1 Corinthians 10:1-13

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These small group studies of 1 Corinthians contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

1 Corinthians 10:1-13 Inductive Bible Study and Discussion Questions

Outline:

  1. The blessings of the Israelites (1-4)
  2. a)Watched over by God (1)
  3. b)Saved physically by God (1)
  4. c)Enjoyed the great leadership of Moses (2)
  5. d)Provided for by the power of God (3-4)
  6. e)Watched over by Christ Himself (4)
  7. The failures of the Israelites (5-10)
  8. a)Did not please God (5)
  9. b)Were punished by God in the wilderness (5)
  10. c)Craved evil: they are an example to us of what not to do (6)
  11. d)Fell into idolatry (7)
  12. e)Fell into immorality (7-8)
  13. f)Tested the Lord (9)
  14. g)Grumbled against the Lord (10)

III.              The example of the Israelites (11-13)

  1. a)Their blessings and failures were recorded for us to learn from so as not to repeat the same mistakes (11)
  2. b)Don’t be prideful as they were or falling is certain (12)
  3. c)God will provide the way out from temptation (13)

Discussion Questions:

What is this chapter talking about?

Does it relate to the previous section? If so how? If not, what is the new topic?

What is the core point of this section and how does it address the problems in the Corinthian church?

Why does Paul go back to the Old Testament and tell some history about the Jews?

What does it mean they were under the cloud?

Passed through the sea?

Baptized into Moses?

Had the same spiritual food and drink?

Were followed by a rock, Christ?

Is this all figurative?

What is the main point of these verses?

What did the Israelites do with all of their blessings?

Did they respond well?

What mistakes did they make?

When did verse 7 happen?

What is the problem with eating and drinking and “playing”?

How did God respond to their sin?

What other sins did they commit?

How did God respond to those sins?

What is the lesson for us here?

What does it mean to think you stand?

What is the likely result if you think you stand?

What does the phrase mean “allow you to be tempted”?

What is the promise here?

Is there ever a time when you “have” to do something wrong?

When you are confronted with a temptation, what should you do?

Cross-references:

Exodus 13:21-22 – The cloud and the pillar of fire.

Exodus 14:26-31 – Passing through the Red Sea.

Exodus 16:13-15, 17:6 – The quail, manna, and water provided by the Lord.

Exodus 32, esp verses 6, 28, 35 – The story quoted in verse 1 Corinthians 10:7, the three thousand killed by sword. Others killed by plague.

Numbers 21:5-7 – The people doubted the Lord and asked questions of Moses testing the Lord. The Lord sent the serpents and then sent the method for their healing.

Numbers 16:41-49- Likely the grumbling referred to here in 1 Corinthians, that was punished by death from the destroying angel.

Proverbs 16:18 – Pride goes before the fall.

Luke 22:33-34 – Peter pridefully claims he will never deny Christ.

Revelation 3:17 – The church thought they were rich and wealthy, but were actually poor and naked.

James 1:13-15 – Temptation does not come from God.

1 Timothy 6:11, 2 Timothy 2:22 – Flee youthful lusts and pursue righteousness.

James 4:7 – Submit to God; resist the devil

Ephesians 6, armor of God – Put on the full armor of God.

Job 1-2 – God allowed Satan to tempt job, but not more than Job was able to bear.

Teaching Points:

Intro-

Chapter ten is a transition that seems to come from the “race” concept at the end of chapter 9. We should be successful in our “race” of reaching the lost and serving God in our life. To be successful we must be self-disciplined and run according the rules. We can learn from the examples of the Israelites a long time before who were also in a “race” and failed it completely, largely because of their lack of self-discipline. They were blessed in many many ways and still failed the race. We are to learn from their example so that we don’t become prideful and repeat the same mistakes that they do.

I would say that the key verse in this section of Scripture is verse 12. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take head lest he fall. This section of the chapter serves as a warning to the Corinthians not to become prideful and abuse their blessings and Christian freedom as the Israelites did before. The Israelites fell and so can the Corinthians. So this section is a history lesson from the lives of the Israelites, really one that is repeated again and again throughout the Old Testament, and a strong warning to the Corinthians not to repeat the same pattern.

Verses 1-4

Firstly, the Corinthians (and us) should not be unaware. They should be alert and wary because of the examples of those who have passed before them. We can learn from the successes and mistakes of others so that we don’t have to repeat them ourselves. Verses 1-4 tell of the many blessings that God poured out to them. Like us, they were indeed blessed with “every spiritual blessing” and many times these spiritual blessings even took physical form. Compare this with 1 Cor 1:4-9 where the Corinthians were “not lacking in any gift”. This is the first part of the comparison. The country of Israel was blessed immensely. The Corinthians were blessed immensely. How was Israel blessed?

“Under the cloud” – God Himself was in the cloud leading the Israelites to and fro as well as protecting them from the Egyptian hoard chasing them.

“Passed through the sea” – God liberated the Israelites out of Egypt where they were slaves for 400 years. He did so in a spectacular way that culminated with parting the Red Sea, letting them through, and then letting it close to swallow up the entire Egyptian army. He saved them from the Egyptians.

“Baptized into Moses” – Doesn’t refer to baptizing in the strict sense it is used as a rite or ceremony by born-again Christians. Rather refers to the initiating of Israel under Moses and into the Mosaic law and covenant whereby they became bound to obey Moses and the laws God revealed through him and also received God’s protection and guidance if they kept their obligations to Him.

“Spiritual food” and “spiritual drink” – Likely referring to the manna and water from the rock. See cross-references. These were provided by God’s great power and love. They were physical manifestations of His divine power and spiritual blessings. It was spiritual food and drink because it taught a spiritual lesson and was supernaturally provided by God.

