Opening Prayer

Holy One, as I come before you today, quiet my mind and gladden my heart. I long for your presence to fill me.

Read 1 CORINTHIANS 10:1-13

Warnings From Israel’s History

10 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 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.

Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.”[a] We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test Christ,[b] as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.

11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation[c] has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted[d] beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,[e] he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

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  1. 1 Corinthians 10:7 Exodus 32:6
  2. 1 Corinthians 10:9 Some manuscripts test the Lord
  3. 1 Corinthians 10:13 The Greek for temptation and tempted can also mean testing and tested.
  4. 1 Corinthians 10:13 The Greek for temptation and tempted can also mean testing and tested.
  5. 1 Corinthians 10:13 The Greek for temptation and tempted can also mean testing and tested.

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


‘History repeats itself. Has to. No one listens.’1

Think Further

Paul gives us a history lesson, with an application that is up to date. He reminds us that God has always been at work saving his people. Indeed, Israel drank from the ‘spiritual rock that is Christ, just as we do (v 4). Yet they wandered from God’s path in four ways: idolatry, sexual immorality, testing God, and grumbling (vs 6–10). Their story is retold as a warning for us. Don’t make the same mistakes they did, Paul urges us. Stay on track.

‘Grumbling’ can seem the odd one out in Paul’s list (v 10). It doesn’t sound as serious as the other instances of rebellion, does it? The Old Testament passages that are referenced and a sharper translation (we might render the word behind ‘grumbling’ as ‘querulous moaning’) indicate a deep dissatisfaction with God and his ways.2 The people hanker after their former lives and complain bitterly about God’s provision. As a result, God disciplines his people.

It’s easy to think our own attitudes are better. Paul addresses this head-on with verse 12. If you see another believer fall and think ‘that could never happen to me’ then take Paul’s words to heart. A breezy self-confidence makes sin more likely, not less. Please heed this warning, but be encouraged as well. Don’t just reread verse 12 but also verse 13. God is faithful and he knows what we can bear. All the resources of the new covenant are freely available to us.

We are baptized not into Moses but into Christ, led by Christ, and, ultimately, protected by him. Let’s also draw our support from him. He gives us all we need by the power of the Spirit. With his help, we can respond positively to the warnings he gives us.


Are you too confident in your own strength? Take a moment to examine your life and commit to ‘standing firm’ (v 12) in the strength that God alone can give.

Closing prayer

Beloved Lord, I mess up so often, but you never leave me. I thank you that you never stop believing that I can and will do better. Lord, with your help I will go on.

1 Steve Turner, Nice and Nasty, Razor Books, 1980 2 See, for example, Exod 17:1–3; Anthony C Thiselton, 1 Corinthians, Eerdmans, 2006, p148

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Last Updated on October 4, 2022 by kingstar

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