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The Sunday Sermon – 1st Corinthians 10:1-13

03/06/2012

Yield Not to Temptation!
1st Corinthians 10:1-13

Paul is still dealing with the problem of whether the Corinthian Christians should eat food which has been sacrificed to idols or whether they should abstain. His arguments so far may be summarised thus:

We know that idols are not really gods, they are just bits of wood or stone. However, when we impress our knowledge upon others, we must do so in a spirit of love and concern, not harshly.
Whatever we do, we must be careful, lest any action of ours would cause a brother or sister to stumble.
We all have Christian freedom; for Christ has set us free, but that does not mean that we can live any way that we want. We are slaves to Christ!
We may even have to give up our rights, so that others may not be discouraged, or so that the cause of the gospel may not be hindered but that it may be furthered.
We must become all things to all men, we must communicate with men at a level that they will understand, but in doing so have respect to and regard for the precepts of the Word of God. There is a very delicate balance needed there!
We must exercise self-restraint and discipline in our Christian walk, as athletes who press on toward the mark, and whose lives are an example to others.

But the temptation to eat food sacrificed to idols must have been overwhelming! This was the main source of meat! Can you imagine a life without steak? Every time the Corinthian Christian walked down the street, he would be confronted with people indulging themselves with great feasts of meat! He would see the raw product on sale; he would know that there was a temptation to join in, with all the social and economic benefits that such social interaction would bring. And are we not continually tempted today? So Paul now deals with the matter of OVERCOMING TEMPTATION.

A Record of Ungodly Inducement
Paul begins his passage on temptation by issuing a series of warnings to the Corinthians on the dangers that might befall the believer through the temptations of this world. And he uses God’s people in the wilderness of the Old Testament as their example. These were people who had claimed the covenant promises of God! They had witnessed God’s presence! 10:1. They had a visible mark of the presence of God in their midst. By day He led them by a cloud, and by night by a pillar of fire! They had first hand knowledge of God’s deliverance! 10:1. They had witnessed the Red Sea being parted, so that they could cross over on dry land! They had the sign and seal of God’s electing love. 10:2. They had all been ‘baptised under the cloud’ and had enjoyed the blessing of having a great leader – Moses! They were set apart for God’s service! 10:2. they had been called to be servants of God, within His chosen people. They enjoyed spiritual refreshment and sustenance! 10:3. Through their wilderness journey the Lord had been the source of their meat and drink. Note here that Paul says that the Rock of Provision is Jesus Christ Himself! The Hymnwriter wrote, “My Christ He is my meat and drink, my medicine and my health, my portion, mine inheritance, yea all my boundless wealth!”

Despite all that God had done for them, GOD COULD NOT BE PLEASED WITH THEM, and he withdrew His blessing from them! 10:4. Is it not the same today? Think of all that the Lord has done for us as individual believers and churches! Think how unfaithful the visible church is today, the depth of the backsliding in the church. What lesson can be learned? 1 Corinthians. 10:6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. God ‘scattered their bodies in the wilderness’ because they ‘lusted after evil things.’ I wonder what evil things we lust after today?

The temptation of SUPERSTITIOUS Religion! 10:7 We are not to become idolaters! You will know that when Moses was on the mountain, receiving the ten commandments, the people made a golden calf, and began to worship it. They had not stopped believing in God! Exodus 32:5 And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, Tomorrow is a feast to the LORD. So this golden calf was not to replace God, it was just to help the people get a picture in their minds, of what God is like! It was to symbolise God for the people! What was wrong with that? It contravened one of God’s most basic of laws, Exodus 20:4-5 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.

The temptation of IMMORAL Religion! 10:8 Over 20,000 of the children of Israel committed fornication with their neighbours, and so disobeyed the Lord, and were cut off from their inheritance.
The temptation of VEXATIOUS Religion! 10:9 We find a reference to this in Numbers, Numbers 21:5-6 And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. Cf Deut. 6:16 Matthew 4:7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. The implication here is that the people were guilty of testing the patience of the Lord.

The temptation of DISSATISFIED religion! 10:10 We seen this also in the last study. Paul was no complaining Christian, but there are many who are!

1 Cor. 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. These things befell the OT people as examples for us! They were redeemed, they were brought out of slavery, they were tempted, and they yielded to that temptation and became disobedient to God! Because of their disobedience, God prevented them from entering the Promised Land, and they perished in the wilderness! How many bright Christians have ‘perished in the wilderness?’ How many have started off serving God and enthusiastic about His work and His will, and have fallen into temptation and have become disobedient and useless in the Christian call? They spend the rest of their lives just wandering around, doing what is second best, out of God’s will and purpose, achieving nothing for God! Assemblies too! God is not blessing them, souls are not being saved, they are just wandering mindlessly through a desert of religious barrenness, and they are there because they have been tempted to disobey, and they have yielded to that temptation! Obedience is the key issue for Christian believers and churches today!

