Translation & Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ the Redeemer Church, Manhattan, KS, 19&26 Apr. ‘09
1. For I am not willing for you to be ignorant, brothers, that our fathers
all were under the cloud,
and all went through the sea,
2. and all were baptized into Moses by the cloud and by the sea.
3. And all ate the spiritual food,
4. and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking out of the spiritual, accompanying rock, and the rock was Christ.
5. However God was not pleased with most of them, for they were cast down in the desert.
6. Now these things have become examples for us to the end that
it would not be us who are coveters of bad things like they themselves coveted.
7. And stop being idolaters, just as some of them were,
as it has been written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and they stood up to party.”
8. And let us stop being sexually immoral,
as some of them committed sexual immorality and 23,000 fell in one day.
9. And let us stop testing out Christ,
as some of them tested [Him] out and were being destroyed by the snakes.
10. And stop complaining,
as some of them complained and were destroyed by the Destroyer.
11. Now these things were coming together to them typologically,
and they were written for our admonishment into whom the ends of the ages have come down.
12. Therefore the one seeming to stand must watch lest he might fall.
13. Your testing has not overtaken [you] unless it’s human,
yet God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tested above what you are able,
but rather He will make together with the test also the way out for the ability to undergo [it].
14. Therefore, my beloved ones, keep fleeing from idol-worship.
Context: Paul talks about his concern about being disqualified himself at the end of chapter 9. Now he explains from history how God’s people have been disqualified in the past and uses this history as a warning to us against sin that would disqualify us in the race, the wrestling match of faith in Jesus.
There are three sections, each with five points:
· first are the 5 similarities between the O.T. Jews and the New Testament church (vs. 1-6),
· then there are 5 sins of the O.T. people of God that are particularly dangerous still to the church of God today, (vs. 6-10)
· and finally there are 5 ways to combat these sins (vs. 11-14).
Due to the length of this passage, I’m going to have to break it into two parts, so I expect to have to pause for a week somewhere in the middle of the list of the 5 sins, and you’ll have to wait until next week for the exposition of the 5 ways to deal with the sins peculiar to Christians.
A) 5 Similarities between the O.T. & N.T. church (vs. 1-6 – five “all’s”)
1. “all our fathers were being under the cloud” (v.1b)
a. O.T. meaning:
i. Exodus 13:21 “Jehovah went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way, and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light” (cf. Ps. 105:39)
ii. The cloud was a symbol of the presence of God with His people
iii. The cloud guided them to go where God wanted them to go.
iv. The cloud also was a protection from the Egyptians at the Red Sea and a protection from the hot desert sun during the day
b. The N.T. church has a similar blessing from God:
i. In a similar manner, God remains with His people, although not visibly like the cloud, but spiritually through His Holy Spirit. Mat 18:20 “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
ii. The Spirit of God guides us to know what God wants us doing each day.
iii. His spirit also protects us from threats that God does not want to harm us.
iv. Just as the O.T. church witnessed the special presence of God with them in the cloud, the N.T. church sees the special presence of God with them in the H.S.
2. “all went through the sea” (v.1c)
a. O.T. meaning:
i. Ex. 14:22-29 “the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground… 23) And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, and his horsemen… and Jehovah overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. 28) And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, even all the host of Pharaoh that went in after them into the sea; there remained not so much as one of them. 29) But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.”
ii. Deliverance from Egypt
iii. Formation of a new nation of God’s people
b. The N.T. church has a similar blessing from God:
i. The church has spiritually the things that were pictured physically for the Jews
ii. Deliverance from sin
iii. Formation of a new people of God, a heavenly kingdom whose citizens exist by faith in Jesus.
3. “all were baptized into Moses” (v.2)
a. O.T. meaning:
i. Baptize: Original idea of dipping included dying, changing identity of color.
ii. As a general rule, when the word “baptize” is used in the O.T. Septuagint, it is describing a process where a tool is dipped into a liquid in order to sprinkle something or someone else in order to make them holy.
iii. The Jews were not immersed in the sea; the Egyptians were. Nor were the Jews immersed in the cloud; it was overhead, in front of, or behind them.
iv. Rather the Jewish nation gained a covenantal identity under Moses, the administrator of God’s covenant who circumcised them and gave them God’s covenant word on the other side of the Red Sea. The covenantal identity of the people of Israel was renewed under Moses.
