We Must Heed the Vital Message of 1 Corinthians 10:18-20

1 Corinthians 10:18-20 provides vital instruction that every believer must heed:

1 Corinthians 10:18 Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? 19 What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? 20 But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.

To eat in a worship context of what has been sacrificed on an altar to an idol is to be a partaker of the altar. To do so is also to have fellowship with demons!

Such fellowship with demons is not contingent upon a person's having to offer the sacrifices himself. Anyone who eats of such sacrifices comes into fellowship with demons.

The passage also does not provide any basis to say or to hold that this only happens sometimes--in a worship context, anyone who eats what has been sacrificed to an idol has fellowship with demons. God does not want any humans to have fellowship with demons!

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RajeshG's picture

Scripture presents key passages warning us about eating things sacrificed to idols from nearly its beginning to its ending:

Exodus 32:6 And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play. 7 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: 8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

Acts 15:28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; 29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.

Revelation 2:14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.

Revelation 2:20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.

Applying what 1 Corinthians 10:18-20 reveals to us to these passages illumines them and underscores God's emphatic and pervasive instruction throughout Scripture so that people will not have fellowship with demons through eating in a worship context what has been sacrificed to an idol.

RajeshG's picture

Comparing 1 Cor. 10:18-20 with Ephesians 5:11 in the original shows that the passages are closely related:

1 Corinthians 10:18 Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? 19 What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? 20 But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.

1 Corinthians 10:18 βλέπετε τὸν Ἰσραὴλ κατὰ σάρκα· οὐχὶ οἱ ἐσθίοντες τὰς θυσίας κοινωνοὶ τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου εἰσί; 19  τί οὖν φημι; ὅτι εἴδωλόν τί ἐστιν; ἢ ὅτι εἰδωλόθυτόν τί ἐστιν; 20  ἀλλ᾽ ὅτι ἃ θύει τὰ ἔθνη, δαιμονίοις θύει, καὶ οὐ Θεῷ· οὐ θέλω δὲ ὑμᾶς κοινωνοὺς τῶν δαιμονίων γίνεσθαι.

Ephesians 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

Ephesians 5:11 καὶ μὴ συγκοινωνεῖτε τοῖς ἔργοις τοῖς ἀκάρποις τοῦ σκότους, μᾶλλον δὲ καὶ ἐλέγχετε·

The imperative in Ephesians 5:11 (συγκοινωνεῖτε) is a compound verb that is related to the noun κοινωνος in 1 Cor. 10:18 (κοινωνοὶ) and 10:20 (κοινωνοὺς). Moreover, both passages concern divine instruction not to have fellowship with things/anything connected to supernatural evil spirits. 

From how Ephesians 5:11 illumines 1 Corinthians 10:18-20, we know that these passages together authoritatively direct us as NT believers that we must reject categorically all the unfruitful works of darkness, especially anything closely connected to the consumption of things sacrificed to idols in a worship context.

RajeshG's picture

The Spirit revealed 1 Cor. 10:18-20 to profit us concerning the demonic fellowship that humans come into whenever in a worship context they eat what has been sacrificed to idols. To understand further how God wants us to profit from this revelation and heed its vital message, we must examine carefully the Spirit's perfect wisdom in how He has crafted the surrounding context of this passage.

Although there are many biblical accounts of humans eating what has been sacrificed to idols, the Spirit chose to direct our attention to one specific account earlier in this passage and use that passage to issue a categorical demand for us not to engage in idolatry:

1 Corinthians 10:7 Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

We can be certain, therefore, that He wants us to use 1 Cor. 10:18-20 to understand properly the significance of the event that 10:7 directs our attention to. In 10:7, Paul quotes from Exodus 32:6, which is part of the inspired record of the Golden Calf Incident (GCI). 

Applying 1 Cor. 10:18-20 to 10:7 reveals to us therefore that the people who ate and drank what was sacrificed to the idol in the GCI were all people who came into fellowship with demons by their doing so!

Furthermore, we must not fail to pay attention to the fact that the Spirit does not just direct our attention to their eating and drinking what was sacrificed to the idol--He also directs our attention to their idolatrous playing! Because their idolatrous playing only took place after they had consumed what was offered to the idol, we know for certain that their playing was the playing of humans who were in fellowship with demons and influenced by them.

Because the Spirit chose in 1 Corinthians 10 to quote directly from Exodus 32, we know for certain that the GCI is a passage of premier importance for us to know more about the unfruitful works of darkness with which we are commanded not to have any fellowship. Therefore, for us to profit fully from 1 Cor. 10:18-20 we must use what it reveals to illumine what God has revealed to us about what took place in the GCI after the people had eaten and drunk what had been offered to the idol.

