Watch our Livestream 10am Sundays Give Online

Fighting Temptation

April 2, 2023

Teacher: Daniel Baker
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 10:1-13

Fighting Temptation

1 Cor 10:1–13 – Being God’s People: 1 Corinthians – Daniel J. Baker – Apr 2, 2023


Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Gospel of John reading this week.

Reading of 1 Corinthians 10:1–13. “The Word of the Lord.” “Thanks be to God.”

A few years ago I saw the Grand Canyon for the first time. It was amazing. The pictures we took are beautiful. All of our kids were with us on the trip, at that time 14 to 22. Which means our boys were 20 and 16. But what the pictures can’t quite capture is the internal dialogue every parent experiences throughout the day.

How close to the edge of the cliff are you—and do you even know there’s a cliff?

In our battles against sin, pay attention to what’s happened to others!

Being God’s People. Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth. Plants the church in AD 51 (Acts 18) and then the letter from Ephesus in AD 54 or so (Acts 19).

8:1–11:1. “Now concerning food offered to idols...” The three ways a Corinthian Christian would bump into “food offered to idols”: (1) social events in a temple; (2) eating in someone’s home; (3) buying meet in the marketplace.

Two groups of people he’s talking to: the “knowers” (who know that an idol is nothing and who have a lot of personal freedom to eat and drink) and the “weak” who do not “possess this knowledge” and will be tempted to do what they think is sinful by following the “knowers” into the temple to eat with unbelievers.

Most of Paul’s energy in these chapters is spent on the “knowers.” They are commanded to live in such a way that they’re taking care of those who don’t “possess this knowledge.” Then in chp 9 Paul uses himself as an example of having a right to something but then not demanding that others recognize that right. He has a right to be paid for his ministry, but he chooses instead to lay that right down for the sake of the gospel.

And now in chp 10 there’s another dimension to the issue. In this chapter he brings out the danger of dabbling in “food offered to idols,” especially dabbling in ceremonies in temples.

In our battles against sin, rememeber (1) Our Fathers, (2) Our Examples, (3) Our Escape.


I. Our Fathers (10:1–5)

As we dive into this passage we want to grasp a phrase he uses in v. 1: “Our fathers.”

  • “The Israelites are not just A people but OUR people.
  • To be a Christian is to be grafted into the vine of the people of God, which means ALL the people of God.
  • You have a physical family tree—but also a spiritual one.
  • Paul is talking about our spiritual family tree here.

In this passage he’s going to tell us a lot about “our fathers.” And the point is to learn from it: “These things took place as examples for us” (1 Cor 10:6). “They were written down for our instruction” (1 Cor 10:11).

Notice how he describes them: “baptized” (v. 2), “ate the same spiritual food” (v. 3), “drank the same spiritual drink” (v. 4). Not just some of them but “ALL” of them—repeats the pronoun “ALL” five times!

And “Christ” was even with them, providing for them from “the Rock” and “the Rock was Christ.” A couple times water was miraculously provided, somehow through a rock (Exod 17:6; Num 20:11). And then in Deuteronomy 32 in the Song of Moses, he calls God “the Rock” (32:4). The physical rock was a type of Christ. A picture of his provision.

Yet, though ALL experienced these spiritual blessings, “MOST OF THEM” displeased God and their bodies were “overthrown in the wilderness.” The vast majority of those delivered from Egypt would die in the wilderness.

Better is the way the NIV says it, “their bodies were scattered in the desert.” Phrase copying Num 14:16.

Numbers 14 is one of many low moments in Israel’s history. Numbers 13–14 is where Israel reaches the promised land the first time. Couple years after Egypt. They send spies to scout it out: 10 of the spies give fearful accounts, only Joshua & Caleb give a report based on faith. The nation decides to listen to the majority report of fear and unbelief—not the minority report of faith and courage.

This is part of a series of times when Israel douted God and tested God. In this case they refuse to enter the promised land. They refuse to believe the promises of God. They refuse to remember how God had miraculously delivered them from Egypt and sustained them in the desert.

Paul has this history in mind when he writes of them being “scattered in the wilderness”:

People: “Would that we had died in the wilderness!” (Num 14:2)

Moses: “Now if you kill this people as one man, then the nations who have heard your fame will say, 16 ‘It is because the LORD was not able to bring this people into the land that he swore to give to them that he has killed them in the wilderness.’” (Num 14:15–16)

The LORD: “Say to them, ‘As I live, declares the LORD, what you have said in my hearing I will do to you: 29 your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness, and of all your number, listed in the census from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against me, 30 not one shall come into the land where I swore that I would make you dwell, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.’” (Num 14:28–30)

APPLICATION: The Bible’s history is YOUR history. The people of God are YOUR people. You’re not alone. You’re not an orphan. You’re part of something.

