Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “1 Corinthians 10”

We continue our study of Paul’s letters this week with 1 Corinthians 10. Paul begins warning the Corinthians to learn from the Israelites’ example and not make the same mistake they did when they displeased God and were overthrown in the wilderness.

Paul begins:

For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, 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 were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.

v. 1-5 (NASB)

We often think God is displeased with us because we make mistakes and mess up often. But that’s not true. God called King David a man after His own heart, even though he was a murderer and an adulterer. God said, “I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you” (2 Samuel 7:14-15, NASB).

God was pleased with David because David believed and trusted Him, and Saul did not. The Bible says, Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6, NIV).

God was displeased with the Israelites because of their lack of faith. When they were in need they didn’t seek and trust God for provision, they complained to Moses and sought to please their own flesh.

Paul continues to explain:

Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY.” Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

v. 6-11 (NASB)

They craved evil because they did not crave righteousness. To stop craving evil things, we must learn to crave what is holy. I often try to give up coffee for a week or two at a time. When I return to drinking it, I seem to crave it even more than before I gave it up. Last week, I decided to give it up once again, but this time I decided to replace it with tea. After only a week, I am now craving tea and no longer craving coffee. It’s the same with our struggle against sin. We can’t break free from it unless we turn from it and replace it with Jesus. Jesus said, “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first” (Luke 11:24-26, KJV).

We have to replace the evil by being filled with Jesus. Without being filled with Jesus, we will just crave sin even more.

Paul continues:

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

v. 12-13 (NASB)

Paul uses the Israelite’s examples not only to teach us to put our faith in Jesus, but also to warn us to stand guard and not be overconfident that we can stand against temptation.

My pastor just shared a message about being overconfident in our faith that we think we can’t fall. He used the example of Peter and how he didn’t expect to fall and deny Christ three times.

And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”

But he said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.”

Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.”

Luke 22:31-34 (NKJV)

I think it’s easier to become overconfident in our faith the longer we’ve been walking with Christ. When we’ve been taught something long enough we think we’ve got it down. I started following Christ about 14 years ago. The first 9 years, God worked a lot of things out of me and did an amazing work in my marriage and my family. Five years ago, He led me to write a book about the work He has done in us. As I was recalling all that He has done for my family, I became overconfident. I thought I had arrived enough that I could let my guard down and take a break, so to speak. That was a huge mistake. I ended up falling hard, in my marriage and my family. I saw that all the years of work God had done in my family could be swept away. That scared and humbled me and sent me running to Jesus.

The Bible says to put on the full armor of God, so we can take our stand against the devil’s schemes (Ephesians 6:11). We can’t let our guard down and think Satan will not creep his way in and entice us back into sin.

Paul continues:

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men; you judge what I say. Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread. Look at the nation Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers in the altar? What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in 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. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? We are not stronger than He, are we?

v. 14-22 (NASB)

Again, Paul reaffirms what Jesus said in Luke 11 above, we can’t be filled with evil and be filled with God. We must turn from evil and seek what is good. “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it” (1 Peter 3:11, NIV).

Paul closes talking once again about not using our freedom for evil, but for the good of others and for bringing glory to God.

All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor. Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience’ sake; FOR THE EARTH IS THE LORD’S, AND ALL IT CONTAINS. If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience’ sake. But if anyone says to you, “This is meat sacrificed to idols,” do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience’ sake; I mean not your own conscience, but the other man’s; for why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I slandered concerning that for which I give thanks?

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved.

v. 23-33 (NASB)

 

Heavenly Father,

We praise You that no temptation has overtaken us but such as is common to man. You are faithful. You will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able, but with the temptation You will always provide the way of escape to run to You. Rid us of any evil we have allowed in, and fill us with Your Holy Spirit. Help us to crave what is holy instead of craving what is evil. In Jesus’ faithful name, we pray. Amen!

 

*This series will continue next week as we study 1 Corinthians 11. Have a blessed week seeking God and craving His holiness!

 

 

 

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Monday’s Blog: Paul Series “1 Corinthians 7”

We continue our study of Paul’s letters this week with 1 Corinthians 7. Last week, in 1 Corinthians 6, Paul talked about sexual immorality in the church. In this chapter, he teaches how to avoid sexual immorality in and before marriage.

