We continue our study of Paul’s letters this week with 1 Corinthians 10. Paul begins warning the Corinthians to learn from the Israelites’ example and not make the same mistake they did when they displeased God and were overthrown in the wilderness.
For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, 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 were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.
v. 1-5 (NASB)
We often think God is displeased with us because we make mistakes and mess up often. But that’s not true. God called King David a man after His own heart, even though he was a murderer and an adulterer. God said, “I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you” (2 Samuel 7:14-15, NASB).
God was pleased with David because David believed and trusted Him, and Saul did not. The Bible says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6, NIV).
God was displeased with the Israelites because of their lack of faith. When they were in need they didn’t seek and trust God for provision, they complained to Moses and sought to please their own flesh.
Paul continues to explain:
Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY.” Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
v. 6-11 (NASB)
They craved evil because they did not crave righteousness. To stop craving evil things, we must learn to crave what is holy. I often try to give up coffee for a week or two at a time. When I return to drinking it, I seem to crave it even more than before I gave it up. Last week, I decided to give it up once again, but this time I decided to replace it with tea. After only a week, I am now craving tea and no longer craving coffee. It’s the same with our struggle against sin. We can’t break free from it unless we turn from it and replace it with Jesus. Jesus said, “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first” (Luke 11:24-26, KJV).
We have to replace the evil by being filled with Jesus. Without being filled with Jesus, we will just crave sin even more.
Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
v. 12-13 (NASB)
Paul uses the Israelite’s examples not only to teach us to put our faith in Jesus, but also to warn us to stand guard and not be overconfident that we can stand against temptation.
My pastor just shared a message about being overconfident in our faith that we think we can’t fall. He used the example of Peter and how he didn’t expect to fall and deny Christ three times.
And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”
But he said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.”
Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.”
Luke 22:31-34 (NKJV)
I think it’s easier to become overconfident in our faith the longer we’ve been walking with Christ. When we’ve been taught something long enough we think we’ve got it down. I started following Christ about 14 years ago. The first 9 years, God worked a lot of things out of me and did an amazing work in my marriage and my family. Five years ago, He led me to write a book about the work He has done in us. As I was recalling all that He has done for my family, I became overconfident. I thought I had arrived enough that I could let my guard down and take a break, so to speak. That was a huge mistake. I ended up falling hard, in my marriage and my family. I saw that all the years of work God had done in my family could be swept away. That scared and humbled me and sent me running to Jesus.
The Bible says to put on the full armor of God, so we can take our stand against the devil’s schemes (Ephesians 6:11). We can’t let our guard down and think Satan will not creep his way in and entice us back into sin.
Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men; you judge what I say. Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread. Look at the nation Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers in the altar? What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in 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. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? We are not stronger than He, are we?
v. 14-22 (NASB)
Again, Paul reaffirms what Jesus said in Luke 11 above, we can’t be filled with evil and be filled with God. We must turn from evil and seek what is good. “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it” (1 Peter 3:11, NIV).
Paul closes talking once again about not using our freedom for evil, but for the good of others and for bringing glory to God.
All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor. Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience’ sake; FOR THE EARTH IS THE LORD’S, AND ALL IT CONTAINS. If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience’ sake. But if anyone says to you, “This is meat sacrificed to idols,” do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience’ sake; I mean not your own conscience, but the other man’s; for why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I slandered concerning that for which I give thanks?
Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved.
v. 23-33 (NASB)
We praise You that no temptation has overtaken us but such as is common to man. You are faithful. You will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able, but with the temptation You will always provide the way of escape to run to You. Rid us of any evil we have allowed in, and fill us with Your Holy Spirit. Help us to crave what is holy instead of craving what is evil. In Jesus’ faithful name, we pray. Amen!
*This series will continue next week as we study 1 Corinthians 11. Have a blessed week seeking God and craving His holiness!