v. The Egyptians didn’t know the name of the Israelite God; they didn’t know the names of the two million individuals who escaped Egypt, but they did know: you are one of those people that Moses led out!
b. The N.T. church has a similar blessing from God:
i. 90% of the time that people in the Bible were baptized into something, it was into something other than water; the majority of the time it was a baptism into the name of Jesus!
a. Matthew 28:19 “baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”
b. Acts 8:16 Samaritans “baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus”
c. Acts 19:3 Ephesian synagogue had been baptized “into John's baptism,” but were baptized again “into the name of the Lord Jesus”
d. Rom. 6:3 “all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death”
e. Gal 3:27 “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ”
ii. Just as the O.T. church was baptized into Moses, the N.T. church is baptized into Christ – we take on a new identity as Christ-ians and stand under Christ, the administrator of the New Covenant. (for more parallels between Moses and Christ, see John 1:17 & Heb 3:5-6)
4. “all ate the spiritual food”
a. O.T. meaning:
i. Referring to the supernatural nature of the manna that the Jews ate:
ii. Num 11:7-9 “And the manna was like coriander seed, and its appearance was like the appearance of resin. 8) The people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in mortars, and boiled it in pots, and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was like the taste of fresh oil [or like bread and honey]. 9) And when the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell upon it.”
iii. Psalm 78:24 “He rained down manna upon them to eat, And gave them food from heaven.”
b. The N.T. church has a similar blessing from God:
i. John recorded Jesus as saying “Your fathers ate manna in the desert… I am the bread of life which came down from heaven.” John 6:32-35
ii. He says in John 6 that “he who believes in me will have eternal life” then later on “he who eats my body will have eternal life.” Does this mean there are two ways to get eternal life? No; these are two ways of saying the same thing: Believing in Jesus is figuratively eating His body, it is taking Him for yourself for your spiritual nourishment.
iii. It is interesting that these blessings of the O.T. church which are listed here parallel the sacraments of the N.T. church: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
5. “all drank the same spiritual drink”
a. O.T. meaning:
i. Twice during their journey through the desert, God instructed Moses to get water from a rock, and both times, when Moses struck the rock with this staff, water gushed out before the amazed crowds to slake their thirst. (Ex. 17:6 & Num. 20:7ff)
ii. What does it mean that Christ was the spiritual rock that followed/ accompanied the Jews in their wanderings?
a. Jewish tradition of an actual rock that rolled along behind the Israelite nation through the desert and spouted water. I don’t expect it’s true, but Paul wanted to turn the focus onto Christ.
b. Moses records that God’s messenger who carried the name of Jehovah went with the Israelites. Ex. 23:20-21 “I am sending an angel before you, to keep you along the way, and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. 21) Take heed before Him, and listen to His voice; don’t provoke Him; for He will not tolerate your transgression: for my name is in Him.” Paul concludes this must have been Christ, the very one who later redeemed them with His blood.
c. Isa. 63 “but the messenger of His face caused to save them. In His love and in His pity He Himself redeemed them, and He took them on and carried them all the days of way-back-when.”
b. The N.T. church has a similar blessing from God:
i. John 4:14, Jesus told the woman at the well in Samaria, “Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up unto eternal life.”
ii. Later Jesus said, in John 6:54, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” He explained it the night of the last Passover supper when he said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood: this do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (1 Cor. 11:25) He wasn’t saying that the cup contained blood, but that the cup stood for the new covenant, the covenant made with His blood in order to forgive sins, and that drinking it was to be done while remembering Him. In this way we figuratively take His blood for ourselves which gives us eternal life.
6. Conclusion: (6a)
a. “These things have become examples for us” Why were the books of Exodus and Numbers written? To give us in the New Testament church typical examples of what our God is like and how we should act in His presence!
b. Notice that the scriptures in v.1 call the Jews under Moses the “fathers” of the gentile church in Corinth - “our fathers.” (cf. Gal.3:6-29, 6:16)
c. There is continuity between the Jewish nation of the O.T. (the “church in the desert” as Steven called it in Acts 7:38) and the church of the N.T.
d. “All” the O.T. Jews participated in spiritual benefits, yet “most” of them were disqualified from the faith (v.5) and died in the wilderness without entering the promised land – all except for Joshua and Caleb.
