Shall we turn in our Bibles to I Corinthians, chapter 9.
I could do a lot of things I don’t do. The reason why I don’t do them is I do not want to be an offense unto a weaker brethren and destroy his relationship with God because of my own liberty in Christ. This is essentially what Paul is saying to the Corinthians. And he is telling them that they should be careful in their exercise of their own freedom in Christ, that they would not use it in such a way as it could be a stumblingblock to a weaker brother.
Now, as Paul is continuing this line of thought and this argument, he gives an example from his own personal life. Being an apostle, he could make many demands as an apostle that he refuses to make, because he doesn’t want to cause offense to anyone. So as he is getting into this apostleship now, and his rights as an apostle, he is only showing from his own personal experience how he puts into practice the principal that he has just sought to teach them. And that is: yes, you have liberty, you have the rights, but you don’t have to always insist on your rights or exercise your liberty, especially if it hurts someone else.
So, the law that governs me is the law of love, my love for my brethren in Christ, especially those who might be weaker in the faith. My love for them is the law that governs my activities, not whether it is right or wrong. And so Paul said,
Am I not an apostle? am I not free? (9:1)
That is, free to do whatever I want as an apostle.
have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are you not my work in the Lord? (9:1)
So he is using as a sign of his apostleship, first of all, that he had seen Christ the Lord. One of the requirements of apostleship in the early church was the ability to bear witness of the resurrection of Jesus Christ by being an eyewitness of His resurrection.
Now, there are those today within the church who are seeking to claim the authority of apostles, and one of them died the other day. But they do have men who have claimed the authority of apostleship. From a New Testament standpoint, it would be a difficult kind of a claim to make, for one of the requirements was the ability to bear witness of the resurrection of Jesus Christ by being an eyewitness. Paul declares that he saw Jesus. He also refers to the proof of the apostleship their changed lives. They are his epistles of commendation known and read of all men.
If I be not an apostle unto others, doubtless I am to you: for the seal of my apostleship is your being in the Lord (9:2).
My ministry among you, the fruit of the ministry, the proof of my ministry. The fact that you are in the Lord. You are the seal of my apostleship.
Mine answer to them that do examine me in this (9:3):
He is actually saying, “This is my defense to those who would cross-examine me.” He is using in the Greek a couple of legal terms. And evidently, the divisions in Corinth led to the place where they said, “Well, we are of Apollos,” and they began as they did in many places to challenge Paul’s claim as an apostle. Paul said, “I am an apostle, not by the will of man, but by the will of God.” But they challenged his claim. They said, “Aw, he says he is an apostle, but he’s not really an apostle.” So they were challenging his apostleship. And so he said,
My defense to them that would examine me in this issue, is that have I not the power to eat and to drink? Have we not the power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and also of Peter himself? Or I only and Barnabas, have we not the power to forbear working? (9:3-6)
We don’t have to work. We have the power not to work as an apostle. For those who preach the gospel have every right to live by the gospel. He said,
Who goes a warfare any time at his own expense? (9:7)
If you go to war, they provide for you. You don’t go out and buy your gun and your boots, and buy your helmet and buy your ammunition. Those things are provided for you if you are in the military. You don’t have to buy your own F-15. So Paul said, “Who goes to war and pays his own expenses?”
who plants a vineyard, and does not eat the fruit of it? or who feeds the flock, and doesn’t drink the milk? Say I these things as a man? or saith the law also? (9:7-8)
Am I just spouting off as a man, or does the Bible confirm this? And using as a scriptural basis for this premise, he said,
For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treads out the corn. Does God take care for oxen? (9:9)
So, that was a part of the law. The ox that treaded down the corn, you weren’t to put a muzzle on his mouth. As he was going through pulling the plows and all, he could eat as he went through. You weren’t to muzzle his mouth, because he is laboring. He is working.
Now he is saying, “Does God take care of oxen? Is He more interested in oxen than He is in men?” So Paul goes to the Old Testament to show that a servant has the right, or the ox has the right to eat the corn that it is treading.