Dan Miller's picture

I appreciate this thread. The anti-idol-meat position gets little attention, so it’s a good thing. 

Not much to add, except that the word “play” seems to mean something close our “party.”

RajeshG's picture

Dan Miller wrote:

I appreciate this thread. The anti-idol-meat position gets little attention, so it’s a good thing. 

Not much to add, except that the word “play” seems to mean something close our “party.”

Thanks for the encouraging feedback. There is much more to bring out about the importance of how 1 Cor. 10 illumines the GCI.

RajeshG's picture

Based on how 1 Corinthians 10:18-20 illumines 1 Cor. 10:7 and Exodus 32, we must consider thoroughly what Exodus 32 reveals about the activities of the people who came into fellowship with demons through their eating and drinking in a worship context what was sacrificed to an idol.

Exodus 32:6 (part of which is quoted in 1 Cor. 10:7) records that the people rose up to play after they had sat down to eat and drink what had been offered to the idol.

Everything that Exodus 32 records that these people did after they had partaken of those sacrifices is a record of the actions of people who came into fellowship with demons and thereby were influenced by them.

After Exodus 32:6, the next information in Exodus 32 about the activities of these demonically influenced people is recorded in what transpired between Moses and Joshua as they were coming down to the camp:

Exodus 32:17 And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp. 18 And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them that sing do I hear.

From this passage, we know that these people shouted (32:17) in producing a very loud sound that Moses discerned to be the noise of their singing (32:18). We know, therefore, that these demonically influenced people were producing music.

Exodus 32:17-18 is an inspired record of demonically influenced music! God wants us to know that there is such a thing as demonically influenced music produced by human beings.

RajeshG's picture

Following the revelation about the people's producing music under demonic influence (Exod. 32:17-18), we read that they were also engaging in another activity under demonic influence:

Exodus 32:19 And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.

Moses, the God-appointed leader of the Israelites at this time, exploded with anger on seeing the idol and their demonically influenced dancing. Moses was not angry with them simply because they had made an idol--their dancing was of such a perverse nature that it also served to elicit his fiery response.

Later, we are given further information about their demonically influenced activities on this occasion that confirms the perverse character of those activities:

Exodus 32:25 And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies:

NET Exodus 32:25 Moses saw that the people were running wild, for Aaron had let them get completely out of control, causing derision from their enemies.

NKJ Exodus 32:25 Now when Moses saw that the people were unrestrained (for Aaron had not restrained them, to their shame among their enemies),

CSB Exodus 32:25 Moses saw that the people were out of control, for Aaron had let them get out of control, resulting in weakness before their enemies.

ESV Exodus 32:25 And when Moses saw that the people had broken loose (for Aaron had let them break loose, to the derision of their enemies),

NIV Exodus 32:25 Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies.

NLT Exodus 32:25 Moses saw that Aaron had let the people get completely out of control, much to the amusement of their enemies.

This statement informs us that these demonically influenced people who were producing music and were dancing were doing so in such a wild, totally-out-of-control manner as to bring them into open shame with their enemies.

The passage therefore explicitly relates that their demonically influenced activities on this occasion were of such a perverse nature that both the godly leader of the people and the ungodly enemies of the people judged what they were doing to be completely unfitting for those who were supposed to be the people of the one true God.

This passage thus provides an inspired record of unbelievers who validly criticized the ungodly worship activities of those who professed to be among the people of God.

RajeshG's picture

By applying 1 Cor. 10:18-20 to 1 Cor. 10:7 and Exodus 32:6, we understand that those in the GCI who had consumed what had been sacrificed to the idol came into fellowship with demons and were under their influence. From Exod. 32:17-25, we learn that these demonically influenced people were producing music and dancing in a perverse, shameful, wildly out-of-control manner.

All the actions that they were doing after they had consumed what had been sacrificed to the idol were perverse actions of demonically influenced people who engaged in false worship. Every aspect of their activities was demonically defiled.

By applying Ephesians 5:11 to Exodus 32:17-25, we understand that God forbids his people from having any fellowship with any such unfruitful works of darkness. It was not just that their hearts were wrong and that their context was sinful; everything they did and how they did it was demonically defiled.

Whatever instruments they were playing (at least timbrels) were being played in a demonically influenced ungodly manner. Whatever they were singing was demonically influenced content and how they were singing it was in a demonically influenced ungodly manner. Their dancing was perverse and ungodly dancing of those who were under demonic influence.

Any attempt to say that both what they were singing and the object of their singing were ungodly but how they were singing was fine is false. Any attempt to say that what they were playing on the instruments and how they were playing it were fine and only the object of their playing was wrong is false.

Because all of their works were demonically influenced, we do not have any biblical basis for holding that any aspect of it was acceptable to God. The GCI therefore is an inspired record that attests to the existence of one or more ungodly styles of playing musical instruments, singing, and dancing.

