Sin is always relational.
14Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. 18Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? 19What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
I remember when I said this out loud, “Sin is always relational.” The Follower of Jesus sitting across from me was surprised and called it into question. Ever since I have come to recognize that we can develop a cerebral idea of sin that reserves consequences to just the “me.”
The deception in this approach can lead us to rationalize sin as an act that might not be on the “approval” list of others but is OK because we are not hurting someone else.
Idolatry exists because of our independence from God. That is sin.
When Paul writes to the Corinthian church about idolatry he wants them to reconnect their framework of decisions and life-value-judgements to relationships. He appeals to the very physical nature of the Lord’s Supper (the Bread and the Cup) to convey our union with Christ and therefore a union or interconnectedness with the whole people of Jesus as His body. He demonstrates that idolatry, in this case the participation in the ceremony and cultic rites of the many religions of Corinth, was a kind of spiritual union–a dark demonic spiritual union.
As well we must acknowledge, idolatry is always relational. It involves our relationships with self, people, the stuff of earth AND God. So Paul uses the word jealousy. “Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy?” He is jealous for you. You can only be jealous for that which “is” yours. Jealousy in this case has its judgement, for we now by His grace through Christ we belong with Him. We have a place at His table. Why should we abandon His table for another? We are now incompatible at the other table. We don’t belong there.