Now did the Lord say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that plows should plow in hope (9:10);
That is, the hope of the harvest.
and he that threshes threshes in hope that he might be the partaker of his own labor. If we have sown to you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap from you the carnal things? If others are partakers of this power over you, are not we even more? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ (9:10-12).
Now, again, talking about the liberty to do things, the right to do things. Paul is pointing out that, as an apostle, as being the instrument that God used to minister to these people’s spiritual life, having brought to them the Word of God and the things of the Spirit, as an apostle he had every right to be supported by them. He had every right to receive material benefits from them. However, he said, “I did not do it lest I would hinder the gospel of Christ.”
Do you not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? (9:13)
The priests who offered the sacrifices got a certain portion of the meat. He got a certain portion of the flour and these things that were brought as sacrifices from the people to sacrifice to the Lord. The priests got a share of those things. He lived by these things that were brought in.
Now Paul is saying, “I have every right to receive from you material recompense for my labors among you.”
Even [he said] the Lord has ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void (9:14-15).
Now Paul said, “Yes, I have every right, but I am not exercising it. I would rather be dead than to take a penny from you.” Why did Paul have this attitude? Because, unfortunately in Paul’s day, as it is in the present day, there are many ministers that abuse this right. There are many ministries that are constantly seeking gimmicks, methods, and ways of extracting more money from the people.
If you ever get on the mailing lists of some of these evangelists, there is no end to their imaginations and the development of gimmicks to try and get you to send in your support for their ministries. You go to a lot of these services and you are exposed to a lot of the gimmickry. “The Lord has revealed to me that there are ten people here tonight that are going to give one thousand dollars for this ministry. The Lord has revealed to me that there are fifty people that are going to give five hundred dollars.” That is not so. That is putting it mildly. That is gimmickry. That is deception. That is terrible!
Now, because of this, many people have been turned away from the gospel of Jesus Christ, and they say, “All they want is your money.” And unfortunately, that is true in many places. That is the reason why here at Calvary Chapel we never have pledges. That is the reason why here at Calvary Chapel we never make any appeals for the offerings. Nothing more is ever said than, “The ushers will come forward to receive the tithes and the offerings.” But it is up to you whether you give or not, and no one will ever ask you to give. That is why that we here at Calvary Chapel love to give to people to just blow the minds of people who say the church is only out to get. That was the same with Paul. He didn’t want to be accused of being a mercenary, of just being after the people’s money. He didn’t want that to be an offense.
You know, years ago when the Lord called me into the ministry I had seen a lot of this begging for Jesus bit. I had seen these various types of offering appeals. In fact, in college I was even taught how to make a strong appeal for money, taught how to develop drives and solicit pledges and things of this nature. But, when the Lord called me to the ministry, I said, “Lord, I will make you a deal. I will serve You in the ministry as long as You provide, but I am never going to solicit my support from people. You take care of me. I am not going to ask people. I am not going to beg people for money. Money will never be an issue in my ministry.”
I feel that it is criminal and manifestly wrong for these ministers who are constantly begging people for their dollars. And you know, it is almost as bad as the time in the Roman church when they sold indulgences. “You want to get your prayer answered, send your offering in to us. You’ve got an unsaved son? Send your offering to us and God will save him. You can buy salvation for your son. You can buy healing for your mother. You can buy all kinds of indulgences.” It is made out to be that way in these phony fundraising drives. If those who were soliciting those funds would live very simple lives, not live in a lavish style, then I could accept it. But when these same ones who are begging these poor little widows to sacrifice from their social security checks to send into them, and they themselves are living a very high style of life, I find it intolerable.
Paul the apostle, I think I really identify and love this guy, because he had much the same attitude that I have as far as money is concerned. He said, “I don’t want your money. I won’t take your money. I glory in the fact that I was able to provide for myself and the needs of my party while I was there and we didn’t take anything from you. And I would rather be dead than to lose this bit of glorying that I had that I did not take money from you, though as an apostle I had every right. God has ordained that those that minister the gospel should live of the gospel. That is right. The ox is not to be muzzled. God, if He takes care of the ox, surely takes care of His servants that are out preaching His Word. The priests live by the things of the altar. I had every right to, but yet I didn’t, because I didn’t want to be an offense. I didn’t want to stumble somebody to think that I was trying to enrich myself through the preaching of the gospel.”
