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1 Corinthians 10

10
Church membership no guarantee of perfection
1The fact is, brethren, baptism and partaking of the bread and wine, and your membership in the Church of Christ show forth your status as the spiritually elect of God — but remember, you are not thereby perfected. There may yet come another falling away, as with those who were called in the old days in a similar manner to us. 2What though they were all under the cloud in the moment of revelation, and all passed through the sea, 3and all ate the spiritual manna 4and drank the spiritual drink which flowed from the rock. The rock is said to have followed them wherever they went. That rock means the Christ. 5Now mark and learn the lesson. Many of those original founders of our faith “were slain in the wilderness” (Num. xiv. 16). 6The perfect will of God was not fulfilled in them and thereby we can discern the truth about ourselves, for they are types. They teach us not to lust, as some of them “lusted” (Num. xi. 4, 34). 7Yes, our fathers took part in that great piece of history, they witnessed that divine manifestation of God, and yet though part of all that, they were not all elect. There took place in their midst a corresponding reprobation and apostacy of some. They worshipped idols, and made an image to Jehovah, and made a pagan rite of his sacrifice. “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” (Exod. xxxii. 6) 8They committed fornication, and 23,000 fell in one day. 9They tempted the Lord, and were destroyed by serpents. 10They murmured, and the destroyer fell on them. 11On us has come the fulfilment of history. What happened before is the type of that which happens now, what was written before was written for the guidance of those on whom these days have come. All that past is contained in the history that is being made. 12Therefore let us beware, beware of “lusting,” of “fornication,” of “idolatry,” of doubting and murmuring. If our eyes are not open to the significance of those warnings, we too shall fall, even though we think we stand. 13It is God alone that can save us; in Him there will always be a way of escape however hotly the temptation press in on us, for such temptation must needs come to those that are but human. 14But mark me, note what I say. 15Beware, O beware, of idolatry, of pagan feasts and rites. Study well my words. 16That cup over which we pronounce the blessing, 17and the bread which we break, assembling ourselves together for the purpose — 18have they anything to do with the rites observed by pagans, and can we who take this cup of the Lord fall into the error of idolatry? 19Certainly the image and the meat sacrificed to it are nothing — 20we know that. But the heathen sacrifice “not to God, but to devils.” (Deut. xxxii. 17).
Pagan rites very different from the table of the Lord
21And to partake of the feasts by which these devils are worshipped is to lay yourself open to the strong influences that hang over such rites. Just as in that Israel which now bears the name of Israel after the flesh, the people who share in the sacrificial feast, share also in the Altar. Can we then, who take the cup of the Lord and partake of this feast, have anything whatever to do with the feasts of the devils? O beware of the subtle contaminating influence of idolatry! Our feast is a spiritual one; the words of blessing pronounced over the cup, and again over the bread, they mean our share in the blood of the Christ, our membership in the infinite body of the Christ, just as we all partake of the one loaf which is broken and given to all with the accompanying words of blessing, so are we all members of that one divine spiritual body. That is the meaning of our feast. Can such a feast as that have in it any taint of idolatry? Mark well the types I have spoken of, which the scriptures contain! Shall the table of the Lord (Mal. i. 7, 12) be polluted by you through intercourse with devils? 22Will you “provoke him to jealousy with strange gods?” (Deut. xxxii. 16). What possible connection can there be between our spiritual feast and the table of devils? 23Granted — all things are lawful to those who are free and emancipated. But it does not follow that there is no danger, no destructive power lurking round things which in an absolute sense are harmless. 24Seek what serves the common good, seek what builds and edifies, seek not your own. 25You are of course at liberty to purchase whatever you please where meat is sold, and ask no questions about it. 26-27Similarly, you can dine with friends not of the faith, and eat whatever they set before you. That is our freedom. “Is not the earth the Lord's and the fulness thereof?” (Ps. xxiv. 1). 28But if your host inform you, “this meat was sacrificed to such and such a god,” then keep the rule of absolute abstention from idolatry. 29You may consider yourself free, and think that you partake of all things by the grace of God, 30and are able to give thanks therefore with a good conscience, but if you are really free, why should this action affect the conscience of another, and be misinterpreted? It is better not to eat of it where other people's consciences are at stake. 31-32Seek not your own point of view, lean not to that, although you know yourself to be as free as Christ has made you in all such matters of eating and drinking, or whatever other things you may be doing, but seek the glory of the one God, seek to commend yourself to all men, whether your company be Jewish, Greek or those who are of the faith. O think not of yourselves, but of them! 33That is always my point of view, to please all in every way I can, that they may find salvation;
10
Avoid Israel’s Mistakes
1For I do not want you to be unaware, believers, that our fathers were all under the cloud [in which God’s presence went before them] and they all passed [miraculously and safely] through the [Red] Sea; 2And all [of them] were baptized into Moses [into his safekeeping as their leader] in the cloud and in the sea; 3and all [of them] ate the same #I.e. divinely provided manna.spiritual food; 4and all [of them] drank the same #I.e. divinely provided water from a rock.spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. 5Nevertheless, God was not well-pleased with #Of all those adult Israelites who had been in bondage in Egypt, only Joshua and Caleb (along with those born in the wilderness) were allowed to enter the promised land.most of them, for they were scattered along the ground in the wilderness [because their lack of self-control led to disobedience which led to death].
