“Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.”
1 Corinthians 10:14
There were, of course, idol temples in Corinth. On the hill behind the city was the temple of Aphrodite where male and female prostitutes plied their trade in the name of the worship of Venus, the goddess of love. Within the city itself were scattered many temples; their ruins are still visible today. These Christians had once been idol worshipers, bowing down before these images, their lives being controlled by the fear and the philosophy of the Greek and the Roman pantheons of gods.
I do not think that the apostle is concerned that they are going to go back to bowing down to an idol. What he has in mind is not bowing and scraping before an image, but succumbing to the temptation to enjoy again the atmosphere found at the idol temple. There were many fun things going on regarding idolatry that some of the Corinthians were hoping to be able to hang onto. If you had lived in Corinth in that 1st century you would have recognized that everyone regarded the temple as the most exciting place in town. There you could get the best food, served up in the open-air restaurant. There they had the wildest music and all the seductive pleasures of wine, women and song. If you wanted to enjoy yourself in Corinth, you went to the temple.
Paul is concerned lest these Corinthians, in seeking to enjoy what would be normal pleasures of life, would be tempted to go back into it to such a degree that, ultimately, they would find themselves lured back into belief in these idols and their power. Idolatry is not something you do outwardly with your body. Idolatry occurs whenever anyone or anything becomes more important to you than the living God. This is the greatest temptation we all face. When we fall back into the place where something becomes of greater importance to us and more controlling in our life than God himself, we have succumbed again to idolatry.
How easily this kind of idolatry happens to us today! You can get so wrapped up in sports, for instance, that you live for them; they take over in your life. When dancing becomes more than recreation but is something you cannot put aside, then it becomes idolatry. Skiing can do the same thing. Fishing can keep you away from your ministry. Television robs you of Bible study. Gourmet eating that demands your attention and your money is a form of idolatry. These things are not wrong in themselves, but it is easy to fall prey to them. They lure you on into more and more involvement until, before you know it, they are more important than God. That is idolatry. You have a new god before you know it, a new love and a new master.
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Lord, I live in a dangerous world. I often forget it, thinking that I can go along with many of these things and I find myself beginning to be drawn away, to lose my fervor for the things of God. Help me at that moment, Lord, to flee idolatry.
Are we giving first priority to the indwelling Life and Love of the Lord Jesus Christ? Are we allowing other interests to deceive and detract from loving Him with all our heart, mind and soul?