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1Corinthians 10

Thursday Evening Bible Study

September 18, 2014


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it address the person who is: Empty, lonely, guilty, or afraid to die? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision Is the church loved? Target 3500 words

In Paul's day, Corinth was the capitol of the province of Achaia (southern Greece), and was the most important city in Greece.

Corinth was quite the cosmopolitan city. All merchant traffic flowing north and south, as well as east and west, flowed through Corinth.

Corinth was also the center of the world’s greatest immorality.

The Temple of Aphrodite stood on the hill overlooking the city, and every night 1,000 male and female prostitutes would come down into the city and encourage the citizens to “worship” the goddess of love.

Paul had established the church in Corinth in AD 51 on his second missionary journey. He had spent 18 months teaching and building the church before moving on.

It is now AD 56, and Paul is across the Aegean Sea in the city of Ephesus. He’s received a letter telling about the problems and questions in Corinth, and now he’s writing back.

The first issue raised was about the divisions in the church.

(1 Corinthians 1:11 NKJV) For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you.

The second issue had to do with immorality

(1 Co 5:1 NKJV) —1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife!

The third issue was about lawsuits

(1 Co 6:1 NKJV) —1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?

The fourth issue was about marriage.

(1 Corinthians 7:2 NKJV) —2 Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.

The fifth issue had to do with eating meat sacrificed to idols

(1 Corinthians 8:1 NKJV) —1 Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.
Paul took that last issue and applied it further as to how a mature believer will learn to take their “rights” and “limit” their rights for the sake of others and for the sake of the gospel.
Paul’s great concern was that a person abusing their own freedoms and end up making their witness ineffective.
(1 Corinthians 9:27 NKJV) But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

We talked last week about how a person is disqualified from speaking to others about Jesus when they have not learned self-control in their life.

Paul is going to continue that discussion by looking at some Old Testament examples.

10:1-13 Old Testament Examples

:1 Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea,

:1 under the cloud…through the sea

Paul is going to draw lessons from the example of Israel as they came out of Egypt.

All of the “fathers” had been blessed with the same blessing in that they had all lived under the “cloud by day”, and all had escaped through the parting of the Red Sea (Ex. 14).

Video: Ten Commandments – Red Sea

:2 all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,

:2 baptized into Moses

When you come to open your heart to Jesus, you are “baptized” or “immersed” into Jesus. Your water baptism is a picture of what God has already done in your life.

Paul is saying that the Israelites had a similar “baptism” because they had the cloud over their heads and the walls of water around them as they came through the Red Sea.

:3 all ate the same spiritual food,

:3 ate the same spiritual food

While Israel was in the wilderness, they were fed with “spiritual food”, the “manna” that God provided each morning (Ex. 16).

Jesus taught that the manna was really a picture of Him – that He was the one who gives us true spiritual nourishment.

(John 6:32–33 NKJV) —32 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

We also have the blessing of God’s Word, which feeds us spiritually.

:4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.

:4 that Rock was Christ

Not only did God provide bread in the wilderness, but He provided water as well.

Twice we have it recorded that the people had complained about a lack of water in the desert. In each case, God brought forth water from a rock to satisfy their thirst. (Ex. 17:1-9; Num. 20:1-13)

Because the Rock is mentioned twice, in different settings, there was a rabbinic tradition that held that the “rock” actually followed the Israelites.
Paul, however, says that the rock was actually Christ who was with Israel all the way.

:5 But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.

:5 with most of them God was not well pleased

Paul has warned his readers about being “disqualified”.

(1 Corinthians 9:27 NKJV) But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

The example of Israel in the wilderness is Paul’s illustration of how people can be greatly blessed by God, and then become “disqualified”.

Joshua and Caleb were the only adults to make it from the Red Sea into the Promised Land.

:6 Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.

:6 these things became our examples

examplestupos (“typewriter”) – the mark of a stroke or blow, print; an example

It’s something that’s left a “mark” or an “impression”. It’s something that we learn from.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking there is no value in the Old Testament.

Paul bases his theology on the foundation of the Old Testament.
These things are supposed to leave an “impression” and teach us.

