Summary: History helps us to not repeat the same mistakes. We have learned dozens of lessons after watching others make mistakes. Why should day-to-day Christian living be any different? Paul teaches us about Christian living by using history and God’s promises.
“Learn Your Lessons When It Comes To Christian Living”
I. Listen to warnings written in Israel’s history (1-12)
II. Look to the Lord to get you out of temptation (13)
Dear Friends in Christ,
My car has a yellow light that turns on when the gas in my gas tank level gets down low. With another car that we had, that meant that you had plenty of time to finish what you were doing and then fill up with gas some time later. The car I drive now doesn’t work that way. I know this from experience. When the yellow light turns on, I better fill up with gas soon or it may not start again. It took getting stranded twice in order for me to learn that lesson. Do you think I’ll repeat that mistake again? Not if I learned my lesson I won’t. I told a little four year-old girl that she shouldn’t take her toy into the McDonald’s Playland because she would probably lose it. She insisted that it wouldn’t get lost. Within ten minutes the toy had vanished to the land of lost toys. Do you think she learned a lesson for the next time?
Live and learn. Look at history so you don’t repeat the same mistakes. You’ve heard that advice. You probably have a dozen lessons you learned the hard way or from experience. You probably have learned another dozen lessons after watching someone else make mistakes.
Why should living day to day as a Christian be any different? The Word of the Lord that stands forever is full of timeless truths when it comes to Christian living. What was true for the believers at Moses’ time, was true for the Christians living in Corinth, and is true for God’s people sitting in his house this morning.
In a letter address to a church in Corinth, Paul wants to teach a lesson. He uses history and he uses God’s promises to teach about Christian living. Today let’s listen to the Lord tell us, “Learn Your Lessons When It Comes To Christian Living” I. Listen to warnings written in Israel’s history; II. Look to the Lord to get you out of temptation.
I. Listen to warnings written in Israel’s history
A. Corinth was the New York City of ancient Greece. It was a hustling, busting, thriving, commercial metropolis. Goods, ideas and culture flowed freely through the streets, market places, and pagan temples. The who’s who of the citizens hung out at the Temple of Aphrodite. This was the country club. It was the place to be seen and noticed; it was the place to rub elbows. If want to be part of the temple scene, you’re going to slice up a steer to sacrifice to your favorite goddess. And surely you’re going to stick around for some sex-play worship with some of the temple prostitutes. This was Corinth.
The Christians in Corinth had grown up with this for years, and now they had a struggle on their hands. It seems that some of them wanted to walk the tight rope, or tiptoe along the edge of the cliff, and even had jumped off into this swirling whirlpool of immorality and sin. After all, they’re baptized, communing Christians, and they can handle themselves. “We know how far to walk out, Paul, without falling into it.”
B. Here is where Paul attempts to draw their eyes to warning signals flashing in Israel’s history. “You Corinthians need to listen to the warning bells sounding off in Israel’s history.” He says, “I want you to know, fellow Christians, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all went through the sea. By baptism in the cloud and in the sea they were all united with Moses”[GWN] (1,2). When God led the Israelites out of their slavery in Egypt, he did so by having a cloud go before them. As they marched through the dry ground of the Red Sea, the walls of water stood at attention. Covered by the cloud, surrounded by the sea, Paul says, “That reminds me of our baptism. Just like we are brought into a close relationship with our go-between Jesus at our baptism, so the Israelites were brought into a close relationship with their middleman Moses.” These Israelites, Paul says, even had supernatural food and drink from Christ himself (manna and water from a rock).
But then he gives a kicker, “Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert” (5). Like a hurricane hurling bodies every which way, Israelite bodies were thrown all over the desert floor in death. Remember that the first group of Israelites, all those over 20 years old died in the wilderness, died except for Joshua and Caleb.
C. Paul then goes on to rattle off a dirty laundry list of why these people had died. Some of them worshipped an idol by engaging in pagan practices. Some thought having sex with people to whom they were not married was an o.k. practice. Many of them put God’s patience to a test by not trusting him wholeheartedly. Some of them hurled complaints against God and the leaders of his people. God’s action that followed was this – he killed them. God is serious when it comes to listening to him and obeying him.