“Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.”
1 Corinthians 10:1-6 KJV
In this passage, Paul goes back in time to the wilderness journey (the Exodus from Egypt) of the Israelites several centuries before. He notes that ALL those who embarked upon this journey were (symbolically) baptized under the cloud and in the Red Sea (two instruments of God’s presence and protection). He notes again that they ALL partook of the same spiritual food and drink (having a double significance, one as the manna and water God provided, and another as the teachings and laws of Moses and encounters with God).
However, as Paul says,
“But with many of them God was not well pleased.”
This means that despite all the privilege they received from God’s hand, many of them fell far short and failed to please God with their lives.
The case is the same with believes of today. We go to great churches, we have a wonderful communion, we’ve witnessed God’s mighty hand work miraculous deliverances for us. We’ve had marvelous encounters with God. We’ve tasted of God’s mercies. We’ve eaten —and keep eating — solid, nutritious spiritual food. All the necessary factors are there.
Yet with many of us, God is not pleased.
Why is this so?
We will try to unravel this mystery by the light of the Scriptures.
First of all, in that same chapter:
“Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.” (v6)
Paul actually has a lot to say about them in subsequent verses, down to verse 12. But, for the time being, we shall consider verse 6 alone. “We should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.” So we see here that lust is the problem, lust after evil things.
What are evil things?
“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”
“Evil things” comprise every action or thought that explicitly or implicitly goes against God’s nature., will and word. Lust for evil things leads to evil things. James 1:14-15 KJV says “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”
This is what happened to the Israelites —unchecked lusts led to sin and eventual death.
The Word of God has a lot to say about lust. How the lusts of the flesh war against the Spirit, how we should mortify our lusts, and many more.
But one of the Scriptures I believe puts it succinctly is Jeremiah 2:25 KJV
“Withhold thy foot from being unshod, and thy throat from thirst: but thou saidst, There is no hope: no; for I have loved strangers, and after them will I go.”
In the preceding verses, God tells the story of how Israel departed from him, likening her to several things, including a wild donkey used to having her own way. God recounts the instruction He gave to her’: Withhold thy foot from being unshod. Do not allow yourself run around barefoot. Let me put shoes on your feet. Though it may seem painful, it is for your good. Withhold your throat from thirst. Get rid of the thirst for sweet things, because it is that thirst that has destroyed you.
But Israel said no.
We did, too.
This is why God is pleased with only some of us.
We have refused to be tamed. It is not enough to be fed. We must be trained as well.
It is because we have held on to these lusts, that we keep staggering and tripping, falling and stumbling in our walk with God. Hebrews 12:1 calls them “weights” that draw us back in our heavenly race.
How long will we cling to these things that destroy us and cause decay in our lives? Shall we not cast off these garments of “weakness” we cherish so much?
Hosea 13:9 KJV says, “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help.”
There is hope; there is a way. We are not destined to forever be in bondage to these things. If we will but reach out to him as the psalmist did in Psalm 143:6, there is the power to be free from these lusts. But, remember, we must be prepared to deny ourselves if we must remove these ills from us.
And He will empower us.