1 Corinthians 10
Paul starts this chapter comparing the Corinthian Christians with the Israelites in the wilderness with Moses. In chapter 8 Paul established the fact that an idol is nothing, should be nothing, should mean nothing to the christian. In chapter 9, however, he shows us that while Christians have the “rights” to eat what they wish, or in his case be paid a wage for his work, that giving up those “rights” for our fellow man is how we are laying down our lives for the gospel. He is warning the Corinthians here to realize all the blessings that the Israelites had. The miracles that they witnessed with their own eyes, yet when it came down to it, they did not follow God the way they should have and most of them (all but 2) died in the wilderness and did not even get to see the Promised Land. Paul’s point is this, God had so much for them. He had blessings waiting for them. Even after seeing and following with their own eyes, the fire and a pillar of cloud they never quite got it.
“Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.” (1 Corinthians 10:6)
All scripture is written down as an example to us. Sometimes it’s difficult to think of the people in the Bible as people. They had so many tangible miracles in front of them. And sometimes we may think “oh if I had only lived back then, I would not have questioned things” because of the miracles that were right in front of them. But they were people, flesh and blood people, with thoughts and dreams and hopes. Their stories are meant to encourage us to stay on the path. Paul used the Israelites story to try to encourage the Corinthians and us. We can use the Israelites stories as well as the Corinthians stories to encourage us.
“Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:12-13)
When I have heard verse 13 before I rarely hear it in context with verse 12. But when I read it today, it was like reading it with new eyes and ears. We must be careful not to think we have it all together. The Corinthians, in their mind, had it all together. They had the “I’ve got this” down to a science. So Paul is saying here just when you think you have it all together and that you can stand for anything, that is when you will fall. But he also lets us know that God will always give his children a way out of temptation. There is nothing you can be tempted with or I can be tempted with that has not been dealt with by God already. It is not that we will have deliverance from temptation, but when our lives are entwined with the gospel, we will be able to endure any temptation.
Paul also gives the warning to the Corinthians that while they can eat the meat that is sacrificed to idols if they so choose, because it is nothing to them, they should not pull up a seat at the table where idol worship is taking place. He is not talking here of being with unbelievers, but do not partake in idol worship. He puts it plainly in verse 14.
“Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” (1 Corinthians 10:14)
If it is satanic, or paganistic, you nor I have a place there. We do not want to live by a list of rules, but to live in our freedom in Christ, but there are certain things that you can’t crossover and this is the main thing.
“You 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.” (1 Corinthians 10:21)
The heading to the last part of this chapter in the ESV is “Do all to the Glory of God”! I like that heading and I like the way Paul starts this out.
“‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” (1 Corinthians 10:23-24)
This is what it comes down to again and again. What are we doing to lead our friends and neighbors to Christ? Paul is saying eat with a clean conscience. But if someone mentions to you this food was sacrificed to idols then you don’t eat it. For the sake of your brothers conscience. If you are dining with the unbeliever or hanging out with the unbelievers, which is ok and not only, ok, we should have them in our friend groups, you must still be careful because you are the Christ that they will see. If they are struggling with what you say and do because they know you are a believer, you must be careful about what you say and do. Something may be lawful for you, but ask yourself the questions. Is it helpful? Will it build the body of Christ?
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
Oh Lord, may we continue as we break down these chapters in this book, to point to You. May it be the desire of our hearts to show people Your heart within us. That is what we pray to do.
Please pray for our country, our President, our state, our Governor and all the leaders. Make no mistake God is still on the throne.