Summary: Paul warns us about the dreadful and severe consequences of sin. He is also challenges us to avoid sin and persevere in our Christian lives. Paul will argues that many Christians will not finish their Christian lives well.
Opening illustration: A man whose company provides data security for military space operations told me how vulnerable computers are to outside attack. During a training exercise, hackers shut down a highly protected system without stealing a password or cracking a code. They simply accessed the unsecured maintenance program for the building that housed the computers and turned off the air conditioning. When the computer room became too hot, the system automatically shut down.
As in military situations, overconfidence and a false sense of security can lead to defeat in our battle against the forces of evil. In 1 Corinthians 10:12, Paul cautioned, “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” Eugene Peterson paraphrases this verse by saying, “Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence.”
We are not told to try to outsmart the enemy of our souls, but to trust the One who can. “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape” (v.13). Confidence in God, not in ourselves, is the key to staying spiritually on guard. (David C. McCasland, ODB)
Introduction: Now, that is a powerful and dramatic passage. It relates to us an historical setting and then ties it in to the Corinthian scene and then pushes beyond that to speak to us today. It tells about a whole nation of people who were blessed by God, who enjoyed exceedingly abundant privilege, who received from God magnanimous gifts of his love and grace but who were destroyed in judgment.
The apostle Paul is going to warn us about the dreadful and severe consequences of sin. He is also going to challenge us to avoid sin and persevere in our Christian lives. Paul will argue that there is a very real possibility that many Christians will not finish their Christian lives well.
How to guard our heart and mind?
1. Understand our Great Spiritual Privileges (vs. 1-5)
And yet, with all of that expanse of spiritual privilege, Paul had the fear that in the exercise of his ministry, by failing to control his own body, he could be disqualified from service to Christ. And every believer ought to have that same idea. We have to live with that reality, that none of us is invincible. And a massive amount of privilege does not guarantee that we can live any way we want without consequence. I think that some people have assumed that because they have experienced so much blessing from God, they can live any way they want without any kind of judgment.
Classic illustration: Israel. So blessed, so privileged, so abundantly the recipients of God's grace, mercy, loving-kindness that they actually learned how to abuse His grace. They pushed to the limits of God's tolerance and they lived on the danger edge until finally disaster came. This is no second-hand generation folks. They knew God. They saw God. They felt God. They were involved in His miraculous and mighty power. They were all there.
You see, one of the things you have to deal with as a Christian is freedom. One of the things you have to deal with as a Christian is privilege. But you must deal with it in the way that Paul did, and he dealt with it by trying to control with his renewed mind the body which tends to want to lead us into sin.
I must look at my own life and say, "Ajai you have received great privilege." I have; I have received great privilege. I have had the privilege not only of learning from great and gifted men but of having great opportunity. I have the privilege of having great people around me who pour their life into me, who minister along side of me. I am now having the privilege to be able to reach even beyond this church in ministry, and I need to be very much aware that because God has blessed me so much does not cause me to live loosely and abuse that, but to live all the more tightly so that I would never to anything to be disqualified. And I live in that that sense of pressure, if you will, that Paul understood.
Great privilege does not mean God is looking at us and saying, "Well, I'm just going to give you everything because I like you better than anybody else. So feel free to do what you want." You've got to deal with this with your children, don't you? Sometimes you're so good to them and so kind and so gracious that they go too far. And you need to discipline to bring them back in. And so it is in the spiritual dimension. The Corinthians, frankly, were overconfident. They were abusing their liberty because they thought they had everything. God must really like them. Boy, He gave them everything. I mean, there were born out of a marvelous ministry of the apostle Paul himself.