Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.
-1 Corinthians 10:6-11
Privileges like a free country, a godly heritage, a good family, or a great church don’t guarantee spiritual blessings like grace, mercy, favor, and eternal life. If we grow lazy or complacent in our faith, sin can creep in, and before we know it, we find ourselves looking down a path wondering how we got there so quickly. This is the foundation for what Paul wants to explain in the above passage.
We must be careful about complacency. Sin creeps in and it won’t be ignored. In verses six through ten, Paul refers to the Israelites of old and to the sin they committed. He warns about desiring evil as they did, and instructs us to live differently. And mostly, to learn by their example. We don’t have to make the same mistakes if we don’t grow complacent.
Paul specifically tells us why he is referring to these old stories—to warn us. Look again at verse six, “Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.” “These things,” are referring to the consequences received for their rebellion, disobedience, and sin. Paul addressed the people of his time with these words so they wouldn’t do the same things as his ancestors and suffer the same consequences. He was making the old story an example in real time, trying to warn those he was ministering to. They are to be examples to us as well.
These words are not just a warning, but Paul reminds us these words are for our instruction (11b). It’s for those of us on this side of the cross, “on whom the end of the ages has come.” This means, if you’ve ever thought the Old Testament was passé or didn’t apply to you, think again! The events recorded were explicitly written that we might not desire evil as they did and suffer the consequences. We don’t have to suffer the consequences of sin we don’t commit. If we don’t grow complacent, or lazy, in our faith, and we learn by other’s examples, those spiritual blessings can then rain down upon us and those around us. That’s how Paul frames his thought; that sin won’t be ignored. It wasn’t then, and it won’t be ignored now. Take heed from the warning and learn from the example.
Special privileges don’t guarantee spiritual blessings. Be careful of becoming complacent. Blessings from God or special privileges now don’t guarantee spiritual blessings later. -Rob Willey – Senior Pastor – Harvest Davenport, Iowa
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