Learning from Israel’s Failures
10 My 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[a] and passed through the waters of the sea on both sides. 2 They were all baptized[b] into the cloud of glory, into the fellowship of Moses, and into the sea. 3 They all ate the same heavenly manna[c] 4 and drank water from the same spiritual rock[d]that traveled with them—and that Rock[e] was Christ himself. 5 Yet God was not pleased with most of them, and their dead bodies were scattered around the wilderness.[f]
6 Now, 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 7 and 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![g]
8 Neither should we commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, which caused the death of twenty-three thousand[h] on a single day. 9 Nor should we ever provoke the Lord,[i] as some of them did by putting him to outrageous tests that resulted in their death from snakebites day after day.[j] 10 And we must not embrace their ways by complaining—grumbling with discontent, as many of them did,[k] and were killed by the destroyer![l]
11 All 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.[m] 12 So beware if you think it could never happen to you, lest your pride becomes your downfall.
The Way of Escape
13 We all experience[n] times of testing,[o] 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[p] 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[q] that will bring you out of it victoriously.[r]
14 My cherished friends, keep on running far away from idolatry. 15 I know I am writing to thoughtful people, so carefully consider what I say. 16 For when we pray for the blessing of the communion cup, isn’t this our co-participation with the blood of Jesus?[s] And the bread that we distribute, isn’t this the bread of our co-participation with the body of Christ?[t] 17 For although we’re many, we become one loaf of bread and one body as we feast together[u] on one loaf.
18 Consider 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? 19 Now, am I saying that idols and the sacrifices offered to them have any value? 20 Absolutely 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! 21 You 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[v] at the table of demons. 22 Who would ever want to arouse the Lord’s jealousy? Is that something you think you’re strong enough to endure?[w]
Living for God’s Glory
23 You 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. 24 So don’t always seek what is best for you at the expense of another. 25 Yes, you are free to eat anything without worrying about your conscience, 26 for the earth and all its abundance belongs to the Lord.[x]
27 So if an unbeliever invites you to dinner, go ahead and eat whatever is served, without asking questions concerning where it came from.[y] 28 But 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. 29 I’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?
30 So if I voluntarily participate, why should I be judged for celebrating my freedom?[z] 31 Whether you eat or drink, live your life in a way that glorifies and honors God. 32 And make sure you’re not offending Jews or Greeks or any part of God’s assembly over your personal preferences. 33 Follow 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.