Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg

with Tom Fuller


Don\'t Let Temptations Sink You

1Corinthians 10:1-13

Paul has just gotten finished encouraging us to pursue our relationship with the Lord and our being used by Him in the furtherance of the gospel like we were competing for the Olympic games, or in a boxing match where winning isn?t everything, it?s the only thing! It?s a ?full speed ahead? mentality. But continuing the boat metaphor, there are two things that try to hinder our training and competing?logs in our path to put holes in us and slow us down or sink us (?the flesh?) and lights on a shore away from our destination that would pull us off from our intended direction called ?temptations.?

In Chapter 10, though Paul seems to skip around a lot, but his main intention is to get us to cut away the anchor and set a true and straight course that will allow us to be used most effectively to bring His love story to a lost humanity.

1 ?5

Although Corinth was not a Jewish city, Paul appeals to those in the congregation that were Jewish, or to the spiritual Jewish roots of Gentiles who had been ?grafted? into Israel (Romans 11:17).

Paul is bringing some of the rich history of Israel after the Exodus, and using it to symbolize what temptation and the flesh can do. Part of his point is that you cannot come to Christ and then ignore the relationship and live as one who never knew Him.

First he talks about the Jews as they set out from Egypt in Exodus 13:21-22. As Israel departed, a pillar of cloud guided them by day and a pillar of fire by night.

In Chapter 14, that pillar of cloud separated the Jews from the Egyptian soldiers pursuing them the night before the crossed the Red Sea. The next day the Sea was split in two and the Jews walked across.

Being ?baptized? into Moses basically speaks to the fact that all the Jews experienced this miracle together, and it led them to worship Yahweh for His deliverance. In the same way, all people who are ?baptized? into Christ experience the deliverance of God through the salvation of Jesus Christ.

The ?spiritual food and drink? he refers to is the manna (Exodus 16:4) and the water is what they got from striking the rock in Exodus 17:1-7 and Numbers 20:2-23.  The idea of the ?rock? following them is the idea of God?s provision for them on their journey. The fact that the ?rock? was Jesus Christ connects Him to Yahweh in the Old Testament and is further evidence of the deity of Jesus.

God had done so much for the Jews: delivered them from bondage to slavery by miracles, providing a way through the Red Sea and providing sustenance for them on the journey through the wilderness. Despite this, however, the people openly rebelled against God on numerous occasions. In fact, of all those that left Egypt, only two: Joshua and Caleb, actually entered the Promised Land (Numbers 14).

6

The tendency for someone who becomes a believer is that the gravity of temptation and flesh will tend to draw us back into its orbit. The desire for evil is still in us. In Romans 7:18 Paul says ?For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is in my flesh.? More than trying to be perfect by avoiding certain things, we should pray that God would take away our desire to do evil. Now Paul gives us some specific examples to illustrate his point.

7

This story comes from Exodus 32. While Moses was up on Mt. Sinai receiving the Law, the people noticed he was delayed. Aaron then invited them to give him their gold and he would fashion a calf to be their god instead of Yahweh. He said ?because this Moses ? we don?t know what has happened to him!? Isn?t it an interesting parallel that today people wonder what happened to Jesus who has not returned in 2,000 years?

So the people called a feast and in verse 6 it says ?The people sat down to eat and drink, then got up to revel.? When Moses returned down the mountain he was so upset he broke the tablets, ground the gold calf into powder and made the people drink it. Verse 25 says ?Moses saw that the people were out of control.? The sons of Levi responded to Moses? call and 3,000 men were executed for their rebellion that day.

What do we get out of this? The calf represented the way of worshipping prior to knowing Yahweh?going back to worshipping the calf like they did in Egypt. For us this might be going back to the same philosophies we used to rely on before we came to know Christ.

8

This story is out of Numbers 25:1-18. After Baalam was unsuccessful in cursing Israel, a more insidious plot arose where the women of Moab used sexual favors as a way to entice the men of Israel to worship Baal. Because of their disobedience, 24,000 died in the plague (Paul says 23,000). The sexual immorality was a gateway drug for spiritual immorality?Israel starting its affair with Baal which continued until the Babylonian captivity.

