Friday, April 9, 2010

Take Heed of the Examples But Remember the Promises

Recently, I have been meditating on 1 Corinthians 10:1-13. Paul begins this passage (verses 2-3) pointing out the great advantages and grace that God had shed on the people of Israel as they were brought out of Egypt. He says they "were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea" or in other words they were partakers of the miracles of God's continuing presence in the guiding them with the cloud as well as seeing the great miracle of the Red Sea parting. He goes on to show how they partook of the same spiritual food and drink probably alluding to the manna and water that God provided for them again in miraculous fashion. Finally, Paul says that these people drank for the Spiritual Rock of Christ once again referring to how God provided water to them from a Rock. All these physical miracles during the Exodus were Spiritual types pointing to Christ.

Paul then changes gears from the activities of grace that God provided for them to their actions in response. He says that although God granted these great blessings to them, He was not pleased with most of them (verse 5). Paul specifically says that these actions are examples for us "so that we will not desire evil as they did." What were the actions of some of these people which we are to take heed:
  1. They were idolaters (1 Corinthians 10:7 quoting Exodus 32:6 which deals with the events of the golden calf)
  2. They were immoral (1 Corinthians 10:8 pointing to the events of Numbers 25:1-9)
  3. They put Christ to the test (1 Corinthians 10:9 pointing to the events of Numbers 21:5-9 when the people complained about God's provision and God sent poisonous snakes)
  4. They complained against God (1 Corinthians 10:10 pointing to the events of Numbers 16:41-50 when the people again complained against God's dealing through Moses and Aaron and God send a plague)
Paul shows that many were cut down in the wilderness because of these sinful action. These things should serve as examples to us to keep us from evil. In 1 Corinthians 10:12, Paul writes, " So let the one who thinks he is standing be careful that he does not fall" Why would he says this? Well, he has just shown that many people who had experienced many of God's miraculous wonders still turned to sin. If they, who beheld these wonders, could so easily turn to sin, then we too, who have not seen the Red Sea part, manna falling from heaven, or water suddenly coming from a rock, can also easily turn to sin.

The questions comes - will remembering these examples keep us from sin? Well, they certainly will help - but the glorious promise of 1 Corinthians 10:13 will aid us in our battle to put evil to death in our lives.
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 has promised:
  1. That we will never face a temptation that is extraordinary.
  2. The He (God ) is faithful to His promises.
  3. That we will never face a temptation that is beyond our ability to overcome.
  4. That God will provide an escape with every temptation we face.
  5. Because of the above truths, we can endure.
How often do we drift into self pity over temptations thinking no one has ever faced the temptations like we have. We don't have the strength to fight and we can't win. To think this way flies in the face of these promises from God. As regenerate believers, we can overcome sin. God is Faithful - He will always keep His word. He tells us we can endure, we can overcome, He will always give us an escape.

The questions comes then why do we continue to choose sin when these fearful examples and glorious promises of a Faithful God are ours? Well, it still comes down to the same problem those many Israelites had - Unbelief. They did not believe God was really faithful to His promises. They did not believe God was interested in their absolute best. They did not believe obedience to God and faith in His promises was better for them than the false promises of the temptations they to which they yielded.

When we sin we have no excuse - God has provided a way of escape in every temptation. We still live in this flesh and will battle sin all the days of our physical life. And we still will sin. But what do we do when we fail as those Israelites in the wilderness. The only thing we can - flee to the cross of Christ, repent of the sin and find forgiveness in His perfect work. Find your peace of forgiveness and right standing with God through the work of Christ alone - for that is your only hope. But - go on to fight sin by believing the promises of a faithful God that will never leave or forsake you. You can overcome - you can endure. Fight with God's precious promises - especially remembering that one day He has promised that all sin will be destroyed and we as His people will no longer be even capable of sinning against Him. Take heed of these fearful examples, remember your are weak in your own self - but also remember the great promises of God to aid you in your fight by working in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure (Phillipians 2:13)
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

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