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1 Corinthians 10:3-6 by Robert Dean
Series:1st Corinthians (2002)
Duration:1 hr 1 mins 14 secs

Pattern of Spiritual Failure. 1 Cor 10:3-6


We want to emphasize the theme that runs through the Old Testament with respect to the Exodus generation. It is used again and again and again as the paradigm of the failure of the believer in time and his loss of blessing, his loss of privilege, his loss of rewards.

Psalm 78:12 NASB "He [God] wrought wonders before their fathers In the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan." That is talking about the miraculous deliverance of Israel from their slavery in Egypt. [13] "He divided the sea and caused them to pass through, And He made the waters stand up like a heap. [14] Then He led them with the cloud by day And all the night with a light of fire." It wasn't actually a fire but it was the glow of the Shekinah. We know from other passages that this the Shekinah, the dwelling. The word Shekinah is not used in the Old Testament, it was developed by the Rabbis to refer to this concept. It is the cognate to the Greek word SKENE  [skhnh] used in John chapter one where John said that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. So Shekinah refers to the dwelling of Jesus Christ with His people. The interesting thing is that the Jews from a distance saw this glowing cloud at night but when Moses, who was the only one who approached the Shekinah, he did not see just a cloud. He saw the person of the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ in His pre-incarnate body. How do we know that? Because God says to Moses: "I don't speak to the other prophets like I speak to you, I speak to you mouth to mouth." And he speaks about the fact that he saw the finger of God, he saw the Lord Jesus Christ in His pre-incarnate state. But Moses was the only one who saw that and that glory was miraculously reflected on his face once he left the presence of the Shekinah. So the Jews had this evidence, this miracle, day in and day out, of leadership, the guidance of God by the cloud and by the fire at night. 

[15] He split the rocks in the wilderness And gave {them} abundant drink like the ocean depths. [16] He brought forth streams also from the rock And caused waters to run down like rivers. [17] Yet they still continued to sin against Him, To rebel against the Most High in the desert. [18] And in their heart [thinking] they put God to the test By asking food according to their desire." They are believers but they are rejecting His provision. This is typical of every ungrateful believer in time. When you go negative to God's Word you always reject His provision, you always look somewhere else for sustenance. [19] "Then they spoke against God; They said, 'Can God prepare a table in the wilderness? [20] Behold, He struck the rock so that waters gushed out, And streams were overflowing; Can He give bread also? Will He provide meat for His people?' [21] Therefore the LORD heard and was full of wrath; And a fire was kindled against Jacob And anger also mounted against Israel, [22] Because they did not believe in God And did not trust in His salvation." God is judging them. They did not trust in His deliverance, it is not that they weren't believers.

By this time the nation is a nation of believers. What happened to them is the same thing that happens to many believers after salvation and is the point that Paul is driving home in 1 Corinthians 10, that is, after salvation believers go into rebellion, they reject the grace provision of God, and instead of relying upon all of the spiritual assets that God has supplied they go into spiritual failure. 1 Corinthians 10 has outlined five assets. First of all that they were under the cloud, which indicates divine guidance. Then they passed through the sea, which indicates divine deliverance. They were baptized in Moses, which indicates their identification with God's plan for Israel. The fourth thing that God provided for them was the spiritual food, and the fifth was the spiritual water. There are five provisions or assets that every Jew had and this is related to every spiritual asset that the believer has in positional truth. Positional truth refers to our position in Jesus Christ, all that we were given at the instant of salvation. The point that Paul is making to the Corinthians is: You have all of these spiritual assets and yet you are carnal, you are not living on the basis of these assets. You continue to emphasize that you have all this knowledge but it is a knowledge that is not a biblical knowledge, not divine viewpoint, you are still operating on human viewpoint and the thinking of your past Greek culture. As a result you are in arrogance and are going to destroy your own spiritual life just as these Jews did.

The "salvation" in the translation of Psalm 78:22 is not phase one salvation, it is the ongoing deliverance of God through their time in the wilderness. This is analogous to the believer living the spiritual life as he continues to live after salvation he has to continue to trust in God's provision. [23] "Yet He commanded the clouds above And opened the doors of heaven; [24] He rained down manna upon them to eat And gave them food from heaven. [24] Man did eat the bread of angels; He sent them food in abundance." God always supplies everything we need for every situation. This is the principle called the sufficiency of God's grace. This is one doctrine that is under tremendous assault in the church today. The problem that we see in Corinth and in the Old Testament is the same problem we face all the time. It is the problem that the Bible calls worldliness, using the Greek word KOSMOS [kosmoj] which is translated "world," and we call it cosmic thinking. This is the thinking that characterizes man apart from God. Cosmic thinking is all the different thought forms and thought systems that are apart from God, independent of God, though they may contain much establishment truth.

