Warning Against Forfeiting Liberty
Verse 1 – Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea,
Verse 2 – all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,
Verse 3 – all ate the same spiritual food,
Verse 4 – and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.
Verse 5 – But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
For those of you who are reading, that don’t know: When Moses brought the Israelites out of Egypt they crossed the Red Sea on dry land. In the day as they traveled, God covered them with His cloud. They were baptized unto Moses teaching. They ate manna from heaven, and they drank fresh water from a Rock that represented Jesus Christ. But not everyone followed God.
Verse 6 – Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.
Verse 7 – And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.”
Verse 8 – Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell;
Verse 9 – nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents;
Verse 10 – nor murmur, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed by the destroyer.
Some of the saved Corinthians had the attitude that since the idols and the meat sacrificed to idols were “nothing,” they felt they could go into these pagan temples, take a meal, and no harm would be done. However, Paul was trying to get across to them, “You dabble in sin and eventually it will destroy you.” People think they can walk on the edge of temptation and nothing will happen. But there are certain places Christians just don’t go, as there are certain things Christians just don’t do. Once a Christian loses their testimony to others, they almost never regain it!
Verse 11 – Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come.
We need to remember our past mistakes and learn from them. But that is another reason why we should also read and study the Old Testament, to learn from their errors. When the Bible speaks of “murmuring, it is complaining about things not going right or for lack of something, or about what others have done. But if you are a child of the Most High, He is the One ordering your steps, and He is the One in control, and He is whom you are complaining about.! When we complain, it shows we have no confidence in God!
Verse 12 – Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.
Confidence in our own strength and security is no evidence that we are safe from falling into sin. I might add, this can take place after a great victory or a show of God’s favor on a Christian’s life. The enemy will come in only to see us fall.
Verse 13 – No temptation has overtaken you except such as common to man, but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
Running from any temptation is the first step toward victory. Don’t place yourself in situations where you know good and well you are going to be tempted to do the wrong thing.
For instance: A person who has a problem with gambling, doesn’t take a vacation in Las Vegas. An alcoholic doesn’t go where the primary activity is “drinking.” A married person doesn’t conduct their behavior as if they are still single, especially when their spouse is not around. Don’t put yourself in those situations. As far as the Corinthian church, “Stay out of the pagan temples.”
Exhortation to Use Liberty to Glorify God
Verse 14 – Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
Verse 15 – I speak as to wise men; judge for yourselves what I say.
Verse 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?
The cup of blessing which we bless – the design of this verse and the following verses seems to be to prove Christians, by partaking of the Lord’s Supper, are solemnly set apart to the service of the Lord Jesus, that they acknowledge Him as their Lord, and dedicate themselves to Him, and that as they could not and ought not to be devoted to idols and to the Lord Jesus at the same time, so they ought not to participate in the feasts in honor of idols.
Verse 17 – For we, being many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.
Individual people make up one body of believers, the church. As one body, the Lord’s Supper points to united fellowship brought about by Christ’s death.
Verse 18 – Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partake of the altar?
Verse 19 – What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything?
Verse 20 – But I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons.
Verse 21 – You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons, you cannot partake of the lord’s table and of the table of demons.
As followers of Christ we must give Him total allegiance. We cannot take part in the Lord’s Supper and be messing with demons. This is called “straddling the fence.” Eating at the Lord’s table means communing with Christ. There are no grey areas when it comes to following Christ. You are either a follower of Christ or a follower of Satan.
Verse 22 – Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?
Verse 23 – All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful; all things are lawful for me, but all things do not edify.
Believers need to adapt limits on their freedoms and liberty when the lost is at stake.
Verse 24 – Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.
Wouldn’t’ it be great if all Christians took this statement to heart and actually sought the well-being of others. However, we don’t see this but only from a few. Why? Because of self-centeredness and selfishness.
Verse 25 – Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience’ sake;
Verse 26 – for “The earth is the LORD’S and all its fullness.”
Verse 27 – If any of those who do not believe invites you to dinner, and you desire to go, eat whatever is set before you, asking no questions for conscience sake.
Verse 28 – But if anyone says to you, “This was offered to idols,” do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for your conscience’ sake; for “The earth is the LORD’S , an all its fullness.”
I know we don’t have this situation today of wondering whether our meat was a sacrifice to idols or not, but there are principles we can learn from this or it wouldn’t be int he Bible. “Don’t create a problem when there isn’t one.”
Verse 29 – Conscience, I say, not your own , but that of the other. For why is my liberty judged by another man’s conscience?
Verse 30 – But if I partake with thanks, why am I evil spoken of for the food over which I give thanks?
Verse 31 – Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.
Verse 32 – Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God,
Verse 33 – just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.
Why should we be limited by another person’s conscience? Because we are to do all things to the glory of God, even eating and drinking. Nothing we do should cause a believer to stumble. We are to do all with the benefit of others in mind. However, there are oversensitive Christians, and those, we deal with in a loving manner.