So we need to watch specifically for the enticement of sex outside of God?s plan?Paul also addressed this in Chapter 6. Sexual immorality is rampant and has toppled numerous ministries and sent otherwise effective saints into ineffectiveness, which is the overall plan of the enemy. Further we need to watch for those things that are gateways to spiritual defection: a focus on possessions, physical beauty above spiritual beauty, prestige, intellectual knowledge above knowing God?basically letting these things pull our energies away from loving and serving God.

9

After the story of the plague in Numbers 20, chapter 21 has the story of the bronze serpent. Israel was supposed to go around Edom after a huge victory?they became impatient and spoke out against Moses and God. They wanted to take a shortcut and were upset at the lack of provision in the wilderness.

God sent snakes into their midst and everyone died unless they looked at the bronze serpent Moses made and put on a stick. This is a very great reference to Jesus Christ, who was made sin and put on a stick, suspended between heaven and earth so that anyone who would look on Him would be healed from the fatal snake bite of sin.

Here Paul talks about it in terms of ?tempting Christ.? It?s the idea, I think, of thinking that we know better than God. We often want to take shortcuts?do things our ways instead of God?s. We get unhappy with where we are, especially in desert places.

10

This is probably the story in Numbers 16 when a group of Israelites rebelled against the authority of Moses?specifically Korah, Dathan, and Abiram plus 250 leaders. After a test, the earth opened up, consuming they, their wives and children, and their tents! Fire also came out from heaven and destroyed the 250 leaders.

Clearly here the example is open rebellion against God?s authority and leadership in the body of Christ through the Apostles?something that was happening in the Corinthian church and happens today as well.

11 ? 12

History provides us with a rich tapestry of failures to warn us of pitfalls in the path. Like flares to warn of an upcoming accident or high water signs warning of a flood, these events warn us of rough roads ahead so that we are prepared. Sometimes our attitude is ?I would never do that.? That?s when you need to be most careful. ?Pride goes before a fall? (Proverbs 16:18). You are saved by grace through faith and you continue to serve Christ through that same faith, not your own efforts!

God knows that the enemy and our flesh will plant plenty of potholes along our way to see if we will stumble into them. There will be plenty of lights on the wrong shore to tempt us to turn towards them.

13

We always think that the temptations that surround us are unique and therefore we cannot be held responsible for withstanding them. That is simply not true. The lust of the flesh (our natural desires), the lust of the eyes (the allure of the world around us), and the pride of life (we know better than God) have been with us since the Garden of Eden (1 John 2:15-17). James says we are tempted when we are ?enticed by his own evil desires.? The writer of Hebrews (4:15) tells us that Jesus was tested like we are, yet without sin.

So how do we withstand? Look for the way of escape. The end of verse 13 is often misunderstood. We think it says God won?t bring circumstances into our lives beyond what we can bear, but that?s not what it says. Here it is specific to temptation.

So what is the way of escape? Temptation isn?t sin, it?s what we do in response that matters.

1. Stand against the enemy

We think that giving into temptation will net us satisfaction. But Satan really hates humans and everything he gives to us rots on us. He is a liar, after all, and the best con-man you have ever met. ?Resist the devil and he will flee from you.? (James 4:7)

2. Stand on God?s Word

Jesus used the word to withstand the temptations of Satan in the wilderness and so can you.

3. Flee the situation

Paul says ?Flee youthful lust? (2 Timothy 2:22)

4. Pray (Ephesians 6:18-19)

5. Ask for support from another believer

6. Look for a way to redeem the temptation?fulfilling desires God?s way, instead of ours.

Conclusions 

So how can these stories relate to our lives today? Believe it or not we have these same tendencies.

1. Not letting your relationship with God satisfy you (vs 1-5)

John 6:35-36 \"I am the bread of life,\" Jesus told them. \"No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again.

2. Going back to your former ways because God doesn?t provide when or as you desire (vs 7)

Proverbs 16:25 There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it is the way of death

3. Letting the world?s ways and values overcome your character in Christ (vs 10)

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

1 John 2:15-17 Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. Because everything that belongs to the world? 16 the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one\'s lifestyle?is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does God\'s will remains forever.