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Defiling the Lord’s Supper — To “Keep the Feasts” and Eat, or Not to Eat with Unbelievers
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OLD ISRAEL HAD EVERYTHING PHYSICAL JUST AS NEW COVENANT BELIEVERS HAVE EVERYTHING SPIRITUAL
Caution and concern in eating the Lord’s Supper in “an unworthy manner,” and food sacrificed to idols, are valid — but not the way churches teach that. The truth is always in the context of Scripture and the given situation. In 1 Corinthians Chapters 10 & 11, Paul teaches on these two subjects. He begins with a comparison between “spiritual food and drink” in Old and in New Testament terms, (1 Cor. 10:1-5.) Old Israel had most things physical under the Old Covenant; we have all things spiritual under the New Covenant in Jesus. Jesus completely fulfilled and annulled the Old Testament Covenant to establish His New Testament Covenant with all believers globally, (Heb. 8:13; chapters 7-9; Jn. 3:16.)
There is not a single religious feast that either Jesus or the apostles commanded under His New Testament Covenant, as Jesus fulfilled them all, every single one, at the cross, (Jn. 19:27-30!!!) The religious Christian feasts such as “christ-mass,” “Easter,” “Saint Valentine’s day,” etcetera, were all based on pagan gods and customs, and honor replicas of the Real Jesus Christ; His death and resurrection, and so forth. Jesus kept the Feasts that were commanded under the Old Testament ceremonial or outward law as He lived and ministered under that first old covenant, which was, of course, before the cross and Pentecost! There is not a single, contextual word in the New Testament Covenant to either command the ascetic, outward, or ceremonial eating of food, or the attending of Christian feasts — which were all taken from pagan deities and customs and connected to Jesus and certain Bible passages and verses!
Did Paul, in 1 Corinthians 5:8 and Acts 18:21, re-establish some of the Hebrew feasts — and on whose authority? Paul was a mere man just like Moses was. Jesus said Moses added to the Old Covenant law to satisfy the Hebrews who wanted to divorce their wives “for just any reason” except for adultery, so there is no guarantee that Paul would not have done the same to appease the Hebrews during the New Covenant, (Mt. 19:1-9!) However, we must see this in the context of “all Scripture.” In Acts 18:18-20, Paul shaved his head to supposedly “discharge him from the Nazerite law.” This too, is completely against what Paul himself taught about the outward, ceremonial temple laws — which were all completely and eternally fulfilled at the cross in Jesus’ own, dying breath, (Jn. 19:28-30; Heb. 8:13; chapters 7-9!) So why did he do it? It might have been that Paul was still growing in God’s New Covenant revelation as he was a mere man, or that this is one of those once-off verses that were misinterpreted in translation, or that Paul conformed to Jewish custom to “win some for Christ,” which would have been sinful, according to Paul’s own teachings on the ousted ceremonial law, (1 Cor. 9:20; Gal. 2:20-21.)
Paul wrote in Galatians 2:1-21, “I preach to [to the Hebrews] the same Gospel with I preach among the Gentiles… [No one] was compelled to be circumcised [or keep any other outward ceremonial law.] But false brethren secretly brought in heresies (by stealth to spy out our liberty in Christ Jesus,) that they might bring us [back into bondage to the ceremonial law,] which we did not yield submission even [once,] that the truth of the Gospel might continue with [us...] God shows personal favoritism to no man [either Hebrew or Gentile...] I withstood Peter to his face… for playing the hypocrite, fearing those of the circumcision. I said to him, If you, being a Hebrew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not Hebrews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Hebrews… no one is justified by the works of the law… by which NO FLESH shall be justified... but by faith in Jesus Christ… I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through [any of] the [precepts of the ceremonial] law, Christ died in vain!” So, how can come feasts be exempted from Jesus’ complete fulfilment of the Law?
· In the context of the passage, where Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 5:8, “Let us keep the feast, not with old leaven [unrepentant attitudes,] but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth,” he was not referring to ousted Hebrew feasts but to the Lord’s Supper — one of the only three outward ‘signs’ or symbol we have in the Truth of the New Covenant. The other two are the water baptism of disciples, and the anointing of oil to heal the sick with the confession of personal sin against one another to one another and with prayer! (Mt. 28:18-20; Jam. 5:15-18.)
So, what feast did Paul so earnestly had to attend in Acts 18:21? Some say it was the feast of unleavened bread, but according to Acts 20:16 it could have been the Day of Pentecost! Whatever he did, we never hear about that ‘special day’ again! Paul’s head-shaving and, if it were a Hebrew feast the was attending, could have been because he was merely in compliance to “become as a Hebrew to win some for Jesus Christ.” However, as said, it seems impractical that he would return to the ousted old covenant ceremonial law to reach them with the Gospel. That would have been sin, (1 Cor. 9:20.)
