The Table of the Lord, or the Table of Demons - Which?
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Will you open your Bibles, please, to Paul's first Corinthian letter, chapter 10. We have begun a short series of discussions on the Lord's Supper. Because this observance commanded by our Lord is so very important to our everyday living, we need to know everything the Word of God has to say about it.

Accounts of the institution of the Lord's Supper are found in the Gospels and in the revelation that was given to the Apostle Paul. The Apostle Paul did not attend the original institution of the Lord's Supper, but after he came to know the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour, the Holy Spirit of God was pleased to give him a special revelation of how the Lord's Supper should be observed. He recorded in I Corinthians, chapter 11, that it had been a revelation. Because the Lord's Supper meant so much to him, we find him giving additional instruction in other portions of his Epistles as well as in this chapter.

We have noticed the primary symbolism of the Lord's Supper; when we partake of the bread, we are recognizing that the body of The Lord Jesus Christ was given for our sins; when we partake of the cup which contains the fruit of the vine, we are recognizing that the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ was shed for our sins. Or, as the Scripture puts it, the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ is the blood of the New Covenant. No longer are we under the Mosaic Covenant, under which men did and lived, or failed to do and died. We are under the New Covenant which is written not on tables or stone, but in the fleshly tables of our hearts; it is administered not by angels through the hand of man, but by the Holy Spirit of God. So our life in the Lord Jesus Christ is not a fleshly one, it is a spiritual one.

As we continue our discussion of this important observance, notice with me something that the Apostle Paul calls to our attention in chapter 10 of I Corinthians, in the paragraph which begins with verse 13:

I Corinthians 10

13There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
14Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.
15I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.
16The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?
17For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.
18Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?
19What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing?
20But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils [demons] , and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils [demons] .
21Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils [demons] : ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils [demons] .
22Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?

Let me call to your attention verses 16 and 17 by way of review:

Or more accurately, “that one loaf.” When we partake of that one bread, we are declaring to all observers that we are members of the one body. No, not the one body here at the Bible Center, but the one body which is the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ, the one body which is the Church universal, the one body the roll of which is recorded in Heaven(Hebrews 12:23).

As a local group of Believers, we may fellowship together at 733 Butternut Street, and we are members one of another in a close sense; but let us recognize that we who fellowship here at 733 Butternut Street are members of the larger body that fellowship in many different locations in this city and elsewhere throughout the world. Some day, as the Lord Jesus Christ Himself expressed the desire, the body will be together and will sit down around the Lord's Table in the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 26:29).

The fuller symbolism to which we have just referred—the fact that we have fellowship one with another and thus have fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ—gives rise to the subject of the present discussion, which is summarized in verse 21:

I Corinthians 10

21Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils [demons] : ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils [demons] .

We have summarized that verse as a title for our discussion in the words: “The Table of the Lord, the Table of Demons - Which?”

In Paul's day, in a very practical sense individuals had the opportunity of sitting down at the table of demons, because they were exposed constantly to the literal worship of idols in a way that is not a problem to us. The Holy Spirit of God did not take the attitude that many individuals take today, “Oh, well, they don't really worship anything. They have the images just as guides and help to their worship.” The Holy Spirit of God said, “Back of what men call idolatry is a huge network of demons, guided and directed by the Devil, and the individual who sits down at a table that is dedicated to the worship of idols is sitting down at a table that is dedicated to the worship of demons.”

We today do not face literally the same problem that they faced then, but we face another problem that in one sense is worse. Oftentimes we find ourselves sitting down, figuratively speaking, at the table of demons without fully realizing that we are. We may find ourselves bowing down in worship to an idol that may not be so evident, because it is not made of wood, stone, gold or silver. The Lord's Table brings every Believer face to face with a decision to be made, regardless of the Age in which he may live. Notice verse 15, please:

I Corinthians 10

15I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.

He was saying to the Corinthian Believers, “I am talking to intelligent men. I am not trying to persuade or over-persuade. I am not trying to sway. I am not trying to convince anybody that he must not do certain things. I am asking you to listen carefully to what I say,” said the Apostle Paul, “and after you have listened carefully, make your own decision.”

In verses 16 and 17, he emphasized that when an individual sits down at the table of the Lord, he automatically becomes a part of the body which is represented by the bread which is used in the symbolism of the Lord's Supper. If we recognize that we are part of that body, then we have to admit that what the Apostles says is absolutely true. It is impossible to be part of one body and yet to be part of another body.

That brings us to the realization that these Corinthian Believers and the early Church faced a danger that you and I must recognize. It brings us face to face with a danger to be considered. It was a danger, if you please, to which the nation of Israel succumbed in her wilderness experience. Glance at verse 7:

I Corinthians 10

7Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

If we examine that verse in the light of its context, we will discover that Paul was talking about the time when Moses was on the mountaintop receiving the Ten Commandments which God was writing upon tables of stone. Because he was gone longer than the people thought he should be, they became impatient; their worship was geared to the flesh instead of the Spirit, and they wanted something tangible upon which they could fasten their eyes. So they prevailed upon Aaron, you will remember, to make a golden calf, and when the calf was made, they sat down to eat; then they rose up to play, meaning that they rose up to dance about this golden calf. These individuals are described in verse 18:

I Corinthians 10

18Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?

These individuals who were meant to be members of one body by virtue of the sacrifices which they were commanded to bring, laid aside God's order and instead danced around the golden calf in worship, idolizing a thing which—listen carefully—in their minds took the place of God.

It is important to remember that they did not make that calf because they thought it looked like God. They made that calf because they had been used to the idolatrous practices of the Egyptians in the land from which they came. We are not considering the kind of idol worship that makes something like God as an aid to worship; we are thinking about something that is exceedingly more dangerous—anything that individuals are inclined to put before God.

Not only is this danger one to which Israel succumbed, but it is a danger about which the Lord Jesus Christ warned. Will you turn, please, to the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 6, verse 24:

Matthew 6

24No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

The Lord Jesus Christ was not suggesting that mammon be served in the place of God. He was suggesting that it is an utter impossibility to serve two masters; ye cannot serve God and mammon at the same time. In the words of our original text, you cannot sit down at the Lord's Table and at the table of demons in the same spirit and at the same time. You must choose between the two.

Mammon is a word that some of you may wonder about. Our English word money would be an equivalent. Our English word property or wealth would do just as well. The Lord Jesus here is not talking about a man who unscrupulously devotes all his time to the accumulation of great wealth. Sometimes that emphasis is placed, and we can understand that. We can say, “A man ought not to be so interested in money that that is all he thinks about.” If you will read the rest of this paragraph, you will discover that it is not the rich man who is the subject of discussion; rather, it is the poor man who has not learned to trust Christ for his everyday needs. It is the poor man who has an anxiety about tomorrow, wondering whether or not he will be able to make it through the dangerous waters of a world in which it is very difficult to make a living.

This brings it down very close to where we all live, because many of us find ourselves worrying about the little money we need for our food and our clothing; we never have any need to worry about making a tremendous fortune. It is impossible for you to serve God and mammon at the same time, impossible for you to have the idol of fleshly desire and the loving care of the Lord Jesus Christ on the throne of your heart at the same time.

This is a danger to be considered in another light: It is a danger to which we do not have to yield. Oftentimes when people sit down at the table of demons—that is, when people fail to follow the rule of separation lad down in God's Word—when they are brought to task for it, their answer is “I just couldn't do anything else. I had no choice. I had to do it.”

Go back to I Corinthians, chapter 10, and notice the first two verses of the paragraph which we read together:

I Corinthians 10

13There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
14Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.

Verse 13 has often been quoted by all of us as a precious promise that deliverance from temptation is available for us. It has even been quoted with the application that God will not call upon us to go through any test that we will not be able to bear; every test will have its own grace to make it bearable. But in the primary interpretation of the text, it is related to the subject under discussion. God has made a way of escape so that no man has to sit down at the table of demons. “The way of escape,” as someone has said rather humorously but pointedly, “the way of escape is a clear road and two good legs.” If you cannot do anything else, you can run. In running from the idolatry you will find the deliverance which God has promised.

One more thing I would say about the fact that all of us are exposed to the danger of sitting down at two tables—the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Although it is a very real danger, it is a danger to which we dare not—we must emphasize that—to which we dare not yield. I said it is a danger to which we do not have to yield, and that is true. I emphasize it is a danger to which we cannot yield and be consistent with our testimony for Jesus Christ.

Look again at verse 21, please:

I Corinthians 10

21Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils [demons] .

Perhaps better than the word cannot , or the phrase ye cannot would be the phrase ye dare not . Ye dare not be partakers of the Lord's table and of the table of demons. Ye dare not serve God and mammon. Ye dare not neglect the principle of separation which is emphasized for every Believer in the Word of God.

In the next chapter the Apostle Paul emphasizes the need for discerning the body and the blood of the Lord. If we take upon ourselves the privilege of sitting dow at the Lord's table, we do not take upon ourselves a light privilege; a serious responsibility goes right along with it.

That leads me to suggest that every one of us must recognize that when we sit down at the Lord's table, there is a discipline to which we may be subjected it we are not properly observing the body and the blood of the Lord. The Apostle is dealing here with only one phase of it: the phase of separation, the phase of living a double life, the phase of eating at the table of demons and at the table of the Lord at the same time.

Once again I emphasize that the early Believers had the very real problem of becoming involved with idol worship without fully realizing it. We may have the problem of becoming involved in something that takes the place of Christ without fully realizing it. The principle of separation is a necessity. There is a discipline to which we may be subjected. Will you look at verse 22, please:

As it is stated in our King James text, that verse does not convey the full impact of the original text, so notice with me several renderings which may bring to your attention the full impact of the words. The New American Standard

Version says: “Or do we provoke the Lord to jealously? We are not stronger than He, are we?” That is, if we are going to sit down at both tables, are we attempting to provoke the Lord to jealously? Do we think that we are stronger than He is, so that by some means or other we can live a double life and our God will know nothing about it? “Ye are wise men,” the Apostle began the paragraph: “judge ye what I say.”