e. The God of the O.T. who could deal out such terrible punishment for sin is the same God in the New Testament. He does not hate sin any less.
f. Therefore we in the N.T. church who are recipients of the much greater fulfillment of the same spiritual benefits received by the Jewish nation of old must take great care not to offend our holy God.
g. God’s people in the Old Testament were saved through faith in God’s provision of a sacrificial death for the atonement for sin, just as we are saved through faith in this same atonement. The main difference is that we know the name of the one who died as a sacrifice to atone for sin; His name is Jesus.
h. The 5 similarities between the O.T. church and the N.T. church today should be a wake-up call to us to be holy before a God who punishes sin.
B) 5 Sins of the O.T. church (vs. 6-10)
1. lust/desire/craving/setting hearts on evil (v.6b)
6. Now these things have become examples for us to the end that it would not be us who are coveters of bad things like they themselves coveted.
a. The sin of lust in the O.T.:
i. Num. 11:4 “the mixed multitude that was among them lusted exceedingly: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat? 5) We remember the fish, which we ate in Egypt for free; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic: 6) but now our soul is dried away; there is nothing at all save this manna to look upon… 10) And Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families, every man at the door of his tent: and the anger of Jehovah was kindled greatly… 18) [Jehovah instructed Moses to tell the people,] ‘Sanctify yourselves for tomorrow, and you will eat flesh; for ye have wept in the ears of Jehovah, saying, “Who shall give us flesh to eat? for it was well with us in Egypt!” Therefore Jehovah will give you flesh, and you are going to eat… until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you; because that ye have rejected Jehovah who is among you, and have wept before him, saying, “Why came we forth out of Egypt?”’ (cf. Psalm 106:10) [So God provided a huge flock of quail to settle over the Israelite camp in the desert. The Israelites caught the birds and supplemented their diet of manna with quail meat.] 33 While the flesh was yet between their teeth, before it was chewed, the anger of Jehovah was kindled against the people, and Jehovah struck the people with a very great plague. 34) And the name of that place was called Kibroth-hattaavah [the graves of lust], because there they buried the people that lusted.”
ii. The word for “lust” here is the same used in the 10 commandments for “covet”
b. The sin of lust in the ancient Corinthian church:
i. The Christians in Corinth liked the taste of that meat served in the idol temples. They thought about it while they ate their meager lunch of dried figs or whatever they had. It became a driving force in their lives, strong enough to ignore the spiritual risks and the potential stumbling blocks to others.
ii. James 1:14 “each man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. 15) Then the lust, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin: and the sin, when it is fullgrown, brings forth death.”
c. The temptation to lust in our church today:
i. Do we ever want something that God has not given to us? That is lust.
ii. Is there anything that turns into a craving for you, that you begin to daydream regularly about, that begins to be a driving force in your life?
a. It could be a certain kind of food or drink that can only be had on a limited basis and not right now,
b. or it could be a relationship or a pleasant experience that you want which is simply not an option right now because God hasn’t given that to you,
c. or it could be a new house or car or appliance or tool that would sure make life easier - but God has not given you the means to buy because you don’t need it right now.
iii. Coveting is a sin worthy of death, not a harmless fault that can be joked about.
iv. One of the key things to realize is that God will provide for all your needs each day. To want anything more is to enter into dissatisfaction. It is not possible to ever satisfy lust; it always wants more than you have. (Prov. 27:20. Hab. 2:5)
2. Idolatrous revelry (v.7)
7. And stop being idolaters, just as some of them were, as it has been written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and they stood up to party.”
a. The sin of idolatrous revelry in the O.T.:
i. Ex. 32:1 “And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, ‘Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses … we don’t know what has become of him.’ 2) And Aaron said unto them, ‘Break off the golden rings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me...’ 4) And he received it at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, and made it a molten calf: and they said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up out of the land of Egypt. 5) And when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, ‘Tomorrow shall be a feast to Jehovah.’ 6) And they rose up early… and offered burnt-offerings, and brought peace-offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.”
ii. Notice that they said they were worshipping the one true God all the while abandoning His standards.
iii. 1 Cor. 10:7 and Ex. 32:1 are the only places that this word “play” appears in the entire Bible. Most of the Bible commentaries I read said that it had to do with some kind of wild partying and revelry that was part of idol worship.