In 1 Corinthians 10:1-4, Paul explained that the Old Hebrews “were all under the cloud; [protection and guidance of the Holy Spirit.] All passed through the sea, [from Egypt or in New Covenant terms, ‘the world,’ on their way to the promised land or ‘heaven.’] All were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, [symbolic of Jesus’ baptism with the Holy Spirit at the rebirth when believers personally accept Him, and of the water baptism of Jesus' disciples, Rom. Chapter 6; 1 Pt. 2:9-10.] All ate the same spiritual food, [manna or Jesus the Bread from heaven,] and all drank the same spiritual drink, [Living Water or the Word of God, Jn. 4:21-24.] For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ,” (Ex. 17.) Jesus Christ is the Spiritual Rock: the Only Savior and Mediator between God and man - the Truth, Way, Light, and Life.
· In 1 Corinthians 10:5-13, Paul told how Israel abused their freedom in self-indulgence and mingled their spiritual food, (in New Testament terms, the Lord’s Gospel and the physical ‘sign’ thereof, manna or the Lord’s Supper,) with idols or strange gods.
He said in 1 Corinthians 10:6, “Now these things [the Moral Law in the Old Testament] became our examples… that we should not lust after evil things as they lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. [Because, instead of staying on The Way to Canaan or heaven,] they sat down, [or were sidetracked from their journey to Canaan] to eat, drink, and play. [They made the unbelieving world their friend and began to party with them and worship their gods, Jam. 4:4.] So, let us not commit sexual immorality as some of them did, and 3,000 fell in one day. Or tempt Christ [by abusing our liberty and think He will not judge and punish us,] as some of them did, and were destroyed by snakes. Or complain [about what God has given us, because we covet the dirty pleasures of unbelievers,] as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer... [the devil…] “
Paul continued this discussion and commanded in 1 Corinthians 10:14-22, “Therefore, flee from idolatry…” and here Paul talks about "the communion of the blood… and broken body of Christ." This is The Lord's Supper for true believers; we dare not share His Supper with unbelievers and use pagan practices to partake in an “unworthy manner…” (1 Cor. 11:27-34.) We must also “examine ourselves” before the Supper and confess all our own sin to God, and to others where we abused them, (Jam. 5:16-18.; Mt. 5:23-24.) We must not be self-indulgent, but respect and consider one another at the Lord’s Table and throughout our conduct in this world, (1 Cor. 10:23-33.)
· Participating in the Lord’s Supper confirms our Covenant with God through the blood and broken body of the Man Jesus Christ. It cannot be used as a healing, saving, deliverance ceremony, or as a ritual that has spiritual power in itself. Participating in the Lord’s Supper is confirming our personal redemption, salvation, and blessing in Christ. If we do not participate in it in holiness, respect, and sincerity, we eat “condemnation” over ourselves. Sickness and death can follow disrespect for the blood and broken body of Jesus, (of which the bread and wine are mere symbols;) not “discerning” the utter holiness of Jesus’ (spiritual) blood and broken body, or His full atonement in the place of all believing humanity, (Jn. 3:16; 1 Cor. 11:28-29.)
In itself, the Lord’s Supper has no spiritual power — just as the water baptism of believers is just another worthless ritual without the personal, spiritual rebirth in Jesus. Abusing the Lord’s Supper or the water baptism for feasting, church exclusivity, or as a mere ritual, defiles God’s Holy Covenant. That is hypocrisy, which God hates and judges.
· When Jesus stated that His flesh is real food and His blood is real drink, He was not calling His disciples to cannibalism and vampirism! He was speaking metaphorically. The bread and wine are symbols of the spiritual life, healing, redemption, salvation, and blessing of Jesus’ sincere disciples until He returns to take His bride to the Marriage Feast, (Gal. 3:10-14.) Through the Lord’s Supper, “we proclaim His death until He comes.” As such, unbelievers, mere religionists and willfully unrepentant believers dare not eat God’s judgment over themselves by eating and drinking in an “unworthy manner,” (1 Cor. 11:27-32.) Sincere believers only, who are willing to confess their sins in repentance, are welcome at the Lord’s Table. This is extremely personal “association” with Jesus Christ Himself.