:6 we should not lust after evil things

We might think that “lusting after evil things” has to do with explicitly evil things, but not necessarily so.

It was after God had been feeding the people with bread from heaven that the “lust” began to pop up (Num. 11:4-6)

(Numbers 11:4 NKJV) Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: “Who will give us meat to eat?
 5 We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; 6 but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!”
“Intense craving” is what “lust” is all about.
They were tired of the manna and wanted the kinds of food they had back in Egypt.
The Old King James translation is a tad better on verse 4, saying the people “fell a lusting”. It was a strong desire for things that God did not want them to have that constituted “evil things”.
It starts with the little things that draw you back into the “old life” that can get us into trouble.

:7 And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.”

:7 do not become idolaters

Paul is bringing in the “meat sacrificed to idol” theme from chapter 8.

The idolatry Paul reminds them of goes back to the incident of the “golden calf”. Paul is quoting directly from the story itself (Ex. 32:6)

(Exodus 32:6 NKJV) Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.
Moses had been up on Mount Sinai for forty days, receiving instructions about the Tabernacle and the Ten Commandments. But while he was gone, the people grew impatient and demanded for Aaron to make them a new “god” to lead them back to Egypt.
Video: Ten Commandments – Golden Calf

:8 Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell;

:8 let us commit sexual immorality

commit sexual immoralityporneuo – to give one’s self to unlawful sexual intercourse

As we’ve begun to see, sexual immorality was as big an issue in the city of Corinth as it is in our modern society.

Just before Israel crossed the Jordan, they fell into a trap set by Balaam the prophet.

He told the Moabites to send their young beautiful girls into the camp and entice the men into the worship of the Moabite gods through sexual immorality (Num. 25).
Moses tells us that a plague broke out and 24,000 people died as a result (Num. 25:9).
We get the idea from Paul’s number that 23,000 died in a single day.

:9 nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents;

:9 nor let us tempt Christ

temptekpeirazo – test; to question God’s character and power

The story Paul is remembering took place towards the end of the wilderness wanderings where once again the people were complaining about their bland old food. (Num. 21:4-6)

(Numbers 21:4–6 NKJV) —4 Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. 5 And the people spoke against God and against Moses: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.” 6 So the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died.


Testing God’s Patience

This was not the first time the people had been complaining about their circumstances.
Some people are always complaining!
The woman’s husband had been slipping in and out of a coma for several months, yet she had stayed by his bedside every single day. One day, when he finally came out of it, he motioned for her to come nearer. As she sat by him, he whispered, eyes full of tears, “You know what? You have been with me all through the bad times: When I got fired, you were there to support me. When my business failed, you were there. When I got shot, you were by my side. When we lost the house, you stayed right here. When my health started failing, you were still by my side... You know what?” “What dear?” She gently asked, smiling as her heart began to fill with warmth. “I think you’re bad luck.”
The reality of life is this – God has set us free from the slavery of sin and death.
He has delivered us from Egypt.
But there’s more – there’s a life of “promise” ahead of us, just like Israel’s Promised Land.

I think some of that is hinting at the promise of heaven.

I think some of it is a picture of the kind of life God wants us living on this earth.

Yet getting to that “Promised Land” often involves difficulty.

Life may not always seem like its turning out like “happily ever after”.

Are you tempted to think that following Jesus is “bad luck”?

Following Jesus is the best thing that has ever happened to you.

:10 nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer.

:10 nor complain

complaingogguzo – to murmur, mutter, grumble, say anything against in a low tone

There are so many incidences of the people complaining followed by judgment that it’s hard to be definite of what this is talking about.

They complained about food (Ex. 16:2).

They complained about the giants in the Promised Land (Num. 14:2).

They complained about Moses and Aaron’s authority (Num. 16:3)

Early on, the people “complained” about the lack of food.

(Exodus 16:2 NKJV) Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.

When they heard the spies give a report about the Promised Land, including the mention of giants…

(Numbers 14:2 NKJV) And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness!
As a result, the people would wander for forty years, and that entire generation would die in the wilderness.

