Learning from Israel’s Failures
1My dear fellow believers, you need to understand that all of our Jewish ancestors who walked through a wilderness long ago were under the glory cloud and passed through the waters of the sea on both sides. 2They were all baptized into the cloud of glory, into the fellowship of Moses, and into the sea. 3They all ate the same heavenly manna 4and drank water from the same spiritual rock that traveled with them—and that Rock was Christ himself. 5Yet God was not pleased with most of them, and their dead bodies were scattered around the wilderness.
6Now, all these things serve as types and pictures for us—lessons that teach us not to fail in the same way by callously craving worthless things 7and practicing idolatry, as some of them did. For it is written:
The people settled in to their unrestrained revelry, with feasting and drinking, then they rose up and became wildly out of control!
8Neither should we commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, which caused the death of twenty-three thousand on a single day. 9Nor should we ever provoke the Lord, as some of them did by putting him to outrageous tests that resulted in their death from snakebites day after day. 10And we must not embrace their ways by complaining—grumbling with discontent, as many of them did, and were killed by the destroyer!
11All the tests they endured on their way through the wilderness are a symbolic picture, an example that provides us with a warning so that we can learn through what they experienced. For we live in a time when the purpose of all the ages past is now completing its goal within us. 12So beware if you think it could never happen to you, lest your pride becomes your downfall.
The Way of Escape
13We all experience times of testing, which is normal for every human being. But God will be faithful to you. He will screen and filter the severity, nature, and timing of every test or trial you face so that you can bear it. And each test is an opportunity to trust him more, for along with every trial God has provided for you a way of escape that will bring you out of it victoriously.
14My cherished friends, keep on running far away from idolatry. 15I know I am writing to thoughtful people, so carefully consider what I say. 16For when we pray for the blessing of the communion cup, isn’t this our co-participation with the blood of Jesus? And the bread that we distribute, isn’t this the bread of our co-participation with the body of Christ? 17For although we’re many, we become one loaf of bread and one body as we feast together on one loaf.
18Consider the people of Israel when they fell into idolatry. When they ate the sacrifices offered to the gods, weren’t they becoming communal participants in what was sacrificed? 19Now, am I saying that idols and the sacrifices offered to them have any value? 20Absolutely not! However, I am implying that when an unbeliever offers a sacrifice to an idol, it is not offered to the true God but to a demon. I don’t want you to be participants with demons! 21You can’t drink from the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You can’t feast at the table of the Lord and feast at the table of demons. 22Who would ever want to arouse the Lord’s jealousy? Is that something you think you’re strong enough to endure?
Living for God’s Glory
23You say, “Under grace there are no rules and we’re free to do anything we please.” Not exactly. Because not everything promotes growth in others. Your slogan, “We’re allowed to do anything we choose,” may be true—but not everything causes the spiritual advancement of others. 24So don’t always seek what is best for you at the expense of another. 25Yes, you are free to eat anything without worrying about your conscience, 26for the earth and all its abundance belongs to the Lord.
27So if an unbeliever invites you to dinner, go ahead and eat whatever is served, without asking questions concerning where it came from. 28But if he goes out of his way to inform you that the meat was actually an offering sacrificed to idols, then you should pass, not only for his sake but because of his conscience. 29I’m talking about someone else’s conscience, not yours. What good is there in doing what you please if it’s condemned by someone else?
30So if I voluntarily participate, why should I be judged for celebrating my freedom? 31Whether you eat or drink, live your life in a way that glorifies and honors God. 32And make sure you’re not offending Jews or Greeks or any part of God’s assembly over your personal preferences. 33Follow my example, for I try to please everyone in all things, rather than putting my liberty first. I sincerely attempt to do anything I can so that others may be saved.