Paul makes a striking comparison between the ordinance of communion and participation with demons in 1 Corinthians 10:16-22.
In communion, we use physical elements: bread and juice. We participate with other people. We eat and drink together. We read, sing, and learn together. These are all “neutral” things by themselves. However, used in combination with each other, and used in honor of our Savior Jesus Christ, and used purposefully, these “neutral” items take on a moral and spiritual meaning. They not only remind us of spiritual realities, but somehow that experience conveys to us spiritual realities, in some limited sense.
Don’t get me wrong, communion has no power to save or to impart saving grace to its communicants. However, it does bring us into fellowship with Jesus and with our spiritual brothers and sisters.
The link to demonic activity is the word “participate.” This is the word Paul uses throughout the section. Participate, or partake, is what we do in communion with Jesus and our fellow church members. Partaking of Jesus and participating with other believers means that we share common identity and solidarity in purpose.
The identity and purpose of Satanic forces is destruction! Satan himself is called “The Destroyer” in several places in Scripture, including 1 Corinthians 10:10. Paul used the example of the children of Israel rebelling against God, and therefore identifying with Satanic forces. What’s the result? What is your paycheck for joining Satan’s team? Destruction! Every time the children of Israel rebelled they faced destruction. Sin destroys! Satan’s goal is to lead us down a path of destruction.
We're Destroyed through Deception
How does he accomplish this? Obviously, most of us would never walk knowingly into destruction. Therefore, Satan has to trick us so that we do in “unknowingly.” How many times in your life have you ever said, “I would have never done such-and-such if I only would have known…”
Tactically, speaking, Satan is a genius. Good strategy is developed slowly over time. Satan has time. He’ll be patient with you just so long as you end up on the path to destruction. What’s his strategy? Fooling us into thinking that habits, vices, relationships, foods, beverages, and entertainment are all “neutral.” Sure, they might be neutral at the beginning, but given the fact that our hearts are idol factories, anything can become twisted into something sinful.
What Can't We Do?
Many things truly are “gray matters” in so far as they don’t immediately pose and idolatrous threat. However, last Sunday I mentioned that certain practices or places are incompatible for Christians. How do we know what is incompatible? I want to give you 2 lines of reasoning.
1. Anything that is clearly prohibited in Scripture.
That’s a no-brainer, right? I’m always surprised at how easily people will gloss over Scriptural clarity and naively categorize something as a “gray matter.” Dating an unbeliever is not a gray matter. Drinking to the point of drunkenness is not a gray matter. Viewing pornography in any form (soft or hardcore) is not a gray matter. Yet, in many cases, Christians fudge on these issues. So, violating clear Scriptural principles is clearly incompatible with Christian living.
2. Christians should avoid places or activities that are dedicated to destruction or debauchery.
I think that is Paul’s point throughout this section. Yes, the pagan temple served meals. However, the place was given over to demons and the destructive purposes of demons!
People sacrificed themselves and their bodies at these temples! Women destroyed themselves through prostitution at these temples! There was nothing redeeming about these places, and when a Christian attended he/she had no choice but to take communion with demons! That was the purpose of the venue, and attendance placed a person in identity with that purpose!
We need to think through this carefully! What places, activities, or events are obviously given over to sin, immorality, debauchery, and therefore destruction?
I don’t want to list a bunch of specific examples, but a few weeks ago I mentioned the restaurant “Hooters.” Honestly, that is a great example! The purpose of Hooters is not the food…it’s the scenery! Women using their bodies in such a way is an example of destructive and demonically influenced behavior.
What about Being a Light to the Unsaved?
Sometimes Christians will attend something or somewhere in order to maintain a testimony to a group of friends. That is a noble cause! However, avoiding demon communion trumps maintaining a good testimony 10 times out of 10! Paul says, “Flee idolatry!” At a certain point your testimony is torched with those friends if you’ve participated with them in demon communion.
Friends, we need clear thinking on these issues! Far too many Christians have ended up as Satanic casualties because they were out-foxed by the master-strategist, the Devil. Never assume the innocence of something until you play out the consequences and the potential for future idolatry. In many cases, in order to maintain God-glorifying living, it’s best to abide by the old adage: “If there’s any doubt…DON’T!!”