One of my favorite subjects in school was history. In 1 Corinthians 10 we read a history lesson from the life of the children of Israel. They thought they had a special relationship with God and would never fall. But, just because something or someone looks good on the outside does not mean it is all good on the inside. The Israelites fell. Just because a person goes to church, prays, serves, gives, helps, or reads the Bible, does not mean they will never be tempted. Temptation is common. It comes to all. Paul’s warning to us is this: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (v. 12).
The Privileges Enjoyed
In verses 1-4 we read about the life the Israelites experienced. They “were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink….” The cloud was a reminder of God’s presence. He never left them. The same God guides us and provides for us. The Israelites were freed from bondage in Egypt, and we have been redeemed and freed from spiritual bondage. Like the Lord provided them with manna to eat and water to drink, we have the Bread of Life and living water. As they followed the leadership of Moses, so we are under the Lordship of Jesus. Think about it though, all but two of the Israelites who experienced these things died in the wilderness. What robbed them from a life of victory? What robs us from a life of victory? From enjoying our family, friends, work?
The Problems Experienced
Verses 5-10 give us a list of things that kept the Israelites from victory. Verse 6 says these things are our examples. We can learn from their mistakes! The first thing listed here is lust. In this case, it’s materialism for us today. In the book of Numbers, they lusted after the fish, cucumbers, melons, onions, and garlic of Egypt. God had provided them water and manna. One of the strongest temptations for believers, despite all God has given us, is the temptation to look back and lust after the old way of life. Our flesh longs for evil things. Whatever we desire outside God’s will brings only leanness of the soul. The second thing Paul mentions is idolatry. Remember the golden calf? Are you worshipping idols? An idol is anything or anyone that takes the place of God in your life. Sports can become an idol. Pleasure can become an idol. Does your Saturday night match up with your Sunday morning? The next thing mentioned is immorality, or sexual sin. We are to flee from immorality, not flirt with it. Are we pure in our hearts? If you start to wonder what it would be like to… reject those thoughts and that spirit of adultery and perversion in Jesus name! Think past the pleasure to the pain. You can’t play with fire and not be burned. The next thing mentioned here is presumption. Paul says they tempted or tested Christ. That’s not taking God seriously. Are you testing God with your unbelief? Do you question if God really meant what He said in the ten commandments? Do you live like the Bible is open for interpretation? The last thing mentioned here is complaining. Murmuring is in the same list as immorality! It is an audible expression of dissatisfaction. Are you content? People change jobs, careers, churches, cities, spouses, but the change they need is on the inside. Do you bad mouth, grumble, complain, watch and look for something to criticize? Israel was sure of their position, but they were overthrown in the wilderness because they were overconfident. They had the attitude, “Who me? That will never happen to me.” Pride comes before a fall. No one is totally free from temptation.
The Purpose Explained
“Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition… Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (v. 11-12). Why study history? It gives us real stories of real people. We can learn from the past and the mistakes of others. The battle starts in our thinking. We need to pray and fill our minds with the Word of God every day. We are going to battle temptation as long as we live. The verdict is still out on all of us. Satan’s goal is to get us to fall. We need to join together with other believers in order to keep from falling prey to the enemy. Let’s learn from the mistakes of the Israelites. It’s not about how you start, but how you finish!