1 Corinthians 10:14-33

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These small group studies of 1 Corinthians contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

1 Corinthians 10:14-33 Inductive Bible Study and Discussion Questions

 Flee from idolatry (14-22)

  1. a)Flee from idolatry (14)
  2. b)Communion is sharing in the body of Christ (15-17)
  3. c)In the OT, Israelites ate the sacrifices to share in worship (18)
  4. d)Believers must avoid sacrificing to demons (19-21)
  5. e)Committing idolatry leads to punishment (22)
  6. Principle repeated on food sacrificed to idols (23-32)
  7. a)Edifying others is most important (23)
  8. b)Seek the good of others before our own (24)
  9. c)The food itself is not tainted (25-26)
  10. d)Eat it without asking questions (27)
  11. e)But don’t eat it if it will offend a weaker brother (28-29)
  12. f)Eating it will only lead to problems between believers (30)
  13. g)Do all for the glory of God (31)
  14. h)Seek the good and salvation of others (32)

Discussion Questions:

Intro

What is the main point/big picture of this passage?

How does it relate to the previous section?

If you had to pick two key verses (one for each main point) what would they be?

I.

Define “idolatry”. What was Paul referring to?

Often times preachers today say this includes putting anything in front of God including money or TV, etc. Is this an accurate interpretation?

What do you think might be an “idol” in your life, whether known or unknown?

What does Paul mean that he speaks as to “wise men” and that they judge what he says?

What is the cup of blessing?

What is the blood of Christ and the bread?

Who is to practice this and why?

What is the example Paul is using communion for?

How about the OT Israelite sacrifices?

It almost seems that in verses 19-21 Paul is teaching that we must not eat food sacrificed to idols, Is he?

In his example, how would a believer become a sharer in demons?

What is the basic teaching in these verses?

What does verse 22 mean that we are not stronger than Him?

II.

What is the main point from verses 23-33?

What principles do we learn that should govern our decision making about eating the sacrificed food or not?

Why is the food itself not tainted?

Explain verse 26. How does this relate to issues where the world may have twisted something that God designed as originally a good thing?

Explain verse 29-30.

What is the chief principle that needs to govern all of our actions including in grey areas?

How will most people treat grey areas? What is the problem with this?

Does verse 33 mean that Paul is just a man-pleaser? Is this right?

Greek for “idolatry” –

NT:1495 eidololatreia (i-do-lol-at-ri’-ah); from NT:1497 and NT:2999; image-worship (literally or figuratively):

KJV – idolatry.

Cross-references –

Job 31:24-28 – Looking at the sun with enticement can be idolatry and denying God.

1 John 5:21 – Keep yourselves from idols.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 – Do not be yoked with unbelievers. Be separate from them. Nothing in common between God and Satan, believers and idols, etc.

1 Timothy 6:11, 2 Timothy 2:22 – Flee and pursue.

1 Corinthians 4:10, 2 Corinthians 11:19 – The Corinthians considered that they were very wise.

Matthew 26:26-28 – Jesus instituted communion.

Colossians 3:11,15 – One body in Christ.

Ephesians 3:6 – Gentiles and Jews are together members of one body and sharers in the promises of Christ.

Leviticus 7:11-17 – Those who brought the food to sacrifice were also to eat of it as part of the process.

1 Corinthians 8:4 – An idol is nothing.

Deuteronomy 6:14-15 – God is a jealous God and will punish idolaters

Romans 14:20 – Food is clean, but don’t cause others to stumble.

Philippians 2:4-5 – Don’t look out for your own interests.

Colossians 3:17 – Do all in the name of Christ.

Colossians 3:23 – Whatever you do, do heartily for the Lord.

1 Corinthians 9:19-23 – Paul became all things to all people to win some for Christ.

Teaching Points –

Intro

In the last passage we learned NOT to follow the terrible example of the Israelites. Though God blessed them in so many ways and they had every advantage and opportunity to serve Him, they fell into idolatry and rebelled against the Lord. They sinned in a number of ways. Paul was using this example to teach the Corinthian believers not to make the same mistakes that the Israelites did. These served as a warning to them. They didn’t have to make the same mistakes because God provides a way out of every temptation, no matter how severe.