Every single person is born inside the cosmic system, inside cosmic thinking, and are brainwashed with cosmic thinking from the day they are born. Our parents brainwashed us with cosmic thinking, your school teachers brainwashed us with cosmic thinking, our friends brainwashed us with cosmic thinking, the media brainwashed us with cosmic thinking; and we didn't even know it, because we as an unbeliever had the mentality of our soul, like a radio receiver, tuned in to the cosmic frequency and we sucked it up like a sponge. There are all kinds of different forms of cosmic thinking. There is religious cosmic thinking, and that can take any number of different forms—Hinduism, Islam, ecumenical religious concepts. You can have cosmic thinking in secularism and evolution that denies God and has an atheistic slant to it, but there are all forms of religious cosmic thinking. Then there is philosophic cosmic thinking where people, have picked up various philosophical systems that they are enamoured with because they stimulate them. Then you have eclectics. This is where most people fall because very few people take the time or the effort to seriously think through their thinking so that it is consistent. They just pick whatever seems to make them smile and they have all kinds of elements from this system and that system and this other system, and they just try to blend it all together into come kind of hotchpot that seems to work for them and make life work apart from God. All of this represents cosmic thinking.

What happens under the concept of cosmic thinking and worldliness is that you can take any believer from any point of the world and their brain is loaded with cosmic thinking. It has to do with all their cultural values, religious values, moral values, personal opinions and everything else. The Jews had come up in a system in Egypt. Then what happens is somebody comes along and gives you the gospel and you have divine viewpoint. In most cases people take whatever they already have, blend it with divine viewpoint, and end up with some kind of new system. It is a blend of paganism and divine viewpoint and it is not either one, it is just this blend. This is why the Bible says that we have to completely renovate our thinking. That means we have to get rid of the old cosmic thought. The problem that the Jews had was that they never accepted the divine viewpoint, they never accepted God's grace provision completely, and every time they had some problem in life, every time it got difficult, every time they faced some crisis out in the desert, they started griping and complaining and grumbling to Moses and wanted to go right back to Egypt where they had security. For them security was much more important than having the freedom that God provided them under grace, and this is always the conflict in human history: security versus freedom.

People can either have security or they can have freedom. When they want security they want somebody to provide everything for them and they usually look to the government to take care of that. When they have freedom that means that they are personally accountable for all their decisions and that means that if they make bad decisions then they may end up being a failure in life. Nobody wants to be a failure in life and nobody wants to reap then consequences of their bad decisions, so they rationalize it is better to get rid of freedom and go back to some sort of security where I am taken care of from the cradle to the grave. That is exactly what had happened to the Jews. They were taken care of in a system in Egypt from the cradle to the grave. That is exactly what socialism promises, exactly what liberal politicians promise—some sort of security. There is either freedom or there is security, there is no compromise between the two. It is only the Bible, only Bible doctrine, that provides any real understanding of freedom in human history. Nobody got those kinds of concepts until they got it from the Word of God. There was freedom in the Old Testament under the Mosaic law, under the theocracy, but the Jews constantly rejected it because they wanted to go back to some system based on human viewpoint.

The technical word for this is the word syncretism, and this has been a problem that has plagued believers throughout all of human history. It is taking one system and joining Scripture to it and you come up with something new that is just a blend if not being something new and totally devoted to the grace of God. But that was the problem in Israel and is the problem today: people don't want to trust the sufficiency of God's grace. They want to always rely on something else. They'll talk about God's grace and the infallibility of Scripture but the most important corollary of the doctrine of the inerrancy and infallibility is the sufficiency of grace. What do we mean by that? Inerrancy of Scripture is a doctrine that is derived from the Scriptures that the Bible is the revelation from God: "All Scripture is God-breathed," 2 Timothy 3:16. Therefore since God is without error anything that comes from God is without error. From 1 Peter 1:20, 21 we know that God the Holy Spirit moved the prophets so that He used human authors, but He oversaw the writing so that He guaranteed that what they wrote was free from error. That is why the Scripture is infallible and can't be broken, because it has its source and not man. The corollary of that is if the Scripture is true then it is also sufficient. 2 Peter 1:3 NASB "seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence." This means that you don't need to go out, away from the Scriptures, to find answers and solutions to the problems in life.

The point of Scripture is that God supplied everything you and I need to handle any situation and crisis in life at the instant of salvation. So it is potential. The only thing that activates that potential is your volition to come and sit under the teaching of the Word of God, to study the Word of God, to make that a priority and let your thinking be completely overhauled/renovated by the doctrine in God's Word.

This is the principle that the Jews rejected. They rejected the sufficiency of God's grace—"God can't take care of us"—and yet when God supplied for them he always supplied more than enough. It might not have had all of the seasonings and culinary delights of what they experienced back in Egypt but it took care of their nutrition.

Psalm 78:26 NASB "He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens And by His power He directed the south wind. [27] When He rained meat upon them like the dust, Even winged fowl like the sand of the seas." There is a superabundance of God's provision. Whatever it is in life that you are facing there is a superabundance of God's provision to face and handle any situation in life. The problem is that most people don't understand it because they have a fraudulent view of the Word of God and they don't understand how the mechanics of the spiritual life function. [29] "So they ate and were well filled, And their desire He gave to them." The interesting things is that in Psalm 106:15 we have another passage that describes this, and it says: "So He gave them their request, But sent a wasting disease among them [leanness to their souls]." They got exactly what they wanted (what they thought they wanted) but the fact was it didn't satisfy them because the problem wasn't physical. The problem wasn't that they didn't have meat, the problem was a spiritual problem in their soul and that was that they had rejected the solution of God. This is the problem on the life of so many believers that are failures, they are running around looking for happiness, looking for stability, but they have rejected the provision of God, just like the Jews in the desert. When God provided manna after a while they just got bored with it.