A man named Korah led a rebellion, challenging the authority of Moses and Aaron.

(Numbers 16:3 NKJV) They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?”
As a result, Korah and his rebels died as the earth opened up and swallowed them alive.

:11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

:12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.

:12 him who thinks he stands

If the nation of Israel had so many benefits, yet did so poorly, do you think that we are immune to doing stupid things?

Solomon wrote,

(Proverbs 16:18 NKJV) Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.
These lessons from Israel’s history are to make us learn and take inventory of our personal lives, not sit back and think, “What a bunch of idiots they were”.

:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

:13 temptationpeirasmos – an experiment, attempt, trial, proving

This is a word related to the two in verse 9.

There the issue was us putting Jesus on trial by testing God’s patience with our complaining.
Here the issue is the kinds of things that put “us” on trial.

Forms of this word are used three times in this verse.

It might be a “temptation” to sin that comes across our plate.
It might be a difficult situation, a “trial” that is hard and tests our faith.

:13 common to man

You may be thinking that you are the only person on the planet who has ever gone through what you’re going through, but you’d be wrong.

That doesn’t mean your difficulty is any less difficult.
But it does mean that you’re not alone.

There is a sense in which Jesus can related to what you’re going through more than any other person.

(Hebrews 4:15–16 NKJV) —15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

:13 God is faithful

God always promises to make a way of escape.

You can count on it.
It may not be the “escape” you are looking for, but there will be a way out of it.

You might look at the stories of Israel and their blunders in the wilderness and think, “I guess there’s no hope for an idiot like me”.

There is hope.  God will always provide a way out.

:13 the way of escape


Use the exit

God will make a way out, but we need to take it.
There was once a man on a diet who prayed, “Lord, if you don’t want me to go get donuts, then let there not be any parking spots at the donut shop.” But he had to give in to the donuts because sure enough, when he got there, there was a parking spot right in front of the door … after his twentieth time around the block.

Sometimes the “way out” means you stop circling the block looking for a parking space.

The smartest man on earth, a pastor, and a Cub Scout were taking a plane trip when the pilot came on the intercom and announced that they were having serious trouble and they were going to crash. He suggested that everyone grab a parachute and jump out of the plane. Then the pilot jumped out himself. The three looked at each other and realized that there were three of them, but only two parachutes. The smartest man on earth said, “I’m a very important person, the world needs me, I need to be saved!” He grabbed a parachute and jumped out of the plane. Then the pastor said to the little boy, “Son, I’ve lived a long life and I’m ready to meet the Lord. You take the last parachute.” Then the little boy responded. “Hey mister, no need to worry! The smartest man on earth just took my back pack and jumped out of the plane!”

When you find the way out, take it.  Don’t wait for the plane to crash!

There was a time when David was being pursued by King Saul.
Saul was insanely jealous of David and came out with his army to hunt down David and his men.  During the chase, David and his men went around one side of a mountain while Saul and his men went around the other side to cut them off.

(1 Samuel 23:27–29 NKJV) —27 But a messenger came to Saul, saying, “Hurry and come, for the Philistines have invaded the land!” 28 Therefore Saul returned from pursuing David, and went against the Philistines; so they called that place the Rock of Escape. 29 Then David went up from there and dwelt in strongholds at En Gedi.

David didn’t stay where he was and wait for Saul to come back.

He left.  He took the “exit”.

I think we could learn a lesson from a dog named “Walter”.
Video:  Run Walter Run

Speaking of “running” from sin…

10:14-22 Flee Idolatry

:14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.

Paul is going to go back to the subject he started with – eating meat sacrificed to idols.

Even though Paul has made the point that there are not actual other “gods” (1Cor. 8:4), there is something with idolatry that we need to avoid.

(1 Corinthians 8:4 NKJV) Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one.

:15 I speak as to wise men; judge for yourselves what I say.

:16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?

:16 communionkoinonia fellowship, association, community, communion

Paul is talking about what we call “communion”, but the word speaks of having things “in common”.

Our “communion” is about all drinking the same cup and eating the same bread, all being a part of the same Jesus.

:17 For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.

:18 Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?

