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Don't Fall

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July 3, 2005 AM

Tree Of Life Wesleyan Church

Billings MT

Don’t Fall

1 Corinthians 10:1-13

                 Paul Harvey tells an incredible story describing how Eskimos kill a wolf simply by coating several layers of frozen blood on a sharp knife sticking out of the frozen tundra. Apparently the wolf picks up the scent, and after circling the knife warily begins licking the frozen blood. He begins to lick faster and faster as the desire for blood literally drives the wolf wild. So great becomes his craving that the wolf never notices the sting of the sharp blade on his tongue as the blood being consumed gradually becomes his own. Morning finds the wolf lying dead in the snow.  Temptation lures each of us just as the bloody knife attracts the unsuspecting wolf. We may warily respond at first, but we soon become consumed by the desire of the moment, never noticing the deadly sting of the sharp blade of "sin" as the blood consumed eventually becomes our own.

            This morning I want us to look at a passage of scripture that deals with sin, temptation and what we do with them.  Its in 1 Corinthians 10 and Paul is telling the Corinthians and us that we can learn from Israel’s past.  READ 1 Corinthians 10:1-13.  SLIDES (4)

            We tend to live in Car-dominated territory.  It's unfit for humans, some say. In fact, a study has shown that when any more than 9 percent of a place is devoted to parking, we feel we don't belong there any more. We get a rush of automotive anxiety. Any parking area with more than six cars is "car-dominated territory," and such a landscape makes humans very uncomfortable.  Problem is, we Americans own 200 million automobiles - almost half of the world's 520 million cars. All those cars need to be parked somewhere when not in use. One option is surface-level lots, but these consume land and space and contribute to rising temperatures in the summer in densely populated cities. Parking garages are another possibility. But they consume massive amounts of space.  One company is making robotic parking garages to address the parking crunch. About 5,000 are already operating in Europe and Asia. You drive your car inside the garage entrance, step out and take a ticket. A computerized system of pallets and elevators parks your car in a minute or two. To retrieve your car, you present your ticket to a machine, and your car arrives within two minutes. No attendants, no lines, no idling cars or fumes, and the cars stack up in half the space of a conventional garage. But now land-use designers have come up with still another option. Build down, they say. Parking structures can be completely invisible if we build down instead of up. And you can shield buildings by covering them with dirt and planting trees, grass and flowers on top - all of which improves both the natural and human environments.

Wouldn't it be great if we could park the temptations that so often beset us? But what do we do with these 520 million enticements that come into our lives? Where do we put them? Should we hide them in big, concrete garages - places that look a little ugly, but don't eat up too much of our spiritual landscape? Should we park them on surface lots visible to all, telling others, "Well, this is who I am, like it or not"? We certainly can't handle temptation robotically, because we are flesh-and-blood humans full of passions and desires.  So what does our text say about temptation?  Paul readily admits that we live in sin-dominated territory, with at least 9 percent of our time spent struggling with temptation. Our ancestors, he said, SLIDES "drank from the spiritual rock that followed them," he recalls, "and the rock was Christ" (10:4). But in spite of this divine presence in their lives, they desired evil, became idolaters, indulged in sexual immorality, put Christ to the test, and complained bitterly. SLIDES "So if you think you are standing," concludes the apostle, "watch out that you do not fall" (v. 12).

Let’s go back and look at the passage.  In verses 1-4 Paul reminds us that the people of Israel enjoyed many repeated blessings from the Lord: protection, guidance, sustenance and even forgiveness.  All these took place in a series of remarkable incidents where God intervened to demonstrate His sovereign control in their lives.  But Paul picks a couple of specific experiences that happened in their lives during the time of Moses.  Verse 2 - 4 SLIDESThey were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.  They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink.” By stating that they ate spiritual food and drank spiritual drink, Paul is stressing the divine origin of the people’s provision.  And when we think about the 40 years of wandering we are reminded that there are two times when water came from the rock.  Once toward the beginning of the journey where God told Moses to strike the rock and water came forth.  The second time came towards the end of the journey – where Moses struck the rock without being told to by God.  And it was because of this that Moses was not allowed to enter the “promised land.”

There’s a big lesson to learn here.  When Moses was being obedient to God, God provided for them, but in the second case, Moses struck the rock out of presumption.  He just figured that since God did it once that He would do it again – and without even asking God, Moses struck the rock.  We are never to take God for granted – never to presume that since He did it once that He will do it again or that He will continue to do it.  Everything that we do should be done according to the will of God – and not our own.

Paul also makes the connection between the rock which gave forth spiritual water, and Jesus Christ our Rock.  Again, when we follow God’s leading and obey His commands, the Rock, our Lord and Savior will spring forth with water that quenches the soul.  But when we go against His will and ignore Him and falsely call upon the Savior, the spring of eternal life stops flowing.