Psalm 78:30 NASB "Before they had satisfied their desire, While their food was in their mouths, [31] The anger of God rose against them And killed some of their stoutest ones, And subdued the choice men of Israel. [32] In spite of all this they still sinned And did not believe in His wonderful works. [33] So He brought their days to an end in futility And their years in sudden terror." The Jews of that generation came through the desert, they spent a year at Mount Sinai receiving the law and during that time they rejected God's provision, wanted some excitement and stimulation, and talked Aaron into making the golden calf, so they got into idolatry again. God disciplined them and several thousand were killed on that particular day. Then when they finally left Sinai and headed off toward the promised land they came to Kadesh-barnea and God told them to send 12 spies into the land to check it out and they didn't pay attention. God didn't say to go and see if they could take the land, He said: "I have given the land to you, go do a reconnaissance mission to find out how you are going to take the land." But they didn't listen to God. Ten of the twelve came back and said it couldn't be done. Tow of them, Joshua and Caleb, said they could do it because God said we could do it, God is the one who was going to defeat the enemy, not us. They relied on the sufficiency of God's grace and power, that it would be enough. That is where the faith-rest drill comes in.

Because they rejected God's grace provision at that time that generation was never allowed to go into the promised land. They had to spend the next forty years until every adult over the age of twenty died. God had to kill them through a variety of plagues and earthquakes and various other things. If we think about two-million people dying off in the desert over a period of forty years it means that there are several thousand funerals every single day as a testimony to the rejection of the grace of God. Death, death and death constantly reminded them that they were not in the place of life that God had provided for them.

1 Corinthians 10:3 NASB "and all ate the same spiritual food." Every single believer has the same spiritual food in the Word of God. We have access to the Word of God, it is being taught today and is available today that it has never been available before in human history. There is a superabundance of doctrinal teaching because of the internet and because of publications and a number of different ministries, and yet people reject it again and again and again. [4] "and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ." This is a reference back to Exodus 17:1 NASB "Then all the congregation of the sons of Israel journeyed by stages from the wilderness of Sin, according to the command of the LORD, and camped at Rephidim, and there was no water for the people to drink. [2] Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, 'Give us water that we may drink.' And Moses said to them, 'Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?'" Ingratitude is always a sign of a lack of grace orientation. Gratitude is an attitude of thankfulness for the reception of that which we do not deserve. When we do not have gratitude it is because we have rejected grace and we are choosing arrogance instead of gratitude, when our eyes are on self instead of on God. [3] "But the people thirsted there for water; and they grumbled against Moses and said, 'Why, now, have you brought us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?' [4] So Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, 'What shall I do to this people? A little more and they will stone me.' [5] Then the LORD said to Moses, "Pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand your staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. [6] Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink." And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. [7] He named the place Massah and Meribah [Griping and Complaining] because of the quarrel of the sons of Israel, and because they tested the LORD, saying, 'Is the LORD among us, or not?'" 

Numbers 20:10 NASB "and Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly before the rock. And he said to them, 'Listen now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?'" Moses fails at this point and this is why Moses is not allowed to enter into the promised land, he finally got fed up with their rebelliousness and he responds out of anger. [11] "Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation and their beasts drank. [12] But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, 'Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.'" Moses was told to speak to the rock, not to strike the rock. [13] "Those {were} the waters of Meribah, because the sons of Israel contended with the LORD, and He proved Himself holy among them."

The solution is to put problems in the Lord's hands and to trust in Him; this is always the solution. We are not to worry about it, not to try and figure it out on our own, but to put things in the Lord's hands and then to leave it there. This was Israel's failure, they did not ever follow the divine solution and we must always remember that the divine solution is the only solution. The human solution is no solution, it always leads to failure.

1 Corinthians 10:5 NASB "Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness." This word that is translated "laid low in the wilderness" is a bad translation. It is the Greek word KATASTRONNUMI [katastwnnumi] which means to overthrow, to spread, to strew or to scatter. Literally it should be translated, "they were scattered in the wilderness." It talks about the fact that for forty years this whole generation died and their bodies were scattered from Egypt to Kadesh-barnea throughout the desert. They turned Sinai into one tremendous graveyard simply because they refused to trust God. Only Joshua and Caleb survived to go into the land. The principle is that they trusted in God for salvation but after salvation they failed because they failed to operate on thinking doctrine. This is the warning that we get in Hebrews 3:7ff:


We are warned not to harden our hearts, that is, don't resist the teaching of God, don't be negative to doctrine as the Jews were. It is the thinking that is the problem: going back to human viewpoint, pre-salvation, cultural assimilation. The Jews, because of their failure, were disqualified from winning the prize. So we have to take a warning from this not to become distracted by human viewpoint thnking, not to lose sight of the sufficiency of God's grace, and not to let our priorities be destroyed by the priorities of the world around us.