Studies in First Corinthians – XV
In chapter ten Paul begins to exhort the Corinthians to caution in their Christian walk. “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (10:12). The devil’s great objective is to cause the child of God to stumble so that he loses his power in the Holy Ghost. In order to illustrate the importance of caution, Paul draws on the example of the children of Israel in the wilderness (10:1-11).
The first four verses show the incredible privileges of the people of God. With all that God brought these people through, you would think it would be impossible for them to fail. But in verse five, Paul is pointing out their failure: “But with many of them God was not well pleased.”
How many is “many?” All except for two! Only two who came out of Egypt entered into the promised land – Caleb and Joshua.
The others were “overthrown” in the wilderness. What overthrew them? Paul gives us the answer: he shows us four things that spell out tragedy, not only in the times of Moses, but for every believer today.
1. LUST – “we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted” (10:6).
God provided them with everything they needed. Yet they were not satisfied. They asked for something different than what God had given. They asked for something perfectly legitimate, but it was not a part of God’s plan. God knew what was best for them but they demanded to have their way.
One of the first things that will take men away from God is a desire for something other than what He has planned for them. God will always meet us on the level of our desires. If we hunger and thirst for righteousness, He will not withhold it. But if we desire something outside of His will, He will not fight us long to stay.
2. Idolatry – “Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them” (10:7).
When Moses was taking too long with God on the mountain, the people decided they needed a new God. Aaron set up an idol, pretending it was unintentional, but it was idolatry. The people worshiped the golden calf. They “sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play” (10:7). Simply put, they took sacrifice out of their religion in favor of ease and comfort.
3. Fornication – “Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand” (10:8).
The children of Israel were involved in wrong relationship, unequally yoked with ungodly people. They lowered their standards of purity and became guilty of relationships which were completely opposed to God’s will, exposing the true desires of their hearts.
4. Unbelief – “Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer” (10:9-10).
How often they complained despite the faithfulness of their God! It seemed hardly a few days would pass from a great miracle before they forgot and were troubled by unbelief. How often in our own life do we fail to trust the leading of God when it takes us through the wilderness?
If you find yourself struggling with any of these today, there is hope!
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (10:13-14).
God does not say He will remove the pitfalls. He doesn’t say that He will not permit you to fall. But He does say that it doesn’t have to happen. He has provided a way of escape!