We are called to live out the truth of Christ’s work on the cross. This can often be difficult in the world we dwell in. In this message on 1 Corinthians 10:1–13, Dennis Blythe challenges us to live in a way that doesn’t hinder the spread of the gospel. He shares four exhortations that teach us how to run the race faithfully.
- Let’s hear the passionate warning.
- Let’s realize we are blessed as people of God.
- Let’s avoid the perils of sin.
- Let’s embrace a promise of hope.
Let me invite you, if you have a copy of God’s Word, to turn to 1 Corinthians 10. We are continuing this evening in our series entitled, “The Cross and Christian Community.” Tonight, from the first 13 verses of 1 Corinthians 10, we’re going to consider the specific subject of “The Cross and the Christian’s Life.” Now, because there is a connection with where we’ve been over the last couple of weeks and where we’re going tonight, I want to take just a minute here up front and review where we’ve been, connect some of the dots for us.
You may remember from 1 Corinthians 8 a couple of weeks ago, that the Apostle Paul laid out a principle for us that, although Christians are free to do whatever it is that Scripture doesn’t forbid as sin, we were reminded that, if we love as God calls us to love, then we do what? We limit our liberty for the sake of weaker believers.
Then, last week from 1 Corinthians 9, we saw how Paul illustrated this point about liberty from his own life and ministry. You remember what that was about? Even though Paul had the right to financial support from the church at Corinth, he chose not to take it. So we learned for our lives, as followers of Christ, we, too, should relinquish our rights for the sake of the gospel.
You may remember, also, over the last couple of messages, that many of the Corinthian believers of that day thought that they were spiritually strong enough to be able to associate with unbelievers in their ceremonies, their social activities. They thought that they wouldn’t be affected by that. Paul told them, “You guys are deceiving yourselves.” The reality was when they abused their liberty, and they not only affected the weaker believers, but they also endangered their own spiritual lives. And the Corinthians were learning a lesson that we need to learn as well. It’s this: You can’t live long on the edge of freedom without falling into temptation and, ultimately, into sin.
Then, last week, from the end of 1 Corinthians 9, we were exhorted and challenged to run the race of winning others to faith in Christ. We were challenged to do it with sacrificial self denial and stringent self-discipline and single-minded devotion. And why were we to run it in that way? So that, at the end of the day, we didn’t find ourselves disqualified from the race that we’ve been called to run.
A true story from the sports world: About three months ago, there were literally thousands of runners who were disqualified from a marathon after inadvertently taking a wrong turn. There were runners at the marathon—it was called The Marathon of the North in Sunderland, England—and, as they finished, they were told at the finish line that they failed to complete a full marathon. Can you imagine? One race official said this: “Unfortunately, the second and third place runners were not within the line of sight of the leader and the lead vehicle. This resulted in all of those who followed taking an incorrect route through one particular section of the race.” He went on to say, “Our course measurer has now confirmed that 264 meters were, therefore, lost from the measured route.” Are you hearing what’s happening here? Only the lead athlete followed the correct route; every other runner was disqualified. And the report said there were about 5,000 athletes that took part in the race.
Well, like the Corinthians, if we are not careful, we can become pretty confident about our own spiritual life. We can enjoy the run, if you will. And we can do it to the point that we think we can handle just about any situation. And before we know it, we unknowingly cross a line into spiritual arrogance of sorts or self confidence. And when that happens, we are in great, great danger of making a wrong turn in life that would potentially disqualify us from the race that we have been called to run.
So, here’s a question that I want us to consider tonight: Is it possible, as a believer who has been blessed by God and even used by God to come to a point, where I am no longer qualified to run the race? Well, let’s begin this evening with the end in mind, and, in order to do that, I want us to jump all the way to verse 12 of the passage. We’re going to hear a very passionate warning that the Apostle Paul is giving the church at Corinth and, I believe, he’s giving to us today.
Let’s Hear the Passionate Warning
The Word of God says this: “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12) I’m going to go out on a limb here, but my guess is that many of us in the room tonight would probably fall into the category of those who would consider ourselves to be blessed by God. And we might even go as far as to say that God is using us in various ways. Some of us might be inclined to think that about our individual life.
