Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 6 months ago

Participating with Demons

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

1 Corinthians 10:15-20

If you're able to remain standing, please do and turn your attention with me to first Corinthians, chapter ten. First Corinthians, chapter ten versus fifteen through twenty two. Fourteen through twenty two. Therefore, my beloved flee from idolatry. I speak as to sensible people. Judge for yourselves what I say. The Cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of one bread. 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 pagan 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? Men, you may be seated, but passage in God's word this morning begins with a command flee from idolatry. Flee from idolatry. It's a very clear command, but we often don't obey it. A lot of people don't flee from idolatry. They dabble in idolatry. Perhaps you know or have met people who are what you might think of as fullblown idolaters, people who regularly and and with great importance and ritual are involved and sacrific making sacrifices and offerings and prayers to offerings. But there are other kinds of people that don't flee from idolatry. Right there are people who who just kind of play around with it a little bit. Burn a little thing here, offer a little prayer. They're only when it's convenient or when something's important or maybe they're asked to do it by a friend. It's not like a big deal, they would say. It's not a regular part of their lives. They're not really serious about it. Maybe it's now. They're not even really sure what it is, but they're certainly not fleeing from idolatry. The scripture doesn't say kind of stay away from it if it's convenient. It says flee from it. And you know what fleeing right looks like? It fleeing is the recognition of a danger. It's recognition of something that is going to cause you harm and in moving as quickly as you can away from that thing. There's another group of people, we might say, that don't flee from...

...idolatry, and it's people that kind of think of it as a nonissue. They think of idolatry and the worship of idols and serving demons is something that's well, kind of ancient and weird, so doesn't really have anything to do with me. I live in a modern world, I live a modern life. I don't have to pay attention to things like spirits and God and, well, I don't know, but I just don't mess with that kind of stuff. I don't think about it. Well, we might be glad in a way that that person is is is not actively participating in idolatry, but they're not fleeing at other they're not fleeing it either. The Bible speaks very clean plainly and clearly that there are spiritual forces at work in this world that would seek to do us harm. It's not a weird ancient thing, it's just a true thing. There are other things. There's lots of things in the world that seek to do US harm. There's predatory animals, they're viruses, there are other people, there are falling things from the sky. They're all. We can list many, many dangers. Why would we discount a spiritual one? We ourselves are partly spiritual creatures, we have souls. There's immaterial things in this world. Why would we discount automatically the fact what the Bible says is so plainly true, that there are spiritual dangers, even creatures that would cause us spiritual harm? We believe in other things that we cannot see and yet would hurt us, like viruses or maybe even animals hiding and bushes and things like that. Snakes right, we watch out, we look for Scorpions, these kinds of things. Why would we discount this? Well, we shouldn't discount this. Instead, we should flee from the things which would seek to do us harm, and God gives us here in his words, some very serious reasons a why we should do that. And the one reason, the main reason he gives why we should flee from idolatry. Is that it is, he says. Paul says participation with demons. Now he makes clear that idols have no power in and of themselves. If that was the case, pretty much everything would kill us, right, anything that you would make out or harmless in some way, because people make idols out of every kind of thing. Right, metals and enamels and precious, precious materials, would all kinds of things. It's not the material, the matter itself, that does us harm, it's it's not anything, not anything that would do us value in an or do us harm in and of itself. That's what Paul saying. Otherwise we'd have to be watching out for bathtubs and wheelbarrels and anything right. So it's not the idol itself that is the problem. Even the idols. They're often named after dead people, past kings and Queens, or imagined people, imagined God's and we know that people are not capable, especially dead people, are not capable of doing us any real harm. So why are idols a problem if the things are themselves not that big of a deal? It's because, Paul says, the idols are in a way fronts for demonic spiritual activity and these demons, these evil spirits, do wish and are capable of doing harm. They love to trouble humans. They love to keep us from God and to receive his worship for themselves. Evil spirits...