But before the people got to this spiritual food and drink, we are told that they were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.  By saying that they were baptized into Moses, what Paul is saying is this, that they were voluntarily and unconditionally placing themselves under the leadership of Moses.  Isn’t it wonderful that he used that word – baptize – because it draws a parallel between the privileges of God’s people under Moses and the privileges of God’s people under Jesus.  In both cases, in both events, being baptized meant loyalty to God’s appointed leader; and it also meant that they would be provided with spiritual food and drink on a regular basis.

Isn’t that great?  When we are baptized into Jesus we are pledging our faith and devotion our allegiance to the King of kings and the Lord of lords – and He will provide for us on a regular basis – Bible studies, prayer meetings, church services – but as we will see – its us who tend to forget this and not God.

Even though God provided for their every need, Paul continues on in verse 5 saying, SLIDES “Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert.”  How true are these words because out of all the people, the thousands, who left Egypt under Moses, only two out of that generation lived to see Canaan – Joshua and Caleb.  Paul says that we need to learn from this, that these things are warnings for us.

The sins that kept the people of God under Moses from entering the “promised land” has a real ring to them: covetousness, idolatry, immorality, straining the patience of the Lord, and grumbling against the Lord.  The same things that are going on today!  It’s time we wake up and learn from what happened to the children of Israel who never saw the promised land.  Paul even tells the Corinthians and us not to boast about our spiritual condition.  We are all in a perilous position and if we allow ourselves the indulgence of thinking that sin does not matter – we are setting ourselves up for a fall.  Look at some of the religious leaders that have fallen over the last ten to twenty years – they fell into the trap that Satan has set – having us believe that we are no longer susceptible to the temptations and sins of this world – and why do we feel that way, because God has been taking care of us and we start taking Him for granted.

This should be a warning to us – never get so comfortable that we take our salvation for granted.  Don’t get me wrong, we can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are saved by the grace of God.  But sometimes we tend to become like the children of Israel who thought that because they were God’s chosen people and because He had provided manna and water and since He parted the sea so that they could walk through on dry land and even led them by smoke and fire – that nothing could over come them.  Paul tells us that they were punished and he does it in three dramatic and tragic phrases:  They were overthrown (5); they fell SLIDES (8); they were destroyed SLIDES (9-10) by the Destroyer.       

The same can be very true for us.  If we do not remain in constant communion with God, temptations can and will overthrow us, they will cause us to fall and could, in the end, destroy us.  Paul says that these were written down for our instruction.  They happened to them to act as a warning about the slippery slope of rejecting God.  They are in the Bible for our benefit, to drill sense into us.

But verses 11-13 may be the most important of the whole passage.  READ.  SLIDESThey are examples to us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.”  We are living in crucial days – the days before Jesus’ return and each day should be considered a bonus day, a day in which we can proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to those that don’t know Him.  These are important days!  And Paul reminds us, SLIDES “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”

There are some people who believe that just because they are Wesleyan or Baptist or some other denomination that they will be saved – that there is nothing that can pull them from the hand of God – well nothing can, but they can sure jump!  If none of God’s chosen people, except two, were allowed to go into the promised land, because they gave into the temptations of the world – what do you think He will do to us – that’s not to say we are not His chosen, we are, so we should learn something here – that’s what Paul is saying, we should learn from what happened to the children of Israel.

He says in verse 13, SLIDES “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.”  Think about it, just because we are Christians we don’t face any different temptations than anyone else faces – we like to think we do – but we don’t.  In the Greek, the root meaning of the word used here for temptation (peirasmos) is not so much temptation but really it means “testing.”  Paul is warning us saying, “You are facing many powerful “testings” because of the weakness of your spiritual resources.  When we have on the full armor of God, we can face these temptations or maybe a better word is we can ignore these temptations, because we are focused on God and His word and not on the things of this world.

God will not let us be tempted beyond what we can handle, He always provides a way out – through, prayer, reading Scripture, calling on our brothers and sisters – all we have to do is look for the way out that He provides – its there.

And I love this last part where Paul says, SLIDES “But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”  God knows what we are going through, remember, He went through the same temptations in the form of Jesus and so He will provide a way out so that we can stand up under the load.  We often talk about being yoked with Jesus and when we are, He helps carry our load – so that we can stand up under it!  God provided for us in the form of Jesus Christ.  When we are tempted to be idolaters or drinkers or gossipers or grumblers or gamblers we are to call upon our Lord and Savior, for He was provided so that we can stand up and ignore temptations.  So let us learn from the past as we focus on the future.

Mar. 18, 2001 AM

Miles City Wesleyan Church

Miles City Mt.

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