Do NOT take sin lightly!
There are four false ideas about sin that are prevalent in our society:
- Let go and let God
- I am saved but I can lead a holy life by myself.
- Sin isn't all that important. You can have Jesus as your Saviour, not your Lord.
- Let's not focus on being holy... but on being forgiven again and again.
Paul teaches something completely different:
1 Cor. 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be a disqualified.
Notice that Paul is talking about running the race well, in order to receive the prize. There is strategy and effort here. The Christian life is not about floating up to the clouds with a harp - Christians must work hard, strive to achieve, work and sweat and toil. Like an athlete, they need strict training, careful self-discipline, and watchfulness. Paul is in a real fight in this passage - with HIMSELF!
Why does Paul exercise self-discipline? Why does he mortify the flesh and put off sin? Because he does not want to be disqualified!
Royal taught us that this warning in 1 Corinthians is there for our benefit.
Romans 15:4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
What sorts of things would disqualify a believer? Paul goes on to explain, using the example of God's chosen, covenant people. They'd been saved from a life of slavery and led by a miracle across the Red Sea to the Wilderness. The Lord was with them during the day in a pillar of cloud; at night His presence was seen in a pillar of light.
Warning Against Idolatry
1 Corinthians 10 For I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
(They were all baptized; all ate; all drank --> They were God's people. Yet with most of them God was not pleased. Only two of them out of hundreds of thousands pleased the Lord.)
6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” 8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.
Five Clear Warnings
1. Do not crave evil things. (Read Numbers 11)
God had rescued the people from the clutches of Pharaoh, and had provided them with daily food. They weren't happy about the manna, and began wailing. The Lord became exceedingly angry, and gave them the meat they were so desperately craving. Quail came upon the camp, so much quail that the birds were three feet deep. When the people put the roasted quail to their lips, the anger of the Lord burned against them and He struck many of them down.
There's no prohibition against eating meat, so what was going on? Eating meat is not sin.
No, but craving an evil thing is sin. The people were rejecting God's provision for the moment in which they were living. God had decided that at that time, manna was what His people were to eat. He provided the manna, and they should have been content.
How about you? Are you content with God's provision for your life right now? Are you contented with your financial situation, with your relationships, with your health, with your job? Are you pleased to wait on the Lord and trust His provision?
Or are you wailing?
2. Do not be idolaters. (Read Exodus 32)
God had appointed Moses to be the leader of His people, and Moses taught them that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was immortal, invisible, omnipotent and omniscient. While Moses was on top of the mountain, meeting with the living God, the people demanded a "god" they could see. They did not stay true and faithful to the invisible God who had delivered them, but instead opted to worship a golden calf made out of the jewelry they had received from the Egyptians.
God sent a plague and the sword against His people in judgment.
Are you waiting on this invisible God? Are you trusting His timing? Do you worship idols - "gods" of your own making? What takes you away from God? What occupies your thoughts and takes your energy? What makes you despise God and His ways, and prefer people or fortune or fame or things?
God hates idolatry. He judges people for it. Take heed lest you fall into the sin of idolatry and are judged.
3. Do not be se x ually immoral. (Read Numbers 25)
God instructed His people to remain pure, and to marry within the Children of Israel. They instead went whoring after Moabite women. God brought judgment upon His people, and thousands died in a plague.
In our culture, immorality is everywhere. It doesn't shock us anymore, because it is so prevalent. Music videos, dancing shows, singing shows - many of them demonstrate impurity, and nobody bats an eye. Guard your purity! If you don't, there will be consequences.
Royal has seen the destructive effects of people who choose to be impure. Marriages crumble, lives are destroyed. Immorality is the great destroyer. Take heed. Do not fall into this sin lest you face judgment now.
4. Do not test the Lord. Do not provoke the Lord your God. (Read Numbers 21)
Don't try to see how far you can go with Him.
Numbers 21:4 From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom. And the people became impatient on the way. 5 And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” 6 Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.
There's a clear downward spiral that can be present in your life:
"There's no bread and no water, and we detest this worthless food!" All they could do was complain. They let their discouragement over their circumstances cause themselves to be impatient... and their impatience soon led to rebellion.
Don't do it! Don't let your discouragements make you impatient so that you rebel. If you are discouraged, turn to God. Give your troubles to Him. He will remove the thorn in your flesh in His good time. Trust Him. Wait on Him.
Discouragement should cause God's people to flee to the only One who can change things.
5. Do not grumble. (Read Numbers 14)
God promised His people the Land of Canaan. His intention all along was that there would be a battle for the land. It was never His intention to hand the land to them without effort and strategy on their part.
The people didn't trust God. When the spies went in to check out the land, most of them came back saying "There are giants in the land. We can't attack them. We're too weak!"
Most of that generation would fall by the way, because of their grumbling and their lack of faith.
. . .your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness, and of all your number, listed in the census from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against me. . .
None of them would be allowed to enter the Promised Land except Joshua and Caleb. Everyone 20 years old and up would die in the wilderness. What a tragedy! And all because they grumbled and did not trust God to do what He said He would do.
It is crucial that we keep our faith and trust in God. We must build ourselves up in our most holy faith. Troubles will come, trials will come, and what will our reaction be? God wants us to react as people of faith.
We are not to grumble. We are not to react in anger against His will.
Therefore, let anyone who thinks that he stands
take heed lest he fall.
- Take sin seriously.
- Fight against sin! Be like Paul, and beat your body into subjection.
- Rest in the power of the Holy Spirit. Listen to His prompting. Obey!
- Don't get comfortable with sin.
God finishes this section of 1 Corinthians 10 with this promise:
13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
God is faithful. He'll make a way to escape! When we are tempted, we can flee to God. He stands ready to help, ready to make a way of escape, so that you can endure the temptation.
WARNING: All these things happened to Israel, the covenant people, when they fell into sin. Take heed! Don't take sin lightly. Don't think that it's not important. Don't think that because you are part of the new covenant that you are somehow exempt from temptation. It's a battle. You were called to a life of holiness. You were called to battle against sin.