This does not mean we may judge the hearts of other believers, as in condemning them or sending them to hell as only God can do that. But we must ‘judge’ their fruits or constant behavior, (Mt. 7:16-20.) If believers sin unrepentantly, they are not true believers, (1 John 2:3-5.) This does not include “stumbling,” because “we all stumble in many things,” (Jam. 3:2.) Still, “if we confess our sins [and repent,] God is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” (1 Jn. 1:10.)
· Yet, Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 5:10, “I did not mean you cannot [interact with sinners] of the world, since then you will have to go out of the world, (Mt. 28:18-20.) But now I write to you not to not keep company with anyone named a brother [that sins unrepentantly.] No, not even to eat, [especially at the Lord’s table,] with such a person.”
Furthermore, because personal holiness at God’s Table is so important, we cannot eat 'food sacrificed to idols' during this “Most Holy Feast,” (as during Roman Catholic "mass" or so-called 'holy communion' where they mingle God’s Supper with idolatrous practices and false doctrine. “We cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons,” (verses 17-22.) Sharing the wine and bread at the Lord's Table is spiritual union with Jesus and each other through His symbolic blood and broken body.
The second part of Paul’s discussion 1 Corinthians 10 focuses on Eating with Unbelievers – or Not.
If either our church and its false doctrines; or political rallies, alcohol, drugs, parties, gluttony, sex, the praise and acceptance of people; or bad family and friends are our weak points, we must avoid it (and them) like poison, even if they are religious. Satan knows how to tempt us into idolatry, (everything we place above God is idolatry,) to make us fall. Even worse, to make other people fall through us. Jesus warned in Matthew 18:6, “Whoever causes one of [My disciples] to stumble and fall away – it would be better or him if a heavy millstone were hung around his neck…”
We can never compromise our commitment to Jesus in any way. We are completely free from Hebrew and all other religious feasts, ceremonies, sacraments, and church forms and norms, but we are still wholly bound to God and to each other (even to unbelievers) by obedience to His inward, Moral Law – the only New Covenant Law Jesus ever commanded, (Jn. 13:34.)
· 1 Corinthians 10:23-33 is our guideline to live in the world without succumbing to self-indulgence and idolatry. Here, we have instructions on how to act when we are invited to pagan or Christianized pagan dinners like Christmas, over which unbelievers also pray to their gods. (Santa or Satan is the god of the unholy Roman Catholic christ-mass.) Understanding these principles will also help us to correctly attend the feasts and dinners of pagans and Christians to interact with them in a Godly way. And there is no other reason to interact with them, than to be the purifying, preserving “salt of the earth” to them, if the Holy Spirit would open a door to bring them the Truth Gospel!
Here, we are not sitting at the Lord’s Supper; we know the origins of the dinner is pagan. We are not attending this table “to seek our own [or to self-indulge,] but the other’s well-being.” We attend this table because God has given us the opportunity to socialize with those people to be His Light and Truth there.
Such invitations are a great part of Jesus’ commandment to “go into all the world to preach the Gospel and make disciples…” (Mt. 28:19-20.) But religious superiority, exclusivity, and pride brainwashed most church believers to shun unbelievers without first trying to give them the Gospel — while most of those sanctimonious believers sit, associate, and party with their unsaved friends and relatives as if they do not know Christ at all! Jesus warned in Luke 12:8-10, “...He who [actively or passively] denies Me before men will be denied before [God.] And anyone who speaks a word against… the Holy Spirit, [or against His conviction, teaching, leading, true Scriptural gifts, works, and Personhood,] will not be forgiven.” Decidedly compromising and rejecting Jesus [Who is the Holy Spirit,] amounts to blasphemy, which will result in the “unpardonable sin,” (Acts 16:7-8; 2 Ths. 2:9-13.) Keeping quiet when we must stand up for the Truth of Scripture, or in false accusation and other types of abuse against others, is sharing in sin. God commanded in Leviticus 5:1, “If a person hears the utterance of a [sinful] oath, and is witness [of abuse and serious sin,] whether he has seen or known of the matter – if he does not tell it, he bears guilt.” Proverbs 29:24, “Whoever is a partner with a [sinner] hates his own life. He swears to tell the truth, but reveals nothing.” Romans 1:32, “...Those who practice such things are deserving of death, and they who not only do the same but [by keeping quiet or speaking out,] also approve of those who practice them.”
