Run for You Soul – 1 Corinthians 10
The nineteenth message in the 1 Corinthians Study.
(Find the other messages from this series here)
There are warning sign all throughout our lives. There are signs warning us about hazardous chemical. Signs that warn us that something is flammable. Signs that warn you that the road is slippery, signs that warn you that the bridge ices over before the road way, signs that warn you that there’s a stop sign ahead…
One that I think is the most compelling to me, is one that you see on equipment. It’s meant to keep you from sticking your hand in-between belts and machinery while the machine is running. To me it’s so compelling because it shows you the painful result of ignoring the sign. Just looking at that sign makes me want to grab my hand and hold it close. That just looks so painful.
Most signs aren’t like this, most signs are a little more tame. The signs that warn you about slippery roads don’t depict an overturned car. The sign that warns you about an upcoming stop sign doesn’t depict a scene of a crash. That would be kind of troubling right? But it might be more effective.
Here in chapter 10, Paul gives the Corinthians a warning and he paints a really clear picture. Let’s take a look at the first 5 verses.
That last phrase of verse 5 is pretty vivid.
The King James Version uses the word “overthrown” which is fitting, but we often think of overthrowing something as overthrowing a government or an authority figure. The idea here is the same as Jesus overthrowing the tables in the temple. It was strewn out or scattered about. Gordon Fee says Paul’s word here in verse 5 literally means to spread about or scatter about. The picture that I get from the original word is someone scattering seed, dispersing. Gordon Fee says the Corinthians would have heard,
“Their bodies are scattered across the desert.”
Paul wants his warning to be compelling. He wants this warning to be effective. He hopes that the people will pay attention. And there are 3 responses that he hopes to elicit. The first response to this warning Paul is hoping for is that they will
- Learn from the examples that went before you.
Paul wants the people to first recognize the similarities between the Hebrews and themselves. He points out that they had also been saved in baptized.
They were saved from their bondage in Egypt, the Corinthians were freed from their bondage in sin. They were baptized in the Red Sea, taking a step of faith to walk in between the walls of water and flee from their captors. Just as the Corinthians had taken a step of faith and stepped away from the false gods of their temples when they were baptized.
Paul even says they lived off of the provision of God just like we do when we spend time with God and learn about Him take in the Word of God like daily nourishment.
These people had seen God do incredible miracles.
These people had been freed from literal slave owners and taskmasters.
These people had daily lived off of what God provided them, yet they did not reach the reward- the promise land.
Now remember I’ve said a few times through Corinthians Paul is saying, remember Corinthians, Jesus saved you from here, and you should be farther along to here now, but you need to keep your eyes focused on over there, on where we are headed, you need to keep your eyes focused on the reward that is waiting for us…
Paul wanted to make sure that they made it there, that’s where he was trying to get them to…Paul didn’t want to merely gather a crowd and record some baptisms and move on to the next city, Paul wanted all of these people to join him in heaven.
That was the stat that Paul was focused on, how many of these people are going to heaven.
So what happened? Why did the Israelite not make it to the promise land? Why are their bodies scattered across the desert?
Let’s look at verses 6-8 and 12-14.
Idolatry. What happened to the Hebrews? Idolatry.
They began to worship Idols. Now do you pick up on why Paul is giving them this vivd warning? The Corinthians were having this problem because some of them were still going to pagan temples where they could buy meat for cheap. Paul has said, this isn’t a big deal when it comes to the meat. But now he is saying it is a big deal when it comes to the idols. Idolatry is dangerous he is saying, just look at the example that went before you in Hebrew children!
There are 2 stark applications from this warning.
1.You can know God and still fall for idolatry.
Knowing God is not a guarantee that you will not fall into idolatry.
I know what you might be thinking, but Pastor Daniel if I know that Jesus is the Son of the True and Living God, why in the world would I ever start worshiping a statue to some strange God? I don’t think you will begin to bow down to a statue, but that’s not the only type of idolatry.
Idolatry is looking for what only God can provide from someone or something other than God.
When you rely on something other than God to receive peace, joy, purpose, comfort, redemption, meaning, or happiness- that’s idolatry. You can know God and start searching for what your soul needs elsewhere. People do it all of the time, and it destroys them.
My father worked for the airlines. One day my dad saw a family friend at the airport. My parents knew that this man and his wife had been having problems. He saw this guy and didn’t think about that and just asked what you typically do when you see someone at the airport. Where are you headed? The man told my dad I’m headed to Australia to see this woman I met online. My father begged him not to get on the plane. My father begged him to not wreck his family. He had 3 beautiful young kids. My dad told me about it sometime later and said, I would quote a verse of scripture and he would finish it with me and he would say, I know, but I’m going. You can know God but look for what you need elsewhere, and it will ruin you…
There’s a second application…
2. You can see miracles and still fall for idolatry.
Some people think, I don’t just know God. I’ve done great things for him or he’s done great things through me. I’m different than the guy in your story Pastor Daniel because I’ve got a special relationship with God. I’m a seasoned Christian or I’m a effective minister of the gospel or I’m talented musician for the Lord or I’m a willing volunteer…. The Hebrew Children saw all kinds of incredible wonders of the Lord and still wandered from Him. On a regular basis effective pastors, pastors of large churches who speaks so well that thousands listen to the podcasts and watch them on TV, regularly these men fall away from the Lord because
There is no length of time with Jesus or intensity of experience with God that makes us immune to temptation.
