Warning Against Idolatry
1 Cor. 10:14 – 22
The Corinthians have been worshipping false gods long before Paul came to Corinth. They are used
to sacrificing and eating meats sacrificed to idols. They have temple prostitutes to honor and
worship a false God. Idolatry seems to be very common not only during the old times but also now
and it comes in different forms. An idol was nothing (verse 19; 8:4), but it represented a reality – a
demon, an evil spirit that controlled the hearts and minds of the heathen. Christians are to be
separated from things like that. We cannot have “fellowship with devils” or demons (verse 20). The
Word of God is very clear and straight forward, “flee idolatry” that is run away or escape from it.
Illustration 1: Other Gods
What other gods could we have besides the Lord? Plenty. For Israel there were the Canaanite Baals,
those jolly nature gods whose worship was a rampage of gluttony, drunkenness, and ritual
prostitution. For us there are still the great gods Sex, Shekels, and Stomach (an unholy trinity
constituting one god: self), and the other enslaving trio, Pleasure, Possessions, and Position, whose
worship is described as “The lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life” (1 John
2:16). Football, the Firm, and Family are also gods for some. Indeed, the list of other gods is endless,
for anything that anyone allows to run his life becomes his god and the claimants for this prerogative
are legion. In the matter of life’s basic loyalty, temptation is a many-headed monster.
I. Idolatry (1 Cor, 10:14)
A. The worship of false gods (Lev. 19:4; 26:1,30; Deut. 29:17; 1 Sam. 15:23; 1Ki 15:12;
B. Idolatry is the breaking of the first commandment (Ex. 20:3-5).
C. Idolatry originated with man’s sin and unthankfulness toward God (Rom. 1:21-23).
D. The phenomena which draw men to foolish idols are darkened hearts (Isa. 44:18-20;
Rom. 1:21), demonic power (Deut. 32:17; 1 Cor. 10:20; 2 Cor. 4:3-4), and God’s
curse (Isa. 44:17-18; Rom. 1:21-24).
E. Idolaters are religious but lost, and must hear the Gospel and be saved (Acts 17:23-
31; Eph. 2:1-3,11-13; 1 Thess. 1:9-10).
F. The idolater will not inherit the kingdom of God unless he is converted in the name
of the Lord Jesus (1 Cor. 6:9-11).
G. The salvation from idolatry is the preaching of the Gospel (Ro. m 1:16; 1 Thess. 1:9-
H. God repeatedly warns Christians of the danger of idolatry (1 Cor. 10:7; 2 Cor. 10:14;
6:16-17; 1 Jn. 5:21).
I. Idolatry is a cause for church discipline (1Co 5:11).
J. In the New Testament the term idolatry is used to designate covetousness (Mat.
6:24; Luke 16:13; Col. 3:5; Eph. 5:5).
Illustration 2: World’s Greatest Idolaters
The world’s greatest worshippers of gods may be said to be the Hindus. They have 330 million gods
and goddesses, or 8 to every Hindu family.
Hindu religion teaches the sanctity of animal life. And so, while they themselves usually live in abject
poverty the animals among them are maintained in idleness. India’s 450 million Hindus have roughly
75 million cows to worship. Moreover, they allow monkeys, rats and other pests to eat and damage
their crops. Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations: Signs of the Times.
II. Warning against associating with idols
A. To associate with idols is to fellowship with devils (1 Cor. 10:16- 20). Paul shows that
the believer is in communion with Christ through faith in His blood and death as
symbolized by the cup and bread of the Lord’s Supper. He cannot, then, associate
with idols, because to do so is to fellowship with the demons that are behind the
idols. He shows that though the idol itself is nothing, there are demonic powers
behind the idolatrous system and the person that associates with the idols
associates with demons. Thus, the believer must separate strictly from every form of
B. Following are some of the ways that modern people drink of the cup of devils and
that should therefore be avoided by Christians. It is imperative that the child of God
avoid anything that is tainted with demonism or the worship of self or anything else
in which the “god of this world” is involved.
