Paul starts chapter 10 by reviewing many things that happened with the Jewish people in the Old Testament, showing that they fell into temptations and sinned against God. The punishment that God dealt them was in line with His holiness and appropriate to their sins. Some people may look at the punishments of the Jewish people unfavorably, thinking that the punishments didn’t fit the sins. The problem is that most people that think like this have a misconception of the goodness of humanity. They believe that overall humanity is good and deserves good things. The problem is that humanity is not good, it is evil and all of our desires are evil. Therefore God’s punishment is always just and righteous.
“So, whoever thinks he stands must be careful not to fall. No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.”
1 Corinthians 10:12-13 HCSB ( https://www.bible.com/72/1co.10.12-13.hcsb )
Paul used all of the examples of the Jewish people's sins to show that all of the temptations we face today are the common temptations that all people in the world face. This is to show us that we have no excuse for our sins. We can’t say that our unique situation justifies the sin that we have committed. Instead, we are to blame for our failures, not other people or the situations that we find ourselves in.
The good news is that God will give us the ability to overcome temptation. We do not have to fail in our spiritual lives; we can resist temptation and avoid sin because God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can handle. God will also provide us with a way out of the situation so that we can avoid sinning against God. On the other hand, if we end up sinning it is completely our fault.
“Everything is permissible,” but not everything is helpful. “Everything is permissible,” but not everything builds up. No one should seek his own good, but the good of the other person.”
1 Corinthians 10:23-24 HCSB ( https://www.bible.com/72/1co.10.23-24.hcsb )
Paul again addresses Christian liberty, our freedom in Christ, that just because everything is permissible doesn’t mean that we should participate in everything. It should be noted here that Paul is not talking about sin, that you have a right or freedom to sin. He is not talking about the moral law of God, but the ceremonial laws that were added to Judaism over time.
He uses the example of eating meat offered to idols. He says that we should not join in the festivals of the idols, because behind the idols are demons and that the sacrifices made to idols are offered to the demons (vs. 20). This is why a Christian can go into the religious places of other religions because all places belong to God, but we should not join in any religious ceremonies or worship of other gods. This includes religious funerals practices and holiday festivals. We can eat meat offered to idols, but we should not join in on the religious activities of the idols.
Paul wants us to understand that our freedom in Christ is not about what we can and cannot do. Instead, it is about doing what is beneficial for the building up of others. Many believers have the wrong mindset and want to know how far they can go before something becomes a sin. Instead, Paul says that we should focus not on what is permissible but on what builds up and leads to spiritual maturity for ourselves and others.
If we change our focus to the building up into spiritual maturity the body of Christ; the church body would be more loving and reflect the attributes of God more clearly. By doing so we would be able to be used by God more effectively in the spreading of the gospel. May we all surrender all we are for the building up of the saints for the glory of God.