to Christ, maybe you've been a religious person but you've never personally received Christ as Lord and Savior, you can do it right now. I want to pray for you, but I need to know who I'm praying for. I want you just to slip your hand up in the air if you want to receive Christ as Lord or come back to Him. Just raise it up in the air. Just really quickly, raise it up high. God bless you to my left toward the back. Anybody else? Again, on my left, toward the back, but in toward the center. Thank you for that. Anybody else? Over here to my left. Who else? Raise your hand up. Anyone else?
Father, thank you for these. Do a great work of transformation. Bring peace to any troubled spots that they're dealing with. Place their feet on solid ground as they walk with You. In Jesus's name we pray, Amen.
Let's all stand to our feet. We're going to close in a song I'm going to ask those of you who raised your hands, a few of you did, to get up from where you're standing. Find the nearest aisle. Come right up here to the front. And when you get here in just a moment, I'm going to lead you in a prayer to receive Christ. So just as Kevin has come up to the front to show you where to come, as we sing this song get up and come. If you raised your hand, way in the back or in the middle or on the side, get up now and come and stand right up here. I'll meet you up here and we'll pray together. Come on.
Give it just another minute. I saw a few hands right over here. Somebody over on this side, right in the corner, and right in the middle, just get up and come. We're not doing this to embarrass you. We're doing this to encourage you. We're saying with you, it's the right thing to do. It's the right moment to make that choice.
I'm about to pray with those who have made their way up front. Anybody else want to join them? Take a good hard look at your life, and just ask yourself, am I living for God? Is my life what it should be before the Lord? If not, just take that step. Those of you who have come forward, I hope you feel loved. I hope you feel accepted. I'm going to lead you in a prayer. I want you to pray this out loud after me. Say:
Lord, I give You my life. I know I'm a sinner. Forgive me. I believe in Jesus, that He died on the cross, that He shed His blood for me, that He rose again. I turn from my sin. I turn to Jesus as Savior. I want to follow Him as Lord. Help me. In Jesus's name, Amen.