God Was Not Pleased
I Corinthians 10:1-5 ESV
“For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.”
It is important that we understand that our religious upbringing, our church affiliation, our church attendance, our ministry, our tithing, our religious customs and/or our religious rituals are not what make us acceptable to God. We can claim we believe in Jesus, be baptized, read our Bibles and pray, and serve the church and still not please God with our lives.
So, why was God not pleased with most of the children of Israel at the time of their wandering in the wilderness? It was because they lacked genuine faith in God, which was revealed by their disobedience to God’s commands.
For, although they were taught the right way by God, through Moses, they went their own way instead. They became idolaters, and they engaged in sexual immorality, and they put God to the test, and they grumbled against God and against his servant Moses, etc. So, God was not pleased with them because they didn’t do what he said, but they did the opposite, while they ignored his instructions to them.
As Examples for Us
I Corinthians 10:6-13 ESV
“Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did…
“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. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
Now this is interesting. What this is revealing to us is that Old Covenant or New Covenant, faith in God, in Jesus Christ, is defined the same way. Our faith in God is evidenced by our obedience to his commands, but we are not talking here just about the 10 commandments, but about all his instructions to us, his church, throughout the New Testament, which includes 9 of the 10 commandments. The only one not repeated is the one about the Sabbath.
But, the New Testament goes into much greater detail regarding what we are not to do, what we are to turn away from doing, and what we are to do in place of what we used to do. Yet, we don’t get saved by the doing. There is nothing we can do to earn or to deserve our own salvation. We don’t perform in order to be acceptable to God. But, that doesn’t mean that “doing” is not relevant to our salvation or to our eternal life. It is!
This is kind of like, “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” It isn’t our good works we do in our flesh which saves us. We are saved only by God’s grace through God-given faith in him. But, then we have to define what his grace means, and what faith means, and then we have to look at other scriptures which explain to us what genuine believing faith in Jesus looks like. For, it isn’t just a word we say. It is revealed by what we do.
And, we have to accept that this passage is saying that what happened with the children of Israel during the time in the wilderness is written down for us, for us who claim to be Christians, as an example to us, so we don’t set our hearts on evil like they did, so that God is not displeased with us, and so that we don’t end up in hell like they did and not receive eternal life with God. And, we can’t ignore this. We need to take this to heart.
Standing on the Wrong Things
The warning here is that we take heed if we think that we stand, lest we fall. For, many people are standing on the wrong things. Some are standing on adherence to legalistic requirements or to following religious traditions or rituals. Others are standing on their misunderstanding of God’s grace, because they see God’s grace as permission to continue walking in sin without guilt. For, they see the gospel as a “do nothing” gospel.
But, the truth is found somewhere in between these two extremes. Yes, works done in the flesh do not save us. Yes, we are saved only by God’s grace, through faith, which is gifted to us by God, and this not of ourselves, not of works lest we should boast (Eph. 2:8-9). I agree! But, what is God’s grace? And, how does God define faith? Those are the questions.
We learn in Titus 2 that God’s grace, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts and to live self-controlled, godly and upright lives while we wait for Christ’s return. For, God’s grace set us free from our slavery (addiction) to sin, and it empowers us to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to God. And, faith in Jesus Christ means we die with Christ to sin that we might live with him to his righteousness (Tit. 2:11-14; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Lu. 9:23-26).
And, so then he lets us know that He will provide everything we need to live godly and holy lives and to be able to say “NO!” to sin and to Satan. And, that is the beauty of God’s grace and the gospel of our salvation. It isn’t that we have to try in our flesh to please God, and it isn’t that we do nothing at all in the way of pleasing God. It is that God’s grace provides us with the way out from under temptation to sin and it empowers us to live righteously.
Cup of Lord, or Cup of Demons?
I Corinthians 10:14-22 ESV
“Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?
“…I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?”
So, because of God’s grace to us in delivering us out of slavery to sin, and in providing the way out for us from underneath temptation to sin, so that we can walk in obedience to his commands, by his grace, through faith, we ought to flee idolatry, sexual immorality, and all other manner of evil that the scriptures warn us to forsake.
This is certainly not saying that a saved life means we live in sinless perfection. But, it is saying that a life redeemed by the blood of Jesus is set free from bondage to sin and is set free to walk in holiness and righteousness, empowered by God’s Spirit living within us. A holy life is, thus, possible. A life free from idolatry and sexual immorality is possible! Jesus made the way for us to live in freedom from the control of sin over our lives, so we need to walk in that freedom he provided! Amen!
But, too many people these days are being convinced that a pure life or a holy life are not attainable, and so they have resigned themselves to accepting a gospel of grace that has lowered God’s standards for holiness, and which has embraced this notion that we are forever enslaved to sin with no way out, but that God’s grace covers it all, so now we are guilt free.
But, that’s not God’s grace! His grace doesn’t leave us enslaved to sin with no way out! Remember, he provided the way of escape for us. We just have to take the way out he provided. The problem is too many people don’t want out. They are like the Israelites of old who want their religion without obedience to God and to his commands, but it doesn’t work that way.
So, what we need to understand here is that we are to take this passage of scripture to heart, and we are to apply it to our lives, and we are to realize that if we walk in disobedience to our Lord that we don’t have eternal life with God, and we aren’t saved from our sins, and we aren’t bound for heaven (Lu. 9:23-26; Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:16-21; Gal. 6:7-8; Rom. 2:6-8; Eph. 5:3-6; 1 Jn. 2:3-6; Jn. 6:35-66; Jn. 14:23-24).
We can’t have one foot in the world and the other foot in heaven. Either we are slaves of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness and to eternal life with God (Rom. 6:15-23). Which will it be?
Our God, He is Alive
Music and Lyrics by A.W. Dicus
There was a long, long time ago,
A God whose voice the prophets heard.
He is the God that we should know,
Who speaks from His inspired word…
There is a God, He is alive,
In Him we live and we survive;
From dust our God created man,
He is our God, the great I Am…
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