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1 Corinthians 10:16-21 by Robert Dean
Series:1st Corinthians (2002)
Duration:57 mins 54 secs

Counterfeit Communion Table; Physical Death of Christ

Paul hits the point in verses 16-22 that there is no fellowship, no assimilation, no point of neutrality, between human viewpoint and divine viewpoint. If we summarize these next six or seven verses what Paul is saying is that its either human viewpoint or divine viewpoint, either religion or biblical thinking, either the thinking of Satan or the thinking of God; there is no neutrality, no middle ground. This is one of the greatest errors of modern man, that we have bought into the idea that there is some sort of area of neutrality between the thinking of the human viewpoint pagan and the divine viewpoint of the Scriptures, and Paul is going to completely reject that at this point. 

The doctrine of the physical death of Christ

1)  The Old Testament predicts that Christ would die physically. This is found in such passages as Isaiah 53:5-10; Psalm 22:16; Daniel 9:26; Zechariah 12:10. Jesus fulfilled all of the Old Testament prophesies about the Messiah. Matthew 4:14; John 4:25, 26; 5:39, and others. 

2)  Jesus announced many times during His ministry that he was going to die physically. John 2:19-21; 10:10, 11; Matthew 12:40; Mark 8:41. In Matthew 17:22, 23 Jesus said: "The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men; and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day."

3)  All of the predictions of His resurrection, both in the Old Testament—Psalm 16:10; Isaiah 26:19; Daniel 12:2, and in the New Testament—John 2:19-21; Matthew 12:40; 17:22, 23—are based on the fact that He would die physically. Only a dead body can be resurrected.

4)  The concept of resurrection never included the idea of resuscitation of an injured, wounded or almost dead person. Resurrection implies by its very meaning that the person is dead. And we have to assume that the writers of Scripture, the Romans guards, the Jewish authorities, all were versed enough in spotting a dead person that they could tell that he had died physically.

5)  The nature and extent of Jesus' injuries indicate that He must have died physically. If we look at the description in the Gospels, which are the only eye-witness accounts, it is clear that He must have died physically because of the nature and extent of His injuries.

6)  The nature of the crucifixion would ensure death. Though the was some minor bleeding there was very little loss of blood during the time He was on the cross. It was an excruciating death because it was designed for the victim to suffocate.

7)  The piercing of Jesus' side with the spear was something that only happened after the victim had died physically. Blood and serum came out and this is clear proof that Jesus had already died at that point.

8)  Furthermore, Jesus said that He was in the process of dying when he declared: "Father into thy hands I commend my spirit." At that time Jesus breathed His last, according to Luke 23:46; John 19:30. Jesus willed His own death after He had completed the payment for our sins.

9)  The Romans soldiers who were the executioners were experienced executioners and they knew what it looked like when the victim died. Cf. John 19:33.

10)  Pilate made sure Jesus was dead before he gave the corpse to Joseph. 

1 Corinthians 10:16 NASB "Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?" How do we become a sharer in, a participator in, or a partner in the death of Christ? This is clear from Romans 6:3-5 NASB "Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? [4] Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. [5] For if we have become united with {Him} in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be {in the likeness} of His resurrection."

At the instant of our salvation when we put our faith alone in Christ alone we are identified with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the doctrine called positional truth. We are placed "in Him" by means of the Holy Spirit, and that is called the Baptism of the Holy Spirit or, more correctly, the Baptism by means of God the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who identifies us positionally with Jesus Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. So the thrust of Paul's argument here is: Don't you understand that a break has occurred between who you were as an unbeliever and who you are now, that at that instant of faith alone in Christ alone you were severed from that old life of an unregenerate unbeliever, as a pagan who could only operate on cosmic thinking, and now you have been identified with Christ in, you are a partner, a participator in, a sharer in, the death of Christ?

Then he goes on and asks the next question. "Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?" The bread represents the body of Christ. It was not broken, there is no symbolic significance in breaking. It is simply that when Jesus took that unleavened bread at the Passover meal the night before He went to the cross, in order to get twelve pieces to distribute to the disciples the bread had to be broken. But the bones in His body were not broken, it is simply a metaphor for the physical suffering that he went through on the cross. "Is it not the participation in the body of Christ?" By the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in our identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection we are placed into the body of Christ. This verse foreshadows where Paul is going in his argument in chapter eleven where the subject is the Lord's table, and in chapter twelve where the subject is spiritual gifts. Spiritual gifts relate to our role and function in the body of Christ. We are all one in the body of Christ, and this is where Paul goes in verse 17.

1 Corinthians 10:17 NASB "Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread." In the Greek it reads: "For we many are one bread and one body." The emphasis here is on the unity of the body of Christ, that we are all one. There is a mutual relationship in the body of Christ based on our mutual identification with Christ in His death on the cross. We are all one in Christ: one bread; one body. The bread represents the body and Paul says we all partake of that one body, we all have that one thing in common and we are all participants in that. The emphasis here is on the fact that we are sharers in what Christ did on the cross. There is this mutual interdependency positionally of all believers and we are all dependent upon Christ.

1 Corinthians 10:18 NASB "Look at the nation Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers in the altar?" Now he is going to take it back to application to what was covered in verses 1-13. He looks back to the ritual practices in the temple: "are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers in the altar?" Here he uses the word KOINONIA [koinwnia] again, that they all are sharers in the altar. He goes back to the ritual and says to look at the ritual. The priests would come out and would sacrifice the animal, and then they would share in eating the meal afterwards, indicating that they all benefited equally from the sacrifice. Cf. Leviticus 7:6, 15. This was an identification with the sacrifice and it taught positional truth. The form of Paul's question implies a positive answer.

