Flee from Idolatry

1 Corinthians 10:14-22
14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. 18 Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? 19 What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with 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 Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?

Aside from salvation, I believe that idolatry is the number one topic of the Scriptures. Throughout the Old Testament, the theme of avoiding idolatry runs deepest and most clearly. Every sin known to mankind has been the same since Adam and Eve. As we discussed yesterday, there isn’t anything new under the sun. But while all of those sins do indeed get mentioned in the Old Testament, the sin God punishes most severely is idolatry.

In the midst of Paul’s writing about sexual sins and avoiding the sins of the Children of Israel, he pens these words: Flee from idolatry. That couldn’t be any plainer. This follows on his reminder that No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (Cor. 10:13) That means it is possible to run away from sin. Paul’s final premise is that you cannot serve both God and your idols, for that provokes the Lord to jealousy. Several years ago, a famous talk show host remarked that she had decided not to attend church anymore because the pastor was preaching that God was a jealous God. That didn’t seem right to her, so she left the church and decided that not all of the Bible was true. That is one the clearest examples of creating your own “god” that I have ever witnessed. We are most certainly able to inspire jealously in God and it is through the practice of idolatry.

Tomorrow in the U.S., we celebrate Thanksgiving. I’ve noticed that one TV network has even changed the title of the holiday to “Friendsgiving”. Well that certainly is not a sacrilege, it does point to the removal of a time of thanks and why would we express thanks when we don’t truly believe there is Someone to thank in the first place. We border on idolatry.

But Paul possesses our answer here. Flee from idolatry.” That takes a constant attention to that which captures our imagination and our hearts. If it isn’t our Savior, Jesus Christ, then it’s time for some re-evaluation and the setting aside of whatever is claiming us. This is a tiny example, but proves my point without too much embarrassment (albeit a little embarrassment). I recently reviewed the apps on my phone because I was giving way too much time to stupid little games. It was time to simply remove the temptation. I deleted several mind-numbing games and I’m very surprised by the amount of time I now have to read and work on things that are important to me. Like I said – a tiny example. But perhaps I was bordering on a form of idolatry. It used said that where you spent your money would indicate where your heart would lie. Now, I wonder if it isn’t where we spend our free time. Just a thought. Erasing those games was “fleeing from idolatry”. It might be small thing, but it has made a difference for me.