1 Corinthians 10J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)
Spiritual experience does not guarantee infallibility
10 1-7 For I should like to remind you, my brothers, that our ancestors all had the experience of being guided by the cloud in the desert and of crossing the sea dry-shod. They were all, so to speak, “baptised” into Moses by these experiences. They all shared the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink (for they drank from the spiritual rock which followed them, and that rock was Christ). Yet in spite of all these wonderful experiences many of them failed to please God, and left their bones in the desert. Now in these events our ancestors stand as examples to us, warning us not to crave after evil things as they did. Nor are you to worship false gods as they did. The scripture says—‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.’
8-10 Neither should we give way to sexual immorality as did some of them, for we read that twenty-three thousand fell in a single day! Nor should we dare to exploit the goodness of God as some of them did, and fell victims to poisonous snakes. Nor yet must you curse the lot that God has appointed to you as they did, and met their end at the hand of the angel of death.
11 Now these things which happened to our ancestors are illustrations of the way in which God works, and they were written down to be a warning to us who are the heirs of the ages which have gone before us.
12 So let the man who feels sure of his standing today be careful that he does not fall tomorrow.
God still governs human experience
13 No temptation has come your way that is too hard for flesh and blood to bear. But God can be trusted not to allow you to suffer any temptation beyond your powers of endurance. He will see to it that every temptation has a way out, so that it will never be impossible for you to bear it.
We have great spiritual privileges: let us live up to them
14-15 The lesson we must learn, my brothers, is at all costs to avoid worshipping a false god. I am speaking to you as intelligent men: think over what I am saying.
16-18 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a very sharing in the blood of Christ? When we break the bread do we not actually share in the body of Christ? The very fact that we all share one bread makes us all one body. Look at the Jews of our own day. Isn’t there a fellowship between all those who eat the altar sacrifices?
19-22 Now am I implying that a false god really exists, or that sacrifices made to any god have some value? Not at all! I say emphatically that Gentile sacrifices are made to evil powers and not to God at all. I don’t want you to have any fellowship with such powers. You cannot drink both the cup of the Lord and the cup of devils. You cannot be a guest at the Lord’s table and at the table of devils. Are we trying to arouse the wrath of God? Have we forgotten how completely we are in his hands?
The Christian’s guiding principle is love not knowledge
23-24 As I have said before, the Christian position is this: I may do anything, but everything is not useful. Yes, I may do anything but everything is not constructive. Let no man, then, set his own advantage as his objective, but rather the good of his neighbour.
25-26 You should eat whatever is sold in the meat-market without asking any of the questions of an over-scrupulous conscience, for ‘The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness’
27-28 If a pagan asks you to dinner and you want to go, feel free to eat whatever is set before you, without asking any questions through conscientious scruples. But if your host should say straight out, “This meat has been offered to an idol”, then don’t eat it, for his sake—I mean for the sake of conscience, not yours but his.
29-31 Now why should my freedom to eat be at the mercy of someone else’s conscience? Or why should any evil be said of me when I have eaten meat with thankfulness, and have thanked God for it? Because, whatever you do, eating or drinking or anything else, everything should be done to bring glory to God.
32-33 Do nothing that might make men stumble, whether they are Jews or Greeks or members of the Church of God. I myself try to adapt myself to all men without considering my own advantage but their advantage, that if possible they may be saved.