Also we learned that many sins such as idolatry and immorality are NOT areas of Christian freedom. The Corinthians were taking their freedom too far by engaging in outright sins and they needed to stop.

This passage starts off with the key verse to flee from idolatry. Like most pagan cities at that time, Corinth was filled with idol worship. It was everywhere and most people were caught up completely in it. Fleeing from idolatry is the way out that God offered. The second issue is one closely related to idol worship, but regarding the food sacrificed to idols. Since this is the third or fourth time it has been mentioned in this book, obviously it was a major issue to them. Often times the writers of Scripture under divine inspiration repeated very important topics. It is not enough to hear something once. We need to hear it again and again.

I.

It starts off with the word “therefore”. When there is a “therefore”, you should ask what it is there for. It means that based on the things Paul just shared the Corinthians should flee idolatry. These days in most countries there is far less idolatry than in the time of the New Testament. But in much of the world less educated people still get caught up in it. Often times when passages on idolatry are taught, pastors say that it applies to anything one would put in front of God. Is this an accurate interpretation?

Firstly, we have to look at the word in Greek. In Greek “idolatry” pretty clearly means worshiping a graven image. It doesn’t mean “substituting something for God” or “taking God out of His rightful place”. In the original context, Paul, and other writers, are clearly telling their audience not to bow down to graven images. Does that mean it has no application other than to not worship graven images? I don’t think so. There are lot of issues like this where there is a broad principle behind the specific command that we can follow. And sins take different shapes and forms in different times. At that time rebellion against God was more likely to take the form of idol worship and false religions. This is still true in third world countries. But in more developed countries and more educated countries, rebellion against God often takes the form of evolution, materialism, etc. So I believe it is an acceptable and correct way to preach to say. MacArthur also says that libeling the character God, worshiping Him in the wrong way, etc. are also idolatry.

  1. Paul tells the Corinthians not to worship graven images.
  2. The broad principle behind this is that we are to put God first in every way and every area of our lives.
  3. We should not put money before God.

This is how Biblical interpretation works.

  1. What did the original author mean to the original audience?
  2. What is the broad principle behind this?
  3. How can we apply the broad principle today?

Sometimes number 1 and number 2 might be the same, such as “love your neighbor”, but in many cases it is different. The next passage is the same about food sacrificed to idols. The principle behind it, that we will discuss, is to glorify God in every way and not be a stumbling block to others.

I believer verse 15 is a mild rebuke to the Corinthians not to consider that they are too wise to listen to what Paul had to say. It’s a way of saying, “listen up” and encouraging them to be humble and pay close attention without looking for reasons to disagree or stir up controversy.

16-17 The “cup of blessing” refers to communion. It is a blessing to be saved and to have the privilege to be able to remember and recognize Jesus’ sacrifice for us by joining together in unity with all believers to celebrate Jesus’ death for us. Taking it is a symbol that we have been united with Christ and are identifying ourselves with Him. It is a reminder not only of what He has done for us, but also of what He expects us to do as part of His body. It is also a reminder of the unity that we have with each other because of His sacrifice. We can take communion together rich or poor, male or female, young and old, sick and health, because He breaks down the barriers between us.

18 – See cross-reference and discuss.

19-21 – The point here is not to sacrifice to idols. Sacrificing to idols is a form of worshiping demons, which is completely contrary to God. Sacrificing to idols is to worshiping demons what taking the Lord’s supper is to worshiping God. Sacrificing to idols is to worshiping demons what eating the sacrifice of the fellowship offering in the OT was to worshiping God. Drinking the cup of the Lord refers to taking holy communion. Drinking the cup of the demon refers to worshiping the demon through some ritual, such as sacrificing food to the demon. Same thing with the table. This passage is a little confusing and at first glance appears it might restrict us from eating the food or drink sacrificed to demons. But the rule of interpretation is interpret Scripture by other Scripture and other Scripture makes it abundantly clear that this in itself is not sinful.