...use idolatry to accomplish these ends. And if you said, well, that sounds kind of tricky and deceitful, well you might be onto something about demons. They are tricky, they are deceitful. They will use the means necessary, as they see it, to hurt you, to harm you, to kill you and to keep you from God. Evil spirits use idolatry to accomplish these ends and when we participate in idolatry, we participate with them, we fellowship with them. That's a problem, as I begun to hint at, for a number of reasons. Some people would say it's not a problem. I not worship evil spirits and there are people that do. It is a problem for I'll give two reasons. There are many. I'll give to one is that it's degrading. Human beings are made in the image of God, not the image of other creatures. We are made in the image of God himself. We have a dignity. That is very great. We have been honored with this great thing and we are called to exercise that image, to bear that image in our lives, with holiness and acting in his name. Think about what happened in the Garden of Eden when Satan, the Great Evil Spirit, the devil, attempted our parents. What happened? They became naked when they fell and they gave into his temptation, when they participated and had fellowship with Satan, they found themselves naked, degraded, a shamed, embarrassed, banished from the tree of life, banished from the presence of God and entering into death. This is where fellowship and participation with demonic forces leads us. Did Eve get what she wanted? Not Really. Did Adam get what he wanted? Know, not really. Instead, they got denigration and despair and death. That they become like God. Did they obtain this great knowledge? Did they step out of their created spots and become divine? No, they became even low. They became low, low, perverted, distorted versions of what God had made, and this degradation was offensive to God. It is offensive to God as well. You could hear it in Paul's language he's like you cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the Cup of Demons. Chris Awsom gives this example of of being the kings son, one of the preachers in the fourth century, gives this example of being the king's son, eating at the king's table, being loved by this great King and then choosing to go sit in the dungeon with prisoners and people who have fought against your father. What are you doing? Or, to use another example, imagine being imagine going and taking your let's say you're married to someone, and you go and you take the wedding ring of another person who's not your spouse and start wearing that instead. What are you doing? Why are you eating at that table? Why are you sleeping in that bed? The this is, of course, what Israel did. If you've been with us in the evenings as we've been going through the book of Ezekiel, or if you know something about the history of of the people of God and the Old Testament, you...

...know this is exactly what happened. They brought in the idols, the false gods, into the very temple of God, into the city of God, into the Holy Land of God, and they gave themselves over to demons, to false idols. It was degrading, it was disgusting, it was despicable and it led to death. It led to death in all kinds of ways. And this is the second thing to mention. Not only is it degrading, it's dangerous. When people go and worship idols, they don't do it because they think it's dangerous, at least think they usually do. They do it because they need things and they think that somehow worshiping idols will get them those things. If this worship can take all kinds of forms, it might be bowing down to idols, praying to idols, giving offerings to idols, kissing idols, burning things for them these idols, maybe right in front of them, or it may be in front of a big crowd. It might even be virtual, not these days, or on the other side of the world or or even in your mind. Demons don't really care what kind of idol you're doing using, whether it's a an online version or an in person version, or it's far away or it's in your imagination, as long as you're not giving your worship to the one true God, they're happy. Just last weekend there's over a hundred thousand people in our own city processing and worshiping not the one true God, but putting their prayers and hopes and dreams and prayer and and goals and all kinds of other things into a giant urn led by an attendant spirit community group. All of it then burned up into the heavens. If you go and you look at workshops and things that were done, people are calling on the spirit of Animism, the spirit of love, the spirit of this and that. They were embodying these spirits all kinds of things. Not Everyone, not all in the same way, but they did it too, as in their own words, release themselves, to open themselves up to things that are difficult to deal with in this life, to solve problems like grief and sorrow, passing of loved ones, hard things. They did it because they wanted a sense of community. They did it because they wanted to make an economic impact, something like twenty seven million dollars in the city of Tucson. It's a big deal. Brings a lot of positive things. That's why people go, that's why people participate in these kinds of things. As long as you think, though, as long as you think that you're getting something for this community, food, money, espouse, whatever. People go to idols and they try to get these things. The here's the thing. Demons don't give you what you want. They're tricksters, they're liars. They make it seem nice, they make it seem fun, they make it seem enjoyable, but it's not what it seems. We worship idols, we serve demons to our destruction. It leads on to death and you see it often in the acts of idolatry themselves. For example, remember when Elijah was on Mount Carmel. What did the priests do in their worship of bail? They beat themselves, they whipped themselves, flogged themselves, and that was...