Some of us might be inclined to think that about our church. And it is at that point that we need to be reminded of this truth: That whoever thinks he stands should take heed or that is likely to change.
Paul uses the phrase “take heed.” What he means is “beware”. He means “be very, very careful” or “watch out.” Because built into this confidence of thinking that we stand can be a certain kind of spiritual pride. Before we know it, we can quickly become comfortable, and we can get our eye off the ball. See, here’s what happens: When you or I become so confident in ourselves, when we become a little bit too big for our spiritual britches, you might say that when that happens, we become less dependent on the Word of God and less dependent on the Spirit of God. As a result, we get lazy and we get careless in the way we live our lives. As our carelessness increases, our exposure to temptation increases and then our resistance to sin decreases.
So here’s the bottom line I want us to see this evening: Follower of Christ, Church at Brook Hills, we must be above doing anything that hinders our mission in this world. It matters who we are; it matters how we live. Why? Because we have a mission to fulfill. Let me put it another way. As you run this race of winning others to Christ for the glory of God, if you preach the message of Jesus Christ but live a life in opposition to it, you are a hindrance to the gospel. Back in 1 Corinthians 9, Paul said, “I have a stewardship entrusted to me. I’ve surrendered my life that I might win more people to Christ.” And in verse 23, he says, “I do all of this [why?] for the sake of the gospel.” And here’s the deal: If we are going to preach the gospel, if we have this same stewardship entrusted to us, and we do, and we are to win people to faith in Christ, it is imperative that our lives match the message. What a tragedy it would be for you or for me to preach the gospel to someone but not be living a life that demonstrates its power. So hear the warning tonight, church. There is a lot at stake here.
Let’s Realize We Are Blessed as People of God
So with that passionate warning in front of us, let’s back up to verse 1 and, first of all, let’s realize together how we are, indeed, blessed as people of God. Look, first of all, at the very first word of verse 1. In the ESV, it’s the word “for.” Now, that’s an important three-letter word and, if we’re not careful, we’ll pass right by it. And the reason the word “for” is important is it’s connecting 1 Corinthians 9 to 1 Corinthians 10. And Paul has just spoken about this matter of being disqualified. Now, he’s getting ready to use the next few verses to take us on an Old Testament journey. That’s where we’re going tonight; we’re going on an Old Testament journey. And Paul is going to give us a real life illustration of how that very thing happened to the people of God.
The people of God then experienced…
Now, Israel was a chosen nation. God chose them as a nation; they were to be God’s witness nation, right? They were a very blessed people. They were a very privileged people. Unfortunately, they just quickly forgot it. So let’s look at the first four verses and see how they were blessed. It says:
For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:1 –4)
We’ll stop right there for a moment, but I want you to notice that in those first four verses that five times the word “all” is used. Do you see it there? “All” were under the cloud. “All” passed through the sea. “All” were baptized. “All” ate. “All” drank. And what Paul is doing right here is he’s emphasizing the oneness of Israel as a faith community. As an entire nation, from the youngest all the way up to the oldest, they enjoyed tremendous blessings from God. Everyone got in on it. And in these first verses, we see four things that the people of God then experienced.
So, first of all, they experienced God’s presence. Verse 1 says, “…our fathers were all under the cloud…” And the reference that Paul is making here is back to the exodus, where God led the Israelites out of the bondage of Egypt that they had been in for some 400 years. Exodus 13:21 says this, “And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.” And this is talking about a manifestation of God, something visible, that could be seen. God hovering over the camp of Israel to symbolize that He was with them and that He was leading them. How cool would that have been? God’s presence. Well, secondly, we see that the people of God experienced God’s power. Look at the end of verse 1. It says, “…and all passed through the sea.” You will likely remember the story from Exodus 14. The people of God crossed the Red Sea. Why? Because God had driven back the sea with a strong wind and divided the waters, the Bible says. And then the Israelites walked through on a dry path, with a wall of water on either side of them. They came out the other side; those waters closed in and drowned Pharaoh’s army.
And Paul is reminding the Corinthians about how God, in His great grace, rescued His chosen people. He rescued them out of Egypt and He delivered them into the land that He had promised to them through Abraham. So, they were blessed with the presence of God, and they had experienced the power of God.
