We Have a Spirit Who Speaks

Paul takes chapter twelve to discuss the gifts that the Spirit of God gives to the church. But he begins by contrasting it with the idols of the Corinthians’ old faith. Paul writes:

You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols…

The way that Paul contrasts the old and the new, dark and light, death and life is powerful. Here is contrasts that which speaks and that which is mute.

I think we are reminded all the more about the way the Spirit that dwells in us speaks when we think back to past ways. The church in Corinth, in following after false religion, worshipped idols. Already Paul has discussed how these idols and so-called gods have no real existence. So when we think to the way the Spirit manifests himself in us, it is not like anything from the pagan practices. Those idols were mute. There is no way those idols were going to speak through the people. But that is not what we have now. The living God has sent us his Spirit and by the Spirit we speak. God has not sent us his Spirit to remain idle and mute in the church. The Holy Spirit in us is the only way that we can make our confession of faith, only by the Spirit can we say, “Jesus is Lord.”

To Eat or Not to Eat? The Question of 1 Corinthians 10

Dinner Plate

In reading 1 Corinthians 10:23-30, I found Ken Bailey’s commentary, Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes, very helpful. He again brings to focus the cultural writing style of Paul that differs from our own. We often put the point of greatest emphasis at the end, while Paul repeatedly in his letter puts it right in the center of his argument. Because of that, it can be a bit confusing. Here is Bailey on this passage, with the numbers in parentheses corresponding to the points Paul makes in the order they are found in Scripture:

This order confuses the modern reader. We are accustomed to:

On the one hand:

(1) Think of others and try to be helpful. (7) Don’t offend people. (2) Eat (or don’t eat) the meat you buy in the market for it is the Lord’s. (6) Do so to the glory of God. (3) At a meal in a pagan’s home eat whatever they serve you. (5) You are a free person, give thanks and eat.

But on the other hand:

(4) If someone whispers to you “This is idol meat, I am sure you would want to know,” then do not eat (out of respect for his or her conscience, no your conscience).[1]

Knowing the style in which Paul writes helps us to understand this section much better. It is easy to read it as though he is going back and forth, saying two things at once. But much of that is because we assume his argument builds linearly and concludes at the end. But his central emphasis, as it has been in past chapters, is seeking to love others and seek their good, rather than express our own rights or freedoms.


  1. Ken Bailey, Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes, 285. ↩

Absurdity of Idolatry

There is a great little section in chapter 44 of Isaiah that in describing the making of an idol in such a mundane way, shows the whole endeavor to be a bit absurd.

Isaiah describes the whole process, start to finish. You plant a tree and let it grow. Then you cut it down for its parts. You use some for a fire. The fire warms you, and then while you’re at it, you throw on some dough and make some bread. You’ve got some wood leftover? Let’s make a god. And then we may as well worship this piece of wood that we just grew, cut down, burnt, and used to carve into some likeness.

How can we think something that we just used for the simple needs of warmth and for cooking can then also give birth to a statue worthy of worship? Verse 17 says, "the rest he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, "Deliver me, for you are my god!""

Sounds crazy, right? Do we condemn such an action, or just pity the person?

It’d be easier to judge if we weren’t susceptible to idolatry in our own ways. But regardless of the idol–a wooden totem or the idol of power of money–not one of them can answer when we cry out "deliver me!" God alone is savior and only he hears our cries.

Week in Review, Quarter 2, Week 2

Joshua Commanding the Sun to Stand Still

The following verses are the most well-known of the book of Joshua:

“Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua 24:14-15

We’re missing out if we think this statement is only for a past time, a time of Joshua. We still today have foreign gods, idols that seek to take a place in our lives that only God should occupy. To be a disciple of Christ and follow him is a choice that is for God, and by necessity is then a choice against other gods. It is a choice that excludes possibilities from our life. We are to turn from those lesser things in this world, the false gods and idols. We must stop worshiping them or worshiping self and make a stand for God.

Joshua reminds the people before this statement of who their God is and all that he has done. Having read Mark we’ve been reminded of who God is and we see him most clearly in Jesus Christ. We know what he has done for us. God has done it all. Jesus Christ died the death we deserve so that we may be with him. Christ tells us as well what marks the life of a disciple. A life of sacrifice, death to self, service, witness, love of neighbor, and obedience to the will of the Father.

In response to God’s good news and his invitation to follow Christ, will we cast off the false gods of the land in which we dwell serve the Lord?