I Corinthians 10:1-10

Dr. Steve Viars March 10, 1992 1 Corinthians 10:1-10

- tonight we're moving into a new chapter in I Cor, I Cor. 10
- let's talk about "where we are" in this study of Christian
- remember, we said one of our goals is to be able to "follow
  Paul's argument through these chapters" so that:
    - 1) we can proper decisions now about Christian liberty
      2) we'll be prepared to make wise decisions on these
         issues in the future as they come up
      3) we'll be able to boil these ideas down and teach
         them to our children so they can please the Lord in
         these areas

- what we're going to see in chapter 10 in that Paul
  "narrowing the argument down" or "honing in on some very
   critical ideas"
- here's the highlights

1) we know chapters 8-10 are about Christian liberty (how do
    you make decisions about areas the Bible does not
    specifically address)

2) Paul said in chapter 8 - be careful about your impact on
    others - he said in chap. 8 verse 9 - Don't be a what?
    (stumbling block)

3) in chap. 9 - he gave a personal illus from his life.
   INPUT - what was the personal illustration about? (not
    using the liberty of taking a salary)

4) in the next verses (15-19) he told us why: I didn't take
    pay because I wanted to _______(?) (win others)

so far, two principles had emerged:

    a. Don't cause others to stumble

    b. enslave liberty to win others (limit liberty to
          maximize ministry)

- in the verses we studied last week, Paul gave another
    he said - the way we handle our liberty ought to be like
      a what?  (a runner in a race)

5) the verses show that he was emphasizing how a runner
    control his body.  (he exercises self-control - v. 25, he
    buffets his body - v. 27)

   - so that brings up the third principle

     c. control our bodies like athletes because so many of
        these liberty issues have to do with our bodies:
          - what we wear
          - what we eat
          - where we go
          - what we look at...listen to

- Paul is going to "hone in" now and talk about one of the
   most important issues in handling liberty in a way that
   pleases the Lord -- that is - "ordering our hearts"

    1) don't cause others to stumble
    2) enslave liberty to win others
    3) control bodies like an athlete
    4) be sure we're working on ordering our hearts

- READ 10:1-12

- In order to fully understand chapter 10, we've got to
   understand how this chapter is connected to what we've
   already been studying
- the chapter and verse divisions were not an original part
  of our Bibles
- Paul, as he was writing this letter, didn't stop and say--
   chapter 10, verse 1...verse 2

- the divisions are very handy
- can you imagine if i said tonight--please turn to the place
    in Paul's letter to the Corinthians where he talks to
    them about the Israelites' sin in the wilderness
- it'd be hard to search through 16 unmarked chapters to try
    to find the exact place

- but sometimes the chapter and verse divisions cause
    problems because we don't mentally connect the argument
    from chapter to chapter

I. The "Connection" Between Chapter 10 and Chapters 8 & 9

We know they're connected (for three reasons):

    - INPUT - From verse one, what's the first reason?

    A. because of the word "moreover" (KJV) - (for NIV and

    - this second reason will take a little bit more
      development: - we're saying that we also know these
      verses are connected:

    B. because verse 27 is not a "clean break"

        - here's what we mean
        - in the verses we studied last week, Paul said the
           way we treat our liberty ought to be like a runner
           in a race
        - a runner in a race voluntarily enslaves his liberty
            - he voluntarily controls, especially his body,
              so that he might win

        - INPUT - Now, this is a critical question:
             - using the race metaphor--if a runner doesn't
               control his body...
                  - if he doesn't exercise properly, if he
                    doesn't eat correctly, if he doesn't get
                    enough rest
                 - if he doesn't control his body--what's the
                   worst thing that could happen when he gets
                   in the race?
- the natural answer would be: Well, he won't perform very
      - he won't be very effective
      - he won't make the most of the opportunity
      - he might come in last

- but that's not what Paul says:
   - there's something worse than that
   - he says - I control my liberty...I control my body--so
      that I'm not made a castaway...I'm not disqualified

- we need to see that as a critical shift
- verse 27 is like a "zinger" at the end of a book
- sometimes authors will put a "shock statement" at the end
   of the book to prepare you for the sequel
- that's what verse 27 is like
   - the possibility of being disqualified is a shocking
   - not that a Christian can lose their salvation
   - Paul's saying -- there's more at stake than you just not
       being effective
   - there's also the possibility of you and me exercising
     our liberty in a way that leads us to clear sin

- see, up until this point (chapters 8 & 9), Paul has been
   talking about liberty's effect on other's--now he's going
   to talk about liberty's effect on you

- now, I realize this may be a little fuzzy--let's try to
   sharpen up what we're saying with a diagram