A Risk of Unwise Independence
Paul now gives a very stark warning, one which is so often overlooked today. He says, 1 Cor. 10:12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There are at least two sets of circumstances in which this human trait, self reliance, may be exhibited:-

* The Case of the Self-reliant Sinner! Here is the scenario. There may be one who is religious, who attends at public worship, who lives a decent and, in their eyes God fearing life, but what hope have they for eternity? Their hope rests on their religion, that they will somehow be good enough that God will overlook whatever little misdemeanours they may have committed. So they depend upon themselves, rather than on the Lord. Here is a story that Jesus told! Two men went to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and one was a publican. Hear the prayer of the Pharisee, Luke 18:11-12 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, (That in itself is an interesting phrase!) God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. The publican didn’t even dare to come close to the Pharisee, but instead he stood a long way off, and hung his head in shame! Listen to the Scriptures, Luke 18:13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. Do you see the difference? This publican had nothing of his own to rely upon! He was empty and broken and aware of the awfulness of his own sin! Listen to Jesus, Luke 18:14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. How far this is from some modern so-called evangelistic efforts, where there is no mention of sin, and consequently no repentance!

* The Case of the Self-reliant Saint! It is this kind of self-reliance that Paul is speaking of here. Paul is thinking of a Christian believer who thinks that he himself is responsible for his continuation in the faith. He wants to rely on his own efforts, and his own strength to preserve his way as a Christian. Some time ago I sat in a minister’s meeting and a brother minister began to speak on the subject of sanctification, the Christian’s experience of growth in grace. He was arguing that although Salvation was God’s free gift of grace, that sanctification is a work of man, that we must by our own strength follow after the Lord, and maintain our Christian lives. It is the position of the one who believes that a true believer can somehow fall away and be lost, and it has no Biblical foundation whatsoever! The Shorter Catechism taught us, “Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God…” 2 Thes. 2:13 God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. This strong man of whom Paul speaks thinks he does not need to walk circumspectly, be constant in prayer, be subject to God’s Word, be humble before the Lord or depend on God every day; he is STRONG! Paul warns such a one! Take heed! Paul has been warning about putting stumbling blocks in the way of others. Now he envisages a situation where a believer might actually manufacture his own stumbling block, by failing to fully rely on the Lord! There is many a Christian today who has stumbled and fallen, and lost out on his effectiveness for the Lord, because they over-estimated their own ability to be strong in the face of temptation.

A Recognition of Universal Imperfection
Now, Paul finishes this section with a verse which has brought great comfort to all of us who have ever experienced temptation. Verse 13. He reminds us that:-

Temptation is a COMMON experience! There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man. Don’t think that you are the only one who has ever been tempted! We all have it, there is no-one who may be classed as some kind of a super-Christian, who will not be tempted! No temptation is unique to you; someone else had that very same temptation! That very same thought, desire, suggestion!

Temptation is a CONTROLLED experience! but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able. This is good news for believers. There is no temptation, no matter how difficult and intrusive into the mind it may seem, that cannot be resisted, and no temptation that should make the believer afraid, for God in His sovereignty will not permit you to be tempted any more than you can endure! Remember that God is our father, and He loves us and cares for us! All our temptation is under God’s authority, and He knows exactly how much we can bear. He is Faithful!

Temptation is a CHALLENGING experience! There is a challenge to the Christian who is under great temptation, for with every temptation, God provides a way of escape! but will with the temptation also make a way to escape. Here then is the challenge! He has made the way of escape – not us! When times of temptation come, whom will we trust! Will we rely on ourselves, or will we rely on the Lord? Will we tackle temptation in our way, or in the Lord’s way? Listen then to James, James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Note that SUBMISSION TO GOD always precedes resistance of the Devil!

Temptation is a CHARACTER-BUILDING experience! that ye may be able to bear it. What is temptation all about? It is about the building of Christian Character! It is the method that God uses to make us spiritually strong. It would not be my way! But then we have learned that self-reliance is sinful! This is God’s way!

The hymnwriter said, “Yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin. Each victory will help you, some other to win! Strive manfully onward, dark passions subdue, Look ever to Jesus, He will carry you through!”

From → Sermon Notes

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