Their music, singing, and dancing style(s) were not and are not an exception to Ephesians 5:11. God's people are commanded not to have any fellowship with any such styles!

Anyone claiming that the style(s) used by the people in the GCI in playing that music, in singing what they sang, and in dancing as they did were acceptable to God and would be fit for us to use in worshiping God has the burden of proving his view specifically from the Bible itself.

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

Because all of their works were demonically influenced, we do not have any biblical basis for holding that any aspect of it was acceptable to God. The GCI therefore is an inspired record that attests to the existence of one or more ungodly styles of playing musical instruments, singing, and dancing.

Their music, singing, and dancing style(s) were not and are not an exception to Ephesians 5:11. God's people are commanded not to have any fellowship with any such styles!

As I think I've mentioned in the past, we don't really have a record of a specific "style" from the GCI passage. You described the production and dancing as being done in a "perverse, shameful, wildly out of control manner," but is that really a style of music? I admit that if people are up in front of the church auditorium dancing naked, that would be shameful, but I truly doubt any churches do that. If people are in front of the church auditorium worshipping an idol and eating food offered to that idol while they are dancing in an out of control manner, that would be shameful, but I truly doubt any churches do that. You may be right in proclaiming the existence of "one ot more ungodly styles," but unless we have a recording of the style played at the GCI, we can't say whether those styles even exist today.

Is it just a matter of the music being "out of control"? In the other thread, you wrote:, "Psalm 150:5 commands the use of cymbals. First Corinthians 13:1 also speaks of the use of a cymbal, but because loveless speech is likened to that use of the cymbal, we understand that the sounds spoken of in this verse that the tinkling cymbal (or the sounding brass) makes are not aesthetically beautiful sounds and would not be musical sounds that manifest the love that is the fruit of the Spirit.

We can conclude that producing such sounds with the cymbals would not be the divinely acceptable sounds of the uses of the cymbals that are commanded in Psalm 150:5 to use to praise God."

Here we have a statement from you that certain cymbal sounds are not beautiful and are not acceptable to God. What exactly is it about those sounds that are not acceptable. How can I keep from making those sounds if the verse doesn't give me specifics? The first thing I think of when I read about the sound of tinkling cymbals is wind chimes. I deliver mail, and some houses have wind chimes on their porch. They can get pretty wild and out of control. Does the wildness make their sound unacceptable to God?

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

As I think I've mentioned in the past, we don't really have a record of a specific "style" from the GCI passage. You described the production and dancing as being done in a "perverse, shameful, wildly out of control manner," but is that really a style of music? I admit that if people are up in front of the church auditorium dancing naked, that would be shameful, but I truly doubt any churches do that. If people are in front of the church auditorium worshipping an idol and eating food offered to that idol while they are dancing in an out of control manner, that would be shameful, but I truly doubt any churches do that. You may be right in proclaiming the existence of "one ot more ungodly styles," but unless we have a recording of the style played at the GCI, we can't say whether those styles even exist today.

 

Is it just a matter of the music being "out of control"? In the other thread, you wrote:, "Psalm 150:5 commands the use of cymbals. First Corinthians 13:1 also speaks of the use of a cymbal, but because loveless speech is likened to that use of the cymbal, we understand that the sounds spoken of in this verse that the tinkling cymbal (or the sounding brass) makes are not aesthetically beautiful sounds and would not be musical sounds that manifest the love that is the fruit of the Spirit.

We can conclude that producing such sounds with the cymbals would not be the divinely acceptable sounds of the uses of the cymbals that are commanded in Psalm 150:5 to use to praise God."

Here we have a statement from you that certain cymbal sounds are not beautiful and are not acceptable to God. What exactly is it about those sounds that are not acceptable. How can I keep from making those sounds if the verse doesn't give me specifics? The first thing I think of when I read about the sound of tinkling cymbals is wind chimes. I deliver mail, and some houses have wind chimes on their porch. They can get pretty wild and out of control. Does the wildness make their sound unacceptable to God?

Any time a person plays a musical instrument to produce actual music (and not just single tones), they play it in some style. We do not have to know any of the specifics of the style(s) of music that they used in the GCI.

Furthermore, it is irrelevant whether the specific style(s) used in the GCI exist today. The bigger point is that the false presupposition that all instrumental music is inherently either neutral, amoral, or good is refuted by what the Scripture reveals through 1 Cor. 10 and Exod. 32 as well as elsewhere. 

The Bible does not in any way support the notion that all instrumental musical styles are inherently acceptable to God. Anyone who asserts that the instrumental music that they were playing was amoral, neutral, or good in spite of their being influenced by demons must prove from the Bible alone why that was still the case. 

