“Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” – 1 Corinthians 10:12
1 Corinthians 10:12 is used by some to prove that true Christians can lose their salvation and “fall” into eternal damnation. The first question that must be asked from this text is this: take heed lest he fall into what? Fall into hell? Fall into sin? Fall into temptation? Fall from God’s blessings? Paul does not explicitly state into what is fallen, but from the context can we get some clues? Let’s take a look:
Paul begins the chapter describing the provisions the Israelites were afforded in the wilderness:
“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.” – 1 Corinthians 10:1–4
Paul continues by saying that God was not well pleased with many of them. Why?
“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. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.” – 1 Corinthians 10:5–10
Paul tells us that the Israelites were overthrown in the wilderness, and all of the things done by them, namely lust, idolatry, fornication, tempting God, and murmuring, were examples for our admonition today:
“Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” – 1 Corinthians 10:11–12
Paul then speaks of temptations, and an instruction to flee from idolatry:
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13–14
Given this context, is Paul speaking of a Christian “falling” from salvation? Or rather, is Paul cautioning Christians against falling into temptation and sin? The text is not explicitly clear, but the context seems to indicate the latter. We cannot read into the text something that is not there.
For more information, see Is eternal security true?