You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free

Defiling the Lord’s Supper — and To Eat, or Not to Eat with Unbelievers


Renette Vermeulen


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[With acknowledgement to the people who compiled these images]






Caution and concern in eating the Lord’s Supper in “an unworthy manner,” and food sacrificed to idols, are valid.  However, the truth is always in the context of Scripture and the situation. In 1 Corinthians Chapter 10, Paul teaches on these two subjects. He begins with a comparison between “spiritual food and drink” in Old and New Testament terms. Old Israel had most things physical under the Old Covenant; we have all things spiritual under the New Covenant in Jesus.

In 1 Cor. 10:1-5, Paul explains that the Old Hebrews “were all under the cloud; [protection and guidance of the Holy Spirit.] All passed through the sea [as a baptism] into [the Law or Moses] and the cloud. [They exited Egypt through water into “Canaan;” symbolic of the water baptism of Jesus' disciples, who spiritually leave the sinful world and enter into Jesus’ Kingdom of light.]  All ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink.” [They did not have the Lord’s Supper, but under the Cloud, they had the 'bread' of the Law and they drank water from the [physical] Rock that followed them, (Ex. 17.) And that Rock was [Jesus] Christ.” 

In 1 Cor. 10:5-13, Paul told how they abused their freedom in self-indulgence, and mingled their spiritual food, (in New Testament terms, the Lord’s Supper,) with idols or strange gods. From verse 6, “Now these things [that were written 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.." 

To Old Israel, the Sea, Cloud, Rock and everything else were real and tangible; they did not even have to live on faith where these things were concerned.  Yet, they abused their freedom, lived in self-indulgence, did not crucify the lusts of their flesh, and mingled their spiritual food, (in New Testament context, the Lord’s Supper,) with idols or strange gods. 

1 Cor. 10:6, “Now these things 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, [were sidetracked from their journey to Canaan] to eat, drink and play.  [They made the unbelieving world their friend and began to worship its 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 the discussion and commanded in 1 Cor. 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 pagan practices to partake in an “unworthy manner… (1 Cor. 11:27-34.) We must examine ourselves [before the Supper]” and confess all our moral 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 consider one another during the Supper. (1 Cor. 10:33-34.) 

Because Moral holiness at God’s Table is so important, we cannot eat 'food sacrificed to idols,' (as during Roman Catholic "mass" or so-called 'holy communion' where they mingle God’s Supper with idolatrous practices and false doctrine. Here, first and foremost, "we cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons," (verse 17-22.)  Sharing the wine and bread at the Lord's Table is solemn communion with Jesus and each other," (symbolically) through His blood and broken body."


The second part of Paul’s discussion 1 Cor. 10, focuses on Eating with Unbelievers – or Not.   If your church and its false doctrines, political rallies, alcohol, drugs, parties, gluttony, sex, the praise and acceptance of people, or bad family and friends are your weak points, avoid it (and them) like poison. Satan knows how to tempt each of us into idolatry, (everything we place above God is idolatry,) to make us stumble and fall – and worse, to make other people stumble and fall.

Know we can never compromise our commitment to Jesus in any way. We are completely free from ceremonies, sacraments, and church forms and norms, but we are still wholly bound to God and each other (even to unbelievers) by obedience to His inward, Moral Law – the only New Covenant Law Jesus ever commanded, (Jn. 13:34.) 

1 Cor. 10:23-33 is our guideline to live in the world without succumbing to self-indulgence and idolatry. Here, 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 this Roman Catholic Christ-mass.) Here, we are not sitting at the Lord’s Supper; we know 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 opened a door to these people to be His Light and Truth. 

So, Paul actually said in verse 23, [eating] everything is lawful for true believers, but not all things edify other people who are ignorant of the true freedom we have in Christ. “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.]” 
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. 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, you will either confuse him, let him mock your faith, or 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 God at this man’s table. But make sure that] you give no offense to [this unbeliever, because he is testing your faith according to his pagan or Christianized standards and not according to the truth of God.]” 

True offense to other people is when we compromise and thus endanger their spiritual, emotional, physical, and eternal lives. By saying ‘no’ to sin 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 and compromising His truth, we “grieve the Holy Spirit,” (Eph. 4:30,) and commit idolatry against God. 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 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 rude and 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.’ 

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 completely redeemed or spiritually free in Jesus.  However, my God grant us the grace to live “circumspectly” or careful, 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.) 


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