Conscience is important, and it is a way that God uses to keep us attuned to the path of obedience. But it is merely an alarm bell. It can alert us to danger but cannot compel us to avoid it. Repeated exposure to temptation may erode our conscience to such a degree that we find it easy to ignore its warning. In time we may silence its voice altogether.
Some places and practices are not safe either morally or spiritually. For the Corinthians, temple feasts were dangerous ground. These public meals posed a danger on two fronts. First, because they sometimes involved temple prostitutes, they exposed participants to sexual temptation. Second, although the idols were nothing, the spiritual forces behind such worship were very real. Their sacrifices were offered to demons (v. 22). Those who attended idol feasts were making themselves vulnerable by recklessly exposing themselves to temptation. They also called into question their allegiance to Christ by taking a seat at the wrong table. Their participation a was a kind of identification.
Paul reminded these believers that Christians have their own table and their own meal. To participate in idol worship and eat sacrifices offered to demons was a rejection of their true Christian identity. Through such reckless behavior Corinthian believers not only opened themselves to sexual temptation, they exposed themselves to divine discipline (v. 22).
Paul’s strategy for helping the Corinthians to avoid temptation is a surprising one. He points them to the Lord’s Table and reminds them of their true identity. They belong to Christ.
The first step in avoiding temptation is always to remember who we are and to whom we belong. Some situations, activities, and relationships are morally and spiritually unsafe. This isn’t a question of freedom but of wisdom. Have you been spending too much time at the wrong table? Remove yourself. Flee from temptation.
Once again, please mention while you pray Moody’s library in Chicago and its staff: James Preston, Christopher Ullman, Jonathan McDaniel, and Rosie Quintana. Their expertize is a blessing to the Moody community!