"THE DEVILíS CUP"

First Corinthians 10.14-22

INTRODUCTION:

1. Turn in your Bible to First Corinthians 10.14-22. Before we look at todayís text, let me spend a few moments reviewing some things.

2. Our text places us right in the middle of that portion of the book in which Paul deals with questions that were asked him by the Corinthians. That part of the epistle includes all of chapters 7 through 15.

3. What was the first question Paul dealt with? It was the question of Christian liberty, the freedom that the child of God now has to do right.

4. And so involved is Paulís answer to their question concerning Christian liberty that we are still studying the answer all the way into chapter 10.

5. Folks, itís with good reason that Paul spends four chapters on Christian liberty. He needed to. You see, we Christians have a terrible problem of attempting to take advantage of the freedom God has given to us and abusing it.

6. God has given us the liberty of marrying, so that our God-given and legitimate physical needs will be met without committing sin. But what do we do? Christians sometimes act like lost people when they fornicate and adulterate and divorce and marry out of Godís will. So Paul wrote chapter seven to show how liberty is properly applied to marriage and physical needs and desires and to knowing who to marry.

7. God has given us the freedom to eat what we want to eat and to generally conduct ourselves the way we want to. But what do we do? We use our liberty to run roughshod over weaker brothers in Christ, offending and luring them, by our own actions, into doing things they will feel guilty about later. Paul wrote chapter eight to show how liberty applied to that area of the Christianís life.

8. Why, even in his own life there were problems with liberty. When Paul voluntarily restrained himself and served the Corinthians without pay, they automatically assumed that he didnít deserve to be paid for serving in that Church. He wrote chapter nine to inform them that not only did he have a right to be paid if he wanted it, but that the reason he restrained himself in this and other ways was to get folks saved.

9. He denied himself, not because it was required of him, but because it was expedient for the cause of Christ. It was the proper way to use liberty. In doing that Paul showed us, in dramatic fashion, just why God gave to you and to me the Christian liberties that we now enjoy to bring people to the Lord Christ.

10. But some people donít learn easily. For that reason Paul wrote First Corinthians 10.1-13; to show the Corinthians, and to show us, by looking back on the Israelites of the Old Testament and seeing just what happens when you abuse the privileges God gives you, what happens when you try to take advantage of the kindness and the goodness of God.

11. Today we hope to see Paul begin to apply all of the principles and the historical examples that he has written down for us. Today he speaks directly to the Christian who abuses his liberty, who tries to stretch his privilege as far as he can, who tries to live both in and out of Christianity at the same time.

12. And what does Paul want us to learn? He wants us to learn that you canít have it both ways. You canít walk on both sides of the fence. Liberty is not a license to compromise.

13. Stand with me, for the reading of Godís Word. First Corinthians 10.14-22:

14 Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.

15 I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.

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?

17 For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.

18 Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?

19 What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing?

20 But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.

21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils.

22 Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?

 

14. Liberty is not a license to compromise. There are four phases to Paulís instruction that will help us to understand why this truth is so important for us to know. In our text Paul deals specifically with the sin of abusing liberty by not separating from idolatry.

1A. PHASE #1. THE END TO WHICH PAUL WRITES (10.14)

"Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry."

1B. It is quite obvious from what Paul writes in this verse that he is now getting very practical and making strong application in the lives of the Corinthians. He showed them what happened when the Israelites played fast and loose with Godís will. The "wherefore" letís us know that the message to us is clear. We should not play fast and loose with Godís will either.

2B. In the specific case of the Corinthians Paul confronted the problem of idolatry. They had been saved from idolatrous heathenism when they trusted in the shed blood of Christ rather than the blood of pagan animal sacrifices. However, it appears that they were either going back into their former idolatry or they had not come completely out of their idolatrous practices.

3B. And what does Paul advise them to do, urge them to do, command them to do? They are to flee from idolatry. Think about this for a moment. If I read my Bible right on this, God will not enable you to resist the temptation to commit idolatry. And he doesnít want you to be coy and sophisticated around it. God wants you and me to flee idolatry. Amen?

4B. Folks, pay very close attention to what the apostle Paul tells us here, for these next few verses speak loudly to every Roman Catholic who has come to know Jesus Christ as his or her personal Savior. And to every Christian who waffles on the question of whether Romanism will get anyone to heaven.

5B. But I also want you to consider something else. I want you to consider that although Paul is specifically confronting folks who were compromising in their religious lives, the principle back of what Paul is saying applies to everything.