:17 we all partake of that one bread

The eastern world has a concept that when you ate a meal with someone, there was a sense in which you were becoming one with them, each sharing from the same food.

This is why the Jews did not want to eat with Gentiles.  They didn’t want to share with Gentiles.

:19 What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything?

:20 Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons.

:21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons.

:22 Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?

:20 fellowship with demons

Even though there are no other real “gods”, there are demons in the world.

Paul is concerned that if a believer is eating meat sacrificed to idols, they might open up a door in their hearts for Satan to work.

I don’t think Paul is saying that a believer can be “possessed” by demons.
John wrote,
(1 John 4:4 NKJV) You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
I do think that Paul is warning that you can open up yourself to demonic influence if you participate in demonic things.

10:23-33 For God’s Glory

:23 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.

:23 not all things edify

Even though Paul has made a point that he has freedom or “liberty” to do many things, not everything he can do is helpful.

Some things can lead us into trouble.

Some things can open up doors to the demonic.

Some things can lead us to backslide and lose credibility in our witness.

:24 Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.

:25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience’ sake;

:26 for “the earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness.”

:25 asking no questions

We now go back to the meat that is on sale at the local Albertson’s.

As we mentioned a few weeks back, the extra meat from animal sacrifices often found its way to the store located behind the temple.

If you see a good cut of meat for cheap, buy it.  Just don’t ask where it came from. 

Sometimes we worry too much about things we don’t know about. Sometimes we ask too many questions.

The sin isn’t in having eaten some piece of meat that had been sacrificed to an idol.  The actual sin would have been in participating in the worship rituals associated with the sacrifice in the temple of the idol.  The meat itself isn’t really an issue.  So if the meat has been resold at the local meat market, go ahead and eat it.

:27 If any of those who do not believe invites you to dinner, and you desire to go, eat whatever is set before you, asking no question for conscience’ sake.

Don’t be the one to ask where the meat came from.

:28 But if anyone says to you, “This was offered to idols,” do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for conscience’ sake; for “the earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness.”

:29 “Conscience,” I say, not your own, but that of the other. For why is my liberty judged by another man’s conscience?

If you’re over at your friend’s BBQ and someone tells you that the hamburger came from Aphrodite’s altar, then don’t eat it.

You don’t eat it because it will defile your conscience, but because it might defile other people’s conscience.

:30 But if I partake with thanks, why am I evil spoken of for the food over which I give thanks?

:30 if I partake with thanks

(1 Corinthians 10:30 NLT) If I can thank God for the food and enjoy it, why should I be condemned for eating it?

:31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

:32 Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God,

:33 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

:31 do all to the glory of God

Chief among our goals in life it to bring God’s glory.

It’s to shine the spotlight of “fame” on God, not on ourselves.


Glory to God

Oswald Chambers wrote,
We have a tendency to look for wonder in our experience, and we mistake heroic actions for real heroes.  It’s one thing to go through a crisis grandly, yet quite another to go through every day glorifying God when there is no witness, no limelight, and no one paying even the remotest attention to us.  If we are not looking for halos, we at least want something that will make people say, “What a wonderful man of prayer he is!” or “What a great woman of devotion she is!”  If you are properly devoted to the Lord Jesus, you have reached the lofty height where no one would ever notice you personally.  All that is noticed is the power of God coming through you all the time.
We want to be able to say, “Oh, I have had a wonderful call from God!”  But to do even the most humbling tasks to the glory of God takes the Almighty God Incarnate working in us.

-- Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest, (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Discovery House, 1995).

J. Gresham Machen, world renowned theologian, accepted lowly work while serving as a YMCA volunteer during World War I.  He was assigned the task of making hot chocolate at a canteen. Since it had to be ready at 7 a.m., Machen would get up before 5. He’d take bars of chocolate and shave them into slivers.  Then he’d melt them, gradually adding condensed milk and water as the mixture heated.  From 7 till 9 he kept busy serving the hot chocolate, often not getting his own breakfast until the middle of the morning.  Although Machen would have been an excellent counselor to the servicemen, he honored God by accepting a mundane task without complaining.