b. The sin of idolatrous revelry in the ancient Corinthian church:
i. We saw in chapter 8 that these Christians in Corinth were at least considering “sitting down” to eat in the temples of the local idols. (8:10-11)
c. The temptation to idolatrous revelry in our church today:
i. Wherever there is food & entertainment, there is also a worldview being promoted.
ii. Many people today wrap their whole existence around physical pleasures of food, sex, and entertainment – some add drugs to that mix. When they invite you to a party, it is an evangelistic call to you to come to appreciate their world view. It is like when you invite them to church because you want them to appreciate your world view.
iii. Participation in the food or entertainment alone without committing to their world view, however, could still be flirting with an idol. I’m not saying it always is, but it is worth thinking through before accepting invitations.
iv. Want a concrete example? Try Super Bowl parties: You’ve got food, an entertaining game, sensual images on the advertisements, in fact, the center of attention is an image graven with electrons. I don’t believe that video screens are inherently evil, or that football games are inherently evil, but the point I’m trying to make is that God says participation in an unbiblical worldview is evil. The whole nation of Israel almost got wiped out for it, and so we need to be very careful in evaluating whether or not to participate in other people’s parties.
3. Sexual Immorality (v.8)
8. And let us stop being sexually immoral, as some of them committed sexual immorality and 23,000 fell in one day.
a. The sin of sexual immorality in the O.T.:
i. Balaam taught Balak [King of Moab] to trip up the children of Israel, by eating things sacrificed to idols, and committing fornication. (Rev 2:14)
ii. Num 25:1-18 “in Shittim; the people [of Israel] began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab: 2) for they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods; and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. 3) And Israel joined with Baal-peor: and the anger of Jehovah was kindled against Israel. 4) And Jehovah said unto Moses, ‘Take all the chiefs of the people, and hang them… that the fierce anger of Jehovah may turn away from Israel.’ 5) And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, ‘Every one of you, put to death the men that have joined themselves unto Baal-peor.’ 6) And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianite woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, while they were weeping at the door of the tent of meeting. 7) And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from the midst of the congregation, and took a spear in his hand; 8) and he went after the man of Israel into the pavilion, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her body. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel. 9) And those that died by the plague were 24,000. 10) And Jehovah spoke unto Moses, saying, 11) ‘Phinehas… has turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, in that he was jealous with my jealousy among them, so that I stopped consuming the children of Israel in my jealousy… I give unto him my covenant of peace…’
iii. Some Bible scholars suggest that Moses estimated high and Paul estimated low, the real number being somewhere between 23 and 24 thousand, but I prefer to think that Moses counted 24,000 killed over all the days that it took this history to play out, whereas Paul and Sosthenes mention the death toll of 23,000 for the one day that most of them died.
b. The sin of sexual immorality in the ancient Corinthian church:
i. Corinth was the home of the temple of the goddess Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, and one of the most prominent parts of worship at the Aphrodite temple was sexual immorality.
ii. Paul alludes to this in chapter 5 (v.10) when he says that sexual immorality is so prevalent that the only way to avoid all contact with sexually immoral people would be to leave planet earth altogether!
iii. But there was sexual immorality among the church members that had to be dealt with in chapter 5, where the one guy had taken his father’s wife and needed to be excommunicated for it.
iv. In chapter 6, Paul counters the popular “if it feels good, do it” philosophy by saying that our body was made to relate to God and therefore we must “flee sexual immorality.” (v.13-18)
v. And then in chapter 7, marriage is recommended in light of all the problems with sexual immorality.
c. The temptation to sexual immorality in today’s church:
i. The world around us knows the power of sexual excitement and they shamelessly exploit that good, God-made gift in order to lure you into a godless worldview and sell products.
ii. I was recently meeting with the other members of the board for the TentMaker Project mission agency that I used to work for and discovered that our organization had lapsed in paying for our website’s domain name, so I went on the Web to the company we bought the domain name from. On the front page of this company’s website, eleven images were visible. One of them was the company logo, and all of the other ten images on the front page appeared to be links to view images or videos of prostitutes. My way of fleeing in this case was to remember the catastrophic results of the “daughters of Moab,” to avoid clicking on those links, and to find a competitor company to re-register the mission’s domain name.
iii. There is no such thing as a harmless fling when it comes to sexual immorality; this is something over which our God has struck people dead!