“Spiritual rock” – Here Paul allegorically interprets the rock providing their sustenance as Christ who is our provider. The Jews had a story that the rock followed them around the wilderness to provide them water when they needed it. Christ was their provider whether they knew it or not and He is also our provider.

So the Jews were greatly blessed by God in almost every conceivable way. They were in the perfect situation to follow the Lord as they had seen firsthand His grace in their lives and had received firsthand His laws. But what they do with these great gifts they had received?

Verses 5-10

They did not please God. They did not follow Him. They fell again and again. They rebelled again and again. They became prideful again and again. They abused their blessings and their gifts and their freedom in God. They were not disciplined and they lacked self-control. Therefore God was not pleased with them and He laid them low. He humbled them. He did this through a series of discipline and punishment and finally by all of them except for two dying in the wilderness before the country entered the Promised Land.

Verse 6 tells us that these things are an example for us. The lesson we will learn from this is clear. Don’t do as the Israelites did. Don’t make the same mistakes they did. Don’t sin as they did or the result for us will be the same as the result for them; we will incur God’s wrath. This is a major reason why God included the sins of men and women in the Old Testament and not only the successes. The failures of these people is meant to serve as a warning to us that we can fall too and must follow God’s ways. They not only sinned, but they craved evil. They enjoyed it. They looked forward to it. They looked for chances to disobey God.

They did so in a number of ways.

Idolaters, no self-control, immorality – They became idolaters. Soon after they left Egypt at the first chance they got when Moses went onto the mountain they started worshiping a golden calf. This was a blatant disregard for God’s authority (even though they had seen it firsthand) that came about as a result of their hard hearts. This casting off of God’s authority was soon followed by worse sense. First, out-of-control feasting and partying. Second, out-of-control gross immorality. When we replace God with something else, whether a physical idol or a figurative one, it is bound to lead to more sins. Cannot serve two masters.

What can we learn from the Israelite’s mistakes in worshiping the golden calf and how can we avoid similar sins of lack of self-control, idol worship, and immorality?

  1. They were apparently dependent on Moses for their spiritual lives. When Moses left, so left their relationship to God. If we are dependent on a person to keep us right with God, what will happen when that person leaves? We will fall away from God. Many children who grow up in Christian families are prime examples. They seem to do great when they are under the authority of their parents. When they move away from home they often fall very quickly into some sin problems. We must have a deep relationship with Christ on our own and not rely on anyone for this.
  2. Mixing false and true worship led them away from God. Actually they retained some true worship forms and the sacrifices they offered were just like the ones they had offered the Lord before. A wrong and a right still makes a wrong.
  3. Sin often happens incrementally and in situations where there is a lack of good oversight and a lot of bad peer pressure. It is unlikely that most or any of the Israelites had planned on the end result of doing such abominable sins. But it happened and almost the entire camp was involved. It started step by step and surely with heavy peer pressure the whole time. It started before idol worship, but the first step we see here is idol worship. Next came laziness and feasting and partying, which don’t appear so bad on their own except that it was a degenerative situation with a complete lack of self-control. Men and women giving in completely to basic desires (goes completely against 9:27). It culminated with a wild, camp-wide immoral sexual orgy. What a sad thing. But it started long before then when they took the first step towards sin and towards the edge of the line of what was acceptable.

Other sins that they committed included testing the Lord and grumbling. Read both stories. All of these sins were punished by God as a warning to the rest of the Israelites and to us not to engage in these practices.

We should ask ourselves are we doing the things they were doing? Are we worshiping idols? Perhaps the idol of success or money? Do we lack self-control? Are we controlled by our desires? Are we immoral? Do we test God? Do we grumble? Do you think God will deal with us differently than He did with them? In a way, yes. He may be more patient and not send a plague to us (or he may). But in the end He will deal with us the same way. If we have no relationship to Him and evidence that through our actions then we will be punished as they were.

Serpents, diseases, plagues, destroying angels, marauding armies are just some of the things God punished the Israelites with. Scary? It should be! This is a warning to the Corinthians and us not to make the same mistakes they did.

11-13

These things happened even as an example to the Corinthians and us who have lived in this “last age” after the Messiah has come.

Verse 12 is the key verse of this section. Read cross-references. As a church, the Corinthians were very prideful. They considered that they were very gifted and intelligent and wise and had good doctrine, etc. They were so prideful they even considered it was spiritual to put up with immorality or other problems as a way to show their tolerant love and exercise fully their Christian freedom. But they couldn’t be more wrong. They were flirting dangerously close with sin. Their willingness to be around sin and think they could deal with it would be their downfall. Instead of fleeing sin, they were tolerating it and at times some members appear to have been engaged in it and exulting in it as a manifestation of Christian freedom. But the Corinthians couldn’t have been more wrong. They were in grave danger of falling. It was this serious situation that prompted Paul to warn them so strongly. The Israelites were greatly blessed and they sinned seriously, so might the Corinthians

This is a warning to us as well. Do you think you are doing well? Are you satisfied with your spiritual life? Do you like to compare yourselves to others and think you are better? Do you like to go close to the edge of what is right and wrong? Do you tolerate sin? Do you think you can handle temptation? If you answer “yes” to any of these verse 12 is for you. If you answer “no” to all of these then verse 12 is probably for you too since it is apparent that you think you stand. Pride will come before the fall and often that fall will be great.

Looking in context verse 13 is interesting. In other words, just as the Israelites were tempted so are you. The same temptations are recycled by Satan and his minions again and again. They are successful so why find new ones? The good news is that we don’t have to fall into sin. We don’t have to commit it. There is always a way out. Discuss cross-references and this verse more. Ask questions. How to respond when we face temptation? What are some temptations you face and how can you obtain victory in these areas?

Study 1 Corinthians 10:14-33

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