6B. Folks, the way you conducted business before you trusted Christ is not the way you should conduct business after your conversion. Your likes and dislikes, preferences and practices, if they smack of the world and worldliness, need to be discarded.

7B. The end to which Paul writes, you see, is that people cannot straddle the fence and expect to get by without harm. He urges folks to flee because there is great danger. Amen?

2A. PHASE #2. THE EXAMPLES TO WHICH PAUL LOOKS

There are two examples that Paul looks to which shows how morally impossible, how spiritually reprehensible, how logically untenable, it is for Christians to even think they can live for Christ and in the world at the same time. "I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say."

1B. Example #1. Participation At The Lordís Table (10.16-17)

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?

17 For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.

1C. In these two verses Paul uses the communion of the Lordís Supper as an illustration of a profound spiritual truth that exists.

2C. When we drink the cup during the Lordís Supper, does not the celebration of that ordinance symbolize the communion we have through Christís blood? And does the bread not symbolize the communion we have through Christís sacrificed body?

3C. And by communion Paul uses the Greek word for sharing in something, for having something in common with others. That we share the elements with each other during the observation of the Lordís Supper is an illustration of the fact that we share Christ.

4C. Folks, Paul raises the question in just a couple of verses, but let me inject the question here. How in the world can someone who shares this with Christ and with us share sin with the world? The idea of a Christian messing in the world and piddling with Christianity makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

2B. Example #2. Participation At The Jewish Temple (10.18)

18 Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?

1C. The Old Testament teaches us that when certain offerings were placed on the altar the priests could use their flesh hooks to take part of the flesh for themselves and their families. Therefore, they had a very practical sharing of what was offered on the altar.

2C. Now, remembering that Christians are priests much as the Levites of the Old Testament were, Paul is communicating the idea that you, Christian, are a part of what you participate in.

3C. You pull flesh off the altar, you are a partaker of the altar, as co-sharer with the altar and with others who do as you do.

4C. This communicates what verses 16 and 17 did, but something else also comes to my mind. Whatever altar you partake of indicates what you are. Am I getting my point across?

5C. Can you, therefore, really be a partaker of both Christianity and paganism? According to Paulís examples here, you cannot. Paul is using these examples to communicate to "carnal Christians" that you really cannot straddle this fence at all. You will have to make up your mind to walk on Godís side or the other side.

3A. PHASE #3. THE ERROR TO WHICH PAUL SPEAKS (10.19)

19 What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing?

1B. What is Paul trying to say? What point is he trying to get across? Is he trying to tell us that idols, that stone statues, that carved objects are to be feared? Is he trying to tell us that the offerings that go to these objects have powers that Christians need to be afraid of and stay away from?

2B. No. We remember from First Corinthians 8.4 that idols are nothing. No matter how ornate a statue is, itís still just a statue. No matter how many chants have been said over it and no matter how many candles have been lit in front of it, itís still just a picture.

3B. And as for the offering, meat is just meat and vegetables are still just so much rabbit food. Nothing to fear from anything offered to false gods.

4B. Then why is Paul death on Christians staying close to or having anything to do with their former pagan religion? Itís not because he is afraid of what candles and statues will do to them. Itís something else entirely.

4A. WHICH BRINGS US TO PHASE #4 OF HIS DISCUSSION. THE EDICT TO WHICH HE COMES (10.20-22)

20 But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.

21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lordís table, and of the table of devils.

22 Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?

Folks, the problem lies not with the statues, but with what is behind the statues. And what lies behind every spiritual practice and observation that is not Biblical Christianity is demonic activity. These fallen angels will instigate false religious beliefs and practices to incite worship and adoration of them through their proxies, the statues and pictures and objects. Because this is true, Paul says three things:

1B. #1, Participation In Non-Christian Religious Activity Is Wrong (10.20)

20 But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.

Why?

1C. Because when you mess around with false religion you are playing with demons. And demons are desperately wicked, the avowed enemies of God and Godís people, and are extremely dangerous to the child of God.

2C. Folks, participation with demons is wrong. Thatís why I will participate in nothing of a spiritual nature that has Roman Catholics, Buddhists, Charismatics, Moonies, or any other idolatrous influences connected with it.

3C. Christians have no business dabbling in this stuff or running with those who do.

2B. #2, Paul Says, Participation In Communion And Its Counterpart Is Wrong (10.21)

21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lordís table, and of the table of devils.