The priests in the idolatrous system would make their sacrifice and then whoever ate of the sacrifice would be partaking of what belonged to the gods. So when they ate that they would be participating in what belonged to that god or goddess and it was a symbol of their identification and association with that particular god or goddess. It was a physical act of dependence upon that god: that I am sustained by that which belongs to the god. The same picture is true of the Old Testament sacrifices. There it was a physical symbol of the fact that the people were dependent upon God, and it was a communal meal and a picture of the believers sitting down and eating with God. Ritual was often a picture of communion or fellowship with God.

1 Corinthians 10:19 NASB "What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything?" The answer is no. An idol is just a block of wood or a piece of stone or metal but there is nothing really there. On the other hand you have to get away from this superstitious mentality. If you go where there is the real God and sit down like the Jews did with the real God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and you eat a meal, there is reality there. But if you go into a pagan temple there is no reality there. However, he says, there is something going on, it is not just a simple block of wood, there is an underlying dynamic that you need to watch out for that is dangerous.

1 Corinthians 10:20 NASB "{No,} but {I say} that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons." Here he brings in the spiritual dimension. There is a spiritual dimension to idolatry and they are actually sacrificing to demons and not to God, therefore you should not have any fellowship or partnership with demons. Notice he has already said it is okay to eat the meat and he is going to come back later on and say it is okay to eat the meat because as a believer we know that there is no reality there. But what happens is that if you go so far as to eat the meat and you haven't made a mental break in your thinking as a believer where you have separated yourself mentally from this pagan system of thought surrounding you, then what is going to happen is, instead of making a break between human viewpoint and divine viewpoint and you have just assimilated Christianity on to whatever you held before, you are going to go back and eat that meat sacrificed to idols and then go a step further. That step further is the problem. The next thing you know is that you are going to get involved with the ritual sacrifices, the ritual fornication, and you will be right back in idolatry again. And this is exactly what happens in all kinds of religious systems. They move from a biblical practice right into paganism and idolatry, either overtly or in a much more subtle mental fashion.  

So Paul says there is a reality though behind these idols, even though the idols are nothing, and if the believer is on negative volition and is not making that break and he is in carnality, then he can start picking up doctrines of demons. This is demon influence, not demon possession. That believer is going to pick up a lot of cosmic thinking that is going to destroy his spiritual advance. This is the same problem the Jews had in the Old Testament. For example, Deuteronomy 32:17 NASB "They [the Gentiles] sacrificed to demons who were not God, To gods whom they have not known, New {gods} who came lately, Whom your fathers did not dread." The Jews followed the Gentiles in those practices. Both the Old Testament and New Testament affirm that there is a demonic reality behind idolatry. Furthermore, Deuteronomy 32:21 NASB "They have made Me jealous with {what} is not God; They have provoked Me to anger with their idols. So I will make them jealous with {those who} are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation." The evil in the Old Testament is always defined as idolatry.

So God hates idolatry because idolatry is always representative of Satan's attempt to counterfeit the truth of God's Word and to provide people with a religious substitute. Psalm 106:35 NASB "But they mingled with the nations And learned their practices, [36] And served their idols, Which became a snare to them. [37] They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons." So the reality is that what underlies every religious system—Islam, Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Hinduism, Buddhism—is demonism. Satan is behind every religious system; religion is his greatest tool to deceive and distract mankind.

1 Corinthians 10:21 NASB "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." These are mutually exclusive. You can't take in doctrine and, on the other hand, absorb the human viewpoint thinking of the world. If you are involved in syncretism, compromise, mental compromise, accommodationist theology, then you will never make it in the spiritual life. In fact, you are in rank carnality all the time because of your heresy. [22] "Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? We are not stronger than He, are we?" His point is in these last two questions is a figure of speech indicating: Do you think that you are greater than the Lord and know more about the Lord and that somehow you are smart enough to avoid damage to your spiritual life through your accomodationist, postmodern tolerance mentality? The answer, of course, is no. You have to stick with the Scriptures.

Religion as Satan's greatest tool to destroy Christianity

1)  Christianity and religion are antithetical. Christianity is a relationship with God based on the work of Christ; religion is the work of man based on his own reality or ritual. In Christianity God is impressed with the work of Christ; in religion man tries to impress God with his own works.

2)  Christianity is an eternal relationship with God based on personal faith in Christ. In religion man seeks the approval of God through his good works and his own merit.

3)  Religion reflects Satan's thinking. Satan is arrogant. Satan put all his emphasis on who he was and his own personal abilities and talents. Therefore all religious systems ultimately come down to an emphasis on who the individual is, his own ability and his own talent.

4)  As part of his promotion of religion Satan has devised a number of counterfeits. Remember, Satan is the greatest counterfeiter in all of history. 2 Corinthians 4 tells us that he appears as an angel of light and his ministers as ministers of righteousness. He is a tremendous counterfeiter. Cf. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.

5)  There are nine counterfeits in Satan's system: a) He has a counterfeit gospel (2 Corinthians 4:3, 4; Galatians 6:1-8). Satan attempts to counterfeit the gospel through a works oriented system; b) He has counterfeit ministers (2 Corinthians 11:13-15); c) He has a counterfeit communion table (1 Corinthians 10) which is associated with idolatry; d) He has counterfeit doctrine, counterfeit teaching called doctrines of demons (2 Timothy 4:1); e) He has a counterfeit spirituality—morality or ritual (Galatians 3:1-3); f) He has a counterfeit system of righteousness (Matthew 19:16-28), that man on his own can impress God; g) He has counterfeit gods. These are the idols (2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4); h) He has a counterfeit system of power through pseudo miracles (2 Thessalonians 2:8-10); i) He has a counterfeit way of life (Matthew 23:13-26). So it is through religion and these counterfeits that Satan seeks to distract mankind. The greatest religious counterfeit that Satan has ever developed is Islam.