1 Corinthians 10:1-13

Have you heard about being “woke.” It’s a bit of buzzword.  

Woke: A word currently used to describe ” consciousness ” and being aware of the truth behind things “the man” doesn’t want you to know i.e. classism, racism, and any other social injustices. People throw around to note that someone agrees with the same conspiracy theory as them

You find out you have been paying too much for insurance and you have been “woke!” It;s used many different ways. Just a perusal of twitter:

  • One news station revealed a human trafficking ring going on in their city that surprised everyone, and after their tweet of the story was the hash tagged “woke.” 
  • Joe Biden/Don Trump revealed various agendas for 2020 and people who see the benefit of their platforms repeat the news saying they are woke.
  • Some people tweet the real reason behind Covid-19 and be woke. Some people tweet the benefits of wearing or not wearing a mask. “Woke.”
  • And to level these things out, Burger King got a mention for including lemon grass in cow feed in order to reduce methane emission by cows. “Woke.”

People sitting back relaxed until they hear news that stirs them. Rouses them. Then you want to tell others. You have been woken and want others to experience the same. I don’t know about those various theories, but I do know the Bible has a message that should wake you. It wakes you to the realities of who God is. It awakens you to spiritual realities people grasp blindly for. It awakens you to what is and what is to come. 

The letter of 1 Corinthians is a letter Paul wrote a church in about AD 55 to wake them up to serve God. Chapter 10 is another point of awakenness. God is trying to wake this church up to the truth behind things! This church had issues and Paul does not want them to be ignorant any longer. He wants them woken, and he shares what happened in past events, in order to stir their future fruitfulness to the kingdom. 

Let me say this about our text and our situation today. With Covid we are being stripped of things we trust in and take for granted. Stripped of health. Stripped of wealth. Stripped of going out and grabbing a burger with friends. Let’s pray for this to be a time of spiritual awakening in our country, that those who see no value in Christ would understand what he has done for them. But let me say God is not through with you just because you are in the church. I believe the church of today needs an awakening, and I pray that our eyes would be opened to that. 

Big Idea: Be woken to the possibility you may be in the church, surrounded by the things of God and yet be in danger, because you have not set your heart on the things pleasing to God. 

The great saving events of the Old Testament, and shows that many people participated in this, but they still did not please God. They were in the church, but not following God. 


For I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. 6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil 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 rose up to play.” 8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:1-13 ESV)

This is a sobering passage.

Big Idea: Be woken to the possibility you may be in the church, surrounded by the things of God and yet be in danger, because you have not set your heart on the things pleasing to God. 

May think that is nonsense. Like being in water and not getting wet. The Corinthians were comfortable. Too comfortable. Paul has challenged them over and over again. 

  • V1 he does not want them to be ignorant.

He begins with a warning, and it comes from the past. One of the great saving events of God’s people. Their deliverance from Egypt.

God’s dealings with his people in the past should inform his dealings with people in the present. There are people today who teach the Old Testament is irrelevant to the faith of a Christian today. Some go so far as to say it is a different God. You have the God of the OT and the God of the NT. Some say Jesus fulfilled the law and made a break from the old. 

  • We are in a passage today that shows the God of the OT is the God of the NT.
  • a passage that shows the blessing God has poured on his people in Christ have parallels to his blessings in other times. 
  • a passage that shows the judgement of God in the past ought to stir his people of today to faithfulness

This is why you read our Bible, to understand who God is and how God deals with us. 

He connects the Corinthian’s experience with the Israelites. 

They were all under the cloud and passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses, ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink

The Corinthians had boasted of being baptized and who baptized them. It is an important rite of Christianity. Paul says here the Israelites were baptized into Moses in the cloud and sea. 

They were initiated into the faith through these. Eating and drinking the spiritual drink probably has a reference to the Passover feast, or to manna and parallels the Lord’s supper the Corinthians would observe. 

