As we set our hearts and minds on a new year starting in just a few days, and possibly resolve to work off the extra poundage we have gained over the last week, 1st Corinthians 10 is a perfect passage for the occasion. How so, you might ask?
Maybe you know that the month of January derives its name from the mythological god Janus. This was the “two-faced” god, with one face looking back at the past and one face looking ahead to the future. Well, that is what Paul does in chapter 10 — he looks back to look ahead.
Having spoken to the church about the challenges of freedom and the need for discipline and the reality of disqualification, Paul takes them on a journey into the past. This journey is useful because God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We might be entering into a new year, but God is the same. He never ages, never gets tired, and never randomly acts on emotional whims. His unchanging nature makes Him predictable. If He did it in the past, He will do it in the future. This is why the past is important.
So how does that relate to the Corinthians and to us? It seems that pride is a big issue for the people in Corinth. In their pride, they thought they could abuse their freedom by engaging in risky behavior and having no consequences. This passage serves as a warning. There were consequences in the past and the Corinthians might expect similar consequences if they don’t smarten up! The Corinthians were doing the same things God’s people did in the Old Testament. What results did they get?
This may be the New Years sermon that nobody wants but everybody needs. But take heart, the section ends with a strong message of God’s faithfulness to us when we find ourselves in a season or place of temptation.