4. Testing God’s boundaries and patience (v.9)
9. stop testing out Christ, as some of them tested [Him] out and were being destroyed by the snakes.
a. The sin of testing God in the O.T.:
i. Num 21:5 “And the people spoke against God, and against Moses, ‘Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, and there is no water; and our soul despises this [manna]!’ 6) So Jehovah sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many people of Israel died.”
ii. Who did they test?
a. If you have an NIV or NASB, it reads not to “try/test the Lord” whereas if you have an ESV or a KJV translation, it reads “Christ.” This is because a few really ancient Greek manuscripts read “Lord” instead of “Christ” here.
b. I believe that “Christ” should be reading here because the most ancient Greek manuscript of the N.T. known to us today (the Chester-Beatty papyri, which dates back to around 200 A.D.), as well as the vast majority of all Greek manuscripts of the N.T. read “Christ” here.
c. Besides, I can imagine a puzzled scribe changing “Christ” to “Lord” or “God” and rendering the alternate readings we see today in the manuscripts, but not the other way around, taking a more general word like “Lord” and making it more specific.
d. Practically, since Jesus Christ is both Lord and God, no matter which word you read, God’s word speaks of the same person.
iii. The Israelites complained for want of water even though they had drunk of the Rock - Christ. And even though they ate the manna they complained about it.
b. The sin of testing God in the ancient Corinthian church:
i. The word “try/tempt/test” seems to have to do with pushing God’s limits – like we would say that someone is “trying our patience.”
ii. When God has laid down clear-cut laws in the Bible, it is a test of God to go to the edge of disobeying His laws.
iii. God had said in the 10 Commandments, “Do not make a graven image of any kind and do not bow down to it or worship it, because God is a jealous God.” For the Corinthians to east feasts at idol temples in order to get choice cuts of meat cheap was really pushing the boundaries of God’s command and running the risk of sparking God’s jealousy.
c. The temptation to test God in our church today:
i. We do this today, too. I remember church youth group meetings where the question was discussed, “How far can you go physically in a dating relationship?” This is another example of edge-of-the-cliff thinking in regards to obeying God’s law. God’s word said in I Cor. 7:1 that it’s good for a man “not to touch” a woman. We would be better off asking, “How much physical relationship can I save for marriage?”
ii. When God has provided direction for you and is providing for your current needs, it is a test of God to say, “God, you aren’t providing enough. I need to know what I’m supposed to do next year, and I need a year’s salary in reserve in the bank just in case!” No. How can we be so ungrateful? He has provided enough guidance for you to know what you need to do today, and enough resources to do it today; you had better thank Him for it!
5. Murmuring/Complaining/grumbling (v.10)
10. And stop complaining, as some of them complained and were destroyed by the Destroyer.
a. The sin of complaining in the O.T. against the leadership of the church:
i. Num 16:1-9 Now Korah… with Dathan and Abiram… took men: 2) and they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the congregation, called to the assembly, men of renown; 3) and they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, “You are taking too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and Jehovah is among them: why then do you lift yourselves above the assembly of Jehovah? … Moreover you have not brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, nor given us inheritance of fields and vineyards... 15) And Moses got very angry, and said unto Jehovah, “Don’t pay attention to their offering: I have not taken one donkey from them, neither have I hurt one of them. 16) And Moses said unto Korah, “You and all your company will appear before Jehovah… with Aaron to-morrow: 17) and take [your] censers… 18) So every man took his censer, and put fire in them, and laid incense thereon, and stood at the door of the tent of meeting with Moses and Aaron. 19) And Korah assembled all the congregation against them unto the door of the tent of meeting: and the glory of Jehovah appeared unto all the congregation. 23) And Jehovah spoke unto Moses, saying, 24) “Speak unto the congregation, saying, ‘Get up from about the tent of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.’” … 27) So they got away from the tent of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, on every side: and Dathan and Abiram came out, and stood at the door of their tents, and their wives, and their sons, and their little ones… 32) and the earth opened its mouth, and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men that were with Korah, and all their goods. 33) So they… went down alive into Sheol: and the earth closed upon them, and they perished from among the assembly. 34) And all Israel that were round about them fled at the cry of them; for they said, Lest the earth swallow us up. 35) And fire came forth from Jehovah, and devoured the two hundred and fifty men that offered the incense… 41) But the next morning all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron, saying, “You have killed the people of Jehovah!” 42) And it came to pass, when the congregation was assembled against Moses and against Aaron, that they looked toward the tent of meeting: and, behold, the cloud covered it, and the glory of Jehovah appeared… 46) And Moses said unto Aaron, “Take the censer, and put fire into it from off the altar, and lay incense on it, and carry it quickly unto the congregation, and make atonement for them: for wrath is going out from Jehovah; the plague is begun!” 47) And Aaron took as Moses said, and ran into the midst of the assembly; and, behold, the plague was begun among the people: and he put on the incense, and made atonement for the people. 48) And he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed. 49) Now they that died by the plague were 14,700, besides them that died over the matter of Korah.
