1 Corinthians 10

This devotional is written by Praise Jourdain.

1 Corinthians 10

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Warnings from Israel's history
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. 2 They were all baptised into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.

6 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7 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.' 8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did - and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9 We should not test Christ, 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 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 that you can endure it.

Idol feasts and the Lord's Supper
14 Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.

18 Consider the people of Israel: do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? 19 Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord's table and the table of demons. 22 Are we trying to arouse the Lord's jealousy? Are we stronger than he?

The believer's freedom
23 'I have the right to do anything,' you say - but not everything is beneficial. 'I have the right to do anything'- but not everything is constructive. 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.

25 Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26 for, 'The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it.'

27 If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, 'This has been offered in sacrifice,' then do not eat it, both for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience. 29 I am referring to the other person's conscience, not yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another's conscience? 30 If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?

31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God - 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.


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In his letter to the Christian congregations of Corinth--one of the most important city-states in the polytheistic, idol-worshipping culture of Ancient Greece--Paul entreats his readers to abandon the old and redundant forms of worship erased by the New Covenant; most notably, the practice of blood sacrifice. While providing a template for Christian living in a secular world--a template of tolerance within which we learn to sit with others in humility, and break bread with those who worship differently to us--Paul reminds us how even though God gives us free will to choose how we live and worship Him, not all forms of worship are 'beneficial' or 'constructive.

Paul's words ring especially true today, in a time where selfish ambition is vaunted as God-given individual freedom, and where 'becoming one's best self' is a slogan used by marketers of cosmetic brands and bubble bath, rather than to describe the deepening of our lifelong, intimate relationship with Jesus through adventurous engagement with Scripture. While a flawless look and a good bath can certainly promote a temporary sense of wellbeing--making it easier to foster a positive, loving attitude towards the world around us--these man made 'solutions' are empty and ephemeral balms compared to a deep knowledge of God's relentless, indiscriminate love for us.

A friend of mine, a devoted Christ follower, told me about an event they had been to recently at a church that promised to deepen the attendees' spiritual connection to the divine via a cacao ceremony and a gong bath. Quite apart from the shock of this arguably idolatrous gathering taking place in a church, with the confession of a £65 price tag attached to this 'experience', what struck me was how lucky we are that God Himself never sends us a bill for His grace. It is given freely, willingly, and lovingly. What makes Christianity the true path to liberation is that we are not asked to take on new burdens, debts or practices in order to be deemed worthy of His love. But rather, we are invited to lay our old, redundant and destructive habits at His feet, and to walk lightly in God's presence, forever.

What are you holding onto that is blocking you from feeling God's love at work in your life? What loveless beliefs do you need to lay down at His feet? Beliefs about status, money, or power, perhaps? Beliefs about your body, your brainpower, your origins, your abilities? Give yourself some time today to listen to these negative thoughts, and when they form in your mind, pray for God to take their weight off your shoulders there and then. He surely will. Thank Jesus for His limitless strength, and the joy He takes in tenderly lifting our burdens from us. Praise be to God.

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