The third thing that Paul mentions about the people of God is that they experienced the baptism of Moses. In verse 2, Paul says, “…and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea…” Now, the word “baptism” here is an interesting word. What it means is that they were immersed into Moses. Now, it’s not used here in a wet or underwater sense, like we might be inclined to think of. But it’s used more metaphorically.
Think of it this way. You might say, “Wow! For the last month, I’ve really been immersed in my work.” Well, when you say that, you don’t mean that you’ve literally been under water. What you mean is that you’ve been engulfed in your work or you’ve been “covered up,” as we say here in Alabama. That’s the way that the word is used here. It’s not talking about a spiritual ceremony of baptism like we think of today. But instead, Paul is saying that the Israelites had come under the leadership of Moses. It was through being immersed into him that they were identified as one people—that they were united as one community. Baptism of Moses.
Well, the fourth thing that we see in these first few verses is that the people of God experienced His provision. We see it in verses 3 and 4. It says, “…and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink.” Let me remind us of something very foundational this evening, and that is that God is a good and gracious and dependable God. The Bible is telling us that He miraculously gave the people of Israel a daily supply of food. Do you remember what it was called? What was it called? It was called “manna.” Manna, bread from heaven. And He provided water for them to drink for 40 years. And the point that Paul is making here is that the people of God faithfully had their needs met.
Isn’t it easy sometimes to take for granted that our needs are met? God is so faithful in that way. But don’t miss also the incredible truth at the end of verse 4. Check it out. It says, “For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them…” Now on the surface, that sounds a little bizarre, doesn’t it? A rock following you around? But from the very beginning of this journey, the Israelites had a spiritual Person—called the “Rock” here—that went everywhere they went for those 40 years in the wilderness. And who was that Rock? That Rock was Christ!
Now for some of us, that makes our brains hurt. You say, “Dennis, I thought we were talking about stuff way back in the Old Testament, and—boom!—now Jesus is in the picture. Where did He come from?” Well, this Rock that followed around the Israelites is actually identified a number of times in the Old Testament as the “Angel of the Lord.” But right here, the New Testament tells us that the Angel who was with Israel and following them and directing them and guiding them, protecting them and supporting them, was none other than Christ Himself. While it’s true that Old Testament believers did not have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as we do, they did, during the exodus, have the sustaining presence of the pre-incarnate Christ caring for and fulfilling their needs. That’s pretty amazing! So think about it: The Israelites had direction that came from God’s presence; they had deliverance that came from God’s power; they had dinner that came from God’s provision, right? And to top it all off, they had Jesus with them wherever they went. What else could they possibly want? We’ll see here in just a minute.
1 Corinthians 10:1 –13: As the people of God now…
But first, if that’s how the people of God were blessed then, what about us today? I mean, we didn’t get to get in on that pillar of fire thing or the crossing of the Red Sea or a Rock following us around. So let’s think for just a minute about the blessing that we experience as the people of God now. In the same way that Israel was under the cloud, we experience God’s direction and protection in our lives. He guides us; we have His Word; we have the Holy Spirit; we have the church; we experience His direction and protection.
Secondly, in the same way Israel passed through the sea, those of us who have turned from sin and put their faith in Jesus Christ have been delivered, as well, from eternal death. In John 5:24, Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”
I want to pause right there at that point and say that, if you are here tonight and you have never come to a point in your life where you have repented of your sin and trusted in Christ to save you, oh, I want to urge you to consider doing that today. Don’t wait! Every person in this room needs to be rescued from their sin. Every one of us. Jesus is the only One who can do that for you. So believe in Him; trust Him; follow Him with your life and do it today.
Well, third, we know that Israel was baptized into Moses; we have been baptized into Christ. Paul is going to remind us of that in 1 Corinthians 12. Christ is our Head; we are His body. Next, the nation of Israel was sustained with food and water. We are as well but, in addition, we’re sustained by the spiritual bread and spiritual water—the Bread of Life and Living Water that feeds our souls and quenches the thirst of our hearts. And while we don’t have the Rock of Christ following us everywhere we go, we do literally have the Spirit of Christ living inside of us. And so let me say to every follower of Christ in the room: You are incredibly blessed and privileged as a child of God.