...not a one time thing. You read and about the history of idolatry and you watch. It's not the only thing that happens. Sure, sometimes it's just you put an orange in front of the thing and it feels like no big deal, but a lot of times it a lot more than that, and that path goes to these very, very dark places. Israel, Oh, the the people of God, sacrifice their own children to idols. Demons want us to destroy ourselves. They want us to hurt ourselves. They don't give us what they want. They give us our own destruction, our own death. And you often see it in the acts of idolatry itself, whipping, burning, mutilating, beating, murder and so on, and even in the riotous kind of idolatry. These sort of that you often see connected with idolatry, the giving over to fleshly pleasures, to drunkenness and orgies and despair and loneliness. These things men say me seem exciting and awesome in the moment, but they just tear people apart. They destroy people body and soul. Demons don't give you what you want. Idolatry doesn't get you what you want. It brings you danger, it brings you death, and it's all totally unnecessary because God, the true God, not these false pretender gods, the true God, promises to provide everything you need, body and soul. If you really really need to eat, he will give you food. If you need clothes, he'll give you clothes. If you need shelter, he'll give you shelter, and if you don't need it, he won't give it to you. And if we're honest with ourselves, and you've heard me say this many times, we pray, this pray in the Lord's prayer, and give us this day, our daily bread. We don't go to idols, we go to God. But consider for a moment what most of us eat. Do we eat daily bread? Our tables are so rich and full of good, fancy food from spices all over. Even the cheapest hamburger bought from a fast food restaurant is an amazing thing. When we consider what we really deserve and how good God provides for us. We ask for our daily bread. He's like here, here, here, here, here, over and over and over again. How many times have you eaten in your life? How many times is God provided for you so that you could live another hour? We're all here and, as we'll get to in a little bit, God does even more than provide for our daily head. He gives his bread that is unto eternal life. He gives his bread that doesn't fail. But when we reject that, when we turn away from that, the one true source of life and sustenance and fellowship and community and all of these things that we need, that we want as those who bear the image of God, when we turn away from that, and serve idols and worship idols and serve demons. Not only do we reject the source of all good things, turn to deceivers and tricksters, people who want to do us harm and see us dead, but we also come under God's righteous wrath. We come under his wrath.

Who Rightly judges those and we just last time we considered examples from the Old Testament like this. The people came out of idolatry, they came out of Egypt, they came out of slavery and they found themselves in the wilderness and struggling to eat and to drink and to live. You know what they tried to do? They tried to go back to the idols of Egypt. They tried to go back to their slavery, and God Judge Them. Paul ends with this very strong questions. Shall we provoke the Lord to Jealousy? Are we stronger than he? Is this a game you want to play? Is this a road you want to travel down? No, flee from idolatry. So when we flee from idolatry, to what shall we flee? If we escape from the slavery service to Demons, to whom shall we run we cannot run to ourselves, for we are those who are in need. We cannot become suppliers of our own resources, because we're finite. We're not capable of doing it. We're not capable of preserving our own lives, living forever outwitting the cunning one those who do turn to themselves and not to God is say, okay, fine, I'll reject pagan idolatry and I'll just worship me have, of course, just fallen into another trap. Right, if we're just worshiping ourselves, we've made ourselves another idol and the process begins all over again, and the demons rejoice. There is only one place, only one person, to whom we can go, and that is to the true God, our heavenly father, as we read in Psalm Ninety six, a great king above all gods, the one who really made us and made all things the eternal and who, unlike the gods that you read about in stories, unlike the gods that people worship, he doesn't have a birthdate, he doesn't have a death date, he doesn't need to food or money or anything. He's not trying to figure out how, he doesn't get bored and figure out how to mess around with humans. He doesn't. He doesn't decide randomly to do crazy things. He doesn't sleep around, he doesn't. He's totally self sufficient, totally content, perfectly eternal and holy in every way. He doesn't change, he doesn't die, he hasn't been born, he doesn't need anything. We go to him, a true God, and we go to Jesus, the son of the true God and whom, the Scriptures say, the fullness of Deity, the fullness of Deity Dwells Bodily, Eternally, begotten, not made, the creator, not a creature. That's why the Jews are so upset. When Jesus says I am working, as my father is working, say what that means? That your God? Yes, that's who he is. How do you know? Because he takes an invalid for thirty eight years, is couldn't do anything, and he says, get up, take up your bed and walk, and he walks. And then, on top of that, he tells him not to sin. Jesus forgive sins. Jesus heals bodies. Jesus, yes, dies, but it was a death unto life, so that we wouldn't have to die. He conquers death, itself,...

