Warning against Idolatry: 10:1-11.
(Read 1 Cor 10:1-11)
Paul concludes the discussion on Christian liberty by drawing our attention to what happened to Israel in the wilderness. Israel enjoyed great privileges from God yet they became disobedient to him. They were under the cloud and received divine guidance and protection (Num 9:15, 23; 14:15). They passed through the red sea. This speaks of divine deliverance (Ex 14:15-22). They were all baptized unto Moses and under the leadership of God's appointed leader. They ate the same spiritual food, Manna (1 Cor 10:3). This speaks of divine provision. They all drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them. That Rock is Christ (1 Cor 10:4). It is a type of Christ’s provision for believers. In spite of all these privileges, God was not pleased with most of Israel and he destroyed them in the wilderness (1 Cor 10:5; Num 14:29). Only Joshua and Caleb entered the promise land. These things took place as examples to warn us against misusing divine privileges for selfish purposes. Because of Israel’s disobedience, God struck them with plague (Num 11). They substituted graven images for God (Ex 32). Their idolatrous practices led them to sensual amusement. They committed fornication and in one day 24,000 people died (Num 25:9). They took their privileges for granted and tempted God (Num 21:4-9). They failed to understand that privileges do not guarantee spiritual success. The reason these things are recorded is to warn the Christians. Paul considers the second coming of Christ when he penned these lines. God is willing to restore them but they must return to him for grace and forgiveness.
Flee Idolatry: 10:12-20.
(Read 1 Cor 10:12-20)
Nobody can exercise Christian liberty at the expense of a weaker brother. “Therefore, let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall" (1 Cor 10:12). Nobody is above temptations. Satan tempts us to sin but God tests us to strengthen our faith. Someone has said “You can’t keep a bird from flying over your head but you can prevent it from building a nest in your hair”. Lord never tempts us with evil but allows trials to purify us. When we face temptations, we are exhorted to flee from evil and pursue the good things (2 Tim 2:22). We should resist Satan by putting the whole armor of God. Then only we are able to stand against the wiles of the devil (1 Pet 5:8-9; Ephesians 6:10-11). We should hide God’s Word in our hearts so that we might not sin against God (Psalms 119:11). God judged Israel for their willful disobedience in the wilderness. This does not mean we will lose our salvation. No matter what temptation we face, God is faithful to provide the way of escape. Jesus understands what it is like to be tempted (Mat 4:5-11). Christ can sympathize with our weaknesses and helps us in times of need (Heb 4:15). His grace and mercy will strength us in our trials (2 Cor 12:9). Paul warns us that we should not abuse our Christian liberty. Paul exhorts Corinthians to flee from idolatry (1 Cor 10:14). Someone has said "What we prioritize is idolized, what we idolize we worship".
The Lord’s Table: 10:21-22.
(Read 1 Cor 10:21-22)
Paul wants the Corinthians to understand the meaning and purpose of the table of the Lord. The Lord’s Table is a metaphor used here to describe the blessings come Christ. We have been blessed with all spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). It is not same as the Lord's Supper. Table is the furniture where food is served and fellowship is enjoyed. In the Lord’s Supper believers share the blessings of Christ’s saving work on Calvary. Those who participate in the bread and the cup, proclaim the communion they have with one another in Christ. They all partake from one bread, showing that they are one body (1 Cor 10:17). In the Old Testament worship there was mutual sharing of sacrifice (Leviticus 7:15). The Gentiles offered their sacrifices to devil. In the love feast, the Corinthians used the meat offered to idols. This made them participating in the communion with demons. Paul does not want them to participate in the meet offered to demons (1 Cor 10:20). They cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons at the same time. The Christian liberty does not permit believers to serve God and Satan at the same time as the Israel did in the wilderness (1 Cor 10:22). This provoked God’s jealousy toward Israel.
Do all things to the Glory of God: 10:23-33.
(Read 1 Cor 10:23-33)
Paul now gives advice about whether or not to eat the meat sold in the market. “All things are lawful but not everything is beneficial” (1 Cor 10:23). All things do not promote spiritual growth. In Christ, our goal is not simply doing what is lawful but what is helpful to others. Paul sought the good of others (1 Cor 6:12). Paul says “Be imitators of me as I am of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1). Christ gave up his rights to save us. His followers must give up their rights to serve others. In the pagan sacrifice only a portion of the victim was consumed, the rest was given to the priest or sold in the market. Paul says “We may eat the meat that is sold in the marketplace without any question for conscious sake”. Because “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it” (Psalms 24:1). If you have been invited to a feast by an unbeliever, you may eat whatever is offered without raising any question on the ground of conscience. But suppose someone warns you that this meat has been offered to idols, don’t eat it for the sake of the one who informed you and for the sake of his conscience (1 Cor 10:28). Paul asks “If I partake with thankfulness,why I should be limited and condemned for eating with thanksgiving"? Paul says because we are called to give up our personal right for the benefit of weaker brothers. We should do everything for the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31). We should not offend the weak brethren in the church (1 Cor 10:32). The Christian liberty is abused when we don’t honor God by our actions (Col 3:17). The glory of God is the primary Goal of our salvation. Let us follow the example of Christ and Apostle Paul.