ii. God killed some 15,000 people for complaining about Moses & Aaron’s leadership!
b. The sin of complaining in the ancient Corinthian church against its leaders:
i. Obviously there was a questioning of Paul’s authority as an apostle among the Corinthians: “I am of Paul/Apollos/Peter” (1:12)
ii. Ex. 16:8 Moses and Aaron said, “Jehovah hears your grumblings which you grumble against Him: and what are we? your grumblings are not against us, but against Jehovah.”
c. The temptation to complain our church today:
i. 1 Tim. 5:19 “Do not receive an accusation against an elder, except at the mouth of two or three witnesses.”
ii. Modern-day Korah, Dathan and Abirams abound today, writing blogs full of accusations against elders in the church. Don’t read them or you run the danger of going down with them.
iii. It’s so easy to complain about your own leaders at work and at church. You see them close-up enough to see their warts. Discipline yourself not to complain about them, and don’t tolerate other people complaining in your presence!
iv. There is, of course, a point where leaders need to be rebuked, but when that point comes, make sure you are doing it according to the Biblical procedure to effect repentance.
v. Notice, by the way, that I translated these commands as “Stop [sin]ning” rather than “Do not [sin]” or “Let us not…” like most of the English translations do. The reason for this is that Paul implies by the grammar of his sentences in this section that the Corinthians are already mired down in these sins. God knows we have often blown it on more than one of these five sins, but in His grace, He does not give up on us and abandon us in His anger; instead He calls us back to Himself and says it’s time to end that pattern of sin.
CONCLUSION: Just as the 5 similarities between the church today and the church of the O.T. should be a wake-up call to us, the 5 church sins listed here should set off alarm bells in our hearts: sin is crouching at our door just waiting to destroy us. (Gen 4:7) even now at the “ends of the ages” when we can look back on the completion of the Mosaic epoch (Clark) and look around us and see God’s purpose for world history wrapping up as more and more nations are discipled by the Gospel.
C) 5 Strategies for overcoming sin in the N.T. church (vs. 11-14)
1. Know your Bible history (v.11)
These things were written… for our admonishment.
a. When Satan tempted Jesus with some of these same 5 things – lust for food, testing God, and a false object of worship that would allow Jesus to usurp God’s authority, what did Jesus do? (He quoted the Bible against Satan!)
b. Read your Bible. Listen to the Bible being read and taught. Memorize Bible Verses. Get it in your head, so that when you need God’s word, it’s there for you!
c. Don’t skip the fascinating history stories and genealogies. They are there to instruct/admonish/warn you!
2. Stay on the lookout (v.12)
a. the one seeming to stand must take heed/be careful/lit.=keep watching lest he might fall
b. Remember that people in the O.T. church “fell” (v.8), so it’s possible for you to.
c. How many times have you been on a vacation or a spiritual retreat or with a church group and something bad happened right under your nose that you hadn’t been expecting, so you didn’t take a stand against it? Don’t get lax in your disciplines.
d. 1 Pet. 5:8 “Be sober, be watchful: your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour, 9) whom you must withstand steadfast in your faith, knowing that the same sufferings are accomplished in your brothers [around] the world. 10) And the God of all grace, who called you unto His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, shall Himself perfect, establish, and strengthen you.”