The major point is that worshipers of God cannot and must not in any way mix in worship of demons. A person can’t do both. A person can’t have two masters. This is not an area of Christian freedom. Worshiping demons is blatant rebellion against God and is one of the most horrible abominations to God. The first two of the ten commandments deal with this issue. Denying the true God or minimizing Him by worshiping others is perhaps the grossest of all sins and as it is foundational will lead to countless other sins. This is not an issue that believers can have any compromise on. The idols are nothing themselves, just gold, silver, and wood. But behind the idols is probably a demonic force sent by Satan to impersonate the false god and do some cheap tricks to strengthen the superstition.

Idol worship is obviously sinful. There is no room for Christians to worship God on Sundays and then go home and with their relatives worship demons. A person can’t worship two things. This week with Moses I was talking to a guy who prays every night by the name of Muhammad, various Hindu gods, Buddha, and Jesus. Is Jesus pleased with that? Of course not. He is the only way and true believers must worship Him ONLY. There is room for no other. Believers cannot divide themselves in any area like this. There is no compromise. We can’t serve God and men. We can’t serve God and money. We can’t serve God and our friends, our family, our school, ourselves, or anything. There is only ONE God. We must be completely committed to Him above everything else. This is a very basic Christian issue and one discussed in the second book on Lordship. Christ is in the center. But it is also one of the most difficult. So many Christians want to just go to church sometimes, pray sometimes, read the Bible every now and then, seek God when they need help and leave it at that. But we need to give our very lives to God and Him only. What do you worship? Think about it.

22- This is another warning. Read cross-reference. God is a jealous God. That means that He wants your worship. He wants your heart. He wants your service. If you worship others, one day you will be judged for that.

  1. (Verses 23-32)

We learn the main principles that allow us to choose what to do in grey areas (specifically food sacrificed to idols.

  1. Do the things that edify instead of gratify (23).
  2. Seek the good of others instead of yourselves (24).
  3. Libertyover legalism (25-27)
  4. Condescension over condemnation (28-30)

Some special things to discuss in addition to going over verse by verse.

Verse 26 – This means that God created the world and the things that He made are good. Food is good. Drink is good. Work is good. Fun is good. Sex is good. Etc. The problem comes when people twist what God intended for good into evil. For example drink has been twisted into something where people get drunk and lose all control. Many believers react against this by saying that all alcohol should be avoided. But this is an overreaction and ignores the fact that God created all things for good. Sex has been twisted in tons of ways. Some Corinthians also reacted against this by deciding that all sex was bad. Again, this was an overreaction and not true. As Christians, we should enjoy the things that God has made. We should enjoy life. We don’t have to avoid them or restrict ourselves just because some people misuse God’s great blessings and gifts. However, we do need to exercise them within God’s limits. Give brief recap of conversation with Aaron (also Buddhism restricts).

Verse 31 – This is the key verse for this second section. This verse should govern our action in all grey areas. Sadly, most people approach grey areas in completely the wrong way. They attempt to see how far they can go. They say that the Bible does not prohibit it so it must be OK. Their thought process is to do whatever gratifies their own desires the most. They use their freedom for gratification and trying to enjoy themselves as much as possible. This is completely the wrong approach. The verse doesn’t say, “whether then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all for the enjoyment of yourself.” We are to do all for the glory of God. We should not ask ourselves, “Can I get away with it?” We should ask ourselves, “Does this give glory to God.” Anyone have any examples of specific issues. Cigarettes, drugs, watching certain movies, etc.

Verse 32 – Read cross-reference and ask questions. Obviously Paul doesn’t mean that his ultimate goal is to please people as he himself expressly said this was the wrong attitude in other Scriptures. Rather, his point is that the Christians should look out for others ahead of themselves. In relationship to other believers, they need to reach out in love to build up other believers and be careful not to make them stumble. In relationship to unbelievers, they need to be a good testimony and become all things to all people so that they may be saved.

Study 1 Corinthians 11:1-16

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