18Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? 19What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything?
The first warning had to do with the inconsistency of idol worship and worship of God. Verses 19 to 22 make up the second warning of this chapter – a warning about participating in temple feasts of pagans. Demons are behind all pagan religious feasts.
Observe Israel after the flesh:
Paul wanted the Corinthians to look at “Israel after the flesh,” that is, the physical nation Israel.
Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?
Those Israelites who ate sacrifices of the altar were in solidarity or in identity with the altar by eating the sacrifices. Jews who ate sacrifices off the altar were one with the altar. Christians who eat of the altar express unity with Christ and each other. Christians who eat sacrifices offered to pagan gods are one with those gods. There is an intimate relationship between us and the food we eat because the food becomes part of us. The altar in the Old Testament speaks of the cross in the New Testament. Anyone who partakes of the altar shares in the results of the cross – eternal salvation. There is only one altar or one way of salvation.
Those who participate in other religions violate the object of their faith – the slain Lord Jesus Christ. The glory always goes to Jesus Christ in Christianity. Eating is a non-meritorious system of appropriation because there is no merit in faith itself. There is no value of faith in itself; the value lives in the object of our faith. The Lord’s supper/table is a memorial to our salvation. In the Old Testament there was a lamb slain, and in the New Testament the Lamb of God was slain.
What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything?
The Corinthians argued for going to pagan feasts, so Paul now gives his arguments against implied worship of idols this involves. Sacrifice to idols was not worship of genuine gods, because they were just material objects of wood or stone. Pagan gods have no supernatural power, but they represent supernatural powers. Whatever is offered to idols represents something symbolically.
Christianity is mutually exclusive.
Idolatry conflicts with our identity in Christ and so incurs the wrath of God. We live out our identity in Christ, so if we identify with something other than Him, then we will live that kind of life. The Christian life and the life of demons are mutually exclusive. No Christian can participate in demon activity with impunity.
Christianity cannot be a mere religious hobby to us. No Christian can dip his flag or lower his colors by accommodating what he believes to another religion. Christians are all one big loaf of bread in unity with the Lord Jesus. We cannot inject other religious beliefs into that relationship. Compromise of truth and credence to other religions always weakens our faith. If we compromise truth, we had better check our insurance policy to see if it is up to date.