Gods and Devils

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“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)

The Basket Case Chronicles #115

“What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils” (1 Cor. 10:19-20).

Paul insists that, on one level, nothing is happening in idol worship. On another level, a great deal is happening—devil worship is happening. Ancient paganism was not simple superstition at the center. In other words, there were spiritual realities at the center—diabolical, but real for all that. What the ancients called gods and goddesses, the Bible called devils. As we saw a few chapters prior to this, Paul does acknowledge the existence of “gods many and lords many” (1 Cor. 8:5). But their existence was not at the top of some pantheon. There is only one Creator God, and all other beings are on this side of the Creator/creature divide.

This is clearly seen in the episode at Philippi, where Paul cast out a fortune-telling demon from a girl (Acts 16:18). Literally she had what Luke called the spirit of a python, which meant that she was a devotee of the god Apollo. What the pagans saw as “a god” the believers saw as a devil. Neither of them saw it as empty tomfoolery.

There are two rival sacrificial systems in the world, that of Christ and that of devils. Devils are accusers, and so the resultant bloodshed is always human blood, and it must be offered repeatedly. It is a system that devours its worshipers, as opposed to the Christian faith, which feeds them. The blood shed by Christ was human blood, but it was shed by one who was absolutely free from the spirit of accusation, which meant that He was abloe to break condemnation’s back. In the meantime, these two rival sacrifices each have their own fellowship meals, and their own patterns of koinonia.

There are two tables then. There is a table of condemnation and a table of no condemnation. Believers are summoned to eat at the latter, and to refrain from turning it into a table of condemnation.

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