Today: [1 Corinthians 10:] What Believers Gain from Old Testament Examples: In 1 Corinthians 10 Paul speaks of Old Testament examples being for the admonition of New Testament believers. If we are no longer under the law what do we stand to gain in studying the Old Testament? Paul makes this clear to us pointing out that the record of the Old Testament holds many vital lessons for those who are in Christ.
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[1Co 10:1-16 KJV] 1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. 6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. 7 Neither be ye idolaters, as [were] some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. 8 Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. 9 Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. 10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. 12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. 13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it]. 14 Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to wise men; judge ye 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?
In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul begins with a teaching comparing the exodus out of Egypt with the believer’s translation out of the domain of darkness into the kingdom of light. He depicts as a baptism the clouds over the people and the waters around them as they passed between the parted waves of the dead sea toward the promised land. This according to Paul constituted the people being baptized unto Moses as the believer is baptized into Christ. The food that the people fed on in the wilderness was manna from heaven. The food that the believer partakes of is the spiritual food of Jesus, the bread of God. The water that came from the Rock when the people camped in the wilderness is the spiritual rock that follows the believer, maintaining and sustaining us in our own spiritual journey.
In verse 5 then Paul speaks of those who indeed came out of Egypt but fell under the displeasure of God. Paul gives this (v. 6) as a caution to the believer not to fall after the example of the disobedience of those who lusted after quail, or after the other sins of the wilderness congregation listed in v. 7-10, including idolatry, fornication, murmuring, etc. What can we learn from this? v. 11 tells us that these experiences of the people under Moses constitute an example and a caution to us as an admonition to inform our own walk with God. Paul sums up in v. 12 saying that as believers we should take heed to ourselves lest in thinking we are firm in our standing before God we wind up falling away after the manner of the examples he gives of those who perished under Moses.
The thinking of the Corinthians (v. 13) was apparently that since temptation was the common experience of all men, that somehow it was inescapable. Can we help it if we sin as a result of temptation? Is sinful behavior a reality for us that cannot be avoided? Paul’s declaration to the Corinthians speaks to us as well. Temptation does come, but it is escapable. God provides a way of escape. If we fall therefore it is in spite of everything God has done to deliver us. For this reason, then there are consequences for us resulting from sinful behavior just as there were consequences for the people under Moses. Therefore we are commanded (v. 14) to flee from idolatry.
We have to bear in mind that Paul is speaking to believers in this chapter, not unbelievers. The take away for us is that God does not ignore our behavior just because we name the name of Jesus. Do you believe that a Christian can sin? Some teach that once you have accepted Christ such things do not matter because “everything is under the blood” automatically. Is this true? If it is then Paul’s statements in this chapter are inaccurate and in error. Paul is saying that sin has its consequence for the believer who has come out of the world just as sin had its consequence for the people who came out of Egypt with Moses. Sin, therefore (v. 14) should be avoided, which apparently some among the Corinthians were teaching contrary to this.
[1 Cor 10:17-33 KJV]
17 For we [being] many are one bread, [and] one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. 18 Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? 19 What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? 20 But I [say], that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. 21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils. 22 Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he? 23 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. 24 Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s [wealth]. 25 Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, [that] eat, asking no question for conscience sake: 26 For the earth [is] the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof. 27 If any of them that believe not bid you [to a feast], and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake. 28 But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth [is] the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof: 29 Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another [man’s] conscience? 30 For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks? 31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: 33 Even as I please all [men] in all [things], not seeking mine own profit, but the [profit] of many, that they may be saved.
Paul goes on to speak of the celebration of communion. In v. 16 he calls the cup the communion of the blood of Christ and the bread the communion of the body of Christ. Now the Catholic church teaches that the bread and the cup of the communion ritual miraculously become the actual, physical body of Christ when we partake of it. If you look at the word “communion” in v. 16, you will see that the wording of Paul’s statement here doesn’t reflect that thinking. The word communion means fellowship, or “koinonia.” That implies connection TO Christ, not consubstantiation.
In verses 18-21 he speaks again of the priests under the Old Covenant partaking of the flesh laid upon the altar compared to the flesh that the Gentiles consumed as part of their worship at the altar of devils. The Corinthians had controversies among them about whether or not they should eat meat. Paul seems to be saying that they should not be so obsessed with the rituals of the Gentiles as they should instead be focused upon the table of the Lord.
In verse 23 Paul says that all things are lawful to the believer because the believer is not under the law. In other words, a believer can eat meat regardless of how it was handled before he acquired it but that doing so is not always expedient toward the advancement of one’s testimony in so doing. We are to seek (v. 24) not our own enrichment or the satisfaction of our own appetites but rather the enrichment of our fellow believers because in taking communion we recognize not only our fellowship with Christ but our fellowship or connection with one another as well. For this reason, Paul instructs the Corinthians to drop the question of whether the meat in their diet was first offered to idols. He tells them (v. 25) to buy the meat without asking where it came from because before an idolater handled it, it was first originated by God. The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof – so look at the fact that the food was God’s before it came into the possession of a person using it for pagan rituals. The same thinking is to be applied when being invited to a feast or social gathering (v. 27). The believer is to refrain from asking for conscience sake (the conscience of the weak brother) how the meat was handled before it was brought to the table. However if at that social table someone boasts about offering the meat to an idol the believer is to refrain from eating it for the sake of his testimony and the weak conscience of other believers at the gathering.
There are many matters of conscience that believers will encounter today whereby we may apply these principles. In verse 29 Paul indicates that believers who know their acceptance is in Christ and not a religious ritual may feel free to exercise certain liberties without offense before God. He maintains that the freedom you allow yourself cannot be legitimately brought under judgment by someone else’s conscience or religious attitude. If by grace Paul says in v. 30 he partakes of something that another believer is offended by why would they speak evil regarding that for which Paul gave thanks? In other words, if Paul prayed and thanked God for a meal he is maintaining that his “saying grace” nullified the consecration of the meat to an idol beforehand. Nonetheless, the thought uppermost in the mind of the believer is to focus not on celebrating one’s liberty but upon not giving offense to other believers or those that are without. We are not to live our lives solely to please ourselves but to maintain a testimony whereby others might be encouraged and be saved.
What is the take away for us? We must remember that as believers we are accountable before God for our behavior. It is true that many with religious attitudes will take offense in all manner of conduct just because they delight to point the finger and accuse any who may care to listen to them. At the same time, we must maintain a balance, realizing that there are those around us who may unnecessarily be put off by our conduct and negatively affected even in receiving Christ at all. How many times do we hear sinners say “if that is a Christian, I want nothing to do with Jesus…” We must take that seriously, without going so far overboard you can’t even live your life without contorting your behavior into some unrecognizable religious vanity. God has called us to peace and to mature thinking in all things which at times is sadly lacking in the body of Christ.