With all of that, however, look at verse 5. It says, “Nevertheless…” “Despite all that blessing” is what Paul’s saying. “…with most of them God was not pleased…” So what happened? Well, the end of verse 5 says that they were overthrown in the wilderness. The word for “overthrown” has the same root word that we get our root word “catastrophe” from.
And it implies that their carcasses were literally strewn across the wilderness.
Now, remember, Paul is giving us a real life illustration of how God dealt with those who were disqualified from His plans and purposes. Now, it’s very important to note this however. They were not sent back to Egypt. They didn’t get unredeemed, okay? They didn’t lose what they had but they missed out on what God ultimately had in mind for them: The Promised Land. And the obvious, gigantic question is “What in the world could they have possibly done to make God so mad?”
Let’s Avoid the Perils of Sin
Paul takes the next six verses and from the Old Testament books of Exodus and Numbers, he reminds us of five accounts from Israel’s forty years in the Sinai wilderness. Look at verse 6. It begins by saying, “Now these things took place as an example for us…” And he says something similar in verse 11. Glance down there. He says, “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction…” To put it another way, what Paul is saying is, “The stuff that we see in between verse 6 and verse 11, we need to learn from this.” That’s what Paul’s saying. By the grace of God, we need to avoid the perils of sin that ultimately led to their demise. And so let’s consider these five things.
1 Corinthians 10:1 –13 and the desire for evil things…
The first one that we see is that they had a desire for evil things. Back in verse 6, it says, “These things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.” And what Paul is referring to here is Numbers 11:4, which says, “Now the rabble…” Another way to say would be “the rowdy crowd”. “…that was among them had a strong craving.” Well, what does that mean? A strong craving? Well, the law had been given to Moses. They had built the tabernacle. They had begun to travel. And do you know what they craved? They craved fresh vegetables. That’s what they craved. They were sick and tired of manna. And as crazy as it sounds, they wanted to go back to Egypt, where there were melons and garlic and onions. They craved that.
Now, I know all the kids in the room just perked up and they’re thinking, “I knew vegetables were evil. I just knew it!” Now, not so fast, kids, okay? You see, the problem for the Israelites was that their desire for a more exciting diet controlled them and they obsessed about it. And here’s what we have to understand: Whenever we have to have something different or more than what God has provided, our desires begin to become evil.
And those who were strewn across the wilderness, they were a people who failed to bring their bodies under control, like Paul described in 1 Corinthians 9:27. Instead, they indulged in every desire, lust and craving.
So what’s the takeaway for us tonight? I’m going to give you five of them as we move through this part of the message. The first takeaway is this: The Christian who controls his body and his lifestyle remains qualified to run the race.
1 Corinthians 10:1 –13 and Idolatry…
Well, let’s keep going. Paul says to the Corinthians and to us in verse 7: “Do not be idolaters as some of them were…” The idolatry that he’s talking about here took place during the giving of the law at Mount Sinai. It was Exodus 32. And you’ll remember that it was while Moses was up on the mountain for 40 days hearing from God that, down below, the people became restless, and they started to wonder if God even existed.
Have you ever been there? You ever wondered if God was really out there—if He even knows who you are or where you are? That’s where the Israelites were. So they asked Aaron, who was Moses’s kind-of right hand man, to make a god for them. Weak leader that he was, Aaron gave in and he crafted for them from their jewelry a golden calf. They referred to the calf as “the god who had brought them out of Egypt”. (Exodus 32:4) Somehow, they had this messed-up idea that they could use a pagan idol to worship the true God. What happened next? The Bible says is Exodus 32:6 that the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play. They did what Egyptians did at their idolatry festivals. They ate big and they had a sex party. That’s what the phrase “rose up to play” means. And how did God feel about that? Well, the Bible tells us that God Himself killed 3,000 men in one day, and He sent a plague on top of that. He could have killed them all. He was giving them just a glimpse of what they all deserved. But hear this today, church: Our God, the one, true God, despises idolatry and is jealous to receive all of the glory that is due Him.
We’re probably inclined to say, at this point, that we’re not the least bit attracted to that form of idolatry. The reality is we’re just more sophisticated idolaters in the 21st Century, are we not? We realize that idolatry involves more than just paying homage to a statue or a physical image.
