Monday, 13 October 2014
What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? 1 Corinthians 10:19
In 1 Corinthians 8:4, Paul affirmed that an idol is actually nothing. The fact that man worships something other than the Creator in no way means that it is anything other than the material it is comprised of – metal, wood, flesh, etc. In reality, it is an ineffective lie. Isaiah even uses that term when speaking of idols –
And no one considers in his heart, Nor is there knowledge nor understanding to say, “I have burned half of it in the fire, Yes, I have also baked bread on its coals; I have roasted meat and eaten it; And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” 20 He feeds on ashes; A deceived heart has turned him aside; And he cannot deliver his soul, Nor say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?” Isaiah 44:19, 20
Understanding this, Paul made the affirmation that, “an idol is nothing in the world” and that “there is no other God but one” (1 Corinthians 8:4). Since that time though, Paul has been using examples of God’s judgment on Israel for following after idols. And then in the verse preceding this one he said, “Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?” With this noted, some might come to the conclusion that he is equating the participation in an idolatrous sacrifice with that of the participation in the true temple sacrifices.
And so he asks, “What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything?” His answer is, “No,” and it is not what he is indicating. Rather, he is showing that the participation in the true temple sacrifices produced a bond between the people. “Israel after the flesh” was united as one, regardless of whether they actually believed in God or not. They went to the feasts, sacrificed at the temple, and ate of their offerings. Thus they were united in their rituals. If a believer were to join with pagans in their sacrifices, those pagans would feel this person was united to them in their belief. Thus he would appear to validate the idol as something even though it is “nothing in the world.”
Life application: Our business is to exalt Christ, not idols, demons, angels, Mary, the saints, or anything or anyone else. Let us then exalt Christ, through whom God will receive His just glory.
Lord God, today I would pray that when people see me, they would say “That guy is a reasonable fellow and he really believes in Christ Jesus. I want some of what he has got.” Use me, O God, to lead others to Christ. Amen.