I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me (9:15):
I am not trying to make an appeal now, Paul said. That is not the purpose for my saying these things.
for it were better that I be dead, than that any man should make my glorying void. For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is me, if I preach not the gospel! (9:15-16)
I am not preaching it for the glory or for the money. There is a necessity laid on me. There is a burden on my heart. Woe is me, if I don’t preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.
For if I do this thing willingly, then I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me (9:17).
Paul said, “I am doing this willingly. Thus, I have my reward, because I am doing it willing for the Lord.”
What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel (9:18).
I love that. Jesus said, “Freely you have received, freely give.” Oh, how I thank God that our radio ministry does not depend upon the listeners for the support. How I thank God that we can go on the radio around the country and not have to spend fifteen minutes a day in urging the people to support us this week, or we won’t be on the air next week. I thank the Lord that we can just freely minister the gospel to people around the country blowing their minds because they wonder, “How in the world is this program supported?” It is supported because God has put upon the hearts of the people here to give, and it is more than we need so we just use the excess to get the gospel out around the world. And you know what? The more we give, the more the Lord sends in. That is the amazing thing. We have been trying to outgive God. And every time we take on new stations and put more money into the radio to spread the Word out further, the more God blesses, the more the supplies come in. And so, we have seen the radio ministry expand from the original twenty-five to over one hundred and twenty stations, and another one hundred stations on Sunday broadcast only, plus cable television around the country. And we can do it without charge, and that is the glorious thing. Not looking for the support of the people, but just looking to God for His supply.
For though I am really free from all men (9:19),
I don’t owe you anything and I haven’t taken anything from you, so I am free of all men.
yet have I made myself the servant unto all, that I might gain the more (9:19).
I am really free from you, but I made myself a servant that I might gain more.
unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as also without law, (not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I by all means might save some. And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you (9:20-23).
So Paul is seeking to identify with people. He is not setting himself above people and preaching down to people, but coming down on their level and seeking to understand where they are, seeking to identify with them in such a way that they could identify with Paul so that he could lead them to the strength and the power that they might know through Jesus Christ.
Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receives the prize? So run, that ye may obtain (9:24).
And so, again, Paul sees the Christian life as a race. He said to Timothy, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished the course” (II Timothy 4:7). The idea of the race. If Paul was the author of Hebrews, and I personally feel he was, he also made reference to the race. “Wherefore laying aside every weight and sin which doth so easily beset us, let us run the race with patience looking unto Jesus the author and the finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Now, life is as a race, but Paul says, “Run to win.” I like that. I have enough competitive spirit in me that I don’t play to lose. Whenever I go out in any sport, I go out to win. That is almost a fault. It has been a real fault in my life. My desire to win is so great that if there is any place I can lose my composure it is when there has been a bad call. I am out to win. And Paul said to be that way in your life for Christ. Go all out. So run that you might obtain the prize.
And every man that strives for the mastery (9:25)
That is a term for the wrestling. The Olympics were held in Athens, but they had also the second largest athletic events in the world were held in Corinth. And so those in Corinth were very familiar with the athletes who would be training for the games of Corinth. A fellow who is working out in wrestling,
is temperate in all things (9:25).
That is, he lives a very disciplined life as he is getting his body into shape.
They are doing it for a corruptible crown (9:25);
They are putting their bodies through torturous exercises in order that they might develop their athletic skills. They are watching their diet. They are living very careful, disciplined lives in order that they might win their event so that the judges may put a little laurel wreath on their head--a laurel wreath that will soon dry out, a corruptible crown.
Now, if they are willing to put in so much time, so much energy, so much effort, so much discipline to receive a gold medal, how much more effort should we be putting in to gain the incorruptible crown of glory that God has promised to His faithful servants. Run to win. And as Paul said, “I run that way.”
