Today we come to the conclusion of these chapters which started all the way back in chapter 8 with the discussion on meat sacrificed to idols. In these chapters he has continually addressed freedom and rights in Christ which are willingly and joyfully sacrificed for the sake of the gospel, and love for brothers and sisters. He has warned us that this Christian life is one of constant sacrifice. Of saying – no to oneself and all the things that we pursue, and yes to God and his kingdom and his people. He concludes this argument by simply summing it up with “whatever you do all to the glory of God.” It another way of saying what Augustine famously said, “Love God and do what you want.” Paul knows if you are glorying in God, you will love God and neighbor.
Do all for the glory of God.
Fellowship/participation with Christ
Fellowship with each other.
For the Glory of God
Fellowship with Christ.
Paul has such a beautiful way of speaking to the church. He calls them “my beloved.” Remember this church has not been kind to him. It’s a church which has disrespected him, a church of which some of them have made it clear they would rather have a Peter or Apollos. But his love for them is like that of a parent for child. He loves them and pursues them even more when he sees them going wayward. Just like a parent when their son or daughter starts to wander in the wrong direction.
That is why he says, “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourself what I say.” If they are loved of God, they ought to hate idolatry. Just like if you love marriage you hate adultery. Run - Have nothing to do with it at all. It makes no sense if you are eating and drinking of Christ and at the same time eating and drinking at the table of demons. And he gives three reasons to judge. 1. The nature of the Lords Supper. 2. The unity of the Body 3. The meaning of temple sacrifice.
First. The nature of sacrifice. “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participating in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break is it not a participation of the body of Christ.” The key word here is participation. There is a sense of unity with Christ that comes with taking the Lord’s Supper. In the supper he shares himself and all his benefits with us. The word is Koinonia - fellowship or communion with Christ. We are united with him in the supper. He comes to abide in us and we in him. Therefore it is impossible to imagine that they would be united to another god – or with people of another god.
Throughout this book Paul makes a very strong correlation between Christ and his people. You cannot sperate the two. To give yourself to Christ is to give yourself to his people, and to give yourself to his people is to give yourself to Christ. You can’t have one without the other.
Which brings us to the second reason they ought to flee from Idolatry. The unity of the body “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” In the supper we partake of Christ together as one body. A profound unity is found at the table. A unity which is fractured when people go to the temples of other Gods.
And the third reason, the meaning of temple sacrifice is found in verse 18, “Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar.” When someone brought a fellowship offering (Leviticus 3:1-17; 7:11-34) they would offer part of it, and eat the rest with the priest. And he is saying – you are participants in that sacrifice.
This is then the same as when you go to a temple and eat there. Paul has no problem with food sacrificed to idols in the marketplace, but he did not want them to be eating in other temples. Which was common. In the prominent goddess temple of Demeter, at least 25 buildings, or 30 rooms, with space for 200 people. The dining rooms themselves are small, able to accommodate only five to nine persons at one time. As suggested by these numbers, both lay participants as well as clergy dined within the sanctuary. It showed the centrality of dining and worshiping.
So is Paul saying that they are actually fellowship with a real god? No. Verse. 19. “"What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 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 participants with demons."
What does it mean to participate in the blood and body of Christ? Or what does it mean when he says, “I do not want you to be participants with demons.”
The key word again: Koinonia. What does it mean when we become participants with demons? It means that we get entangled in their power. We submit to them. We become vulnerable to them. We enter into some kind of fellowship. We affirm them in some way and give them leeway in our lives. We give them space. It was Christ himself who went to war with the powers of darkness. Who are we to think we can return to them. Ancestor worship is nothing. Neither is horoscopes but that which is behind them is real. Satanic.
The Corinthians were completely missing the point of the Lords Supper. They saw it as some thing that would protect them, so that they could go on and do what they wanted! Rather then as something to help them, nourish them, and unite them in their battle against evil!
What The Corinthians were underestimating was the real power of the Lord's Supper that comes from its true purpose, namely, to deepen and strengthen our participation in the benefits of the cross, or to nourish our fellowship with Christ himself. When you partake of the cup and the table of the Lord, you are being nourished and satisfied by the Lord, and loving the Lord, and delighting in the Lord, and trusting the Lord and fellowshipping with the Lord. That's what it means to share in the blood and body of Christ—to sit with Jesus at the banquet of the benefits of his death and resurrection. In that kind of experience idols and demons lose all their attraction and all their power.
When this happens it a powerful antidote to idolatry – because it holds Christ before us as the only sacrifice for sins, and hope of salvation. That is why in verse 21 he says: "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." You can't. You are married to one or the other. And, as Paul warns you do not want to provoke the Lords jealousy. The word Lord is significant. He is Lord, Kurios, of your life!
And if you are partaking of the Lord, you are going to live differently in all of life. You are going to want to glory alone in him. His point here is really about what you do when you are not at the Lord's Supper. It's about the threat of idolatry in your life every day. It's a word from God that says, what you just experienced with Christ in the Lord's Supper dare not—cannot—be profaned this week by your sitting down at the feast of idols. You know what they are in your life. So, I say in the name of Christ and in the words of Paul: Flee from idolatry this week and go to Christ! Do not provoke him to jealousy.
Dear church you can’t say Jesus is everything and then offer your pinch of salt to the world, If you are partaking of the Lords supper, idolatry will lose it flavor. You will live no longer for your own needs, but for others.
Which brings us to our second point
Fellowship with each other
Fellowship with Christ leads to humble fellowship with each other. “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful, but not all things build up.” That’s what this whole thing on conscience is about. Not whether something is wrong or right. But those things which are right, are not always right to do. Why? Because they are not helpful or do not build up. That is the question we must ask ourselves in all that we do. Is it helpful and does it build up? If not why are you doing it?
