I was reading 1 Corinthians the other day when chapter ten really arrested my spirit. The first thing to catch my attention was verses three through five, which says in regards to the Israelites in the desert, “They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.” Further down in verse seven, Paul continues, “as it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and got up to indulge in revelry.’”
The Lord showed me the parallel Paul was drawing here between the modern Christians in that time and the children of Israel. He was pointing out that the Israelites sat down to partake of God’s provisions, which were symbolicly Christ with them (note that the rock was Christ, v. 4), then got up and engaged in idolatry, sexual immorality, and grumbling to/about God. These were things the Lord found highly offensive and scripture records that many died as a result of His anger toward their sin.
First Corinthians 10:6 tells us, “Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting out hearts on evil things as they did.” Paul reiterated this again in verse eleven, “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings to us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.”
These men and women in the desert were surrounded by the habitation of the Holy Spirit. They were aware of God’s miraculous provision every day as they stepped out in the morning to gather their manna. They were intimately aware of God, yet still tempted to walk away from fellowship with Him (eating and drinking from the spiritual rock) to gourge their flesh on worldly wickedness. Now I know why Paul exhorts believers in Philippians 2:12 to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling! What a terrifying thought, that we can be closely acquainted with the Lord, but still so easily led away to worldly things!
I was put somewhat at ease by verse thirteen, which says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so you can endure it.”
Thankfully, God is aware of our temptations and works diligently to make a way for us to avoid falling into the snares of the enemy. We just have to be astute enough to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit as he leads us faithfully toward our deliverance.
Paul is very straightforward in verse 21: “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in the Lord’s table and the table of demons.” Clearly, Paul is adamantly discouraging us from indulging in both the communion with Jesus on the one hand and cavorting with the devil on the other. Jesus himself said we cannot serve two masters. To reject a pursuit of holiness because we favor the world is to reject God’s standards for us. It is to deny and reject what Christ did to liberate us. If God provides a way out, we are to take it. In our weakness, we may fail, but that is not the same as disregarding the right path because we like the revelry.
Believe it or not, the early Christians invented the idea of the grace card. Christians even then began to say, “But Christ has delivered me from condemnation, therefore I am free to just LIVE.” Paul’s spirit did not agree with this theology. Many of the epistles record this transaction: “’I have the right to do anything,’ you say – but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say – but not everything is constructive.” Paul does not go on to address the fact that to willfully live like the world after one has come face to face with Jesus is sure evidence that that person does not know Christ (John addresses this in his letter, 1 John). What he does say is that this attitude is not one a Christian should even consider. Paul told his hearers to live for the good of others, not selfishly indulging flesh that might hinder another person’s salvation. “Do not cause anyone to stumble” (1 Corinthians 10:32), he surmises.
The gyst of all of it is this: Christians should not be so weak as to entertain both a feast with the Lord and a party with the devil. These are unfit for us. We should be very careful not to indulge our flesh, and even more so in front of others whose acceptance of Christ might be affected by our walk in front of them. This is where that fear and trembling might come in: I can’t stand the thought that my actions or words may cause someone else to hesitate in kissing the feet of Christ!
The truth is, we have been invited to both the Lord’s supper and Satan’s masquerade. So many of us want to go to both, but it’s not the life we have been called to. The Lord implores us to “Come out from among them and be separate” (2 Corinthians 6:17). Indulging ourselves at the latter completely nullifies the former. Even if we hide behind a mask, the Lord will recognize our attendance at the enemy’s soiree and will not be pleased.
I find it necessary to mention the cunning of sin. Many sins are obvious, but there are subtle sins as well. Most importantly, ALL sin is detrimental to a Christian’s walk. Pride is just as deadly to our spirit as sexual immorality. Grumbling, complaining and fault-finding are just as horrendous to the ears of God as hatred, jealousy and discord toward a brother or sister. We have all been set up by the enemy so that, at any time, we might stumble into a pit. Paul says in verse 12, “So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.” How easy it is to stumble into sin! This is why we need to be walking closely with the Holy Spirit. We cannot discern on our own how often sin stands ready to trip us by the wayside. Often, we are unaware of the fall until we find ourselves on our knees.
Lord, We need you. Oh, how much we need you! Life is like walking through a minefield cleverly disguised as the answer to our prayers. Help us to recognize the enemy’s tactics and where the pits are, that we might avoid the traps set for us. Help us to die to our flesh so our spirit may live in uninhibited communion with your Son. Help us to put to death the misdeeds of the flesh, Lord. To tell ourselves no when temptations come against us. Help us to be strong in our weaknesses. Be our strength, Father. We long to commune with you. We long for your presence. Help us to pull up to your table of delights. To drink deeply from the rock that is Christ. To have our fill of your Holy Word and to walk in the light instead of reveling in darkness. We love you!