- the issue of Christian liberty involves matters that are
  right, wrong, or gray
- we've been saying in chapters 8 & 9 that God wants us to
   enslave our liberty so that we might "win"
- in others words, stay as close to what we know is
   absolutely right because of the impact on others
- the "further in" we move on gray areas, the greater the
   potential there is for us to be "less effective" in our
   ministry to others

   - that's the first great danger of misusing our liberty
      - our ministry to others

   - but here's the big shift

- there's a second great danger to misusing liberty
   - that is--it's possible effect on you
   - the further we move into "gray area territory". the more
      we open ourselves up for sin

- the issue isn't simply the effect it may have on others
    - the issue is--the effect it may have on you

- see, some believers are always "pushing it"
   - I have freedom...
   - I have freedom to go to that place
   - I have freedom to dress that way
   - I have freedom to have that person as my friend
   - I have freedom to listen to that kind of music
   - I have freedom to watch that kind of thing

- what's the effect of that?
   - loss of potential ministry to others (chap. 8-9)
   - lead you into sinful acts (chap. 10)

- another way of saying that would be: (when you think about
    how you're going to use your ministry)
   - don't become callous (chap. 8-9) - the Corinthians were
     guilty of that

   - BUT ALSO...Don't become overconfident (Chap. 10)
       - the Corinthians, with their "I can handle that"
         attitude were guilty of that as well

- this also explains some of the verses we know well in
   chapter 10

    C. because of the natural progression in chapter 10

        - for example - verse 12 - "Let him that thinketh he
            standeth take heed lest he fall"

        - what's Paul talking about there?
        - that fits in beautifully with "being disqualified"
           from 9:27

        - that verse needs to be understood in light of
          Christian liberty
        - not only will misusing Christian liberty affect
          your ministry to others (don't be callous)
        - it may also directly affect you - (don't be
            - let him that thinketh he standeth take heed
              lest he fall

- with those thoughts in mind, let's begin studying these
- (as you can see, I've kinf of given this message in
   reverse - I've given the punch line - now we'll look more
   specifically at the verses from which the "punch" comes)

- READ 10:1-4  (point out - Paul is now giving another
    example of misused liberty from OT Israel)

- Paul's talking in these verses about:

II. The Blessings and Liberties of Israel (And Us)

- he lists five of them
- we know to divide them up that way because 5 times Paul
    uses the word "all"

    - INPUT - what's the first blessing they received
        according to verse 1?

    A. they were "under the cloud" - 10:1

        INPUT - what's the cloud? (the "cloud" that
         represented God's presence during the exodus)
           - cf. Exodus 13:21

        - we have that same blessing today - God's "leads" us
through His Word and energizes our efforts to obey Him.
    B. they passed through the sea - 10:1

        INPUT - what's that talking about?
         - (crossing the Red Sea) - cf. Exodus 14

        - The Lord doesn't protect us in the same way, but He
          surely provides divine protection.
            - I Peter 5:7 - "casting all your care upon Him,
                 for He careth for you"
            - Rom. 8:35-39 - nothing can separate us from the
                 love of God

    C. they were "baptized unto Moses" - v. 2

        - the point here is identification with
        - God unified the Israelites under their leader Moses
        - Paul calls that "being baptized unto Moses"
        - the point is - look at the great blessing of being
           united as a people under such a godly leader

        - a similar thing happens to believers in the NT
        - at salvation, we're baptized by the Holy Spirit in
           the church with our leader Jesus Christ

        - the point is - divine enablement to carry out his

    D. ate spiritual food

        - of course the picture here is of "manna"
        - it was spiritual food in that it was provided
           supernaturally by God

        - the point is divine provision--and while we don't
          gather our food every morning from the ground
            - God gives us health and strength and jobs
            - that’s spiritual food, divine provision

    E. drank spiritual drink - v. 4

        - same idea here - divine provision

- now, an important question is:
   what's the point of all this?

- answer is - Paul is saying: Look at all the freedoms, all
    the liberties, all the blessings--God gave the Israelites

- If you hadn't studied OT history, you'd come away saying -
    I bet they were an effective ministry machine
- that was the intent
   - in response to God's blessings and liberties and
       freedoms, 2 things should have happened

    1) been a light to other nations (have a godly effect on
    2) should have grown in purity themselves


- but instead of responding to the liberties God gave
- instead of enslaving those liberties
    - they kept pushing, and pushing, and pushing

    - and as a result, not only were they ineffective in
      their ministry to heathen nations--they also fell into
      blatant sin themselves

- we're going to skip over verses 5-6 because thats an issue
  in and of itself (Lord willing, we'll take that up next

- let's focus now on:

