1 Corinthians 10:14-24 (NIV)
Idol Feasts and the Lord’s Supper
14 Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.
18 Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? 19 Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons. 22 Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
The Believer’s Freedom
23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.
1 Corinthians 10:31-33
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God — even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.
Since we have been liberated from a requirement of our own righteousness in our place with Christ, there has been much ado about freedoms to partake in varying substances and practices that don’t “violate” one’s own conscience. The free nature in God’s gift of grace is indeed a very precious and essential provision. However, its purpose isn’t to enable the evil for which it is meant to bring deliverance. While the acts themselves cannot disable the power of God’s grace, there is yet a harmful spiritual impact they can have on the body to which we’ve been joined in Christ. With confidence we choose to partake of the body and blood of Jesus in communion, which is meant to be participation with the amazing work of the cross where Jesus purchased our liberation from participation with darkness and the world’s influence. While acts themselves may not be prohibitive, they can yet be a participation in the very opposition to this work of redemption, both for the individual and for those with whom there is connection in the body.
With the claim of individual rights in Christ is a great misperception of the divine nature we’ve received in Him. This divine nature is one of love, where personal rights and preferences are readily abandoned for the sake of the greater good. That private participation that doesn’t seem to be an issue for the individual can yet welcome an evil spirit into a body where other parts may be more susceptible to its threat. Where love grows and is developed there is a greater and greater concern about the potential impact of the slightest inclusion of a worldly influence from a personal participation. Rather than defending a private preference, there is ever increasing desire to abstain from participating in something that has come from a potentially evil intent or influence.
In a mask wearing world, where the implication is that you don’t care about others by going without, there is yet a great willingness to touch others with breath that has been within proximity of contagions that are capable of much greater eternal devastation than any earthly plague. You may be able to “handle” it with an elevated understanding of freedom. However, what it’s doing to inhibit the freedom of the Spirit’s moving freely in the body to which you’ve been joined in Christ can be most debilitating. Whether it is ever observed from the higher places of spiritual understanding, the havoc is still being wreaked where tender hearts have been exposed to those “freedoms”. Willful participation in that apparently harmless “liberation” has disabled participation in the work of redemption for a life that is devastated by its penetration into the body.
For the body, there will be battles won and enemies overcome that are preceded by its members choosing sanctification over self-indulgent freedoms.
Joshua 7:13 (MKJV)
13 Up! Sanctify the people and say, Sanctify yourselves for tomorrow. For thus says Jehovah, the God of Israel, A cursed thing is in the midst of you, O Israel. You cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the cursed thing from among you.