(We continue our study on the Unity of God, that God is One).
A short exposition of 1 Corinthians 8:4.
In order to practically understand how we ought to apply this knowledge of God’s Unity in our lives, I found Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians personally to be most helpful. We will study it in short and carefully and take from it the meaning of the text and what it teaches us concerning the Unity of God implied to our lives.
“As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one”
According to its context, the Apostle Paul has been addressing some issues that the Corinthians had to repent from. In chapter 6 he speaks about sexual impurity and immorality and idolatry. In chapter 7 he discusses about singleness and marriage and widows. And here in chapter 8 he addresses to them concerning idols. Many of the Greeks and Romans who lived in Corinth were Polytheist, they believed that we all have a god within us and we all can create our own god to suit us. Everyone has an idol, whether it’s sport or a person or a religion or a philosophy; the one thing you think about the most is your idol. Paul is addressing to mature Christians who knew by knowledge that these idols were empty. However, there were also weaker believers who took time to settle into the mature way of Christian living as Paul and others did. And so he instructs them, in order to be careful with the young Christians, not to offend them with the food that were offered to the idols that pagans would, so they won’t become a stumbling block to them in their development. The mature Christian, denied the idols of the pagans and believed that he could eat food for the glory of God, while the weak Christians could not. They believed in one God but needed more time to leave the thought of those food which led them to worship false gods. Paul refers to knowledge but also love. He admonishes them to have both of those in order to help the weaker brother.
Thus, in verse 4 he states his agreement with the mature Greek Christians who believed as he wrote to them “an idol has no existence”. Its’ not real, it’s made by men’s imagination. And that there is only one true God.
If we are to apply this teaching in our lives, consider that idols are nothing and God is everything.
In the Psalms 114:4-6 we read “Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: they have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not:” And then he concludes saying verse 8 “They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them”. These are the false gods that people worship. Even today, we have the gods of music or the gods of entertainment or the gods of false religion who promise things which can never help us in our real spiritual needs. For they are man-made and they have the same limitations as we do also. But God is life, He is the giver of life and He is life itself.
Here we must understand that since we know the true and living God, we must not go back believing that our old habits which were worshipping other idols and other gods that our own pleasures desired, can lead us into everlasting life.
If you were to investigate the history of the things you desire for yourself to have while walking with God, you will find that that kind of desire originates from a thinking which resulted in pagan worship which denied the Unity of God altogether. Thus one’s life is not for God only, but for God and something else. Devoted both to God and traditions, God and baptism, God and music, God and sport, God and self-pleasure, God and the world and its luxury and philosophies. God and so and so saint. God and children or career. Anything that has removed God from the honor that He deserves is not worthy of our attention but worthy of our mocking.
Jeremiah prophesied “Every man is brutish in his knowledge: every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood and there is no breath in them”(Jeremiah 10:14).
In other words, what he is saying is this : if I desire to believe that God is one, but also live as though there is more than one; there is the god of such and such and the idol of so and so, I am living in spiritual ignorance and dullness.
The fact we know that God is one must convict us not only to please Him only but to fear that if we go and try and please anyone else other than God; then we will fall into a pit. You do wrong when you think that you can have someone alongside with God in your personal life.
There is only one God who can save you and there is only one God who can sanctify you and take and give life (1 Timothy 1:17).
Now here are some questions to consider: Have you been pleasing anyone else other than God? Has it been self? Has it been an idol you think about often? Does it tell you to use your time and energy to please what you want? Is it eternal and can it give life? Or is it empty and made by man?
Obviously you will realize how foolish it has been that you have forgotten God and have fallen into believing that this idol (whatever or whoever it is) can please you. But notice that it is only you it pleases. It will promote selfishness rather than humility and love. But if you know God alone, you fear God. And if so, then you do things not for yourself but for God who is Love. And if so then it is promoting humility in the heart, kindness and gentleness. When someone asks you for help; especially an enemy of yours; you are not taking something from them, but you are giving without receiving anything back. You give them love instead of revenge. You are content knowing that there is one God who you desire to please. And who is enough for your soul. It was our Lord’s bread and drink to please the will of God and so it must be for us also.
So a word of caution: as to the fact that there is One God, do not try and make any more than one God. We live in an age where still many make gods for the sake of pleasure that is the meaning of their life. As it is written “Lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:4). So make sure you do not fall into the trap that by following you own pleasures you will find rest and eternal life. The irony is that often you hear people say ‘we cannot live without money’ ‘we cannot leave without food’ ‘we cannot live without such and such’ as if they are saying ‘money has created me and I can’t live without it’. Really? That can’t be true since the one who created all things is One and He is God. Money and you, are His creation so all honor and glory go to God.
How naïve, this person is who believes his money is his savior; his comforter and his all. And so that money is god. But it is God who made all things and it is God who alone is God and Lord of all.
In order to discern and be cautious of making other gods, there are three categories which the sinful nature will call you to consider making. You must reject them!
A god of the lusts, pleasures of the flesh. A god of the lust of the eyes, money and the god of pride of life which is taking honor that does not belong to you (1 John 2:16).
If you worship anything other than God, you are worshipping demonic spirits and nothing more. God is one.
Also consider positively that if God is one then the church is one also. The Unity of God ought to promote unity among the elect. It is no good having many stripes of the Christian faith and argue who God is. We are to study according to Scripture (Acts 17:11) and see that God is One and thus we also must be of one spirit and of one heart and of one mind (John 17:21, 1 Corinthians 1:10, Acts 4:32).
There is also gratitude, that since there is one God and He has revealed Himself to us. How wonderful it is for those who know Him (John 17:3) for this is eternal life. Have joy my friend if you do, for it is out of His great mercy that He revealed Himself to you. But if not then fear and worry much that you do not have a true knowledge of the Unity of God. Thousands are deceived by devils that they can worship them and still go to heaven;. Sadly they think they pray all day to God but God is not with them because they deny the true and one and only God. There is an image in their minds of a false God and a false Christ. Oh how terrible it will be on that day of Judgement for them!
Be thankful and be thankful again for God’s kindness to you. For Christ said “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.”(Matthew 11:25). I pray, may this humble us and make us lowly of heart and ever thinking of God’s Unity.