Yes we walk in the flesh—meaning we have fleshly bodies. God has made us physical. But, we are not really supposed to walk according to the flesh. "We walk by faith, not by sight."
We live in physical bodies. We have physical lives. We have our physical problems. But the battle we wage is not physical at all! The battle is fought in the realm of belief, ideas, philosophies, teachings, words, principles, and laws. To sum it up, we could say, "We fight the battle in our minds."
That is where it is—in our minds. Or as the Bible often says—within our hearts, our emotions, our personalities, our developing character. Why is that where the battle lies? "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he" (Proverbs 23:7). A person is what goes through his mind, what he allows himself to do, all the decisions that he makes.
We say, "We are what we eat." We know that what we put into our mouths goes into our bodies, and supplies our bodies' needs as energy or raw materials for building and maintenance. We know that our bodies over time replace all the cells that we have! That is the way that God has made us. Our food is the raw material—fuel—that makes us what we are physically.
Well, spiritually it is the same thing. We are what we think! We are what we allow into our minds. René Descartes said, "I think therefore I am [Cogito ergo sum]." It is essentially a true statement because it is our thoughts, and the character that our thoughts have helped to form, that will pass through the grave. Our essential being beyond our physical flesh and blood is what is going to be preserved by God.
Job 32:8 informs us that "there is a spirit in man," and Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes 12:7, "Then [at death] the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it." And God does whatever He does with it. What is recorded on that spirit? The person's thoughts, his memory, his beliefs, his desires, his habits, and his character traits!
God does not work with us through however many years of our lives just to throw away what He accomplished in us through His Spirit.
When we die, He takes what He has made, and He stores it for the resurrection, so at that time, He can return it to us in a spirit body that will live for eternity with Him. What He stores is what goes on in our minds with the human spirit coming into alignment with God's Spirit: what we think, what we believe, all the experiences we have gone through, the habits we have formed, and the character traits that God, by His Spirit, has created in us. Those are the things that pass through the grave.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Is God in All Our Thoughts?
Verse 5 is downright alarming. How many people of the 2 to 2½ million people who came out of Egypt under Moses made it into the Promised Land? Of those aged 20 and older, only two, Joshua and Caleb, along with their families, made it.
Paul uses vivid terminology. He literally says that their bodies were scattered all across the desert. They fell aside as they went along the way and did not make it. They were buried where they fell. The Israelites left a trail of graves all the way from Egypt, through the Sinai, and up into the borders of Israel, the Promised Land.
Such a thing will not physically occur to us. God is working out something different with us than He was with them. With them, He was establishing a type and setting examples for us. We can look at what they did and learn from what occurred to them. We have the Holy Spirit, and they did not. That should make a huge difference!
Paul says that they all went under the cloud and were baptized into Moses. They were not literally baptized in the way we were, but they did pass between the waters. When they went through the Red Sea, they walked on dry land, but the water rose up like walls on either side of them. The apostle Paul uses this as a type of the baptism we go through. They were buried into Moses, as it were, becoming partners in the Old Covenant. Moses, the mediator of that covenant, was a type of Jesus Christ.
Yet, these people died in the wilderness. Here is decisive proof (most of it contained in the record of their wandering in Exodus and Numbers) that though a person physically goes through all the ordinances, it does not mean a thing spiritually.
Verses 1-4 show the Israelites were in the presence of Jesus Christ. He was in the cloud and in the pillar of fire. He was there as the Angel, the Messenger of God, who was leading them through their pilgrimage on to the Promised Land. That is why Paul's illustration is so alarming: One can lose his salvation (not make it to the Promised Land, the Kingdom of God) if he is living a life of divided loyalties (Matthew 6:24).
John W. Ritenbaugh
Passover and I Corinthians 10
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing 1 Corinthians 10:4: