Warren Wiersbe tells the story about a preacher who presented a sermon series entitled “The Sins of the Saints.”
Apparently the sermons “offended” the sensibilities of a sister who strongly disapproved of the series. “After all, she told the preacher, “sin in the life of a Christian is different from sin in the life of an unsaved person.”
“Yes it is,” the preacher replied, “It’s worse.”
Our text today speaks of sin in the lives of God’s people, Israel.
Israel’s Spiritual Blessings
It is reputed that when Oliver Cromwell was planning the education of his son Richard, he mused, “I would have him learn a little history.”
Paul begins by reminding them of Israel’s history and the blessings God bestowed upon their forefathers. The Red Sea was safe passage from the enslavement of Egypt and the pursuit of Pharaoh’s army. He evokes the metaphor, “they were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.”
God guided them through the wilderness. Protected them from harm. Provided physical sustenance. And equipped them spiritually. “Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.”
Lessons Learned From Israel’s Sins
It is often observed that “those who fail to learn from the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them.” This is Paul’s point and purpose in relating this history to the Corinthian Christians.
#1 Don’t be like Israel who fell prey to idolatry.
In the shadow of Sinai, where the commandment was given, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Ex. 20:3), they fashioned and worshiped a golden calf. Throughout Israel’s history idolatry was a frequent pitfall.
Today, our idols are not made of wood, stone, gold or silver, but take the form of material possessions that we idolize. Or money itself. The Bible says that “covetousness is idolatry.”
Idolatry is the extreme admiration, love of, and reverence for anything that replaces Jehovah God. It may be pleasure. Power. Position. Prestige. Or even other people.
#2 Don’t be like Israel and succumb to the sin of fornication.
Pagan idolatry often involved sexual immorality, which offered an enticing fleshly allurement. History records the fall of 23,000 Israelites to this sin in one day, all of whom God punished.
Our culture glorifies “sexual expression.” We live in a era where anything goes. Pre-martial sex. Extra-marital sex. Throuples living together. And Homosexuality.
When the culture endorses, encourages and glorifies sexual activity outside the marriage relationship of one man and one woman, it’s too easy for Christians to justify and rationalize their moral (or immoral) choices. But Paul says “Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.” The Bible still says, “Flee sexual immorality” (1 Cor. 6:19).
#3 Don’t be like Israel and push God too far.
Over and over again, they tested God’s patience. Tested His mercy. And tested His goodness. From this we should learn not to push the boundaries of God’s requirements. Or question His Word. Or quibble with His commandments.
#4 Don’t be like Israel by grumbling and griping.
The word often used in the KJV is “murmured.” It means to mutter. To complain. To bellyache. They groaned and groused about their food, the long journey, their safety, and even against the leadership of Moses and Aaron. Their grumbling spoke of their unbelief. And resulted in the death of no less than 503,548 men of war before reaching the promised land.
The Bible succinctly admonishes us to “Do all things without complaining and disputing” (Phil. 2:14). Learn to be content with God’s will for your life, and the circumstances in which you find yourself (Phil. 3:13-14).
If You Think You’re Standing Strong…
…“Take heed, lest you fall.” None of us are immune to any of these temptations. Preachers, pastors, and long-time Christians can and do fall prey to Satan’s snare.
However, when temptation appears, be assured that God will provide a means for escape. But you must be looking for the escape hatch.
The observation of Otto von Bismarck is good advice for Christians to follow regarding Israel’s history. “Fools say that they learn by experience. I prefer to profit by others experience.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman
One response to “1 Corinthians 10:1-13”
Pingback: Weekly Recap: October 24-28 | ThePreachersWord