Robert Wurtz II
For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble (1 Cor. 8:10-13).
For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died (Romans 14:15).
There are two subjects that we must take seriously to make sense of these passages. First, we understand that a person can be destroyed for whom Christ died. The Greek word for “destroyed” is apollumi and within such contexts means eternal destruction or damnation. The implications are indeed disturbing. Nevertheless, Paul always assumes that a person can lose their salvation.
Second, we must take the sin of idolatry and its relationship to demons seriously. Idolatry is the ancient sin that continually stumbled Israel, and it takes on many forms. The most obvious is the worshipping of manmade idols and the demonic activity associated with occultic practices. These same demons are around today and manifest themselves in differing ways. We must utterly renounce any associations with darkness, death, and demons if we plan on serving God. Consider Paul’s argument as he takes up the topic in 1 Cor. 10:18-22:
Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. 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. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he? (1 Cor. 10:18-22 ESV).
If we read the entire 10th chapter, we get a clear explanation that when a Christian receives of the Lord’s Supper (holy communion), they are participating in the benefits of the altar (the cross). The same is true when a person knowingly participates in the sacrificial meals in idolatry and false gods. The idol images are nothing themselves, but the demons behind those images are what’s in play. To eat at the table of demons is to provoke the Lord to jealousy—clearly a damnable sin. It is spiritual adultery, and the children of Israel were always getting snared in that sin.
Flirting With Demons
If you are the type of person who thinks darkness and death are “beautiful” you have a serious spiritual problem. The old time preachers used to talk about “flirting with sin” or “flirting with the devil.” They described people who play games with demonic forces or serious sins as if those forces and sins are harmless. The offenders don’t go in full-bore, they sort-of “flirt” with evil and sin. They love the images and symbolism because they are either infatuated with evil, or they don’t take the threat of demonic forces seriously (or both). For some professing Christians, the only thing holding them back from further participation is knowing that what they are entertaining is unacceptable among their Christian friends–yet they have no such personal conviction.
When a person flirts with darkness and evil, they are throwing the door open to the enemy to come in and destroy them. Satan knows when he is being toyed with and he NEVER turns down a proposition. I have seen numerous individuals and whole families brought to ruin because they flirted with darkness, death, and evil as if it were a harmless activity. Their whole disposition and image was an invitation to Satan. Instead of renouncing evil and all its symbolism as sin, they kept on dabbling until the thief came to steal, kill and destroy everything and everyone around them. Sadly, nearly all of them still don’t have a clue as to what destroyed their lives. They would probably mock and snicker if I told them truly what happened to them. Sadly, this is how deceived people can be.
When I see people dabbling in the demonic I know it’s just a matter of time before a horrible tragedy takes place. Paul warned Christians not to participate in the demonic. In the first century, pagans would sacrifice animals to false gods and sell the meat in the marketplace. Christians could eat the meat, provided that they not do it in a way that participated in the pagan ritual. Paul could eat the meat because he didn’t regard the demons as anything. However, some Christians did regard the demons, and if they saw Paul eating the meat, they may get the idea that it’s acceptable to participate with demons, and then they do it, and it would be idolatry to them. The same type of trappings exists today. We must never give people the impression that participating in the demonic, darkness, or evil is acceptable. Flee idolatry! Or as John put it, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols”
(1 John 5:21 ESV).