Spiritual blessing does not exempt you from temptation. In 1 Corinthians 10:1-6 God draws some broad parallels between us as Christians and the Israelites of the Exodus. The Israelites of the Exodus are well-known for two things: extraordinary spiritual experiences, and continual giving in to temptation. The point of relevant to us as Christians is simple: spiritual blessing does not exempt you from temptation.
1 Corinthians 10:1-6 is a difficult passage to understand, so let’s walk through it briefly
For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,1 Corinthians 10:1-2
This is about the Exodus – to connect it to us as Christians, this is about a very special water experience. The Israelites all experienced the presence of the LORD in the cloud that followed them. The cloud was a symbol of God being with them. Also, the Israelites all passed through the Red Sea on dry land. In a miraculous demonstration of God’s power he had parted the waters of the sea preserving his people and then when they had all passed through safely, He let the waters return to their normal function and effectively drowned the whole Egyptian army.
The word baptise is what makes our ears in the NT church perk up. Was there baptism in the OT? Was the Red Sea experience a national baptism? Well, no. First of all, Exodus is quite clear that they passed through the sea perfectly dry.
What Paul is doing here is drawing a parallel between the Israelites and us as Christians. Just like your water experience – water baptism symbolises your identification with Christ, so the Israelites were identified in the Red Sea and cloud experience with Moses. God was with Moses, and by experiencing the Red Sea event all were assured that by following Moses they would be blessed by God.
Likewise us in the NT, by conversion, symbolised through water baptism, we are identified with Christ. Therefore we too are assured of God’s blessing by following Jesus in whose name we were baptised. In other words, like the Israelites, you Corinthian believers have a water experience that identifies you with the blessing associated with following God’s man.
The same is true for vv. 3-4
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.1 Corinthians 10:3-4
This is a food-and-drink experience. The spiritual food and drink does not refer to spiritual sustenance in the form of salvation, for most of the Israelites were probably not saved. Rather the word spiritual refers to the spiritual source of the food and drink. You remember from the book of Exodus how God had provided manna miraculously from Heaven each morning, and how a dry rock had poured forth drinkable water enough to quench the thirst of a nation. Paul identifies Christ as the rock in the same way as he identified the food and drink as spiritual. The power behind the continuous sustenance provided by the rock was Christ.
By doing this, as he did with the word baptism, Paul draws a very close line between what the Israelites experienced in the desert and what the Corinthians experienced in the church. In the church we also have a food-and-drink experience. It is called the Lord’s Supper and is the topic of discussion briefly in the end of chapter 10 and then again in chapter 11 of 1 Corinthians.
Like the Israelites, we Christians have immense spiritual blessing. But that does not make us immune to temptation.
Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.1 Corinthians 10:5-6
The sad story of the Exodus is that every man over 20 at the time of these blessings, except Joshua and Caleb, did not enter the Promised Land. Almost all of them, including Aaron and Moses even, fell in the wilderness because of sin.
Do not be deceived. Spiritual blessing does not exempt you from being destroyed by temptation.
Your conversion, the baptism that followed, and the regular blessed participation in Communion does not make you spiritually invincible.
True spirituality does not come through spiritual experience, but through a constant fleeing from even the appearance of sin.