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1 Corinthians 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;
Warnings From Israel’s History
1Brothers and sisters, I want you to know something about our people who lived long ago. They were all led by the cloud through the desert, and they all walked through the Red Sea. 2They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3They all ate the same spiritual food, 4and they all drank the same spiritual drink. They drank from the spiritual rock that went along with them, and that rock was Christ. 5But God was not pleased with most of them, and their bodies were scattered in the desert.
6Now those things happened as examples for us, to keep us from wanting evil things the way they did. 7So don’t worship idols, as some of them did. It is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink. Then they got up to dance wildly in front of their god.” 8We shouldn’t commit sexual sins, as some of them did—and in one day, 23,000 of them died. 9We shouldn’t test the Lord, as some of them did—and they were killed by snakes. 10And don’t speak against God, as some of the people of Israel did—and they were killed by the destroying angel.
11Those things happened to them as examples, and they were written down as a warning to us. We’re living at the time when God’s work is being completed. 12So if you think you’re standing firm, be careful—you might fall. 13You’re tempted in the same way that all other human beings are. And God is faithful; he won’t let you be tempted beyond what you can endure. When you are tempted, God will provide a way out, and then you’ll be able to resist.
Sharing in the Lord’s Supper
14My dear friends, stay far away from the worship of idols. 15I know I’m talking to reasonable people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16We give thanks for the cup at the Lord’s Supper. When we do, aren’t we sharing in the blood of Christ? When we break the bread, aren’t we sharing in the body of Christ? 17Because there is one loaf, we who are many are one body, because we all share the one loaf.
18Think about the people of Israel. Don’t those who eat the offerings share in the worship that takes place at the altar? 19Do I mean that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20No! But the sacrifices of those who worship idols are really offered to demons, not to God, and I don’t want you to have anything to do with demons. 21You can’t drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too. You can’t have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons. 22Are we trying to make the Lord jealous? Are we stronger than he is?
The Believer’s Freedom
23You say, “I have the right to do anything,” but not everything is helpful. “I have the right to do anything,” you say, but not everything builds us up. 24No one should look out only for their own interests. Instead, they should look out for the interests of others.
25With a clear conscience you can eat anything that’s sold in the meat market. 26Scripture says, “The earth belongs to the Lord, and so does everything in it.”
27If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, with a clear conscience you can eat anything that’s put in front of you. 28But if someone says to you, “This food has been sacrificed to an idol,” then don’t eat it, for the sake of the person who told you and for the sake of conscience. 29I’m talking about the other person’s conscience, not yours. Why should my freedom be judged by what someone else thinks? 30If I’ve given thanks for my food, then I shouldn’t be blamed for eating something that I’ve thanked God for.
31So whether you eat or drink or do anything else, do it all for the glory of God. 32Don’t do anything that causes other people to trip and fall, whether Jews or Greeks or God’s church. 33Follow my example. I try to please everyone in every way. I’m not looking out for what’s good for me. I’m looking out for the interests of others, so that they might be saved.