· To reach lost souls, Jesus ate with sinners, (Mark 2:14-17.) He did not come to “call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Paul, explained in 1 Cor. 9:19-21, “Though I am free from all men, [following Christ as my highest priority,] I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more [souls to Jesus.] And so, to the Jews I became as a Jew that I might win Jews. To those who are under the law, as under the law, [while not compromising my identity in Christ and His Scriptural truth, I refused to put on a ‘holier than thou’ attitude or religious superiority towards them.] To those without law, I was as one without law, [by remaining humble and not unnecessarily criticising their pagan beliefs,] while not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ, [I remained true to Jesus’ Moral Law and Scriptural truth,] that I might win [some of them as God opened up opportunities to preach the Gospel...] To all I have become all things to all men, that I, [as God’s instrument,] might by all means save some.” Spirit Filled Bible 1991, Footnote, “While Paul himself was free of all religious or outward, ceremonial ethics, he was constrained by the [lack of knowledge and] weakness of others that he might ultimately win them to Christ. Without violating Biblical morality, he went to any length to enter the world of others and lead them to salvation.”
So, Paul said in verse 23, “[Eating everything is lawful for [true believers,] but not all things edify other people who are ignorant of the freedom we have in Christ.] Hence, we must not seek our own [pleasure,] but the [spiritual] well-being of others.” This is why we may, after prayer and thanksgiving, “eat whatever is sold in the market without question; [we are not there to act religious, but to bring Jesus Himself to the table, because He is the Creator God of food and everything else.]” 1 Timothy 4:4-5, “...Nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving. [We are not under the ceremonial and dietary laws of the Old Covenant, but we live in the freedom and grace of Jesus’ New Covenant.] For [all food and what God has created for us] is sanctified [or made holy] by the Word of God and prayer.”
· Therefore, “if unbelievers invite you to dinner, and you desire to go, [the choice is yours because you must prayerfully and in Holy-Spirit leading judge if you will be able to promote the Kingdom of God there,] eat whatever is set before you without questions,” (verses 25-27.)
· Now here comes the tricky part. “But if they say to you the food was sacrificed to idols, do not eat it.” Not because the food can harm you or offend God after you have prayed over it. Now, this is no longer about food; it’s about your testimony, which can affect the possible salvation of the unbeliever, and compromise your relationship with Christ.
This person does not have knowledge of your freedom in Christ; do not let him stumble or make you stumble by denying Jesus because you do not want to offend him. If you now eat what is sacrificed to demons after the unbeliever has challenged you by telling you this, you will either confuse him, let him mock your faith, or you will fall into his trap to deny Jesus.
· For the sake of his conscience, (not of your conscience, because you understand your liberty in Christ,) abstain from eating his food when he expressly tells you, “This was sacrificed to idols,” (verses 28-30.)
Paul explained, "If I partake with thanks [to glorify God and also to cleanse the food spiritually,] why [should I risk] being called evil because of the food over which I gave thanks? Therefore, whatever you eat or drink or do, do all to the glory of God. [In this case, you cannot glorify Jesus at this man’s table. But make sure that] you give no [rude or unmannered] offense to this unbeliever, [walking in wisdom towards those “who are outside,”] because he is testing your faith [according to his pagan or Christianized standards and not according to the truth of God.]”
· Ungodly offense to other people is when we treat them vulgarly or compromise God’s Truth; annulling our testimony, and thus dishonoring the Holy God of the Scriptures and His Word. By saying ‘no’ to sin and false teaching, and standing for God’s truth in Holy Spirit leading, we are not offending anyone, although they might feel offended. If we are going to offend God by keeping quiet or negotiating His truth, we “grieve the Holy Spirit,” (Ephesians 4:30,) and commit idolatry. There are many situations where we simply cannot “please God and men,” although we must never be rude and thus offensive, instead of being respectful just because it fits Godliness and we are all human.
Once, my Muslim neighbours invited me to one of their religious feasts. I was free to go, but after seeking God’s face on the matter, I kindly refused, because I knew there was no open door to preach the Gospel of Jesus there, (Mt. 28:19-20.)
I risked offending them and maybe live in enmity with them, because now, they would think I am impolite and they will dislike me. Still, I will only nurture even family relationships as long as I can be the purifying, preserving ‘salt’ and shine the true Light of Jesus at their ‘tables.’ We don’t have to do that aggressively but politely – and of course, always in the leading of the Spirit.
True believers have chosen the Narrow Way of obedience to Jesus’ Moral Law of Love, which states, “I Am the Lord your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, [the kingdom of darkness,] and out of the house of bondage. [We were redeemed and are spiritually free in Jesus.” However, may God grant us the grace to live “circumspectly” or carefully, because God commanded,] “You shall have no other gods besides Me. You shall not… bow down to them, [sit down with them and begin to play with them,] for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God…” (Ex. 20:1-6.)