Summary: To run the race Christ has set before us such that we reach the finish line and receive the prize, we need to exercise self-discipline all along the way.
SERIES: PRESCRIPTIONS FOR A HEALTHY & HOLY CHURCH:
A Study in 1 Corinthians Applied To The Church Today
III. MAINTAINING PROPER DIET & EXERCISE
B.) FREEDOM TO CHOOSE FITNESS
“SELF-DISCIPLINE” (1 Cor. 10:1-22)
Rev. Todd G. Leupold, Perth Bible Church, May 17, 2009 AM
Last time, we talked about the importance of our lives before Christ in such a way as to be able to finish the race well and not be disqualified. With that as a foundation, we will today follow Scripture’s instructions concerning one of the greatest dangers that threatens us with disqualification: idolatry. Idolatry is anything or anyone that takes away from or removes our devotion and focus solely upon Christ, His honor and His provision!
I.) LEARN FROM ISRAEL (vv. 1-11)
A.) We Are Spiritually Alike (vv. 1-4)
Believers in Jesus the Messiah, Christians in first century Corinth (and Christians today) are kindred in the faith with the OT Jewish believers.
God’s glory and guiding presence led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and toward the Promised Land, just as now the Holy Spirit guides us in our lives away from the bondage of sin and and into the abundant life free in Christ!
Through God’s grace and the mediation on their behalf by Moses, Israel had access to God and His blessings. Through Christ as the Great Mediator, all who believe in Him now have direct access to God, complete forgiveness of sins, and His wonderful blessings!
As God miraculously provided for Israel’s physical sustenance during the desert wanderings (with manna from heaven and wells of water from the rock struck by Moses’ staff), so He in an even greater way provides for our physical and spiritual sustenance through the Rock of Ages – Jesus Christ!
AND YET . . .
B.) Most of Them Were Disqualified (v. 5)
In spite of God’s sovereign guidance, in spite of the people’s mediated access to Almighty God Himself, in spite of how He continually and faithfully provided miraculous physical and spiritual sustenance and blessings according to and beyond their needs, the Israelites disqualified themselves and failed to finish the race or receive the prize!
According to the Book of Numbers, 600,000 men were led out of slavery in Egypt that they might be led to the Promised Land. Including women and children, the total number of Israelites was around 2 million. But, how many ’finished the race and claimed the prize’? How many actually entered into and reaped God’s blessings in the Promised Land? Two! - Joshua and Caleb.
What happened to the rest? They were disqualified due to their sin – choosing to follow ways other than God’s ways, to rely on powers other than His Might, to worship idols rather than the Holy One.
What happened to those who were disqualified? They all perished, never seeing or tasting God’s greatest blessings!
Friends, it is one thing to be offered a special path in the footprints of God, to know His greatness, to experience His goodness, grace, provision, deliverance and momentary blessings. But, it is quite another thing to genuinely follow Him through all of the path’s twists, turns and crossroads to the very end!
Scripture’s message here is simple: TAKE HEED!
Despite their unique relationship with God, despite all their knowledge of His revelation and Law, despite all the blessings He bestowed upon them, most of Israel turned from Him along the way. In return, they were judged, disqualified and lost the prize.
Now, Paul warns the Corinthian Church to beware making the same mistake.
The Holy LORD God Almighty did not tolerate Israel’s sin, disobedience or catering to other idolatrous beliefs and traditions. Nor will He tolerate the same kind of behavior from the Corinthian Church.
NOR will He tolerate it from any today!
C.) Let Us Learn From Their Negative Example (vv. 6-11)
Still, we have the added grace of God having preserved these examples for us to learn from!
1.)Idolatry (v. 7)
The primary issue/sin is idolatry (putting anyone or anything above God Himself).
The issue of eating together at pagan gatherings and foods that have been sacrificed to false gods is the example.
The specific reference Paul makes is to Exodus 32:6b and the incidence of Israel’s feeling abandoned and uncertain after Moses had been gone for a time on Mt. Sinai. They responded by making themselves an idol to a false god, making offerings to this idol, and then celebrating it through a communal meal which escalated into revelry that included cultic dancing, shouting and singing.
The Corinthian Christians, remember, were arguing that it is perfectly okay for them to join in the non-Christian meals and festivities of their community and culture – even those that knowingly included an element of false worship and celebration. They argued that since they knew these gods were false and didn’t really believe the rest it was okay to just go and ignore that part of the environment.