So Paul is saying, listen no one is immune to this temptation, so RUN! Run for your life! Run for your soul!
Flee from the idols which are around you.
Now Corinth was full of temples to pagan gods.
Evansville doesn’t have lot’s of temples to pagan gods, but our community definitely has plenty of opportunities to look somewhere else other than God. I want to share 6 modern idols that we need to flee from.
Paul points these out in his passage too, so they are not new. The same problems plague us that they struggled with thousands of years ago in the desert. In verse 7 Paul says they ate and drank and rose up to play. That gives us our first 3.
The Hebrews regularly complained about the food in the desert and longed for the food back in Egypt. Even though the food they were eating was after slaving all day- even though they weren’t free, they still longed for the food… We do this though, we choose food over freedom all the time. We choose food over health, we choose food over community. Some of us are so addicted to worshipping the idol of food the only way I can get you to church is ask the ladies of the church to prepare a meal…
Back then they had to work hard to get drunk. Some people have to work hard to get drunk today because their bodies have become accustomed to it, but for the most part it is a lot easier to get drunk and become a drunk today. There are many people who worship the bottle in our culture today. Back then drink was all they had to get the effect of drunkeness, where you are numb or brave or feel good… Today we have all types of substances to get this effect, and some of them you can buy right over the counter.
Verse 7 says, they ate and drank and rose up to play. There’s a connotation of immorality here, but really they just did what they wanted to do. They ate and drank and rose up to do whatever they felt like doing. We worship this false god so much today. We choose to worship this god over gathering with God’s people to worship the one true God. We go fishing, we go to the ballpark, we go to the pool, we go to the golf course, we do what sounds like fun, what sounds relaxing.
And we even go as far as to say, I need it.
I need a pool day, I need a day on the lake.
You need Jesus, you want a day on the golf course. You need Jesus, you want a day of fun.
Not only do we worship this god with great devotion we are training & discipling our children to worship this false god as well.
In the Old Testament they worshipped BAAL. Some even sacrificed their children to him.
In our culture we worship BALL and we are sacrificing our children to it.
verse 8:Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. I don’t need to cover again that our culture is sex crazed. But let me point out to you when we live in a culture that constantly promotes sex, adultery, pornography, we need to be running, fleeing in the opposite direction. That doesn’t mean that we run from sex, it means that we run from immorality.
verse 6 “to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.”
The Hebrew children were greedy. They wanted stuff. They cried for stuff like a child in a store.
In verses 9 & 10 Paul goes on to say,
9Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.
10Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.
Paul is referring to a point in the dessert that the people were griping because they wanted nicer stuff, specifically nicer food. They were tired of this bland stuff that God was providing for them everyday in the wilderness. They were complaining because they were ungrateful for what they had and wanted nicer things…
Complaining is the product of greediness or ingratitude.
Because of their complaining, God sent snakes among them. Now, I hate snakes. If there’s a snake, I’m out. Like, I’m gone.
The story is told of this gospel singing group that would tour and sing at churches. The singer said they were at a small church in the appalachian mountains and the people started bringing out snakes to handle. The guy said to the other singer, where’s the backdoor? They don’t have one was the response… So he replied, where do you think they want one?
I’m that guy. You bring out snakes and I’m out of here. If there is no door I will make a door… What Paul has been telling them is that they should flee from these idols like the people fled from the snakes, like I fled from the snakes. The idols are just as scary.
The last idol is self. Paul said in verse 12, let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. Paul was saying, some of you are so in love with yourself that you better heed this warning before you fall. Some of us, the God that we worship is self. We do what we want, we are convinced that we are always right, we are constantly impressed with ourselves… Some people act toward themselves like devoted followers act toward their God.
We often refer to people who are extreme versions of this “Narcissists” which comes from a greek myth about a boy named Narcissus who saw his own reflection in a pool of water and became to enamored with it that he never left or fell in and drowned. The myth says that narcissus could never have what he wanted for whenever he reached for it, the reflection went away and couldn’t be grasped…
All the idols that I’ve mentioned are like this. They are mirages or mere reflections of what we want, they promise us something beautiful, but they can never be grasped. Paul covers the issue of idols in some great length and we are skip past that to the end of the chapter in verse 31.
Honor the God who is above you.
The problem with these idols is that they do not transcend the problems we have. They are just more of the same. When we look to the world around us, we do not find anything new or different or better. To me it is strange that people would worship a God of their own making- that they would carve wood with their own hands, make something themselves and then worship it…Isaiah actually mocks the man who cuts down a tree and then decides which part will be carved into his god and which part will be firewood.
Stop looking around you for purpose, meaning, and joy.
You know what’s beautiful about how Paul ends this passage. He ends it with a command that we can keep. It’s impossible to please a false God because it has not emotions or response… but also we create gods and idols with our own problems and shortcomings…
The false gods are petty, immature, selfish… We worship a God is able to be pleased because He has made the way for us…
The false gods of this world are impossible to satisfy, but our God makes us satisfactory through Christ.