I therefore so run [I run to win], not as uncertainly (9:26);
That is, not just careless…”Well, I hope I finish. Doesn’t matter.” No sir, I’m running with the intention of winning.
so fight I, not as one who is beating the air (9:26):
Not as a shadow boxer.
But I keep my body under, and bring it into subjection (9:27):
“I discipline,” Paul said, “my own body, keeping it into subjection.”
lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be disapproved (9:27).
Now, Paul talks about the discipline, keeping his body under. Man is a threefold being: body, mind, and spirit. The natural man is body, mind, and spirit. When a person is born again, he is inverted and he becomes spirit, mind, and body. The natural man, body, mind, and spirit; the mind is under the control of the body, which is uppermost. So the unregenerate man, the sinner, is a man who is aware and conscious of the body and the body needs and the body appetites, and that is all he thinks about. And all you have to do is open up your ears in the public and you hear what people talk about. What are they talking about? Their fleshly experiences. The gal they had last weekend. Some new bar that has opened up, some disco, fleshly body experiences. That is their mind. That is where their minds run in that area.
When a person is born again by the Spirit and he becomes spirit, mind, and body, then the mind is under the control of the Spirit and he is thinking about spiritual things, how he may please God. He is thinking about the Word of God. He is thinking about his walk with Jesus Christ. He is thinking about the Lord. He is singing about the Lord. His mind is on the things of the Spirit.
Now, the Bible tells us that the persons whose minds are upon the things of the flesh is dead, but the person whose mind is upon the things of the Spirit is alive, and he has peace and he has joy.
Now, when I am born again and I am now spirit, soul, and body, my body down here doesn’t like it in the basement. My body enjoyed sitting on the throne. It enjoyed ruling over me. It enjoyed its tyranny that it had over me, and it doesn’t like being underneath. And thus, my body is constantly trying to rise. I am not dead to the desires of my flesh. They are there. They are always there as long as I am living in this body. But my desires for the Lord and the things of the Lord are greater than my desires for the flesh. But I find that I have to keep my body under, for my body would love to come and begin to rule again and put the spirit under. So Paul said, “I discipline myself to keep the body under, not giving over to the things of my flesh, lest even in this area of having ministered to others I myself would be disapproved.” And there are those who say that Paul is here talking about his service to God put on the shelf so to speak.
So, it is important for us to keep the body under, to discipline ourselves in spiritual disciplines. If the athletes are willing to go through such discipline just to receive a corruptible crown, how much more should we discipline ourselves for the incorruptible crown of life that the Lord our righteous judge shall give to us and to all those who love His appearing. Paul tells us that the flesh lusts against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh. These are contrary. I am in a battle within, and I must discipline myself to keep the body under.
Moreover, brethren, I would not that you should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and passed through the sea (10:1);
Now he is talking about their forefathers who were delivered out of Egypt. God used the cloud to guide them by day and the pillar of fire by night. The cloud had more than just a guiding. They were under the cloud. They were going to be spending time in that hot desert, and so what did God do? He put a cloud over them that shielded them from that hot desert. And whenever the cloud would move, they would move. And that is wisdom when you are out in the desert. And so God made a very great way of guiding them. The cloud would move and they would move to stay under the cloud.
Now, when they had come to the Red Sea and the Egyptian army came up behind them and had trapped them here in the valley, God took the cloud and moved it behind them and let it settle between them and the Egyptians. The Egyptians couldn’t see what was happening, because of the fog, the cloud that had come down, and they couldn’t see that the sea had departed and that the children of Israel were all escaping to the other side. And when God lifted the cloud, they saw what had happened. They saw the sea parted and they went dashing into the sea. Of course, the Lord allowed the sea to come back and they were drowned. But the cloud had a purpose more than just guiding them; it was a shelter to them. They lived under the cloud, walking when the cloud moved, living in the will of God, being guided by God through that wilderness experience. And how glorious it is that God will guide us, shelter us as we seek to walk after His will.
They passed through the sea, which is a symbol of water baptism, coming out of the life of the flesh in Egypt into a new relationship with God.