Baptism is a significant rite of the Christian faith. Baptism is done when someone turns from the world and follows Christ. They have been living in Egypt and they are now setting out for the promise land. They are following Christ. It is a sign one has trusted in Christ. Believed in the power of the blood of the lamb. Rested in the saving mercies of Christ. Devoted himself to follow Jesus wherever he may lead, to the promise land and through divided waters and through deserts. It is a significant mark of one’s walk with Christ. If you have trusted in Christ and have not been baptized I want to encourage you to get baptized. It is a mark of following Christ. Begin to follow him in this sacrament. 

The point is that they experienced all these things. Walked through the divided walls of the sea and plundered the Egyptians. They saw God’s mighty acts, sang and danced by the Red Sea. v5

  • 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. 

Disobedience. Judgement. Let that sink in. It’s got to sink in. Most think that if they are in church then they are good. Not the case. 

The privileges of the church in Corinth are put on par with the privileges of the Israelites who had been taken out of the land of slavery and saw the hand of God working in their lives. They drank of.

Jesus taught a parable of man having a wedding banquet of his son (Matt 22). He invites people but no one comes. So he invites more people. Tells everyone to come. But then the king comes and finds someone there not dressed for a wedding. He orders him to be removed. He was invited to the wedding but didn’t prepare himself for the event. 

Corinthians are ignorant. God wants his church to prepare for what he calls it to. 

Don’t play games with God. People twist the words of Scripture to justify their lifestyle. Don’t play games with God. Doesn’t work with anything else. I had a neighbor who put a 10 foot high fence from the back of his house all the way to his front yard. It was clearly against the neighborhood code, against the city code, but he felt justified that he could build that wall. The city didn’t give in. It was against their code.

Is there anything you are doing that God forbids? Then change. Submit to his rulership. Do you refuse to love a person in your life? Do you refuse to share the gospel with others? Do you refuse to serve God with your finances? Heed these warnings. 

Though they experienced these incredible blessings they failed to follow God. They fell in the desert. Their bodies were scattered. 

  • V6 “These things happened to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.” 

There is a purpose to why these happened. A purpose to why they are in the Bible. It shouts… Don’t be like this. Don’t receive the things of God in vain! We need an awakening today. 

What did they do.

  • Sexual immorality. V8
  • Don’t be idolaters. They ate and drank and indulged in pagan revelry. They followed the ways of the world rather than the ways of Christ. Many in the church today are only there to be like the world. It is a social club and they want to belong. It’s a way to network. To serve their idols. If you are going to follow Christ it is going to put you at odds with the world. It may even put you at odds with some of those you are in church together with. 
  • They grumbled. Suppress the glaring mistakes and live a life of constant grumbling. Don’t be idolaters. Sexual immorality. That’s a big sin. You have nothing to do with that so you are fine. You are good. But also look at their failings in v10. They grumbled. Do you see the significant place of grumbling? Such a small sin. Not a big deal. And yet he consumes people. Destroys marriages. Never happy.

“And do not grumble as some of them did– and were killed by the destroying angel.” 

They were struck down because they grumbled about not having meat. I grumble because I don’t have the right BBQ sauce for my meat. They grumbled because they were in the desert. They couldn’t see God working in them. I grumble because there is nothing on TV to entertain me and keep me distracted from my Bible and reaching out to others. It is God’s mercy I am still here. I don’t want to continue in that. 

How are you doing being content in the Lord? 

You suppress the eruptions of big sins and then waste with a chronic resentment of serving God. Forced obedience. Obedience without the heart. You go to church but resent it. You give but don’t like it. You follow Christ but are not happy with it. You serve but don’t really think you need to. 

What is your pursuit of the Lord like? 

People in the Old Testament did this and they fell. They died. They were judged. It is sobering. It wakes you from your slumber. 

V6 “These things happened to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.”

Don’t set your hearts on evil. That is the message to the Corinthians. Don’t think it’s ok to go in to sleep with the cult prostitutes at the local temple. Don’t think it’s ok to grumble against the Lord. 

