Have you ever said to yourself, “Why do I need to read the Bible?” Perhaps you’ve wondered what is the point of all the stuff in the Bible – it’s all in the past. Especially the Old Testament – what can I possibly learn from all that “boring” stuff?
Well, in today’s reading in 1 Corinthians, chapter 10, Paul gives a great example of why we need to learn from the Old Testament. He makes a great point about our ancestors’ behavior and advice to learn from their mistakes. Check it out:
1 I don’t want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters, what happened to our ancestors in the wilderness long ago. God guided all of them by sending a cloud that moved along ahead of them, and he brought them all safely through the waters of the sea on dry ground. 2 As followers of Moses, they were all baptized in the cloud and the sea. 3 And all of them ate the same miraculous food, 4 and all of them drank the same miraculous water. For they all drank from the miraculous rock that traveled with them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Yet after all this, God was not pleased with most of them, and he destroyed them in the wilderness.
6 These events happened as a warning to us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did 7 or worship idols as some of them did. For the Scriptures say, “The people celebrated with feasting and drinking, and they indulged themselves in pagan revelry.” 8 And we must not engage in sexual immorality as some of them did, causing 23,000 of them to die in one day. 9 Nor should we put Christ to the test, as some of them did and then died from snakebites. 10 And don’t grumble as some of them did, for that is why God sent his angel of death to destroy them. 11 All these events happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us, who live at the time when this age is drawing to a close.
Did you catch that in verse 6: “These events happened as a warning to us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did or worship idols as some of them did.”
Following that, Paul gives us what I feel is one of the most important principles of Godly living. Read what it says in verses 12 and 13:
12 If you think you are standing strong, be careful, for you, too, may fall into the same sin. 13 But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it.
First, a warning: don’t become prideful. The moment we think we’re standing strong and nothing can touch us – that’s when the fall happens. The tempter is out there, looking for opportunities to tear us down, humiliate us, destroy our witness, destroy our families. We must always be prepared and on the lookout for his attack.
The good news is that when temptation comes, God will make a way out – a back door to escape. What does that mean? Is this true – is our temptation never too strong that we can’t stand against it? Well, if we really want to stand strong, God promises that He will always make a way out. Think about the last time you were tempted. Did you not have a moment, a slight pause where you thought “I shouldn’t be doing this”? That’s God giving you a way out. It’s during that moment you have an opportunity to cry out to Him for help.
I’ve discovered, quite by accident this principle to be true. I’ve gotten so fed up with sin that I’ve actually, verbally, quite out loud, said “God – I don’t want to do this” and suddenly I was able to stand strong. I was amazed. Perhaps you could call your accountability partner in your moment of weakness. Perhaps you could turn off the TV or computer or just walk away. Get into your prayer closet or just take a walk and pray.
The key is – do you want to stop sinning or to you like it too much?
John Bevere has a great teaching on this in his book/video, “Freedom From Sin.” He tells about a friend of his that got saved and asked God to take away his addiction to cigarette smoking. For years, this man tried and tried – he prayed, he had others pray, he went to deliverance ministries, he fasted, he cried out to God – but he couldn’t shake the habit.
One day, a friend of his also got saved and immediately stopped smoking! Just like that – the guy was able to drop his habit cold turkey. The first guy was very frustrated and yelled back at God, “Why!? Why have I been struggling with this for years, but my friend, who I brought to You can stop immediately. Why can’t I get rid of this?”
In a quiet moment that followed, the man felt the Holy Spirit say, “Because you like it too much.”
Do you hate sin? Do you really want to be free from whatever it is that continues to plague you after all these years? Do you really want to get rid of your anger or bitterness? Do you really hate pornography? Do you seriously regret lying or overeating?
God will make a way for you to stand strong. But, He will not force it upon you. You have to want to take it.
Just some food for thought.
God bless you in your struggles. You’re not alone.