And they were all baptized (10:2)
You see that symbolism there passing through the sea.
unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and they did eat the same spiritual meat (10:2-3);
God gave them the manna, the bread from heaven that they all ate.
And they did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ (10:4).
So you remember, as the children of Israel came to Moses there in the area of Rephidim, the wilderness, and they said, “We are about to die of thirst, our cattle and all are about to die. What are we going to do?” And Moses went in and cried unto the Lord and said, “Lord, help me, these people are about ready to stone me.” God said, “Take your rod that you used to strike the river in Egypt to turn it to blood and with the elders before the people strike the rock.” And so he took his rod and smote the rock and water came forth, and the people drank and lived. They were saved. They drank, all of them, of that same spiritual Rock, and that Rock was Christ, who Himself said, “If any man is thirsty let him come unto Me and drink. And he that has a thirst let him come and drink [Jesus said] of the water of life freely.” That is the last invitation in the Bible in the book of Revelation. The last invitation is for all men, “Whosoever will, let him come and drink of the water of life freely.” The Rock smitten, if you partake and drink of Him tonight you will have life.
But with many of them God was not well pleased: and they were overthrown in the wilderness (10:5).
When Moses sent out the twelve spies to spy out the land, ten of them came back and gave an evil report, a report that planted fear in the hearts of the people. “The cities are big and the walls are high. And the people are like giants and we are like grasshoppers in their sight. They were huge people. We are not able to do it. We can’t take it.” There were two men, Joshua and Caleb, who came back bearing a bunch of grapes on a rod between them. And they said, “Look at these grapes. You have never seen anything like that in all your lives. Look at the size of the bunch of grapes here.” “Oh, but we heard there are giants in the land.” “Awe,” they said, “they are bread for us.” “Oh, we heard we can’t take it.” “Let’s go in right now and take it.” But the people listened to the ten and they turned. They didn’t have faith and trust in God to deliver the land to them. So God said, “All right, you don’t trust Me. You say that your children will be destroyed by them. I will tell you what. I am going to let you wander in this wilderness until this whole generation passes and your children that you say will be prey to them I will let them go in and take the land.” Then began the longest funeral service in the world, forty years waiting for all of them to die. Only Joshua and Caleb were allowed to go in of that generation. So many of them perished in the wilderness.
Now these things were examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted (10:6).
They said, “Let’s go back to Egypt. Remember the garlic and the leeks in Egypt. Oh, they were so good. I haven’t had garlic in so long. Just this manna and it is so bland. It is so mild. I am sick of it. Oh, if I only had the garlic of Egypt.” They were desiring after the old life of the flesh, the life of Egypt, the fleshpots in Egypt.
“And these were written for our examples that we would not lust after the things of the flesh, as they lusted.”
Neither be ye idolaters (10:7),
Now, several things here. They were lusting after evil things, the things of the flesh, desiring them. Secondly, many of them turned to idolatry. Remember, Aaron made the golden calf and the people were all dancing around the thing.
as some of them were; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day twenty-three thousand (10:7-8).
In the book of Numbers it tells us twenty-four thousand, but Paul, no doubt, is writing from memory and it’s probably just a mistake that Paul made as he is writing just from memory referring to that time when Balaam gave the evil counsel for the young girls to go down and entice the boys. And they committed fornication and the wrath of God was kindled against them and they were smitten by a plague.
Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of the serpents (10:9).
How did they tempt the Lord? They tempted Him because they were murmuring against God and against Moses, and said, “They brought us out in this place to kill us and it is terrible. We ought not to be here. We ought to go home.” And the anger of the Lord was kindled and the serpents came into the camp and began to bite them; murmuring against God.
Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all of these things happened to them for examples: that they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come (10:10-11).
So twice here Paul says, “Now look, this is all here for an example unto you. It is all typical history. You need to learn from their mistakes. You are not to go after the flesh. You are not to desire after evil things. You are not to commit fornication. You are not to commit idolatry. You are not to murmur against God.”
Wherefore let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he falls (10:12).
We are not to presume upon the grace of God.
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above that which you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it (10:13).