1. People drink of the cup of devils through music. Rock and roll are too intimately
associated with the worship of the flesh and the devil. From its inception rock
music has been about the worship of self, and the child of God must flee from
every such devil-inspired idolatry.
2. People drink of the cup of devils through movies and television. A large
percentage of the movies produced by Hollywood (and the situation is, if
anything, even worse in Europe and Asia) serve to the worship of the flesh and
the devil. Among the top ten grossing movies are The Lord of the Rings and
Harry Potter, which glorify “white” sorcery; Star Wars, which promotes a vague
New Age “force”; Jurassic Park, which popularizes the demonic heresy of
evolution; and the Titanic, which is a paean to illicit lust. Many of the popular
television programs serve the same themes of demonism, violence, and lust. The
Parents Television Council could find only nine prime time shows that “were
deemed safe for family viewing,” and if biblical standards were applied the
number would be more like zero.
3. People drink of the cup of devils through literature. The most popular books in
recent times include the Harry Potter series, about a “good” witch; The Da Vinci
Code, about the alleged child that Jesus fathered; and Stephen King’s violent,
sensual demonic-inspired horror novels (ghosts, zombies, alien possession of
humans, telekinetic powers, demonic voices, mayhem, vicious revenge, kinky
4. People drink of the cup of devils through video games. Gratuitous violence and
demonic characters are two of the main themes of the popular video games
5. People drink of the cup of devils through professional sports. This is one of the
chief idols of modern society. In America the chief god is American football and
in the rest of the world it is soccer. The whole world tunes in to the World Cup
playoffs, people become insanely, idolatrously devoted to these games. (D. Cloud )
Illustration 3: Scratch the Surface of Success
God often allows the ungodly to amass great wealth—to their destruction. But if you are one with
whom God is dealing and if you put the pursuit of riches (or anything else) before service to Christ,
God may take away those riches (and other things) until you turn to Him.
Some years ago, Donald Grey Barnhouse was counselling a young woman on the sidewalk in front of
Tenth Presbyterian Church following an evening service. She said she was a Christian and that she
wanted to follow Christ. But she wanted to be famous too. She wanted to pursue a stage career in
New York. “After I have made it in the theatre, I’ll follow Christ completely,” she said. Barnhouse
took a key out of his pocket and scratched a mark on a postal box standing on the corner. “That is
what God will let you do,” he said. “God will let you scratch the surface of success. He will let you get
close enough to the top to know what it is, but He will never let you have it, because He will never
let one of His children have anything rather than Himself.”
Years later he met the girl again, and she confessed that this had indeed been her life story. She had
dabbled in the stage. Once her picture had been in a national magazine. But she had never quite
made it. She told Barnhouse, “I can’t tell you how many times in my discouragement I have closed
my eyes and seen you scratching on that postal box with your key. God let me scratch the edges, but
He gave me nothing in place of Himself.”
Christ’s Call to Discipleship, J. M. Boice, Moody, 1986, p. 154
III. To associate with idols is to provoke the Lord to jealousy (1 Cor. 10:21-22)
A. The Word of God says that we cannot drink the cup or eat the bread of communion
with the Lord and then do the same thing with devils.
B. We have to choose one and we have to serve only one, no man can serve two
C. God is a very jealous God and he will not stand back and watch his children serve
Satan by worshipping an idol; he will deal with those that do this act.
D. Are we stronger than the Lord? This is a question that we must all answer honestly.
Can we provoke the Lord to jealousy without getting any punishments?
Worshipping an image is idolatry. Worshipping a statue is idolatry. Worshipping a
symbol on a chain is idolatry. Worshipping a religious crucifix is idolatry. Worshipping
angels is idolatry. Worshipping demons is idolatry. Worshipping a man is idolatry. There
is not one good thing that can come from and Idol, so Paul tells us to flee and to quickly
get away and protect ourselves. There has never been an idol that can answer a prayer,
heal a disease, offer economical help, provide peace and comfort, it can’t save you, it
can’t really do anything but diminish your life and possibly send you to hell or make you
to be punished or chastised by the Lord. The decision is yours my friend.