6Now these things [the warnings and admonitions] took place as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did. 7Do not be worshipers of handmade gods, as some of them were; just as it is written [in Scripture], “The people sat down to eat and drink [after sacrificing to the #The selection of a calf-god was probably inspired by the Egyptian bull-god Apis (Hapis), believed to be a living manifestation of the Egyptian god Ptah.golden calf at Horeb], and stood up to play [indulging in immoral activities].” 8We must not indulge in [nor tolerate] sexual immorality, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand [suddenly] fell [dead] in a single day! 9We must not tempt the Lord [that is, test His patience, question His purpose or exploit His goodness], as some of them did—and they were killed by serpents. 10And do not murmur [in unwarranted discontent], as some of them did—and were destroyed by the #Perhaps a reference to the angel of destruction whom the rabbis called Mashhith.destroyer. 11Now these things happened to them as an example and warning [to us]; they were written for our instruction [to admonish and equip us], upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 12Therefore let the one who thinks he stands firm [immune to temptation, being overconfident and self-righteous], take care that he does not fall [into sin and condemnation]. 13No temptation [regardless of its source] has overtaken or enticed you that is not common to human experience [nor is any temptation unusual or beyond human resistance]; but God is faithful [to His word—He is compassionate and trustworthy], and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability [to resist], but along with the temptation He [has in the past and is now and] will [always] provide the way out as well, so that you will be able to endure it [without yielding, and will overcome temptation with joy].
14Therefore, my beloved, run [keep far, far away] from [any sort of] idolatry [and that includes loving anything more than God, or participating in anything that leads to sin and enslaves the soul]. 15I am speaking as to wise and sensible people; judge [carefully and thoughtfully consider] for yourselves what I say. 16Is the cup of blessing which we bless [at the Lord’s Supper] not a sharing in the blood of Christ? [Indeed it is.] Is the bread which we break not a sharing in the body of Christ? [Indeed it is.] 17Since there is one bread, we [believers] who are many are [united into] one body; for we all partake of the one bread [which represents the body of Christ]. 18Consider the people of Israel; are those who eat the sacrifices not partners of the altar [united in their worship of the same God]? [Indeed they are.] 19What do I mean then? That a thing offered to idols is anything [special or changed simply because it is offered], or that an idol is anything? 20On the contrary, the things which the Gentiles (pagans) sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons [in effect], and not to God; and I do not want you to become partners with demons [by eating at feasts in pagan temples]. 21You cannot drink [both] the Lord’s cup and the cup of demons. You cannot share in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons [thereby becoming partners with them]. 22Do we [really] provoke the Lord to jealousy [when we eat food sacrificed to handmade “gods” at pagan feasts]? Are we [spiritually] stronger than He? [Certainly not! He knows that the idols are nothing. But we deeply #The offense consists of becoming “partners with demons” (v 20) merely to enjoy the pagan meal as an exercise of the believer’s liberty.offend Him.]
23All things are lawful [that is, morally legitimate, permissible], but not all things are beneficial or advantageous. All things are lawful, but not all things are constructive [to character] and edifying [to spiritual life]. 24Let no one seek [only] his own good, but [also] that of the other person. 25[Regarding meat offered to idols:] Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking any questions for the sake of your conscience, 26For the [whole] earth is the Lord’s, and everything that is in it. 27If one of the unbelievers invites you [to a meal at his home] and you want to go, eat whatever is served to you without asking questions [about its source] for the sake of your conscience. 28But if anyone says to you, “This meat has been offered in sacrifice to an idol,” do not eat it, out of consideration for the one who told you, and for conscience’s sake— 29and by conscience I mean for the sake of the other man’s, not yours. For #Or to what end, i.e. what good can come of it?why is my freedom [of choice] judged by another’s conscience [another’s ethics—another’s sense of right and wrong]? 30If I take my share [of food] with thankfulness, why am I accused because of something for which I give thanks?
31So then, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of [our great] God. 32Do not offend Jews or Greeks or even the church of God [but live to honor Him]; 33just as I please everyone in all things [as much as possible adapting myself to the interests of others], not seeking my own benefit but that of the many, so that they [will be open to the message of salvation and] may be saved.