The Bible says when a man is tempted he shouldn’t say he is tempted of God. Every man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed, and lust, when it is finished, brings forth sin. Temptation begins with the mind, the desire. What do I do with it?
Now, the temptations that we have are common to man. As I am living in this body I am going to be subject to certain temptations, the desires of my flesh, the drives of my flesh. That is common to man. But with that temptation, God is faithful to me. He will not allow me to be tempted beyond my limits. He will provide for me the way to escape in order that I will be able to bear it. But it is important that I take that way of escape.
God is not going to force you away from temptation. God isn’t going to force you to be good. When temptation comes, there is always an escape route. God always provides the way of escape. If you fall to temptation, it is because you didn’t heed the voice of God. You didn’t take the way of escape that He provided. And I can testify of my own life that in every temptation where I fell there was the route of escape. I had had the word of the Spirit to my heart. God said, “Get out of here.” “Oh, I will just wait a little bit longer.” No, I should have gotten out when the Lord said, “Get out.” The way of escape was there, and so it was my failure, not God’s. My sin is my responsibility, not God’s. There are people that would like to throw it over on God. “Well, God made me this way and I just can’t help it.” Boy, you blame God for the worst things. It is my failure. God is faithful. I wasn’t.
Wherefore, dearly beloved, flee from idolatry (10:14).
Run! Get out of there!
Now, idolatry is setting up anything in your life or mine before God. It is putting something in your life before the Lord. That is idolatry. You are wrong if you think of idolatry as having a little thing that you have carved out, or someone else has carved out, and you have bought. And you kneel in front of it, and do your little thing before it, and burn candles around it, and pray to it. No! That will probably be no problem to any of you. Your idolatry is far more apt to have a shiny coat of paint, beautiful upholstery and a turbo engine inside. Something that gets in your heart and mind and life and precedes your walk with God. It becomes more important to you than your walk with God. Something that replaces God in your life. That is the idol. Flee idolatry.
I speak as to wise men; judge what I tell you. The cup of blessing which we bless (10:15-16).
That is, when we gather together at the Lord’s table and we take the cup and we bless it. This cup of blessing that we bless,
is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? (10:16)
The word communion there is that interesting Greek word koinonia. Is it not the oneness that we share with Christ, the communion that we have with Christ, or the fellowship that we have with Christ, that oneness that we are sharing with Him? This cup of blessing that we bless, whereby, as I drink, I am identifying myself with Him.
The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread (10:16-17).
So this communion with Jesus Christ, the blood of Christ and the body of Christ, whereby we become one with Him, and whereby we also become one with each other. As we all eat of the same bread, as we all drink of the same cup, we are becoming one with each other. Joined together in communion, joined together in commonness, joined together in fellowship, as we are, all of us, joined together with Jesus. That oneness in the body of Christ. Surely the communion service symbolizes it more graphically than anything else within the church. All partakers of the same bread. All partakers of the same cup, becoming one with Him and thus, with each other.
Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? (10:18)
Now, the idea of bringing in your peace offering and offering it unto God, the whole idea behind it was that of communion with God. So, you bring it into the priest and he would take it and butcher it and would cut a portion of the meat and would give it to you. Then you would take it out and roast it and then sit down and eat it. Now you have brought it and offered it to God. The fat and all was taken and burnt on the altar and the smoke went up as a sweet smelling savor unto the Lord. The priest took his portion, but now you have your portion. And with your family you are sitting there eating this roast beef, or this roast lamb. And as you are eating together, the idea is God has received a part of this and I am receiving a part of this, and so I am becoming one with God. For their whole concept of eating together was that of becoming a part of each other.
Say I take a loaf of bread. I break it and I give you a part of it and I take a part of it, and you eat it and I eat it. It is one loaf, but we are both eating from the same loaf. Maybe we have a bowl of soup here and we are both dipping our bread in the soup and eating it. Now that the bread that is nourishing me is also nourishing you. The bread that is being assimilated and becoming a part of the chemistry of my body is also becoming a part of the chemistry of your body. So the same loaf of bread is becoming part of you as it is assimilated in your body, but it is also becoming a part of me. Therefore, we are a part of each other, because we are both being strengthened and both of us are assimilating the same loaf of bread. And they really saw this and to them it was something that didn’t need to be explained. It was just an accepted thing.
