August 8, 2021
Pastor Gunnar Ledermann
1 Corinthians 10:1-5, 11-13
1 Corinthians 10:1-5, 11-13
1 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
“I can do it,” said the toddler when an adult chooses the plastic cup with a sealed lid rather than a glass cup with no lid. “I can do it,” said the young adult with a learner’s permit when a more experienced driver was ready to drive home through rush hour traffic. “I can do it,” said the overwhelmed adult when a friend offers to make a meal, pay an electric bill, take the kids for a night, mow the grass, etc. “I can do it,” said the senior suffering from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or Dementia when family and doctors discuss options for high levels of care. You have said, “I can do it,” many times too when it was more than you could handle.
The Israelites also thought they could handle life on their own. In Exodus 16, the Israelites had been freed from slavery in Egypt and delivered from Pharoah’s army with the parting of the Red Sea. They were now in the desert, and they were hungry. They complained that Moses had brought them out into the desert to die without food, whereas they claimed they had more than enough to eat back in Egypt. In response to their grumbling, 11 The Lord said to Moses, 12 “I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’” And God provided quail for them to eat and manna, a wafer that tasted like honey. Israel grumbled against God revealing their belief that they could handle life on their own with a plan much better than God’s. Yet, they failed to remember that not too long ago they were on their own in Egypt and we read in Exodus 3, 7 The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. Now, it is possible that they had forgotten their crying about how bad Egypt was because between their crying God had sent 10 of the most unnatural and devastating plagues against Egypt, allowed Israel to be freed from the slavery without having to pay for it or rebel in some kind of war leaving many of them dead, allowed them to be given gifts by the Egyptians while they were leaving, and God parted a huge body of water so they could escape a world power of their time army, plus look back to see that army crushed by the waters they had just walked through. Israel was not faithful in following, trusting in, thanking or confidently asking God to save them. Instead, they gave into temptation and grumbled. Yet, God was faithful, and he gave them what they asked for.
The many times Israel fell into temptation, while God remained faithful to them were written down for you. We read in 1 Corinthians 10, 11 “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.” In the beginning verses of 1 Corinthians 10, Paul made it clear that the Israelites had every reason to trust in God and avoid giving into temptation, but most did not trust in God and gave into temptation. The Israelites, you and I, and all people are all affected by sin, meaning we all like to give into temptation. Israel fell into the temptation of pride because they took for granted all that God had done for them. God allowed the many times they fell into temptation to be recorded for as a warning for you against pride and taking God for granted. Israelites who saw firsthand God’s miracles died without faith in him. God does not want that for you as Paul wrote, 12 “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”
God does not want you to grow comfortable in your faith that you forget the dangers of temptation. You have such easy access to so many temptations. From screens of every size, you can access faster than the blink of an eye something that you watch, listen to, talk about, think about and share, which can easily become worship, praise and idolatry, something that you love more than God. You can use OMG or GEEZ throughout your day, and not follow it up with a praise, a request, a please take care of, a thank you and an amen. You can schedule simple things like sleep or a bowl of cereal all the way up to expensive, deep debt causing, sport, music, pleasure, beach, mountains, international, etc. periods of rest for a Sunday, but not crack open a Bible. You criticize your parents and others in authority, you hate, you lust, you steal, you lie, you are jealous, greedy, covetous, etc. These all come easily to you and me. And temptation and sin can come even more easily to you as a believer because you are comfortable with Jesus’ forgiveness. When you start to say to yourself, “I can do it,” because Jesus will just forgive me, then you need to hear these words again, 12 “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”
Your response to temptation is not “I can do it,” but God is faithful. In John 6, after the feeding of the 5,000 men (not including women and children), that same crowd was looking for Jesus the day after he fed them. When they found him, Jesus said, 26 … “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.” The crowd followed Jesus for food. They were not concerned about their spiritual needs, miracles, or the promised Savior, only what would satisfy them in the moment. 35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Jesus came into this world to give life. Many who he taught and gave signs to did not believe in him. Finally, the people came together and shouted, “Crucify him!” They did not get what they wanted from him, so they put him to death. It was a defiant statement of “I can do it,” when it came to having life. And through that dark deed, God’s faithfulness shined brightest.
You and I have everything because of Jesus. The first five verses of John 1 read, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Jesus is the Word. He is God, he is life and he is light. For all your moments of giving into temptation and for all of your sin, all of which is unfaithfulness to God, God was faithful to you. God always wanted you to have everything you need for life. He created the whole universe just so you could live. He sent his one and only Son to meet all his expectations you do not meet. Then, Jesus traded his life of faithfulness for your unfaithful life dying for your sins. He also rose to guarantee you will also rise and he has given you his life of faithfulness to be your record. When you feel you have fallen from faith, God reminds you that it was his work to save you and his faithfulness that covers over all your falling into temptation and sin as we hear in Galatians 3, 27 “for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ,” and in Isaiah 61, 10 “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness.” You are forgiven, loved and a citizen of heaven because God is always faithful to you.
Even with God’s faithfulness, facing temptation is still hard. Temptations take a toll. They hurt your emotions sending you on highs and lows, they hurt your mind as you try to rationalize giving in, then struggle under the weight of all the reasons you should not have done something, they hurt you physically making you sick from guilt, causing self-harm, infecting you with a disease, paying fines or serving jail time, etc. They also hurt you spiritually as your relationship with God is strained and you battle the devil, demons, sinful believers and unbelievers and your own sinful nature with the “I can do it,” attitude. Because you are tired and worn-out facing temptation, does not mean you have fallen. And this is what God wanted you to know through Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, 13 … “And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” First, God is faithful, again he has saved you, forgiven you, declared you perfect through Jesus and given you eternal life. Second, God limits your temptations. Not that they become easy, but your faith in him is able to survive the temptation. Third, God provides you a way out of the temptation so that you can endure it. On one extreme, the way out might be heaven. On another extreme, it might just be turning off a screen. Often, the way out and enduring is in the middle. This means your ways out and enduring are reading or listening to your Bible and devotions, coming to worship and Bible Study, surrounding yourself with Christian brothers and sisters and being honest with them about your temptations and asking them for support and prayers and to share the Word of God, it means having a pastor who knows you, being honest with him, responding when he asks how you are and reaching out to tell him when you need help. There are also resources God has provided in society to help you with temptations like counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, doctors, gyms, nutritionists, friends, coworkers, family, etc. those are also ways God has provided for you to work together for your good.
The answer to temptation is not, “I can do it.” Temptation and sin are not something you can jump in and out of without it affecting your faith. Temptation and sin are also not something so overwhelming that not even God can protect you from them. The response to temptation is to cling to God, to the examples recorded for your benefit in Scripture and to all he has done for you through your Savior Jesus. God is faithful when you are tempted; 13… “he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” Amen.