II. Our Examples (10:6–11)

Read 1 Cor 10:6–11. Now Paul looks at specific “examples for us” (1 Cor 10:6), “ an example...written down for our instruction” (1 Cor 10:11).

For Paul the OT is not a history book—remember, the events Paul is talking about took place about 1500 years before he lived. For Paul the OT is a book alive with power and meaning—and it speaks directly to the Church.

The overall purpose of the examples he chooses is that “we might not desire evil as they did” (v. 6).

The OT passages behind Paul’s words:

10:6 – “desire evil” is actually “not be cravers of evil” – A phrase from Numbers 11 when Israel “craved” for something other than manna to eat (see Num 11:4). They craved the food of Egypt. Result? At the end of the chapter God’s judgment went out and it says, “they buried the people who had the craving.”

10:7 – “idolaters.” “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” Now we’re in Exodus 32. Paul quotes Exodus 32:6. This is the chapter about the Golden Calf. Israel committed idolatry against God. Broke the 1st commandment given in Exodus 20. Result? 3,000 died (Exod 32:28).

10:8 – Sexual immorality – Now the reference is Numbers 25:1–9. Here Israel sinned by marrying women of Moab. These weren’t women like Ruth the Moabitess who feared the LORD. Numbers 25 says the Israelites “ate and bowed down to their gods” and “Israel yoked himself to Baal of Peor” (Num 25:2–3). Result? Because of their sin, a plague killed 24,000 (Num 25:9)/23,000 (1 Cor 10:8). Since both are rounded there is no contradiction in them.

10:9 – “Put Christ to the test,” serpents killed the sinners – Now the reference is Numbers 21:4–9. Says “The people became impatient on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses” (Num 21:4–5). Result? No number given but “many people of Israel died” (Num 21:6).

Remember also in that account a bronze serpent made to save all who looked to it. In John 3:14 Jesus says he is that bronze serpent. And when he is lifted up, all who look to him will be saved.

10:10 – “Grumble,” “destroyed by the Destroyer” – Israel’s “grumbling” in Numbers brought disaster on the nation. We read above from Numbers 14 when Israel “grumbled” after report from the spies (Num 14:27, 29). God promised their dead bodies would be scattered in the wilderness. And then there’s Numbers 16:41 when the people “grumble” when Korah’s rebellion is punished. Result? Their grumbling would bring a plague that killed 14,700 people (Num 16:50).

What do these “examples” tell us? What is the “instruction” they have for us?

  • We are accountable to the living God—and he does not treat idolatry lightly.
  • And because we’re accountable to the living God, our choices have consequences. If we’re not accountable, consequences are minimal. But we are, so the consequences can be catastrophic.

III. Our Escape (10:12–13)

Read 1 Corinthians 10:12–13.

In these last two verses we get a warning and an encouragement. And after verses 1–11, we need these!

Verse 12 is the warning. The warning is to be humble about your position before God. Don’t look at the Israelites and think you’re above that! Don’t look at them and think you would never do that!

One of the reasons we have them in our Bibles is so that we’d look at them and think, “God help me! I’m no better!”

The point of verse 12 is to look at yourself and make sure that your assurance is a true assurance and not a false assurance. Paul uses the Israelites to paint a picture of false assurance.

He described the Israelites as baptized and taking the Lord’s Supper. Paul is telling the Corinthians and us that baptism and the Lord’s Supper are meaningless if we have only a dead faith and no true commitment to Christ.

These are only a false assurance without true faith. A false assurance is built on purely external things: “I’m a member of a good church, I’m baptized, I participate in the life of the church.”

But to quote Billy Graham, going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to McDonald’s makes you a hamburger.

This is the person of verse 12 who “thinks that he stands” but he will “fall.”

There is such a thing as true assurance, though. A true assurance rests on the promises of God, relies on Christ, recognizes our need of him and places all our trust in him. With this kind of faith, there will be good works in your life. But our good works are always a secondary or tertiary assurance. Our primary assurance is always in Christ and Christ alone and our trust in him.

Then in verse 13 there’s an encouragement.

Paul has painted a bleak picture in the first part of this chapter. You might read his words and think, if “most” of the Israelites failed to make it to the promise land (v. 5), what hope do I have? If the Israelites caved to their desires, what hope do I have?

