Warning Against Idolatry
10 For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 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.
Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. The 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? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. 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. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
Do All to the Glory of God
“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. Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience—I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.
1 Corinthians 10 Commentary
by Hank Workman
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”George Santayana The Life of Reason 1905
Paul brings a history 101 lesson to the church and what their forefathers had done in neglect. God had provided a way out of Egypt for them. He led them by cloud through the desert, through the waters. The cloud of God’s presence was ever with them. This cloud provided shelter during the burning desert temperatures and gave light at night as a pillar of fire. It was ever before and with them through their entire time in the desert.
But with His people, He was not pleased. They had been given so much through this time, incredible spiritual direction even but instead of pleasing him back through what He had done, being grateful they were not. They still lived selfishly. As his statement, “With most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness” (Verse 5) is the reminder to the church only those from the generation of Joshua and Caleb actually were allowed to enter the Promised Land.
When you consider what all Paul has been writing to the church about, he’s drawing a line. God had been so faithful to these people and led them to the place of salvation and hope. Their continual wrangling over matters of the flesh, living in attitudes that were not pleasing to Him, causing others to stumble in their own walk – Paul gives warning. They were not to rest in the laurels of the past and what God had done, for as Israel still perished in the desert (that whole generation) some of the Corinthian Believers could as well. Don’t repeat history.
Yes, God has been incredibly faithful to each of us. He has provided in ways to the point I think we take things for granted even. The caution is when we do not work on our spiritual relationship, feed our soul with the presence of God, we can become complacent. And when we become complacent we set ourselves up for compromise.
1 Corinthians 10 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
So many Christians today have fallen into the temptation of obsessing over rights and privileges. What I mean by that is the need to ask the question, “What harm can it do?” to grey-area issues. We think, “I don’t care who I offend, I have a right to do this.” Ultimately, it communicates a “me first” attitude to all who observe. Many today are quick to defend these rights and do as they please. They will swiftly reference a verse to back it up, but Paul takes a different angle.
All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.1 Corinthians 10:23-24 NASB
The Corinthians, like many Americans, wanted to figure out the bare minimum requirements. How much can I get away with and still be a Christian? Can you show me where the line is so I can get as close as I can to it? Again, this type of outlook is focused purely on self. It does not take into consideration what is profitable and what edifies others.
Paul’s primary concern was how they were using their God-given freedom. To him, it was natural to use your freedoms to advance the Gospel in the most loving and relatable way possible. Paul didn’t compromise on truth and He didn’t compromise on grace; he only compromised on his own desires.
Just think how different our churches would look if we followed this advice!