III. The Way Israel Used Her Liberty and the Warnings To Us

    READ 7-10

    - each of these verses is referring back to an OT event
    - first he talks about:

    A. idolatry

        - Paul's referring here to Exodus 32
        - this is the passage where Moses is on Mt. Sinai
           receiving the Ten commandments

        - it took Moses longer than expected, so Aaron and
          the others decided they should worship

        - now there was some freedom/liberty in worship
        - the Lord had given some guidelines, but like any
           worship--there was some freedom as to:
             1) exactly what to sing,
             2) exactly what to do,
             3) exactly who was going to be involved

        - they had to decide - what are we going to do with
           our freedoms?
            - are we going to stay as close to what God has
              revealed and what we know as right?
            - or are we going to "push it"
            - are we going to go as far down the liberty
               trail as our little legs can carry us?

    - you know the story---you can almost hear them say
       - there's nothing wrong with this...there's nothing
           wrong with this
       - we can handle this, we can handle this...
       - they start to throw in their jewelry to make an idol
          like the Egyptians had (there's nothing wrong with
            this...there's nothing wrong with this)

    - you can almost hear those "idols of the heart" raging
        - "we've got to be like the other nations"
        - "we must worship the way we think is best"
        - "we've got to get our way"
        - "we must do it the way we want to do it"

    - pretty soon they had a golden calf and they were
      dancing around it!
- Paul's point is - sure, there's freedom/liberty in the way
   we worship
   - but look what happens when it's misused

   - this issue of liberty is a major one---because it not
     only affects our potential ministry to others, it also
     affects us

     - if we don't enslave it--it can lead us right into sin

- Paul says - avoid callousness/but also avoid overconfidence
   - we might be disqualified
   - let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall

- INPUT - what was the second another result of the
    Israelites' misuse of their liberty according to verse 8?

    B. Fornication (acting immorally/NASB)

        - Paul is alluding here to an event recorded in Numbers
        - in that passage, the children of Israel got
          together with the children of Moab
             - and exchanged gods, and then committed
               fornication with them

        - while the verse above emphasized the freedom of
          worship, this one is emphasizing the freedom of our

    - Paul is saying--enslave those freedoms, or acts of sin
       will result
    - in this particular instance, 24,000 people lost their

- now isn't this true, when you talk about this
   subject...avoiding sexual sin and carefully and zealously
   guarding that area of life---you're labeled as Old

- see when you make statements like:
    - maybe it would be best if the two of you weren't alone
      so much together--maybe that’s too much of a temptation
    - or, maybe you shouldn't listen to that because it
        appeals to the flesh
    - or, maybe you shouldn't watch that because it puts
      things in your mind that leads to temptation
    - or maybe you shouldn't have that much physical contact
        because it will stir passions that can't be
        righteously satisfied
    - maybe you shouldn't dress that way because it sends the
      wrong signals

      - talk about those kinds of things to some folks and
         you're liable to get a sarcastic "relax, grandpa,
         this is the nineties" kind of look

- Paul says - we must control the liberty of our bodies...not
   just because of the affect it might have on ministry to
   someone else...but because of the effect it could have on

- 24,000 people died in Numbers 25
- in fact, what stayed the Lord's judgement was one of
   Aaron's grandson's who grabbed a spear and thrust it
   through both a Israelite man and a foreign woman in the
   middle of their sin

- the Lord's comment on that was "Phineas has turned my wrath
    away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous
    for my sake among them..."

- see, sure we have some freedoms in the way we use our
    bodies...but don't be overconfident

- in verse 9 Paul mentions "trying God" or putting God to the

    C. trying God - verse 9

        - the event here is recorded in Numbers 21
        - the children of Israel are blaspheming God
           - you brought us out here to kill us
           - we hate this bread

        - Paul calls that "putting God to the test"

        - we have the blessing and liberty of having a God
          who's patient and longsuffering
        - but sometimes we take advantage of that

        - the children of Israel push it and push it and push

        - I've had counselees do that in my office
           - God is cruel
           - God gave me a raw deal
           - God tricked me

           - Do you hear that overconfidence?
           - I can say anything, do anything
               - God will be patient
               - He won't judge

           - Peter said to Annanias' wife Sapphira - "Why did
             you put the Lord to the test?" (Acts 5)

- perhaps this last one is most surprising (and perhaps

    D. Murmuring - v. 10

        - this event is recorded in Numbers 16, where the
          children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron

        - we're talking here about the freedom of speech

        - perhaps this is one of the most abused freedoms of
          all the freedoms God has given

        - I can say that
        - I have a right to be angry
        - no one's going to tell me how to talk
        - I'll say whatever's on my mind

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video