1 Corinthians 8 (3)
Pray Psalm 115.1-3.
Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us,
But to Your name give glory,
Because of Your mercy,
Because of Your truth.
Why should the Gentiles say,
“So where is their God?”
But our God is in heaven;
He does whatever He pleases.
Sing Psalm 115.1-3.
(Plainfield: Nothing but the Blood of Jesus)
Not to us, O God, not us, but unto Your Name give glory!
For Your love and faithfulness, ever to Your Name be glory!
Why should the nations cry, “Where is their God on high?”
You rule us, LORD, on high: Ever to Your Name be glory!
Read 1 Corinthians 8.1-4; meditate on verse 4.
1. What did Paul say about idols?
2. What did he say about God?
Paul returns to the question he began to address in verse 1. Evidently, people on both sides of the issue in Corinth—whether to eat food offered to idols—had become convinced of their view and puffed-up against those who disagreed. Paul shamed them for maintaining this division by saying if they had true knowledge, they would love God and seek to edify their fellow believers, not condemn them because of their different views.
Paul begins with what should have been a point of agreement among the Corinthians: “an idol is nothing in the world”. Idols are material representations of false gods, not the gods themselves. People often treated their idols as though they were gods, but to do so is nothing, since no material thing can be a true god. The worship of such a thing—by making an offering to it, for example—is nothing to trouble a believer. And it’s certainly nothing to bring division into the Body of Christ.
The question gets trickier, and Paul will deal with that a bit further on. But first he laid down the main point not to be lost sight of: only God is God; there are no other gods. Therefore, idols and offerings to them are nothing to trouble, dismay, or divide us.
They could be, however; and especially when they take more mundane forms, such as wealth, pleasure, honors of various sorts, and the like. For then the danger is that Christians, claiming to worship the one true God, will collect a variety of idols to which they look for happiness. But these idols are also nothing because they provide no lasting hope and joy. Keep looking to the one true God and Jesus Christ, His Son; and do not give place to idols.
Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Rock, paper, scissors? Animal, vegetable, mineral? Twenty questions would never be enough to encompass all the wrong things that people choose as “gods”. All of them being worth nothing.
Therefore, are neither to be worshiped or feared.
There is One true God to be feared and worshiped.
“You shall have no other gods before Me” (Ex. 20.3).
“The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” (Deut. 6.4)
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling;
one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all,
who is above all, and through all, and in all” (Eph. 4.4-6).
“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus…” (1 Tim. 2.5).
Jonah, whilst in the belly of the great fish, when life and death were overlapping,
knew in that moment of deepest crisis, the vast difference between God and all else.
He prayed and said:
“Those who regard worthless idols forsake their own Mercy.
But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving;
I will pay what I have vowed.
Salvation is of the LORD” (Jon. 2.8, 9).
Jonah knew they were worthless.
Paul taught that they were nothing.
We know that “there is no other God but one” (1 Cor. 8.4).
My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ the solid Rock I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand,
all other ground is sinking sand.
(Edward Mote, 1834)
1. How do material things end up becoming sinking sand and idols for some people? What are they hoping for from such things?
2. Christians can fall into the snare of having things other than God as their source of meaning and happiness. How can you avoid this happening to you?
3. What is our responsibility in the Lord for helping one another “keep [ourselves] from idols” (1 Jn 5.21)?
[He] is the invisible God, and cannot be represented by a visible sign, so as to be worshipped through means of it. Whether, therefore, idols are erected to represent the true God, or false gods, it is in all cases a perverse contrivance. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on 1 Corinthians 8.4
Pray Psalm 115.9-18.
Give thanks and praise to God Who always keeps us in mind and blesses us in more ways than we know. Pray that He may cause you to increase in His love and in spreading His grace to others.
Sing Psalm 115.9-18.
(Plainfield: Nothing but the Blood of Jesus)
All who trust in Jesus yield—ever to His Name be glory—
find in Him their help and shield: Ever to Your Name be glory!
O Israel, trust the LORD! He helps us evermore!
Fear Him obey His Word: Ever to Your Name be glory!
Blessings from our gracious LORD —ever to Your Name be glory—
will attend us evermore: Ever to Your Name be glory!
Bless all who fear You, LORD, all who obey Your Word,
all who Your Name adore: Ever to Your Name be glory!
Grant us, Savior, great increase—ever to Your Name be glory!
Bless us with eternal peace: Ever to Your Name be glory!
Heaven and earth are Yours; let every soul adore
and bless You evermore: Ever to Your Name be glory!
T. M. and Susie Moore
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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter, available by clicking here