  • Concerning the married, Paul writes:

Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. I say this as a concession, not as a command. I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.

v. 1-7 (NIV)

Pastor and author, Warren Baldwin, once wrote: “Before we are married, the devil does everything he can to get us to have sex. After we are married, the devil does everything he can to keep us from having sex (with our spouse). Sex can be one of God’s greatest blessings to us, or one of the greatest curses, depending on whether or not we follow his will.”

We are to direct all our sexual desires to our spouses and not withhold them, giving Satan an opportunity to tempt us to share that intimacy with someone else. Proverbs 5:15-20 instructs us to “Drink water from your own cistern And fresh water from your own well. Should your springs be dispersed abroad, Streams of water in the streets? Let them be yours alone And not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice in the wife of your youth. As a loving hind and a graceful doe, Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; Be exhilarated always with her love. For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress And embrace the bosom of a foreigner? (NASB)

Paul continues instructing the married not to seek divorce:

To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.

To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

…A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord. In my judgment, she is happier if she stays as she is—and I think that I too have the Spirit of God.

v. 10-16, 39-40 (NIV)

Marriage is tough, especially if you and your spouse are not on the same page spiritually. That’s why in Paul’s judgment we are happier if we remain single. We can give all our time and attention to serving the Lord when we don’t have a spouse to be concerned with. That doesn’t mean we should seek divorce if we are married. Once we made that commitment before God, we are to honor it. If our spouses are unbelievers, or not following the Lord as they should, God will give us grace to stay and serve Him, even if serving Him causes them to flee.

  • Concerning the unmarried and widows, Paul writes:

Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for a man to remain as he is. Are you pledged to a woman? Do not seek to be released. Are you free from such a commitment? Do not look for a wife. But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.

What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.

I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.

v. 8-9, 25-35 (NIV)

The time is short. All that we are concerned with in this life will not matter when Jesus returns. Many single Christians fall into sexual immorality by focusing on seeking a spouse. In their pursuit to find the right one, they often get involved in the wrong relationships. If their pursuit takes longer than they’d like, they often compromise their values and marry someone that isn’t God’s will for them. God’s way out of temptation is to stop seeking a spouse and start seeking Him with all their heart, mind, soul and strength. When their heart is in Him, He will bring the right one at the right time, unless they desire to remain single to serve the Lord as Paul did.

  • Concerning the engaged to be married, Paul writes:

If anyone is worried that he might not be acting honorably toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if his passions are too strong and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married. But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin—this man also does the right thing. So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does better.

v. 36-38 (NIV)

Again, Paul is saying that it is better to marry than to burn with lust. I know Christians who will not be alone with their spouses so they will not be tempted to have relations before marriage. I once advised an engaged couple living together to either move out or get married. If their passions were so strong that they couldn’t resist giving into that temptation, then they should get married right away.

Lastly, Paul instructs that we should be content and obey God in whatever situation He has called us, whether single or married.

Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts. Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.

Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings. Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.

17-24 (NIV)

 

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for these letters from Paul in Your Word. For those of us who are married, help us to be content with our spouses and not seek to be free from marriage. Help us to honor the commitment we made before You. For those who are single, help them to turn away from temptation and be content waiting on You to bring them the right spouse You have chosen for them. For those who are engaged, help them to enjoy this time with You before marriage, and help them resist the temptation to give that special gift You’ve saved only for marriage. For those who desire to remain unmarried, help them to be fully devoted to You, in body and spirit. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.  

*This series will continue next week as we study 1 Corinthians 8. Have a blessed week being content in the Lord!


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Monday’s Blog: Sin Series “Sexual Immorality”

This is the last message in my series on sin. We continue last week’s message on Colossians 3:5-7 with turning away from temptation and putting to death the things of our flesh (denying our flesh of its desires).

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.

Colossians 3:5-7

Last week, I talked about turning away from and denying our flesh of greed (covetous). This week we focus on turning away from and denying our flesh of sexual immorality.

The Bible says:

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-8

When talking about sexual immorality above, Paul expressed that we should not wrong or take advantage of our brothers and sisters. I don’t think we realize that when we give into sexual temptation, we don’t just hurt ourselves. I heard a story once about a young man who was saving himself for marriage. The girl he was dating at the time didn’t want to wait for marriage, but he refused to wrong her by giving into that temptation. Years later, his best friend ended up marrying the girl. His friend expressed how grateful he was that he saved her for him.