Let me give you a definition. An idol is anything that has our love and loyalty ahead of God and, as a result, decreases our dependence on Him, our desperation for Him and our devotion to Him. Now, no Christian that I have ever met—not even a nominal Christian— would openly and honestly say, “I am an idolater.” However, the number of gods that we have managed to manufacture in our culture is sobering. Pastor and evangelist D.L. Moody said this: “You don’t need to go to heathen lands today to find false gods. America is full of them.”
And I would suggest to you this evening so is the church. You say, “Dennis, what do you mean?” Here’s what I mean. When there is a greater drive for our work than there is for our walk, we are wandering down the path of idolatry. When we glorify our kids in greater ways than we glorify our King, they are becoming little idols in our homes. When social media consumes our minds more than spiritual matters, we have constructed another god. When the accumulation of stuff supersedes the adoration of our Savior, we are guilty of idolatry. And when we are more passionate about a Saturday of sports than we are about a Sunday of worship, we are worshiping the wrong god.
Friend, hear me today: God has made you to be a worshiper. You are going to worship something. The question is who or what will it be? The takeaway for us tonight is this: The Christian who has nothing in his life that he desires more than Jesus remains qualified to run the race.
1 Corinthians 10:1 –13 and Sexual immorality …
Next, in verse 8, Paul says, “We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did…” It happened in Numbers 25. The Israelites were preparing to enter the land that God had given them, and the women of a place called Moab threw quite a welcome party. And they offered a lot of great food; they proceeded to seduce the men into having sex with them and, not surprisingly, as the verse states, the men indulge themselves. And the result? A terrible disease that killed over 20,000 people. I think it’s safe to say that God means business when it comes to this area of our lives.
Now, I’m not going to spend a lot of time here this evening because we’ve dealt a good bit with this subject in the series already. But I do want to say this: I believe a lot of Christians slip and fall in this area of their life because they enter into a relationship or they allow themselves to get into a compromising situation, and they are way too confident in their own ability to resist temptation. Way too confident. “Let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12) The takeaway for us tonight: The Christian who flees sexual immorality remains qualified to run the race.
Putting God to the test…
So, not only have the people of God been involved in desiring evil things and idolatry and immorality, but the passage goes on to say in verse 9, “We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents…” Now, hang on for this one. I’m not making this stuff up. The story is from Numbers 21. The Israelites had the nerve to accuse God of being unfaithful, and they basically accused Him of delivering them from Egypt so that He could take them out in the wilderness to kill them. They didn’t like the way things were going; they weren’t happy with what God was doing or not doing. They basically said, “Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There’s no food. There’s no water. We hate this sorry excuse for food that you’re providing.” Do you know what they were doing? They were calling into question the goodness of God. Numbers 21:6 says, “Then the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many of the people of Israel died.”
Now, there are not many things in this world I dislike more than snakes. Maybe liver, but snakes are a close second. I’m that guy who, about every four weeks, keeps throwing mothballs out into the woods beside my house because it’s supposed to keep the snakes away, or so I’ve heard. I haven’t seen a snake in two years, so I’m going to keep on throwing them. You know, we don’t know exactly how many people were attacked by snakes and died but the number must have been massive.
And when I read this, I can’t help but think about how easily we, too, can become dissatisfied and impatient with the circumstances that God has us in. Maybe for you it’s the job you’re in. It might be the home that you have or the neighborhood that you live in. For some of you, it might be your marriage or a family situation. Maybe a crisis that you’re walking through and, for whatever reason, you just feel like you’ve been dealt a bad hand.
And without realizing it sometimes, I think we can subtly accuse God of meaning evil for us and not good. We can demand that life be more like we think it should be. That’s putting God to the test, and friends, He will not tolerate that from His people very long. Yes, He’s a merciful God; yes, He’s a patient God; yes, He’s a God of grace. But His mercy and His patience and His grace are not cheap. So our takeaway here is this: The Christian who refuses to bring God’s faithfulness into question remains qualified to run the race.
