As my pastor always says, “whenever we find the word ‘therefore’ in scripture, we should pay attention to find out what it is ‘there for’.” Today’s passage starts with “therefore” so we must remember what we read previously in God hates the sin, not the sinner. Paul was talking about the example we have in the Israelites and the slavery of sinfulness. Knowing how lives full of sin keep us away from the presence of God and enslave us…
14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to wise men; you judge what I say. 16 Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? 17 Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread. 18 Look at the nation Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers in the altar? 19 What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons. 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. 22 Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? We are not stronger than He, are we?
Let us not get confused, previously Paul was talking about our physical actions being a stumbling block to those weaker in the faith. Here, he is talking about our spiritual practices. Jesus said, “a man cannot serve two masters.” Paul’s exhortation here is to be careful not to simulate into the culture around us lest we “fall away from the faith” and become deceived by things ungodly. This is the reason why we must continue with spiritual practices such as prayer, bible study, and community. If we don’t stay focused on the things of God, we will easily become distracted and next thing we know, we are very far from God.
Paul is explaining to the Corinthians that even though idols aren’t real gods, worshipping them is still sinful because it pulls our heart away from the One True God and towards an artificial god. Remember, it isn’t about our actions, but our heart condition. Partaking of spiritual ceremonies that are designed to honor a false god is worshipping it instead of the real God and if we do it as just a “silly ritual”, eventually our hearts will follow. Not only does this send mixed signals about following Christ to those around you, but it pulls you from your current relationship with God.
How are you partaking in the worship of another god? Have you become so culturally relevant that you have begun to pull away from God? How can you strengthen your relationship with God so as to avoid this deception?