Read 1 Corinthians 10
Warnings From Israel’s History
1 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
6 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” 8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9 We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.
11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
Idol Feasts and the Lord’s Supper
14 Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.
18 Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? 19 Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons.22 Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
The Believer’s Freedom
23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial.“I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.
25 Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26 for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”
27 If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience. 29 I am referring to the other person’s conscience, not yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience? 30 If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?
31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.
We may not face the decision of whether or not to eat meat that has been sacrificed to idols, like the Corinthian church, but each day we face decisions that have the potential to affect those around us. Should we watch this movie or listen to that music? Should we drink in public? Should we wear this type of swimsuit? Is it okay if we cuss occasionally?
Paul’s words for the church in Corinth can still speak to us today. In today’s reading, he encourages his friends to think about the decisions they make solely in light of the gospel. He reminds them that nothing is to get in the way of their testimony; they should live in such a way that keeps people from stumbling in their faith. Paul here is building upon the foundation he’s been laying throughout this letter: our lives are not our own. We’ve been bought with a price, and we are to honor God by the way we live. Just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we should; not everything is beneficial, he says. Our lives aren’t to be focused on seeking our own good, but rather, the good of others. Therefore, if a decision we make would negatively affect someone’s spiritual life or their faith, we don’t do it. Simple as that. Our momentary freedoms–whatever we eat or drink or whatever we do–pale in comparison to the opportunity to show the people around us the love of Jesus.
When it comes to making decisions about some of the “gray areas of faith”–remember Paul’s words here–whatever you do, do it to the glory of God. If something can’t be done to the glory of God, then it shouldn’t be done. Be wise, be thoughtful, be prudent about the way you live–people are always watching. With our actions, with our words, with how we spend our money and our time, we have the opportunity to make this life about more than ourselves and our desires and self-interests…. We have the opportunity to make this life about Jesus.
What does it mean that God will provide a way out of temptation for us? How have you seen Him help you when you’ve been tempted beyond what you can bear?
Has your faith ever been negatively affected by the way a fellow Christian has used his/her freedom? Has a decision you’ve made been a potential stumbling block for someone?
What does it mean to do all things for the glory of God?
Did You Know?
In this chapter, we see God promise not to tempt believers beyond what they can handle. Satan would destroy us in a minute if God allowed him to (as evidenced in Job 1:6-12, Luke 22:31), but God protects His children by never giving them more temptation than they can say no to, through His power. Like loving earthly parents who have protection software set up on computers/phones so their kids don’t see something inappropriate, God protects us from temptation beyond what we can bear in that moment.