So when I offer a part of this meat to God and it is burnt on the altar unto the Lord, it is God partaking of it, and now I am eating of it, so I am becoming one with God. Beautiful thought, beautiful concept, and the beautiful awareness of becoming one with God.
Now we have that every time we partake of communion. I am becoming a part of Jesus Christ. He is becoming a part of me as we commune together and as I receive the cup and as I receive the bread, but also we are becoming a part of each other as we do it.
And so Israel after the flesh when they eat of the sacrifices. They are partakers of the altar. They are becoming one with God.
What say I then? that an idol is any thing (10:19),
Now we are going back to chapter 8, and the whole thing started as he was talking about them eating meat in the house of idols and some weak brother going by and seeing them eating there and thinking, “If he can do it, then I can do it,” and stumbling because his conscience would bother him. You say you have freedom, and unfortunately, they were exercising this freedom of eating in the temple of the various gods there in Corinth. “I have freedom in Christ.” So, Paul is coming back to that now.
What shall I say then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to God (10:19-20):
That is, the pagan sacrifices in the pagan temples are offerings unto the demons. They are not offerings to God.
and I would not that ye should have fellowship [communion] with demons. 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. Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he? (10:20-22)
So Paul is really coming down on the practices of some of those Corinthians of eating meat in the pagan temples there in Corinth.
This is an interesting thing. In these pagan temples, Paul declared that actually the offerings were made unto devils, literally demons. In Deuteronomy 32:16-17, He said, “They provoked Him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they Him to anger. They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not. Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee.”
So the concept is that the worship of these false gods, the worship of these idols was, in reality, the worship of demons.
There was in Harper’s Magazine many years ago an interesting article called, “I saw the King of Hell.” It was taken from the book, Through Forbidden Tibet. And the author talks about going with the religious leaders of Tibet in disguise to a ceremony that was held annually where they called forth the various demons. And it describes these demons as they appeared, their forms, and then he describes as they call forth the king of hell. It is a very spine-tingling description. Awesome.
A lot of people say, “Well, all roads lead to God. And those people are so sincere in their worship, though they don’t believe in Jesus. Surely God will recognize their sincerity and all, because what difference does it make, if we follow Confucius, Buddha, or whatever. Aren’t we all seeking after God?” Well, that isn’t the concept that we receive from the Bible. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by Me” (John 14:6). Paul said, “They are sacrificing unto devils. And in the same token, as you eat of the sacrifices made to God and become one with God, if you are eating of the sacrifices made to devils, then you are becoming one with the devil, with the demon that is represented in that idol. And I would not have you to have this koinonia, this fellowship, this communion, this oneness,” Paul said, “with devils. Therefore, you cannot drink of the cup of the Lord and of the cup of devils. You cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table and of the table of devils.”
Now he is no doubt thinking of chapter 32 of Deuteronomy, the thing that we just read to you. Because, again, it says that they provoked the Lord to jealousy in sacrificing to devils, and he said, “Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy?” Are we stronger than He? Dare we to oppose Him?
All things are lawful for me (10:23),
He comes back to this refrain.
but all things are not expedient (10:23):
Yes, you may prove that it is all right that I am living under grace and I believe in Jesus Christ, and therefore it is all right and you may enter your argument. And yes, it may be lawful, but it isn’t expedient. It is going to slow you down. It is going to hinder your progress. If you are running in the race, run to win and don’t take on extra baggage or weight that will slow you down. It is not expedient.
all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not (10:23).
There are things that tear me down and do not build me up. There are things that take me away from Christ and do not bring me closer to Christ. And my desire is to get close to Him. Therefore, though it may be lawful, you may prove that it is all right, it is taking me away from my fellowship with Him. It isn’t building me up in Him, or building Him up in me. Therefore, though it may be lawful, wisdom tells me don’t do it. It will slow you down. It will tear you down. I am desiring to win the race. I am desiring to be found in Christ, built up in Him.
Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s profit (10:24).
Don’t just live for yourself. Don’t just think about yourself, but think about others and live for others.
Whatsoever is sold in the market, go ahead and eat it, don’t ask question for your conscience’ sake (10:25):
Now, a lot of the meat that was sold in the butcher shops in Corinth were used first in sacrifices in the pagan temples. So, when you went to the meat market to buy meat, you say, “I would like a pound of hamburger.” Was that hamburger offered as a sacrifice in the temple? Paul said don’t ask that kind of stuff. Just buy it, take it home and eat it for your conscience sake. What you don’t know won’t hurt you. And so for conscience sake just don’t ask questions, because you know it doesn’t matter. If you are asking those kind of questions, then you are going to find yourself tripping over your own conscience. So eat and don’t ask questions.
For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof. If any unbeliever invites you to a feast, and you are obligated to go; whatever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience’ sake (10:26-27).
So he sets before you a big steak. “Did you offer this meat as a sacrifice to a pagan god?” Paul said don’t ask those questions, just eat it. You don’t ask the questions for your conscience sake.
Now, if the fellow, when he sets it before you, says, “We offered this to Zeus.” Then Paul said, “Don’t eat it.” Not that it would hurt you, but it might hurt the guy that offered it to you seeing your liberty. So if they volunteer the information, then say, “No thank you,” so that you are not stumbling him or offending him.
So if any man says unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that showed it to you, and for your conscience’ sake: now the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof: Conscience, I say, not always your own, but that of the other: for why is my liberty judged by another man’s conscience? For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks? (10:28-30)
Paul said everything is sanctified with thanksgiving. You say, “Lord, just bless this now and I thank You for it,” then it is sanctified. Yet, it is going to hurt someone else. They are going to be stumbled by it. So again, the law of love, not wanting to be an offense, not wanting to hurt the weaker brethren.
Whether therefore you eat, or drink, whatsoever you do, do all to the glory to God (10:31).
Here is the principle. Now, people who have principles don’t need laws. If you are living by the right principles, you don’t need rules, you don’t need laws. This is the principle. So now, we are getting…this is what you want to really take note of. This is the heart of it. “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” And you are right. If I can do it to the glory of God, I am right. If I can’t do it to the glory of God, then I better not do it. But whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all to the glory of God.
Give no offense, neither to the Jews, or to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved (10:32-33).
And so as Paul said, don’t live for your own profit, but for others. He said, “This is the way I live.” My desire is that people might be saved, and so I live for their sakes, not for my own sake, not to satisfy my own flesh, not to live after my own desires, but I restrict myself. I live a careful life in order that I might win others to Jesus Christ. And so if that is the goal of my life to bring others to the Lord, then that will be the governing factor in what I allow or don’t allow, what I do or don’t do, what I eat or don’t eat, what I drink or don’t drink. It is not to bring an offense, walking in love, thinking of others, not thinking of myself. God help me to win this race and to live in love, walking in love, serving in love.
Shall we pray.
Again, Father, we are so grateful for these words of wisdom, words of guidance. Help us, Lord, that we might now be doers of the Word and not hearers only. God, we want to come into that full fellowship with You, that fellowship with one another in Jesus Christ. Lord, let Your Holy Spirit just work a special work in our hearts. In Jesus’ name, and we thank you for it, Father. Amen.
May the hand of the Lord be upon your life to guide and direct in all that we do. May God help us to consider Him, not whether or not is it right or wrong, but is it pleasing, or would it please Him. Is this the best? God help us not to be satisfied with the mediocre, but that we might run to win. And thus, may the Lord be with you today and this week as we really seek to live a disciplined life for Jesus Christ. Laying aside the flesh and the things of the flesh, the body and its desires, keeping it under in order that we might live and walk after the Spirit, and the things of the Spirit, and the things of the eternal. And thus, may the Lord reward you and bless you as you walk in fellowship with Him. May you experience His touch upon your life. In Jesus’ name.