...where idolatry and demonic worship as always surrounding death, involving death and destruction and all of these things. Jesus dies to conquer death and to enter into life, and he does, and we know it by his own resurrection from the dead. We go to Jesus, we go to God, we go to God the Holy Spirit. We go to him and we worship him because it is by his power that we have life. We have life in the son and by the will of the father. He is the true God. And as we worship God, Father, son and Holy Spirit, one God in three persons, we worship him who made us, who brought us to life and causes us to be him, who makes us his son, his bride, his sheep, and when he puts his wedding ring on us, when he gives promises us and inheritance, as he leads us to paths of still water, he promises that, when we trust in him, he will provide for us every single thing that we need, not only for this life but also for the life to come, and he gives that to us, of course, in Jesus himself, he provides for us. God provides for us food, but he never promises that our daily bread will give us eternal life. He never promises that perishable things will give us imperishable wife, nor, according to God's wise economy, could they. The only source of eternal life is sharing in the life of Eternal One. Does that make sense? The only way to have eternal life, as those who don't have it naturally in ourselves, is to draw it from an eternal source, or to put it in terms that are maybe a little easier to understand. Just as we eat and drink food to sustain our lives here and now, knowing that it doesn't last forever, we must eat and drink of some kind of eternal food so that we may last forever, and that eternal food is God, to put the metaphor that way. This is, of course, an analogy. Right to eat and drink unto an eternal life, and God is the only one who is eternal. We must eat and drink of of God. This is an analogy. It's a word picture to help us to understand what we must do. When God says, when Jesus says, you must eat my flesh and drink my blood, he's not saying that we should eat and drink him exactly in the same way we eat and drink food. God does not change, he doesn't break apart in our mouths, he doesn't get crushed by our molars, he isn't divided into a thousand pieces. That would be impossible. God is, after all, Spirit. We are more capable, put this way, we're more capable of eating air than we are of eating God, who is spirit, not material. So God, in saying, and Jesus in saying, that we must drink his blood and eat his flesh, he's giving us an analogy, a word picture. He's saying that, just as food and drink are the source of perishable life, he must be the...