. That is why Paul says in Ephesians, Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. We would think that he would say, ‘…but only what is true” but he says, “…only what is helpful.” There are times when true statements are not helpful. Are you always allowing love to be your guiding principle.
These Corinthians were all about their rights still, and their freedom in Christ. But they were abusing it.
Instead of enjoying deeper unity with Jesus and the body of Christ, they wanted to know how much they could get away with and still be Christians. That’s the wrong approach! Its not about how much you can get away with but how much you can give! There is a glorious freedom that comes from being in Christ. You don’t have to fight, work, slave away to win anything at all anymore. We have been set free to love not ourselves but him! To live not for ourselves but to love God and our neighbor
Jesus expressed freedom when he chose FREELY to give himself on the cross for our salvation. In Galatians 5 where the first line is, “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free,” that freedom is defined not as autonomy but as faith working through love (Gal. 5:6). This principle of freedom is at the heart of how Christians should use their “freedoms” to bless others, not to burden or trip them up.
Therefore, He says, “let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” Wow! How many of you are not seeking your own good, but the good of your neighbor? Husbands are you using your freedom to lay down you life for your wives? Wives for your husbands? Children are you using your freedom to submit you your parents in the Lord? Are you using your freedom to lay aside your rights, and truly look out for the good of the hurting, the poor? What about laying down your lives for co-workers, bosses, employees?
There is tremendous freedom. But it should not be abused. “Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising questions on the ground of conscience. For the earth is the Lord’s and fullness thereof!” Enjoy the food, without asking questions, says Paul! Food is food. God made it. God made it also to be eaten, to be enjoyed, so that we might thank him for it.
So, “If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising question on the ground of conscience.” This is about a brother going to an unbeliever’s house. Paul is saying, don’t cause unnecessary offense by asking about the meat. Just eat it. Don’t even ask. But if they are inviting you to test you to see if you will eat the meat sacrificed to idols, then don’t do it. But “if someone says to you, “This food as been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience – I do not mean you conscience but his.’
You see what Paul is saying here? He is saying, live for the sake of the other. Or as he says elsewhere, “live peaceably with all men as far is possible with you.” If their conscience is weak and they think you are sinning then don’t do it even if you know you are not sinning, for your liberty is in no way determined by their conscience. You are free if you eat or don’t eat. That is what he means when he says, “For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience?”
I hope you are starting to see the pattern: you are using your freedom in Christ in service of love! Following in Christ example! This is why he says, “Be imitators of me as I am of Christ in the end of this section.” Fellowship with Christ leads to fellowship with each other. And so we love God and neighbor and God is glorified in all of life..
All to the glory of God.
Here is his conclusion. You ready? “So, Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” In absolutely everything we do — even down to how we drink that morning coffee, or take that early evening jog, or have wine tasting, or eat the braai later. We do it ALL for the glory of God. That is our purpose – therein will be find our true happiness. When we do things to get things we will always be a slave to self – when we do things for his glory and for his sake we will do all things with great joy, happiness and purpose. If this is our dream every other dream is pale in comparison.
What does it mean to live for glory like that? Paul goes on to tell the church, Give no offense to Jews or Greeks or to the church of Christ, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved” (1 Corinthians 10:33). We drink and eat, work and play, love and serve in ways that strive to display the glorious love and fellowship that we have in Jesus, inviting others in by our word and work.
Whatever we do, we do it to say something about what God has done for us and about how much he and his love mean to us. We do it for his glory, and not our own.
Satan will do everything he can to confuse us — to suggest smaller dreams, lesser glories, and other gods to our hearts. And the glory he offers is real glory — real pleasure and real purpose. But all the glory he offers is small and short compared with the glory for which we were made. And to the degree that it distracts us from God and his glory, any earthly dream or pleasure can be suicidal. It’s not going anywhere good. It’s not safe, or full, or lasting. It expires, its selfish and self-serving, and it kills us in the process.
The world has an awe-inspiring glory of its own. “The devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory” (Matthew 4:8). If Satan wasn’t afraid to try and tempt Jesus with the glory of the world, why would he and his demons hold back with you and me?
We really can live for the glory of the world. That temptation is strong enough to lure countless millions away from God and his glory. But the glory the world gives, in money and fame and sex, all fades away and eventually leaves us alone. We spend so much of ourselves to have it, compromising all along the way, and once we have it, it immediately begins to break down, and it fails to ever satisfy us like we hoped it would. So come back to the table we spoke about in point one and find your true satisfaction in Christ – who is the glory of God.
The people living the happiest, fullest, most meaningful lives are free to say, “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!” (Psalm 115:1).
One of my favorite promises in the Bible is Psalm 16:11: “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” No greater joy. No greater glory.
This does not come naturally. It takes patience, hard work, and perseverance — day after day, pouring ourselves into his words, sacrificing in his name for the sake of others, and surrendering ourselves to his will. Fleeing idolatry. And fleeing to him. Participating in his life. The Christian life is a race and a fight as Paul has described in at the end of chapter 9. It hurts along the way, and it will cost you dear. But you’ll never regret it.
Glory and sacrifice go together. If Paul glories in the cross, it means he glories in sacrifice. Dear church. Don’t seek you own advantage. Stop it. Everyone in the world is doing it. And we do it far too much in the church. Give it up. God has died for you. He is for you. What greater advantage, what greater glory do you need. Live for him. Love for others. O may the Spirit of God lead us in the love of God, so that all of us may truly sacrifice all for love of God and neighbor. “Be imitators of me as I am of Christ.