1 Corinthians 10:1 –13 and Grumbling…
Well, the final sin of the Israelites that we see here is in verse 10. It says, “…nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.” Numbers 16 is the last stop that Paul makes, and it’s really a pretty frightening story, as if the snakes weren’t bad enough. It’s a frightening story about three young men who challenged Moses’ authority. They thought that their leadership was just as good as his was. They weren’t happy with the authority that God had placed in their life at that time, and they began to complain about it out loud. They created dissension, and they were sowing all kinds of seeds of distrust for Moses’ authority.
And do you know what God did? He stopped them and all their followers dead in their tracks. Numbers 16:32 says, “And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up…” And there’s more. A few verses later, in Numbers 16:41, it says that “…the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and against Aaron…” Again, the authority God had placed in their life, “saying, ‘You’ve killed the people of the LORD.’” And God was so put out with them that He immediately sent a plague that killed 14,700 people. Grumblers can be destructive, can they not? Do you know any grumblers? Are you a grumbler? See, grumbling is a vocal dissatisfaction with God’s sovereign will for our lives and the lives of others. Think of it this way: When believers grumble, they challenge God’s wisdom; they challenge God’s grace and His goodness and His love; they challenge His righteousness and His sovereignty. Whenever something wasn’t going the Israelites’ way or when it wasn’t happening as fast as they wanted it to, they began to grumble.
So if grumbling, murmuring or complaining—other words that the Bible uses to describe this—if that dishonors God, then what is the right attitude to replace it with? I would suggest to you tonight that it’s contentment. Contentment is what glorifies God. The Apostle Paul, over in the book of Philippians 2:14, instructed the church in Philippi: “Do all things without grumbling or disputing…” And then he went on at the end of that letter in Philippians 4, and he told the Philippians that he had learned to be content regardless of the situation. And so the takeaway for us tonight is this: The Christian who maintains an attitude of contentment remains qualified to run the race.
And so, there’s the list of perilous sins of the Israelites: The evil desires and idolatry, sexual immorality, testing God and grumbling. And he says, “Let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed…” Beware, watch out, be very careful “…lest he fall.”
Have you ever thought about the fact that God hasn’t changed His mind on how He feels about sin? Think about that. Because I think some of us live our lives as if we think God has loosened up over the years; He’s become a little lenient. And it’s just not true. However, this is a good place to be reminded that God, in His love and grace for you, made a way for my sin and for your sin to be forgiven. We read about the wrath of God toward sin in the Old Testament. But do you know what? He satisfied His wrath toward our sin by sending a Savior.
Let’s Embrace a Promise of Hope
Well by this time, the Corinthians were probably wondering how in the world they could possibly avoid all the pitfalls that Paul had just described and illustrated. You may be wondering that same thing. Well, that’s why he doesn’t stop with verse 12. Paul follows up his warning with a tremendous promise of hope for us to embrace tonight and head into our week with. So briefly, I want to show you three things in verse 13 that Paul reminds us of.
The experience of our temptation is common to all of us.
First of all, the experience of our temptation is common to all of us. In the first part of verse 13, Paul says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.” You see, you and I will never have a temptation in our lives that is anything other than human. Someone else has already seen it, has already faced it and it’s not new to us.
Now, the basic meaning of “temptation” in this context is simply to test or prove. So if we resist it in God’s power, then it’s a test that proves our faithfulness, right? If we don’t resist it, it becomes a solicitation to sin. And we know that Satan brings temptation to lure us into sin and, on the other hand, God allows tests into our lives so that we might grow in faith and grow in righteousness. So the experience of our temptation is common to all of us.
The environment of our temptation is under God’s control.
Well next, Paul reminds us that the environment of our temptation is under God’s control. In the middle part of verse 13, he says, “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability…” We’ve probably all seen, at some point, those signs that are at bridges or maybe in elevators. It says, “Maximum Weight: 2,000 lbs.,” or, on a bridge, “Maximum Weight: 5,000 lbs.” Well somewhere along the way, there was an engineer that calculated the amount or stress, or the amount of weight, that those structures could endure. And those posted warning signs tell us not to exceed that maximum load.
You might be that person, you know, you get in the elevator and it starts to fill up. And you see that sign in front of you with the weight limit, and you start looking around estimating people’s weight. You know? “Okay, that guy’s 250. We can’t have many more of him. Oh, she’s just a hundred pounds. We’re good.” You know? And you start adding it up in your head.