...source of imperishable life. So why speak this way? One of the reformers, Theodorebeyza, put it this way to show us how close our union with Christ is through faith, for nothing joins us together more than food and drink, and without these no one can move through this life. Right. So we must have him in the same way that we have food, the way the food nourishes and sustains us. The Lord Nourishes and sustains us for eternal life. But that, of course, leads us to this question, which is how exactly do we eat right? If we can say well, we don't eat God like we eat bread, how do we eat him? How do we partake of his eternal nature? How do we partake of him and the benefits that he offers? The scriptures answer this both in terms of God's part and our part. For our part, we gain the eternal life of God, fellowship with him, by receiving Christ, his son, and all his benefits through faith. Through faith, in other words, by simply receiving and resting in the promise that God has given to us his son, for the forgiveness of our sins and for the reward of our glorification. We receive the sun and all these benefits. For God's part, for his part, he gives himself to us to buy us by uniting us to the sun by the Holy Spirit. We receive him as he has first received US in Christ. This is the feeding. It is a feeding of faith. God promises himself his life to us and we believe it and we know that this is the eating that he speaks of, because he tells us, put your faith in me and I will give you eternal life. That's the mechanism. If we could put it that way. It's the instrument through which we receive these blessings, these eternal things, to eat for this life. In other words, we receive into our mouths the perishable things which nourish this perishable life, to eat for eternal life. We receive into our hearts the eternal one who nourishes us for eternal life. Without eating, bread and drinking, we starve and we die. Without faith, we starve and we die. This is the way that the Scriptures speak to us about Christ. To make this, this analogy, more clear and a deeper reality in our lives, God does this amazing thing. He not only tells us about this reality using this analogy, using this word picture, he also shows us this word picture by using and ordaining the use of actual food and the elements that he picks for this food. He ordains this ceremony for us to use actual food to remind us and impress these things on our hearts. And the elements he picks for the food are very specific. Right. God doesn't just make something up and say, well, here might be a or we don't just make something up and say, well, this might be a nice way to think about divinity. No, God says. Here's what I want you to do, and I'm going to use this as a source for faith and encouragement in your faith. So, eating and drinking, right. What does God pick? It's right there. What does God pick? He picks a liquid. He picks a solid. This comprehends the eating and drinking again, Unto Eternal Life, and...

...he ties both the liquid and the solid to the means of our access to God, which is the incarnate son. So Jesus is how we come to know God. It's in him that the fullness of Deity dwells, body lie. He says. If you've seen me, you've seen the father. Simple as that. He is the one true God. He does the deeds of God. He is our salvation, and we know that he provides that through his a, just through his incarnation in general, but by dying on a cross, shedding his blood for the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus is a sacrifice so that we wouldn't die ourselves. Now this is our Lord. Imagine if you are God for a moment and your try and you're going to pick the elements for food and drink based on its connection with Christ. What would you choose will. God chooses for the liquid blood, and I think this is a natural choice, because not only does it stand as a symbol for life in general. Right blood is as a symbol of life, but it also reminds us that it was by blood that the incarnate son of God, by his blood that we have the atonement, it was by his blood that we have our redemption. The blood speaks particularly to our acceptance in God through the work of Christ. Because of his shed blood, we can stand before God as those who are justified and not condemned, as those who are received and accepted into his presence, as those who belong there. His blood and his sacrifice is said to wash away our sins, to cleanse and to purge us so that we can be righteous before him. But the scriptures tell us, with all great praise to our father in heaven, that we are not merely accepted by him as righteous through the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, but we are also continually nourished by Christ for the vinification, for the vivication, for the enlivening in the the growing and the the salvation of our souls and our bodies too. We don't just stand before God as righteous. He makes us, day by day, more and more holy, until one day we will receive that reward of perfect glorication. Zero Sin, zero pollution, zero corruption. Right now it's a battle. Right now, the spirit is in us and we have his life in us and he's producing the fruits of the spirit in us. But it's a battle, it's hard. Right the flesh is still there, abiding sin is still there and every day, Ma'am Bam, we fight, we fight, we fight, but there is coming a day when there will no more be a fight because the victory will be complete. God is perfecting us, he's nourishing us, he's strengthening us, he's maturing us. And so for the analogy, on the food side of things, on the eating side of things, God chooses the body of Christ. Again. Is there a better choice? By using the body, God points us to our need for the whole Christ, or the whole of Christ? By choosing his body, he points to us and tells us that we need all of him. Now it's important that we understand, even against some other Christians understandings, that his body is a true body. This is part...