The Bible reveals that demons influenced these false worshipers to produce ungodly music back then, and we do not have any biblical basis to hold that demons do not any longer influence humans to produce ungodly worship music in our day. Any music style(s)/genre(s) sourced in evil supernatural influence on humans is music that must be rejected (Eph. 5:11).

We do not have any way to understand in detail and with certainty what musicological aspects of such music sourced in supernatural evil influence makes it evil. More importantly, God has not authorized us to do such analysis. He demands that we do not have anything to do with it.

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

The Bible reveals that demons influenced these false worshipers to produce ungodly music back then, and we do not have any biblical basis to hold that demons do not any longer influence humans to produce ungodly worship music in our day. Any music style(s)/genre(s) sourced in evil supernatural influence on humans is music that must be rejected (Eph. 5:11).

We do not have any way to understand in detail and with certainty what musicological aspects of such music sourced in supernatural evil influence makes it evil. More importantly, God has not authorized us to do such analysis. He demands that we do not have anything to do with it.

The way I see it, your post is a lot of bluster without much substance. You are saying that "Any music style(s)/genre(s) sourced in evil supernatural influence on humans is music that must be rejected (Eph. 5:11)." Fine, I WANT to reject those styles. How do I do that? Seriously. How? Does the 'How?" really not matter?

Don't I need to have some insight in the "evil spiritual influence" of today's demons to know what "music style(s)/genre(s)" of today are actually sourced in "evil supernatural influence"? If I don't know that, how can I reject such music?

I appreciate what you said in the other thread about the "continuum of demonic influence." You said "At one end would be Jesus in whom the devil had nothing (John 14:30), but the devil still was able to tempt Him. At the other end would be those who were/are demon-possessed. All other people will fall somewhere in between the two ends." If all people feel between those ends, then wouldn't all music produced by people also fall between those ends? I know you don't think we should reject all music, so where is the line on the continuum that makes us have to start rejecting some?

In my mind, rejecting some, but not all, music would take some analysis, yet you claim that "God has not authorized us to do such analysis." Huh? How does that work then? I can't get past the illogic of what you are saying. Imagine the conversation if we used the word "sin" rather than "demonically influenced music."

You: God wants you to reject sin. Me:What is sin?  You: Sin is something God is displeased with. Me: But how do I determine what displeases God? You: God doesn't require you to analyze. He just wants you to reject it.

Do you see how confusing that gets without specifics? Especially since with music, it would be some point along a continuum at which music would be rejected. No one has tried, in this thread or the Gen 4:21 thread, to say that music is all good or even amoral. We've been discussing what you claim to be "demonically influenced music." I can get a handle on, to a certain degree, what it means for demons to influence humans. What I am trying to figure out is how such influence on humans can get transferred to something humans produce. You're the one claiming the influence gets transferred, so shouldn't you be the one who proves from Scripture that it does? How can I tell if the influence has been transferred? Don't I need to be able to tell if it has in order to know what to reject?

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

You are saying that "Any music style(s)/genre(s) sourced in evil supernatural influence on humans is music that must be rejected (Eph. 5:11)." Fine, I WANT to reject those styles. How do I do that? Seriously. How? Does the 'How?" really not matter?

Don't I need to have some insight in the "evil spiritual influence" of today's demons to know what "music style(s)/genre(s)" of today are actually sourced in "evil supernatural influence"? If I don't know that, how can I reject such music?

I have never said that the "how" does not matter.

Just as it took vital illumination from 1 Cor. 10:18-20 to unlock the real nature of what took place in the GCI, so answering the "how" in our day must also come from letting the Bible interpret itself through all relevant passages.

The passages that have been treated in this thread have already provided you with a central aspect of the "how"--studying the Bible thoroughly to learn what it reveals about people who have contact with supernatural evil spirits and how they have such contact. First Corinthians 10:18-20 informs us that anyone who in a worship context eats what has been sacrificed to an idol comes into fellowship with demons. We, therefore, must reject any music sourced in such idolatrous practices.

Furthermore, from learning that both Testaments categorically forbid God's people from having any contact with the occult and its practitioners, you then must determine in your life to reject categorically any music sourced in any occult practices.

For example, from a biblical standpoint, voodoo is an evil occult practice. Believers therefore have zero justification for any use of voodoo music in their lives in any form. Such music is to be rejected categorically--we are not to study it from a musicological standpoint nor are we ever to bring it into the church in any form.

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

For example, from a biblical standpoint, voodoo is an evil occult practice. Believers therefore have zero justification for any use of voodoo music in their lives in any form. Such music is to be rejected categorically--we are not to study it from a musicological standpoint nor are we ever to bring it into the church in any form.

How are we supposed to know if a particular song we are listening to has been used in a voodoo ceremony?