Useful Bible Studies > 1 Corinthians Commentary > chapter 10

Do idols have any power?

1 Corinthians 10:19-20

The only real God created everything: heaven, the sky, the earth, and everything in them (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-3). The Bible says that people must pray only to him (Exodus 20:3-6). He alone is able to give them the help that they need (Psalm 62:1-2).

However, people often consider other things to be their gods. For example they make the images called idols out of wood, metal or stone. They pray in front of those idols, as if such gods really could help them. They offer gifts - especially food - to their gods, in order to try to please those gods.

The Bible teaches that these things are not really gods. That is, they do not have the power to help anyone. An idol is just a piece of wood, metal or stone. Nobody should pray to it or give it honour (Isaiah 44:9-20).

However, people are clearly giving honour to something when they call these things their gods. And when those gods seem to answer prayers, it is not always just the result of peopleís imagination.

Paulís explanation may give us a shock. Paul believed that both good and bad spirits are active in this world. A person who prays to a false god is really praying to an evil spirit, in other words, a demon. It is evil spirits, and not God, who gain honour from such activities. Evil spirits may even choose to answer prayers sometimes, so that people will not trust the real God.

That is why Paul urged people so strongly to stay away from idols (10:14). That is why he told people only to give honour to the real God (10:21). It is foolish and dangerous to give honour to any evil thing. God alone deserves our honour, and he is completely good (James 1:17).

Next part: A jealous God (1 Corinthians 10:21-22)


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© 2014, Keith Simons.