The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

1 Corinthians 6:13-20

When I was a baby Christian, still very carnal, I volunteered for a Christian activity and was teamed up to work with another married man. As we continued working together, I became more and more uncomfortable around him. We were talking one day and he complimented me on how good I looked. I was flattered by his compliment, and instead of kindly rebuking him and fleeing from that temptation, I continued talking to him and flirting with him. After we parted, God convicted and warned me that I wouldn’t like it if a woman complimented and flirted with my husband. God must have convicted him as well, because next time we saw each other he fled passed me without saying a word.

The Amplified version for 1 Corinthians 6:18 says to shun immorality and all sexual looseness, and flee from impurity in thought, word, or deed. We need to flee from sexual immorality in every way because we can’t stand against it. Our flesh is too weak.

Jesus said, “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away” (Matthew 5:29).  In other words, we need to get rid of and run from anything that causes us to stumble, anything that feeds that temptation and causes it to grow.

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 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.

1 Corinthians 10:12-13

God will always give us warnings and provide a way out of temptations. It’s when we continually ignore those warnings, and feed those desires, that we fall into sin. It’s not a sin to feel tempted. It’s a sin to ignore God’s warning and give into temptation.

In our society today, we are constantly bombarded with sexual temptations. But God hasn’t left us here to stand up against it without help. He’s provided a way out.

  • For the unmarried and widows, Paul exhorts:

“It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

Are you free from such a commitment? Do not look for a wife. But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.

…An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord.

… I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.

1 Corinthians 7:8-9, 27-35

Many single Christians fall into sexual immorality by seeking a spouse. In their pursuit to find the right one, they often get involved in the wrong relationships. If their pursuit takes longer than they’d like, they often compromise their values and marry someone that isn’t God’s first choice for them. God’s way out is to stop seeking a spouse and start seeking Him with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. When your heart is in Him, He will bring your spouse to you at the right time, unless He’s placed a desire in you to remain single as He did in Paul.

 

  • For the engaged, Paul expresses:

“If anyone is worried that he might not be acting honorably toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if his passions are too strong and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married.  But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin—this man also does the right thing. So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does better.

1 Corinthians 7:36-38

A Christian woman once told me that she was living with her fiancée. She said she felt convicted. She knew God didn’t approve of her situation, but she couldn’t stop sleeping with him. I encouraged her that she could stop. I told her that God’s given her a way out to endure that temptation. She could either move out or get married to him right away.

 

  • For the married, Paul exhorts:

“But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

… Are you pledged to a woman? Do not seek to be released. … What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; … For this world in its present form is passing away.

1 Corinthians 7:2-5, 27-31

Do you notice how single people long to be married, while married people long to be single? Our flesh will always desire what we don’t have. Our flesh can never be satisfied. No matter how much we give it, it will continue wanting something more. Satan knows that. As I shared in the post on envy, he takes what we can’t have (what is harmful to us) and makes it appealing in order to trap us. I’ve seen him lure many husbands and wives away from their spouses and families only to trap them and leave them with deep regret. God’s way out of this temptation is to be content and enjoy our spouses and not withhold intimacy from them.

The Bible shares many more teachings on sexual immorality. I didn’t have time to list everything in this post. If you struggle with sexual temptation, I encourage you to pray and study all the Scriptures you can find on it. God is faithful to help you and provide a way out during temptation. If you have fallen into sin, God is right there ready to lift you up. Just hold onto Him.

Though he falls, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord grasps his hand in support and upholds him.

Psalm 37:24, AMP

 

Heavenly Father,

We praise You for ministering to us through this series on sin. We know that Your divine power have given us everything we need to live a godly life in Christ. We submit our soul to You; our mind, will, and emotions. Help us to follow Your Holy Spirit so we do not gratify the desires of our sinful flesh. We praise You that there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. Sin has no power over us because He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!

*If you know a brother or sister in Christ who has fallen into sin, I recommend Pastor Greg Baker’s ebook Restoring a Fallen Christian “Rebuilding Lives for the Cause of Christ.” I started reading it shortly before this series and I found it very inspiring and helpful.



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