Another rendering presents it in this fashion: “What? Are you tempting the Lord to be angry with you? Are you stronger than He is? Any individual who is living a double life—who comes to the Lord's table on Sunday morning and lives at the table of demons during the week—is certainly tempting the Lord to be angry with him and to visit him with discipline.

Again, because so many individuals feel that they have a way of slipping out from under the just discipline of Almighty God, the Apostle said, “Are you stronger than He? Do you think that you are really strong enough to come back, whatever discipline He may bring your way?” The obvious answer is in the negative.

Another rendering which will help us to understand even better the seriousness of what we are talking about is in the New English Bible: “Can we defy the Lord? Are we stronger than He?” Here the emphasis brings out the full meaning of the text: “Are you attempting to defy God? In the light of the plain teaching of the Scripture, are you attempting to defy the Lord by sitting down at the Lord's table on Sunday and the table of demons during the week? Are you stronger than He? Do you think that by some means or other you will be able to escape what the plain teaching of the Word of God indicates?”

Notice verse 22 again:

I Corinthians 10

22Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?

Notice the word jealousy particularly as I call to your attention a text in the Old Testament which describes the fate of Israel because she dared to provoke the Lord to jealousy. Turn with me, please, to the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 32, verse 21, and notice in Moses' song what he had to say about Israel's sin. This chapter is not a description of the incident to which we have already made reference, but rather is a comment which God made upon it:

Deuteronomy 32

21They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.

Over two thousand years of history is packed into the last statement of this verse. The first part of the verse simply declares what we have already emphasized—that the nation of Israel defied the Lord and provoked Him to anger by sitting down at the table of demons at the same time, figuratively speaking, that they sit down at the table of the Lord. Because God was provoked to anger, because He was provoked to immediate discipline, He caused them to be jealous. He fed them on their own food, so to speak.

How did He do that? He took the nation of Israel out of the place of blessing. He took the nation of Israel off the main line, so to speak, and put her on a siding. On the main line He put a people which He termed “a foolish nation”—the Gentiles of the world. The blessing that God had in mind for Israel, to be a source of blessing to the world during this Age, He gave to the Gentiles.

What are we to learn from that? I believe that by application we are to learn that if we insist on serving God and mammon, if we insist on having in our life an idol that takes our attention in place of the Lord Jesus Christ, if we insist on being mixed up with this world system instead of being wholly separated from it, God will remove us from our place of responsibility and privilege as individuals. We will become, as the Apostle Paul said in I Corinthians, chapter 9, disapproved. We will be laid on the shelf, useless to our God. The crown that was reserved for us will be given to another because he has been willing to take the place that we should have taken in faithfulness to God.

Let me bring to your attention the manner in which James deals with this same subject. Turn, please, to James, chapter 4, verse 4:

James 4

4Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
5Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?

Here James is saying practically the same thing Paul has been saying: “Don't you know that the Holy Spirit who lives within your heart is addicted to jealously? Don't you know that the Holy Spirit is waiting, jealously guarding your life that He may be supreme in it?” Wuest suggests as a rendering of the verse: “Do you think that the Scripture says in an empty manner and to no purpose, ‘The Spirit (Holy Spirit who has been caused to make His permanent home in us has a passionate desire (to control us) to the point of envy (of any control indwelling sin may have over us)?”

The Holy Spirit who lives within your heart will convict you when you have become a friend of the world. Notice the word again:

James 4

4…know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?…

Don't misread the passage. Don't say that you cannot have any friends in the world, for that is not what the passage says. The word world here speaks of the world system, the spirit of this Age, the spirit of this generation. It is not speaking of young or old. The spirit of the Age in which we live is contrary to God. If you are to be controlled by that spirit, then you cannot be controlled by the Holy Spirit. If you sit down at the Lord's Table on the Lord's Day, indicating by your action that you are controlled by the Holy Spirit of God, that is a good testimony. But if during the week you sit down, figuratively speaking, at the table of demons, wherever that table may be located, and in whatever form it may be presented to you, then you are being controlled by the spirit of the world. Beloved, it is inconsistent with truth.

Someone may say, as has been said before when we emphasized the importance of the Lord's Table, “That frightens me. It makes me wonder whether I should ever partake of the Lord's Table, whether I am worthy to do it.” Beloved, it is not a matter of your worthiness; it is a matter ow what you as an intelligent person are able to understand. You are wise men; judge ye what I say: Can you sit down at the table of demons and the Table of the Lord at the same time? No, you cannot; you must choose one or the other.

We would like to know that every person who hears these words has made the decision that it will be Christ and Christ alone.


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