“Therefore, my dear friends, flee idolatry. … You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons.” (1 Corinthians 10:14, 21)
In the Roman Empire, idolatry was THE belief system of the day. Nearly everyone worshiped the Roman (and Greek) gods, and some even considered the emperor a god, so they worshiped his image as well. To most in the empire, this was much like breathing air: something everybody needed, something everybody did. No one saw anything evil about it. Just the opposite, they considered it all good and proper, that which good citizens did. Not to do this would be the mark of an ungrateful citizen, an anti-social, anti-government subversive.
Paul understood this. He was, after all, a Roman citizen himself. He recognized that an idol is nothing but wood, stone, or metal and not a god at all. He also recognized that these idols represented demons, and that those who participate in their worship were in essence participating in the worship of demons, so he challenged believers to run away from idolatry in all its forms. To engage in any form of idol worship, including temple feasts, represented to him a compromise of the blood of Christ. He wanted to be sure that no one lost his or her testimony by participating in such events, which was the danger that they faced.
Idolatry is by no means dead in our world today, but certainly in this country it is not something we see much of. The introduction of Buddhism and Hinduism in America have, of course, introduced such elements, but as of this date those religious belief systems have not been that engaging. Still, what we must understand is that idolatry is a belief system, and there are many kinds of belief systems beyond idolatry. Materialism is a belief system, is it not? Patriotism can be turned into a belief system. Spiritism can certainly be a belief system. There are lots of “isms” out there.
The principle we need to remember is that the gospel of Jesus Christ is our belief system as Christians, and all that goes along with that, and it is important that we ensure that our testimony to Jesus Christ never gets compromised. We want the world to know that our belief in Him supersedes everything else.
Lord, Help us to maintain a consistent and faithful witness to You in all the ways we interact with our world. Amen.