(Vs. 14.) "Flee from idolatry" of any sort, which is particularly offensive to our Lord! Not only avoid the worship of idols and the acts of idolatry, but believers should avoid that which gives even the appearance of idolatry, such as eating things offered to idols in an idol's temple. That this is what he especially had in mind we can judge from the following verses.
(Vs. 15.) Whereas he was speaking to intelligent, sensible men, he gave three arguments against associating themselves with idolaters in their temples of worship and eating with them at their feasts.
(Vs. 16.) The first argument is taken from the Lord's Table. When we sit at the Lord's Table and drink the wine and eat the bread, it suggests that we have a blessed union and communion with Christ. In like manner, when a man sits in an idol's temple and eats meat sacrificed to that idol, it indicates to all that he has a communion with that idol.
(Vs. 17.) The second argument is taken from the believer's union and communion in Christ with one another. No matter how numerous we are or whether we be Jew or Gentile, when we meet around the table of the Lord, we are saying that we are one body, one bread, one hope. In like manner, those who associate with idolaters and eat their sacrificial meat give the appearance, at least, of being one with idolaters.
(Vs. 18.) The third argument is taken from the Jewish nation. When they ate the flesh of sacrifices offered upon God's altar, did they not by that act manifest that they were members of God's assembly, that they believed in the God of the altar and that they accepted this way of worship? In like manner, eating sacrificial meat in an idol's temple indicates the owning of that idol and a participation in the altar of idols.
(Vs. 19, 20.) What is Paul saying? That an idol has any reality at all or that these sacrifices offered to them have any meaning? Certainly not! But these pagan sacrifices are offered (in effect) to demons and not to God. The nature of idolatry is to turn from the living God to the creature, to will-worship, to idols, and this is instigated, promoted and directed by devils, which makes any worship, except true worship of the living God, to be devil-worship! "I do not want you to fellowship or have anything to do with diabolical spirits" (Deut. 32:16, 17).
(Vs. 21.) It is impossible to sit at both tables, to recognize the true God and a false god, to live in two bodies, or to trust in the sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifices to idols.
(Vs. 22.) "Are we foolish enough to provoke the Lord to jealousy, anger and indignation? (Exod. 20:3-5; 34:12.14.) Do we think that we are stronger than he, that we should defy him? How foolish!"
(Vs. 23, 24.) "Many things are lawful for me which are not wise. Many things which are not sinful in themselves may he detrimental to me and to others. What is permissible is not always advisable. What I can do, without sinning, is not always what I should do!
Let us not then seek our own pleasure, profit and advantage, but the welfare and good of others. "Love seeketh not her own."
(Vs. 25-28.) "When you go to the market or butcher's shop and meat offered to idols is sold in common with other meat, it may be bought and eaten with no questions asked, because the earth and all that is in it are the Lord's, and his people have a right to it through him. If an unbeliever invites you to eat with him, you may eat what is set before you, so long as no issue is raised about the meat's being from the idol's temple. Nor must you inquire about the source from which the meat was secured.
However, if someone tells you, "This is meat from the idol's temple," do not eat it. Do not eat it for the sake of the one who made the point and for the sake of a weak brother who may be offended. There is plenty of other food without it."
(Vs. 29-31.) "Why should my way of life be determined by another man's conscience? Why should my behaviour be guided by another man's principles? Why should I allow my liberty to be suppressed by another man's weakness? If I am guided by the Scriptures and give thanks for all that I have or do, why should I be criticized? The whole matter is resolved in this: whatever I eat, drink, or do, I must consider first the glory of God!"
(Vs. 32, 33.) "If I have the glory of God as my chief concern, I will be careful not to offend needlessly the Jews, the Gentiles, nor the church of God." Paul gives himself as an example in these things. He was careful not to seek only to please himself, but made every effort not to hinder others in order that they might come to know Christ.