As we get along in chapter 10 there may appear to be contradictions in what is written here and what was written in chapter 8 over meat sacrificed to idols, which he is still writing about. What Paul is doing is going from where they were in their understanding, to where they need to be.
Paul is comparing the Israelites passing through the Red Sea with baptism. The Corinthians, and us, would have all been baptized in the name of Christ (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). What is made clear here is that we all, as Christians, are now God’s children, His people.
Vs. 11 – we are given bad and good examples here in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian congregations. Paul, himself, is an example of what it is to not cause another to fall; he does all that he can in word and deed not to hinder the Gospel. But here we are given examples of their actions and what that provoked God to do. We are not to go about provoking the Lord in what we are doing.
Our culture promotes self -first. The humanist maxims, “Listen to yourself, be true to yourself, follow your heart, it’s all about you,” are influencing not only those outside the church, but those within as well. We are ruled by our feelings with no need for divine authority. The enemy uses this worldly outlook so that we make a god in our image. Self, ego, the great I, are given priority over everything.
Os. Guinness tells us in Last Call for Liberty, that the people of the USA are letting our feelings rule, that are feelings are the “Authentic inner voice” that has become the ultimate authority over everything, including how we vote. We no longer allow the Bible and its teachings about covenant, human dignity, human freedom, and human responsibility that made it possible to achieve “government of the people, by the people, for the people” to have authority.
The “Authentic Inner Voice” that we need to heed is God’s. We “hear” that voice, His voice, in the words written in the pages of His word! J. Gresham Machen said,
Modern Thought is a mighty force. It is either subservient to the Gospel or else it is the deadliest enemy of the Gospel. For making it subservient, religious emotion is not enough, intellectual labor is also necessary. And that labor is being neglected. The Church has turned to easier tasks. And now she is reaping the fruits of her indolence. Now she must battle for her life.
We cannot turn to other gods to find fulfillment. Keep in mind that when we serve the god of self; its twin is convenience.
It is those two – self and convenience – that produce some of the worst atrocities known to mankind. What, and who, is sacrificed to self in the name of convenience? Do we not, as a society, kill the unborn, dismember a baby for convenience? Is that not just as bad, if not worse, than offering them up to an idol, to the fires of Molech? The god of self must be denied, put to death, and crucified! If we condone the killing of the unborn then are we not provoking God?! It is not too late, God forgives if you repent, turning to follow Him instead of the god of self.
Vs. 12 – Do you think that you are safe and secure that there is no way you could fall? What if you are making God in your image? What if you attend services, tithe, and are involved in all that is going on but you say that…
Idolatry in our culture is alive and well. John Piper puts it this way,
It starts in the heart: craving, wanting, enjoying, being satisfied by anything that you treasure more than God. That is an idol. Paul calls this covetousness — a disordered love or desire, loving more than God what ought to be loved less than God.
Anything that you love, treasure, prioritize, identify with, or look to for fulfillment outside of God, easily can become an idol that replaces God in your heart. Do not forsake the Lord your God for an idol and do not think that you can have both for our God is a jealous God; a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29)!
Vs. 13 – God always provides an escape plan, always. But you must choose to accept it. He always makes it possible for each of us to do the right thing, but only when you choose to submit yourself to His will. Keep in mind that this does not mean we won’t suffer or endure pain for doing the right thing. But it is in our struggles that we are made strong, it is in being in God’s word that we hear His voice, it is in following Christ that we set aside our idols.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s possessions — is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does the will of God remains forever.1 John 2:15-17
You adulterous people! Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the friend of the world becomes the enemy of God.James 4:4
- Do you worship the God of the Bible or one of your own making?
- What have you set as a priority in your life that is before God and His Church?
- Are you provoking the Lord to jealousy? Are you stronger than He? (Vs.22)
Further Reading: Ephesians 2, Romans 1:25, Romans 9:6, Romans 11:13-26 (26), Galatians 3:7 & 29, Philippians 3:3, Hebrews 3:7-4:13, James 4:1-10, 2 Kings 17:1-20