3. Trust God (v.13a)
a. God is faithful/trustworthy
i. 1 Thess. 5:24 “He who calls you is faithful...”
ii. We see a picture of that in Isaiah’s description of the way God worked with the nation of Israel - 27:3 “I, Jehovah, am her guard; every moment I water her… night and day I guard her… 6. The ones coming of Jacob He shall cause to take root, Israel shall blossom and bloom, and they will fill the face of the world with fruit.”
iii. When we encounter a temptation to sin, we must turn our eyes upon Jesus and say with Job (13:15), “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.”
b. God makes both the test and the “way out”
i. “He will not allow you to be tested above what you are able, but rather He will make together with the test also the way out”
ii. I prefer “test” to “temptation” as a translation of this Greek word. The word has more to do with testing for genuineness than it has to do with trying to tempt someone to do something wrong.
iii. Same word for us “testing” God’s patience in v.9.
iv. It is God’s habit to give us tests - opportunities to exercise faith in Him:
a. He did it with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden with the forbidden fruit (Gen. 3).
b. God tested Job with grievous losses and sickness – Job kept trusting God.
c. God “tested” Abraham in calling him to sacrifice his only son – Gen. 22:1
d. God tested David in 2 Sam. 24 regarding trusting in his numbers of soldiers rather than depending on God’s protection.
e. And you can expect that God will likewise put stresses upon you in order to give you new opportunities to exercise faith in Him.
v. 2 Pet. 2:9a “the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation…”
vi. Illustration of London subway “Way Out” signs.
vii. So when you experience that stress test, respond by trusting God and looking for His way out.
4. Stand up/bear/endure tests (v.13b)
a. He will make together with the test also the way out for the ability to undergo [it].
b. God doesn’t promise to take away tests
c. James 1:2 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you fall into various trials; 3) Knowing that the testing of your faith works patience. 4) And let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing... 12) Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord promised to those who love Him. 13) Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God;’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and He Himself tempts no one: 14) but each one is enticed and carried away by his own lusts.”
d. Thomas a Kempis comments on the value of bearing up under God’s tests in Chapter 13 of his book The Imitation of Christ:
So long as we live in this world we cannot escape suffering and temptation. Whence it is written in Job: "The life of man upon earth is a warfare." Everyone, therefore, must guard against temptation and must watch in prayer lest the devil, who never sleeps but goes about seeking whom he may devour, find occasion to deceive him. No one is so perfect or so holy but he is sometimes tempted; man cannot be altogether free from temptation.
Yet temptations, though troublesome and severe, are often useful to a man, for in them he is humbled, purified, and instructed. The saints all passed through many temptations and trials to profit by them, while those who could not resist became reprobate and fell away. There is no state so holy, no place so secret that temptations and trials will not come. Man is never safe from them as long as he lives, for they come from within us - in sin we were born…
Many people try to escape temptations, only to fall more deeply. We cannot conquer simply by fleeing, but by patience and true humility we become stronger than all our enemies… Little by little, in patience and long-suffering you will overcome them, by the help of God rather than by severity and your own rash ways. Often take counsel when tempted; and do not be harsh with others who are tempted, but console them as you yourself would wish to be consoled.
The beginning of all temptation lies in a wavering mind and little trust in God... Fire tempers iron and temptation steels the just. Often we do not know what we can stand, but temptation shows us what we are.
Above all, we must be especially alert against the beginnings of temptation, for the enemy is more easily conquered if he is refused admittance to the mind and is met beyond the threshold when he knocks… the longer a man delays in resisting, so much the weaker does he become each day, while the strength of the enemy grows against him.
Some suffer great temptations in the beginning of their conversion, others toward the end, while some are troubled almost constantly throughout their life. Others, again, are tempted but lightly according to the wisdom and justice of Divine Providence Who weighs the status and merit of each and prepares all for the salvation of His elect.
We should not despair, therefore, when we are tempted, but pray to God the more fervently that He may see fit to help us, for according to the word of Paul, He will make issue with temptation that we may be able to bear it. Let us humble our souls under the hand of God in every trial and temptation for He will save and exalt the humble in spirit.
In temptations and trials the progress of a man is measured; in them opportunity for merit and virtue is made more manifest. When a man is not troubled it is not hard for him to be fervent and devout, but if he bears up patiently in time of adversity, there is hope for great progress. Some, guarded against great temptations, are frequently overcome by small ones in order that, humbled by their weakness in small trials, they may not presume on their own strength in great ones.