Are your grumbling against God’s plan for your life? Are you a bitter person? You may be mad at what God hasn’t done for you. You need to be glad you are still here. He could call you to account at any moment. 

He challenges them. He points them to Christ. 

What do we make of this insecurity. I thought Christ died that we could have certainty. 

Justification: In Christ we are justified. Declared legally righteous in God’s sight. Forgiven. Pardoned. Adopted. That is a significant part of our salvation. Positional

Sanctification: Is an ongoing process of growing in likeness and obedience to Christ. It’s a process. It is not complete until we are called into the presence of Christ. In this life we have to fight and strive to grow and be like him. Experiential

Just because you go to college doesn’t mean you learned in class. In fact, you may have a degree and yet know nothing. You were qualified to go in, you participated in lecture, but your heart was not engaged. Christ made it possible for us to come into his family, are we experiencing the blessing of the father. 

These two doctrines, like many other doctrines, complement rather than compete against each other. There is tension. And they provide the tight rope in which we can walk across. 

Justification gives me assurance.

Sanctification gives me urgency. 

I don’t want to be like those who fell. I don’t want to be like the Corinthians. I want to be like Christ who gave his all. 

  • V11 for our instruction. Fulfillment of the ages has come.

Telos. The finale, the culminating purpose. The goal that all things point to. This is Christ. He fulfills it all. He is the one we look to. There will not be another fulfillment of the ages. It is here. As we go through the trials of Corona, economic down turn, racism and whatever else 2020 may throw at us. Christ is our all in all

Christ is the finale, the true, the greatest, expression of God’s saving purposes. They looked back and saw a deliverance from Egypt. We look back on that but look back to Christ risen from the grave. Let us cast aside our worries and run to the Lord. Let us look to what he has done for us with the greatest sense of contentment. A desire to not go out of the bounds of what he calls us to do. 

Michael Jordan. Getting cut. It woke him to what he needed to do to make the team. 

V12 if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall. The people I am most concerned about are those who don’t think they need anything. I don’t need the church. I may go or not go. I don’t need others. God’s grace will sustain me. God’s got this. He’s got me. Trivial statements. No pursuit of God. No seeking for prayer. No urgency that they might not see everything clearly. 

This passage about waking them comes after Paul has been telling them what they need to do to win people. To reach people. It doesn’t appear they were doing that. It doesn’t appear there was a burning desire. Paul is concerned for them. 

Are you careful not to fall? Do you open your Bible with an urgency to 

Falling into old pattern. Marriage and healthy conflict. Repent way out of that. 

New season. New starts. 


God can provide a way. The things mentioned in this passage from Israel’s past are significant trials, significant judgement. But in each one God provided a way out. Just like slavery in Egypt he made a way for them. It is a reminder that when we go through hardships, God is able to deliver. He can deliver through enslavement, deliver through rebellion of others, deliver through our own mistakes. That deliverance comes through commitment to him, to his work. To standing strong in what he has done. As we walk through a season of testing with Corona and everything going on right now, where is your hope. Is it in people, doctors, presidents. Get the right policy, the right drug, the right administration, or is it to return to Jesus with all your heart and walk in a manner pleasing to him. I don’t know what is going to happen politically, medically, socially, but I do know that if you trust in Jesus God can deliver us from all things. It doesn’t prevent hardships, opposition, etc. But it does mean he is with us. 

Church, we are here to build a church. We are here to reach people with the good news of Christ. Since I have been here organizational challenges have stagnated us. Those have been taken away, but we have to ask ourselves.

How is God changing you? Do you believe you need to change?   

  1. What would be the impact of Paul sharing these lessons of Israel’s history with the church in Corinth? What is God teaching the church today through this?
  2. What is an area of your life the Lord is stirring you to change in? What should you do to embrace that change?
  3. Who is one person you could share this area to change in? What would happen if you asked them to pray for you?