Evening Bible Study
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.
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
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
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.
, 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
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.
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
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).
: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
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
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
Paul has warned his readers about being “disqualified”.
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”.
: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
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.
: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?
“Intense craving” is what “lust” is all about.
They were tired of the manna and wanted the kinds of food they had back in
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)
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.
: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
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
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.
:9 nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also
tempted, and were destroyed by serpents;
:9 nor let us tempt Christ
tempt – ekpeirazo – 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)
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.
Testing God’s Patience
This was not the first time the people had been complaining about their
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
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.
Yet getting to that “Promised Land” often involves difficulty.
Life may not always seem like its turning out like “happily
Are you tempted to think that following Jesus is “bad
Following Jesus is the best thing that has ever happened
:10 nor complain, as some of them also complained,
and were destroyed by the destroyer.
:10 nor complain
There are so many incidences of the people complaining followed by judgment
that it’s hard to be definite of what this is talking
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)
Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel
complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.
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?”
: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?
(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
: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 temptation – peirasmos – an experiment, attempt, trial, proving
Forms of this word are used three times in this
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
That doesn’t mean your difficulty is any less
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.
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.
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
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.
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 communion – koinonia – 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.
: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
: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.
(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
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
: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.
: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
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
:29 “Conscience,” I say, not your own, but that of
the other. For why is my liberty judged by another man’s
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
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
: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
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.