Survival Skills for a Christless City – 1 Corinthians chapter 10


Just added, a new message in our series on 1 Corinthians, preached by Dr J Stewart Gillespie from 1 Corinthians chapter 10 verses 18 to 33:


1 Corinthians chp 10 vs 18 to 33 – Survival Skills for a Christless City – JS Gillespie – 11082015


Notes available from this message:


How do we live for Christ in a Christless society?

There have been at least 3 approaches apart from the one advocated here in 1 Corinthians chapter 10:

  1. Isolation – Hide
  • Christians withdraw from the world around them, recognising correctly that it is anti Christ, immoral and hostile to them and the Gospel
  • They choose a path of living as Christians amongst Christians
  • Don’t find this approach in the NT, although perhaps the seeds of it exist in 1 Tim 4:3; 1 Co 7:1ff
  • Generally the vision for evangelism and the appreciation of the lost world as not only being anti Christ but being in need of Christ is still too fresh.
  • Not only does this approach:

Disobey the great commission (Matt 28:18ff)

it also ultimately Disappoints the pursuit of holiness


  1. Assimilation – Compromise

This is the approach of the Corinthians and perhaps has become the approach of the church in the 20th and 21st centuries too:

  • compromise
  • assimilation
  • amalgamation

Professing Christ and living like a Corinthian

Living like a Corinthian in Corinth

Difficult at times to tell the believer from the unbeliever

This seems to have been the approach of many at Corinth

They professed faith in Christ as Saviour; they really wanted the hope of salvation, home in heaven and the help of the Spirit of God.

They loved to hear of the:

  • Person of Christ
  • Prophecies of His coming – eg 1 Corinthians chp 5 and chp 15
  • Power of the Spirit – 1 Co 12 + 14
  • the Promise of resurrection – 1 Corinthians 15

The Gospel is good news, great news, the very best news; there is no blesing so great, so valuable and so precious

No wonder they were falling over themselves to get it!

But wherever we hear of this promise of salvation and forgiveness of sins and a new life there is a condition attached:

  • John Baptist (Matt 3:2) – repent
  • Christ (Matt 4:17; Mk 1:15; Lk 13:3,5 – repent
  • Disciples (Mk 6:12) – repent
  • Peter (Acts 2:38; 3:19) – repent
  • Paul (Acts 17:30) – repent
  1. Legislation

Maybe find a balance between these two approaches?

The word or idea of ‘balance’ when it comes to spiritual truth ought always to be a red flag to the believer.

The idea of balance involves opposing / contradictory / opposite ideas, and finding a middle ground or fulcrum for balance, the problem here is:

  • truth doesn’t oppose truth and so does not require balancing out
  • the opposite of truth is error
  • either you are trying to balance error with error – ie 2 different varieties of error, or error against truth in both cases you will end up only with error

So here, the error of isolation balanced against the error of assimilation simply gives you a third error – legislation.

Maybe there is a middle ground between isolation and assimilation?

Maybe we could come up with a list of does and don’ts, an agreed list of places you can and can’t go, things you can and can’t do.

Practically of course we will never get Christians to agree on what those rules might be.


There is a distinct approach altogether:


  1. Sanctification

That is:


  • Living as a Corinthian in Corinth
  • Living as a Christian amongst Christians


  • Living as a Christian in Corinth

Here is a thoroughly revolutionary idea!

There is a problem with it however:


For those determined to live as Christians at Corinth, here are the survival skills for living for Christ in a Christless City.


  1. Fellowship (10:16-21)
  2. Feeding (10:21)
  3. Fear of God (10:22)
  4. Freedom (10:23-30)
  5. Build me up? (10:23)
  6. Bless others? (10:24)
  7. Bring Glory to God? (10:31)
  8. Bring others to Gods Glory? (10:32)



  1. Fellowship (10:16-21)

The world is not spiritually neutral

Satan turns up in all sorts of unexpected places

The world may be in a state of:

  • ignorance
  • apathy
  • absence

from Christ

But that does not render it spiritually neutral

Everybody is serving somebody

Society may profess religious affiliation in the negative; atheism, agnosticism and non denominationalism, but the world is not spiritually neutral (Ephesians 2:1ff)

Satan turns up in all sorts of unexpected / hidden places:

  • Against Peter; “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:(Luk 22:31) – inspiring the Damsel to point out Peter?
  • In Judas Iscariot; “Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve.”(Luk 22:3)
  • In the persecution of Rev 2:13
  • Behind the King of Tyre (Ezek 28:12)
  • Behind the King of Persia (Dan 10:11-14)
  • Behind the King of Babylon (Isa 14:4ff)
  • In every day trials and temptations (1Peter 5:8)
  • In personal opposition to the gospel (John 8:44)
  • Behind human political systems and Kingdoms (Matt 4:8ff)

How do we identify the Devil in the detail?

Where do his malevolent influences lie?

Look for his character being manifested:

  1. Murder (Jo 8:44) – Satan takes life, destroys life and quashes life.
  2. Lies (Jo 8:44)
  3. Theft (Jo 10:1)
  4. Counterfeit / Idol worship (1 Co10:20) – which may not be that far from the real thing.

Look for those hallmarks of Satanic activity and you may well find an influence all around you.


  1. Feeding (10:21)

We must choose where we feed

We cannot feed on both Christ and the world, they are mutually contradictory!

cf. 1 Co 10:3-4; 1 Peter 2:1-4 – the milk and 1 Co 3:2 – the meat; 1 Co 5:7 – the passover


  1. Fear of God (10:22)

Our sin has consequences

Illust: Aristadas de Sousa Mendes, issued 20,000 visas to Jewish refugees in Bordeaux in France in 1940; ‘better to be with God against men than with men against God’


  1. Freedom (10:23-30)

Christian liberty is real, the apostle does not deny Christian liberty even in the midst of these abuses of that liberty

Consider the consequences:

  1. Build me up? (10:23)

The question is not, what is wrong with it? (v23) but rather how does it build me up?

  1. Bless others? (10:24)

There are higher pursuits than what suits me best (v24).

  1. Bring Glory to God? (10:31)
  1. Bring others to Gods Glory? (10:32)

Salvation and evangelism (v37)