Today we will continue to study the four admonitions Paul gives in 1 Corinthians 10:6-10. The idolatry is probably a reference to the thirty-second chapter of Exodus, which tells of when Moses was up in the mountain receiving the Law. The Law began, "You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below" (Ex. 20:3-4). And yet, at the very time Moses was up on the mountain receiving the law, the people were down in the valley making the golden calf, falling down, and worshiping it. The Apostle Paul told them to remember that even though they were numbered visibly among the people of God, they committed idolatry and were judged for it.

This matter of baptism in verse 2 has confused a lot of people. There are those who say, "You see! They were all baptized in the sea. That’s talking about immersion." But, they overlook the fact that it was the Egyptians who were immersed, not the Israelites. It is at this point that those who do not believe in baptism by immersion have said, "No, it says they were all baptized in the cloud and in the sea. How are you baptized with a cloud? Obviously, you are baptized when it sprinkles on you. So, it’s not talking about immersion." Even if we do not understand exactly what baptism means here, it should be evident that this sort of foolish quibbling is not what it means.

I do not know of any book of the New Testament that is more practical than 1 Corinthians. Yet of all the practical matters that are handled in this letter, I suppose the most practical and far-reaching of all is the matter of temptation, which Paul discusses in chapter 10, because temptation affects everybody. There are many who have marriage problems, legal disputes, and prideful characters, but temptation is the all-inclusive category. It concerns absolutely every person in the human race. If you are not tempted, you are dead. And if you do not struggle against temptation, you are spiritually dead.

We all have certain rights. In the passage we have been studying, Paul has pointed out the specific rights he has as an apostle. And yet note that he does not demand his rights. He says, "Although I have these rights, I - not everybody, but I, in my case - have willingly laid these rights aside in order that I might have the privilege of taking the Gospel to you without cost." In verse 15 and following he says he does not want anybody to misunderstand his motivations. He does not want his readers to think that he is merely complaining: "Look at how I labor, and how difficult my life is. Look at how faithful I've been as an apostle, yet you haven't paid me a single thing." Paul is not saying that at all. In fact, he considered it a great joy to be in a position in which he could labor with his hands, support himself, and have the privilege of preaching the Gospel without cost. Now, you see how this is to be applied.

At the end of yesterday’s lesson, we read that Paul claimed to have a right to the financial support of the Christian community. To support this view he gives a series of arguments. First of all, in verse 7, he deals with what I would call a universal principle. The principle is simply that the laborer is worthy of his reward. He illustrates this in different ways. He talks about a soldier. The soldier does not serve at his own expense; he has a right to be paid. He says a man who keeps a vineyard has the right to eat of its grapes when the harvest comes. He says a shepherd has a right to some of the milk of the flock. Who in the world would ever question that principle?