1C. You canít go to mass at a Catholic Church and then take communion at our Church.

2C. For one thing, Scripture indicates that the ordinance of the Lordís Supper is a closed ordinance, not open for nonmembers to participate in. Were that not true this entire verse would be a joke.

3C. Second, there is a law of logic that I alluded to earlier. Let me explain its implications: If you celebrate the Lordís Supper with us as a Church member, itís because you believe God would have you to. Itís the right thing to do. But if you drink the cup of devils, as all idolaters do, it would be because you sincerely believe it somehow benefits you.

4C. But beloved, Biblical Christianity and idolatry are so diametrically opposed that they cannot both be the right thing to do. That means it is a flagrant violation of the most basic logic for a Christian to espouse right and then to do wrong. You can do it, but itís completely illogical to do it.

5C. This verse leads me to understand that when a member of this Church "unites" with some idolatrous religion and begins to partake of the devilís cup, he cannot, any longer, participate with us in the Lordís Supper. I take that to mean he is to be disciplined, unless he publicly repents and is restored.

3B. #3, Paul Concludes By Stating That Participation In Anti-Christian Worship Provokes The Lord To Jealousy (10.22)

22 Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?

1C. Who do you think you are, Christian who goes to Roman Catholic Church services, as if Romanism isnít wrong?

2C. Who do you think you are, Christian who attends services at the local stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, better known as the Mormons?

3C. Who do you think you are, who attends Bible studies at Kingdom Hall with the so-called Witnesses of Jehovah?

4C. Who do you think you are, believer in Jesus Christ, who studies transcendental meditation, as if thatís not a branch of the false religions of Buddhism and Hinduism?

5C. Who do you think you are, child of God, who dabbles in Christadelphianism, or Masonry, or the Eastern Star organization?

6C. Are we stronger than the Lord? Can you beat the Lord Jesus Christ in a fight? Can you match wits with Him?

7C. Unless you are more powerful than the Lord Jesus Christ, having might to resist His powerful inclinations against you who wander from Him, youíd better watch out.

CONCLUSION:

1. Friends, it is quite obvious to us all that Paulís main thrust was to Christians who were abusing their liberty by running in or too close to false religious practices.

2. And there are without doubt numbers of genuinely converted Christians who still do the same thing today, either refusing to completely leave their false religions when they get saved, or leaving and then wandering back for one reason or another.

3. But the principle back of Paulís reasoning extends beyond idolatry. After all, the examples of the Israelites in verses 1-13, that we studied last week, were not all examples of idolatry. Some were examples of pure lust.

4. What we have in verses 14-22 is the specific case of idolatry, which is but one example of a broader problem; abusing, misusing your Christian liberty.

5. "Canít I listen to whatever music I want?" Yes, you can. But if your music draws you away from the Lord Jesus, there will be consequences.

6. "Canít I wear pretty much what I want to wear?" Sure, itís a free country. But again, if it draws you from Christ, or if it lures others away from Christ, you will pay a price for it.

7. Same is true of personal greed, seeking personal glory, lust, and on it goes.

8. The great thing about liberty is the freedom God gives you to do just about anything you want. But understand that liberty has two sides. You can do just about what you want to the Lord, and He can do just about what He wants with you.

9. You draw people away from Him, you interfere with His workings in peopleís lives, you cast a stumbling block in front of His Own, and He will chastise you.

10. "But I thought you said He loved me." Yes. He loves you enough to teach you not to do that. And thatís real love.

11. The problem is this, my friend. As you exercise your liberty in Christ, what damage will you do, whose lives will you wreck, how many people will you steer wrong, who will you ruin, before the Lord begins to intervene to stop you?

12. Some who are here today use liberty properly, to advance the cause of Christ and to really glorify the Lord. Some, however, abuse and misuse your liberty.

13. Rather than leading people toward Christ you seem to forever be drawing people away from the Lord by your poor example. Not that you can really see it. Itís just that whoever you hang around with for very long seems to go into a spiritual nose-dive.

14. Are you this way? Or are you one who allows others to draw you away from Christ? Be careful. Flee from that. Whether it be idolatry or any other abuse of liberty, flee from it.

15. If you donít the Lord will deal with you about it.

16. Christian, aren't you delighted that the Lord loves us enough to give us liberty to do right, and that He is long-suffering enough to patiently teach us to use it properly? I am.


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