...of our the importance of our salvation. His body as a true body. It is not just like your body, it's not everywhere all at the same time, to quote Beza again. Just as we know the signs of bread and wine are on earth and not somewhere else, so also we hold that the actual substance, that is Christ himself, according to the flesh, is contained in heaven and not some other plays, as we gather from the Scripture and from all the Orthodox fathers. The great mystery, then, is, how can we benefit from the Lord's body, which is in heaven, when we are here on earth? That's a very far distance, right. How can we gain from the benefits of his life, his resurrection, his power and an all of these things, when we're here and finite? Do Anybody have a ladder? Anybody have some sort of process by which we can climb our way up to God? First not. So, how does it happen? Well, it happens when Jesus gives to us his spirit. And you he unites us to himself, not by changing his body into some kind of mysterious nonhuman phantasm thing. He does it by connecting us by the Holy Spirit. The power of the spirit, basis says, and the efficacy of faith exceed our perception. In other words, whatever you how powerful you think the Holy Spirit is, he's more powerful than that. And however efficacious or useful or powerful or effective you think faith is, it's more than that. Jesus talks about faith moving mountains. Most of us don't believe that it's powerful. And by faith, the scriptures tell us, I would not say this, okay, if the scriptures didn't say it, but the scriptures tell us that by faith we receive Christ himself. That is a very bold claim, but I'm claiming it because that is what Christ says, that's what he did, and he rose from the dead. And our participation in Christ is manifold. It's so many ways. We are legally united to him in such a way that his sacrifice counts for our own, his death counts for our own death. We are united with him in an act of celebration as he, as a host, invites us around his table and says eat with me, my friends, my bride. We are one with him as we benefit even from his own body, his own person, and we benefit from him with the hope of promise that one day our bodies, as we benefit from him, will be like his body, Paul tells us in First Corinthians, later on we'll get to it, our resurrection will be like his, that the resurrection has already begun. And so the Lord Ordains these symbols of bread and of wine to point us to Christ, to teach us these things, but to also, by the power of the Holy Spirit and the efficacy of faith, to help us to participate with Christ and actually receive those benefits, not by Christ's coming down out of heaven before he promises to come again, but by...

...the spirit uniting us to him where he is. Isn't God good? He gives to us all of these things, he tells us these truths, and then he gives us a ritual, a a practice, a sacrament, a mystery by which we might by which he might not just tell us about these things, but show them to us as well and confirm in our hearts, which are so prone to idolatry, that we don't need to go after those things, because we have him in his body, in his blood, in his death and in his resurrection. These symbols and word pictures are sufficient for helping us to understand and to believe in Jesus, that he is God the sun come in the flesh, not to trick us, not to deceive us, not to harm us, but to save US unto eternal life. Do we go to the table flogging ourselves, beating ourselves and sacrificing our children? Oh, we go to the table celebrating the promises and the word of God. All this together, we come to this conclusion and this grand view of Christ, with a deeper understanding of who he is and what he's done, of the forgiveness of our sins, of our sanctification Unto Eternal Life, of the way that he is now offering himself not only to unbelievers who need to hear and to believe for the first time, but to believers who need there, but who need Jesus Christ. As we go on our way, as we wander through this wilderness, as we go through this time of exile, we need help, but we don't need to get that help from idols, we need it from him, in from him alone. We need to flee idols. and to WHOM DO WE FLEE? We flee to the one who provides for us, who doesn't disgrace us, but honors us, lifts us up, glorifies us with his own name, name of the father and the son and the Holy Spirit. He doesn't degrade us, he lifts us up and honors US and glorifies us. He doesn't destroy US and lead us into death. He leads us into righteousness and life. This is how we flee from idols, BY FLEEING UNTO Christ. The final end of Satan and evil spirits is wrath and death. Shall we go from being placed as children of God in eating at his table to going after demons and things of death? We shouldn't. Romans are sorry. Revelation twelve and says this, and I'll read this now. The Salvation and the power and the Kingdom of our God and the Authority of Christ have come for the accuser of our brothers. This is speaking of Satan has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God, and they have conquered him by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony. For they love not their lives, even unto death. When the world says if you don't worship, if you don't...

...participate in our idols, you will die, we will kill you, we say so be it. I'm not going to give my honor and my worship and my life to one who would seek to kill me. I give it to the one who died for me so that I might live forever. Let's pray.

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