07 Pitfalls & Priorities – 1 Cor 101 Corinthians: Called to Be Saints
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British statesman Winston Churchill wrote, “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Examples from the past, both good and bad, are powerful teaching tools. The ancient Israelites, even after God saved them and supplied all their needs, chose to sin and therefore forfeited the Promised Land. They fell in five specific ways, that we will call pitfalls or sinkholes. The clear warning is this: Christians who fail to learn from the Israelites and instead repeat their sinful ways will be lost.
10:1-13 – Pitfalls on the Path to the Promised Land
— 10:1-2 God saved. Cloud. Crossing Red Sea // Baptism.
— 10:3-4 God supplied. Manna & water (rock) // Christ.
— 10:5-10 They sank. Their bodies laid low (scattered).
They sank in five sinkholes … and you could, too! We’ll consider these next.
— 10:11-13 We see!
Sinkhole # 1: Greed
Num 11:4 Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat!” Num 11:31 Then a wind from the Lord sprang up, and it brought quail from the sea and let them fall beside the camp, about a day’s journey on this side and a day’s journey on the other side, around the camp, and about two cubits above the ground.
Num 11:32 Each grabbed at least 60 bushels (220 liters).
Num 11:34 Called in Hebrew Kibroth-hattaavah (“graves of greediness”).
Sinkhole # 2: Idolatry
Ex 32:6 And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play … 8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up … the land of Egypt!’ ”
Whoever or whatever we adore and magnify …
Sinkhole # 3: Sexual Immorality
Num 22-24 Plan A: King Balak of Moab was unable to get the prophet Balaam to curse Israel. (Remember the “dumb” donkey!)
Num 25:1-9 So, Plan B: Offering Moabite women to Israelites. Num 25:4 Execute in broad daylight. 25:9 Total 24,000. (1 Cor 10:8 notes that 23,000 of this total fell in just one day.) Cf. Num 31:16.
Rev 2:14 (Pergamum) … some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality.
Connected then and now: idolatry and immorality. Rom 1:18-27
Sinkhole # 4: Testing the Lord
Ex 17:7 (People complaining about water) And he called the name of the place Massah (testing) and Meribah (quarreling), because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the LORD by saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”
Num 21:5 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.
Heb 3:7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, 9 where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years.”
Matt 4:6 [The devil] said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down …” 7 Jesus said, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
In what ways or situations may we be tempted to test the Lord today?
Sinkhole # 5: Grumbling
The Book of Numbers is the Book of Grumblers!
Num 14:26 (after the unbelieving spies’ report) And the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, 27 “How long shall this wicked congregation grumble against me? I have heard the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against me. 28 Say to them, ‘As I live, declares the Lord, what you have said in my hearing I will do to you: 29 your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness …
10:11-13 We See!
These events are examples for us, written for our instruction.
We must learn from the bad examples as well as the good ones.
After all, we live near the climax, the end of the ages. Take heed!
We could sink, fall, and be lost … but we must not! God will help us!
10:12 We are not unsinkable!
10:13 We are not alone!
10:13 We are not unprotected!
10:13 We are not forced to fail!
10:13 We can escape and endure!
10:14 Therefore, Flee from Idolatry!
Gen 39:12 Flee as Joseph fled from Potiphar’s wife.
Ex 2:15 Or Moses from Pharaoh after Moses killed the Egyptian.
Matt 2:13 Or Joseph and family from Herod the Great.
Matt 24:16 Or Jesus’ disciples from the invading Romans in AD 70.
1 Cor 6:18 Flee sexual immorality.
1 Tim 6:11 … the love of money … and pursue instead righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.
2 Tim 2:22 … youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
10:15-22 Therefore, Leave and Cleave!
The cup and bread: our connection, our common bond.
“Communion:” sharing in common; union; partnership.
One bread, therefore one body.
Israel: eating implies participation, association, and linkage.
Eating is “communion” with the altar from which they eat.
Pagans: those who eat have “communion” with demons!
Christians: choosing the Lord’s table means rejecting all others. His table is either-or, all-or-nothing, without compromise or competition.
1 Cor 10:21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons … partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.
Serving any idol “provokes God to jealousy.” Ex 20:5; Deut 4:24
Who is strong enough to challenge God that way? We dare not!
Josh 24:15, 19-25 Choose you this day …
1 Kgs 18:21 If Yahweh is God, obey him; but if Baal, then obey him.
Matt 6:24 No one can serve two masters …
10:23-33 Therefore, Learn and Discern!
An action may be lawful, but …
10:23 Is it helpful? Is it beneficial? Is it constructive?
10:24 Does it unselfishly seek my neighbor’s good and not my own?
10:25-26 Is it right or wrong objectively?
10:27-29 Is it right or wrong conscientiously?
— If no association with idols is mentioned …
— BUT if you are told, “This was a pagan sacrifice …”
An action may be lawful, but …
Could I be slandered for taking this action if it offends others?
If everyone knew it, saw it, or did it, would that be good?
Does it assert my liberty but trample another’s conscience?
Can I do it to the glory of God?
Could it offend Jews, Greeks, or the church?
Does it seek to please others, for their benefit?
Will it help save and secure people for heaven?