1 Corinthians 10:14-22
A Jealous God
Paul now brings his argument about eating in pagan temples to its conclusion in a decisive way. May we go dine out in the pagan temple since we know that Artemis or whoever does not really exist? No you may not—exclamation point! Paul begins by saying, “Flee from idolatry!” The Corinthians respond, “What idolatry? We’re just there to eat!” Well, maybe so, and I doubt not your sincerity. But you are ignorant of the danger you are in.
Paul attempts to show this to them by referring to the Lord’s Supper, an important part of their own worship with which the Corinthians would have been very familiar. “The bread we break,” Paul says, “is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” And the people of Israel long ago, were not those who ate of the sacrifices participants in the altar? Of course they were, just as you are also a participant with Christ in the Lord’s Supper. Well then, if all this is so, are you not “participants with demons” when you partake of the altar at their sacrifice? Participants with demons? Yes. You will remember from yesterday that behind every false god is a very real demon. This is what Paul teaches here, for though the pagan gods are not gods, they are demons masked as gods, and have been with us from the beginning, are with us today, and will be until the end.
Paul goes on to tell them that they “cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons,” they “cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.” God is a jealous God, jealous over us, jealous as a lover for His beloved (Exodus 34:14; James 4:5; Song of Solomon 8:6). The Corinthians risk provoking the Lord to anger after the manner of the Israelites which Paul mentioned earlier. And so do we. For some reason, we think we can have our God and our sin, too. What pagan temples are we frequenting, telling ourselves that it’s okay when we know deep down it isn’t? We think that if we go to church then somehow that will protect us. It won’t. Being where we shouldn’t be either with our feet, ears, or eyes is to be where the demons are. If we stay there long enough, the ill feeling we had at our first visit will finally give way to a cozy reception, and the demons will be our friendly hosts. If we do not repent, we will be their houseguests forever and find that whereas before we dined, now we are dinner. Our Lord said when he was tempted, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test” (Matthew 4:7). How much less, we!