Verse 13 has good encouragement for us!

First, our temptations are “common to man.” In the moment temptations can feel like the tasks given to Hercules. Impossible tasks no normal man could accomplish. But Paul reminds us our temptations and trials are “common to man.”

There’s the temptation in our trials to think NO ONE BATTLES LIKE I BATTLE. But this isn’t true. Our temptations are common ones. This isn’t meant to minimize or trivialize our temptations. It’s meant to encourage us. You’re not alone. And just as others have faced this battle and won, so I can face this battle and win—with Christ.

Second, God’s providence makes sure that our temptations are not “beyond our ability.” He means, “your ability in Christ.” In Christ our temptations are not beyond our ability. When Paul says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13), we can include battling temptation in that promise. Apart from Christ my temptations are “beyond my ability,” but through Christ they aren’t.

Third, in our temptations God provides “the way of escape” so we can “endure.” Paul’s language here is surprising. We think of a “way of escape” as getting out of there! If I escape from prison, I’m no longer in prison! But Paul says God gives “the way of escape” so I can “endure.” Maybe I am in prison. God provides “the way of escape” by empowering me to “endure” my time in prison.

To “endure” means to “endure well”—to endure in faith. To endure in godliness. To endure with integrity.

But “the way of escape” in the moment of temptation, I think does mean that I get out of that moment. There’s a particular temptation in a particular moment, and this verse reminds me that there’s a way out of this moment. I don’t need to experience what U2 sings about, where “you got stuck in a moment, and you can’t get out of it.”

Sometimes it’s a sinful thought, and I just shrake my head and say, “Stop. Lord, help me. Give me another thought for this moment.”

These moment-by-moment “ways of escape” allow us to “endure” in this life of temptations and trials.

Fourth, all this is possible because our God is sovereign and because “God is faithful.” If God weren’t sovereign, he couldn’t be active in this way in my battle against sin. If God weren’t faithful, I couldn’t rely upon him to help me. I couldn’t trust him. But our God is faithful and sovereign. He can help us in the moment!

Paul Tripp, Lost in the Middle

Kristi was comforted that God would not push her beyond what she could handle. “He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear” (v. 13) is a beautifully comforting statement. God knows you better than you know yourself. He knows your spiritual IQ and the size of your spiritual muscles. He knows how much you have learned from experience and how much you haven’t. He knows exactly how functionally blind you actually are. He knows how big the gap is between your confessional theology and your functional theology. So, he knows exactly how much heat to apply. He knows when to send trial your way and when to provide release. He knows the difference between refining you and incinerating you. ....God promises to provide exactly what we need. We need the ability to stand in a world of idols and keep God central....We need the ability to be patient when God is requiring us to wait....Until we reach the other side, God will give us the power to stand against the powerful temptation to replace him with some other glory that attempts to claim your hearts.
Paul Tripp, Lost in the Middle[1]

God is faithful, so he will help me!


In our battles against sin, rememeber (1) Our Fathers, (2) Our Examples, (3) Our Escape.

Paul referred to us as the ones “on whom the end of the ages has come.” The coming of Christ brought a radical change to God’s calendar of history. We went from “then” to “now,” from “the old age” to “the last days” (Acts 2:17).

The entire OT is a book of anticipation. A book pointing ahead to a future fulfilment. Mark Dever’s book on the OT is called, “Promises Made.” And the NT, “Promises Kept.”

This week we celebrate the events that changed everything.

  • Today Palm Sunday.
  • Thursday the night when Jesus celebrated the Last Supper.
  • Friday his crucifixion. “It is finished!” The veil of the temple torn. His burial.
  • Sunday the day of resurrection. When there was a sunrise unlike any other in the history of the world. 40 days later he ascends and sends the Spirit.
  • Those events are why Paul says, “the end of the ages has come” on us. In God’s story of redemption Part 1 has ended and Part 2 has begun. Part 3 is when Christ returns.

Prayer and closing song (“Turn Your Eyes...”)

[1] Tripp, Lost in the Middle, 261–262.

Recent Messages

Here are some other recent messages.

Cornerstone Fellowship Church logo

We are a church built on the Bible, guided and empowered by the Spirit, striving to make disciples, and pursuing holiness in the context of robust biblical relationships.

Email Updates & Newsletter

Times & Location

10am on Sundays

401 Upchurch St, Apex, NC 27502

© 2024 Cornerstone Fellowship Church of Apex