If we stand up under these tests, we will experience more of God’s blessing as we grow closer to Him.
5. Flee idol-worship (v.14)
a. 2 Cor. 6:16-17 “what agreement has a temple of God with idols? for we are a temple of the living God; even as God said, ‘I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17) Therefore come out from among them, and be separate,’ says the Lord, ‘And touch no unclean thing; and I will receive you…’”
b. The sin of idol-worship is so dangerous that the Apostle John made it the final word in his first letter: “keep yourselves from the idols” (1 John 5:21).
c. It’s not always easy to run away from our idols. Our heart warns us that if we stop clutching the worldly things that are important to us we will experience the pain of rejection, loneliness, boredom, lack of protection, financial loss, unpopularity, persecution, even death. These are lies, of course, but very convincing lies.
d. But Praise God that whenever you break from any of these sins you have a real true family to run to:
i. You have the great and compassionate Creator God who will receive you and be a Father to you! What Security!! Jesus died on the cross and suffered for all our wrongdoing to make good and sure that God would no longer be angry about our sins but would receive us when we come to Him through faith in Jesus. God will receive you as a Son or Daughter though you do not even deserve to be a hired servant any more than the Prodigal Son did. You will find all the resources you need in your heavenly Father’s care, plus many more privileges to boot!
ii. You also have the family of God to run to when you run away from idols. In the church you have true brothers and sisters for encouragement and companionship now in this life and forever into the future!
iii. So flee idolatry with your eyes on Jesus and run into the arms of the God and His people. (K. Wilson)
1. Story of Michael Hannaniah, and Azariah (a.k.a. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) (Daniel 1-3)
· Knew their Bible – They knew better than to bow down before the golden image of Nebuchadnezzar. They remembered that when the Jews bowed down to the golden image in the desert of Sinai, they got into big trouble. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego told King Nebuchadnezzar, “We will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up,” even though they knew the king would get furious and try to kill them.
· Stayed on the lookout – They kept watch over what they ate; they studied their school subjects carefully; they prayed for each other, and they were ready with an answer when the king asked them why they wouldn’t bow down to his golden image.
· Trusted God – They prayed to God when they were put to the test, they obeyed Him, and they placed their lives in God’s hands, saying, “God… is able to save us [from being burned to death in the furnace you have sentenced us to] … but if He does not [we will die obeying God rather than disobeying Him].”
· Stood up and endured the test – They stood up while all their co-workers bowed down. They stood up when the king threatened their lives. They stood up inside that firey furnace
· Fled from idolatry – The temptation was not merely to bow before an awesome 90-foot-tall statue made of pure gold, but moreso the temptation was to idolize the people around them - to make their boss, their co-workers, their king, and all the people of Babylon pleased with them. Instead, Shadrach, Mesach, and Abednego went the opposite direction of this idolatry of making everybody happy; they made everybody around them stomping-mad for refusing to cooperate. But God honored their faith by coming down to meet them as a fourth man in that furnace to preserve their life and embarrass the king in front of all the governors of the land by demonstrating to the king that there is a God who is more powerful than Nebuchadnezzar, and that God was favorable to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, not King Nebuchadnezzar.
2. Our story:
· The bad news is that there are many “dangers, toils, and snares” out there to trip us up and disqualify us. And we are called to give great diligence to avoid them.
· The good news is we have a Pioneer who went before us and blazed the trail for us and promised to go with us and usher us safely all the way home. “Lo I am with you always, even to the end of the ages.” (Matt. 28:20) His name is Jesus!
o He was the Rock that followed our forefathers in the wilderness.
o He is the same Rock from which we can drink living water daily.
o He is the cloud that showed God’s presence and protection to them.
o He is the same cloud for us today ministering to us constantly by His Spirit comfort, encouragement, protection, enlightenment.
o He is the manna they ate in the wilderness as a constant and sufficient provision for their nourishment.
o He is the same Jesus who offers himself now pictured in the cup and the loaf for our constant spiritual nourishment.
o And best of all He is our High Priest who was tempted in all points like we are (so he understands intimately what you are feeling) YET WITHOUT SIN (so He is able to minister His victory to us).
o He calls us to come boldly to Himself to obtain mercy (forgiveness where we have fallen) and to find grace to help in time of need. Heb. 4:14-16. (K.Wilson)