Well, people have their load limits and Paul reminds us of the promise that God is faithful. And God won’t allow a temptation to come your way that is beyond your capacity. He knows your weaknesses; He knows your level of spiritual maturity; He knows the details of your life at any given moment. So the point is: God guards us. He guards you and me from any temptation which we wouldn’t, by His grace, be able to endure. That doesn’t mean that we won’t ever blow it. It doesn’t mean that we won’t ever give into temptation, but it means that our failure is not going to be the result of having more than we can handle.
The escape from our temptation is provided by God.
Well, finally, not only is the environment of our temptation under God’s control, but the escape from temptation is provided by God. At the end of verse 13, Paul says, “…but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
Now the word here for “escape” means “the exit” or “the way out.” So whether we have a trial in our life to prove our righteousness or there’s a temptation to lure us into sin, there really is only one way to pass the test. We don’t escape temptation by copping out of it but rather, we escape temptation by passing through it. You see, God doesn’t just snap His fingers and transport us out of the temptation when we push the panic button all of a sudden. No! He doesn’t take you out; He sees you through and He equips you, prepares you with the power of His Word and the presence of His Spirit to be able to endure that temptation. Think about it. Jesus didn’t escape temptations by disappearing. He escaped them because He was prepared to face them head on.
A Scottish theologian put it well when he said it this way: “No man need fall to any temptation, for with the temptation is the way out. And the way out is not the way of surrender nor of retreat, but the way of conquest [I love that word, “conquest”] in the power of the grace of God.” And so, be encouraged tonight. No temptation you will face this week is new. And be encouraged, church, that God is faithful. He’s not going to allow you to get into an impossible situation. Be encouraged that it’s by His grace that comes through His Word and His Spirit that that’s how you’re going to be able to have victory over temptation.
Well, Church at Brook Hills, we’re running a race, and it’s the race of winning others to Christ as we make disciples of all nations. The question is: Are you going to let your guard down and become careless in the way that you live your life, only to look up at the finish line and realize you were disqualified? Or will you stay in the race? Will you take heed and live a life that matches the message of the gospel?
- We are to limit our liberty for the sake of weaker believers.
- We are to relinquish our rights for the sake of the gospel.
- We are to run the race of winning others to faith in Christ.
- Is it possible, as a believer who has been blessed by God and even used by God,to come to a point where I am no longer qualified to run the race?
Let’s Hear the Passionate Warning (v. 12)
- Bottom line: We must avoid doing anything that hinders our mission in this world. If you preach the message of Jesus Christ, but live a life in opposition to it, you are a hindrance to the gospel.
Let’s Realize We Are Blessed as People of God (vv. 1–5)
- The people of God THEN experienced…
- God’s presence.
- God’s power.
- The Baptism of Moses.
- God’s provision.
- As the people of God NOW…
- We experience God’s direction and protection in our lives.
- We have been delivered from eternal death.
- We have been baptized into Christ.
- We are sustained by spiritual bread and
- spiritual water.
- We have the spirit of Christ living inside of us.
Let’s Avoid the Perils of Sin (vv. 6–11)
- The desire for evil things (Numbers 11)
- Takeaway: the Christian who controls his body and his lifestyle remains qualified to run the race.
- Idolatry (Exodus 32)
- An idol is anybody or anything that has our love and loyalty ahead of God, and as a result decreases our dependence on Him, our desperation for Him and our devotion to Him.
- Takeaway: the Christian who has nothing in his life he desires more than Jesus remains qualified to run the race.
- Sexual immorality (Numbers 25)
- Takeaway: the Christian who flees sexual immorality remains qualified to run the race.
- Putting God to the test (Numbers 21)
- Takeaway: the Christian who refuses to bring God’s faithfulness into question remains qualified to run the race.
- Grumbling (Numbers 16)
- When believers grumble they challenge God’s wisdom, grace, goodness, love, righteousness, and sovereignty.
- Takeaway: the Christian who possesses an attitude of contentment remains qualified to run the race.
Let’s Embrace a Promise of Hope (v. 13)
- The experience of our temptation is common to all of us.
- The environment of our temptation is under God’s control.
- The escape from our temptation is provided by God.