(1 Corinthians 10:6-12)
This section of scripture exhorts us to learn the lessons of the past. Too often in this world we find that people do not learn from the mistakes of others, let alone their own mistakes, and so they repeat the same bad decisions and wrong behaviour over and over again.
The old saying is true that says, “Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.” I know for a fact this is true in many business situations, and it is true in life as well.
That is why we need to read the bible and study the words and examples written there. The bible does not only teach us the words of life, but it also gives us examples of those who do wrong…and the outcome when they did so. And too often it is in arrogance that people believe they can get away with what is wrong to their own destruction.
Consider the words of this short section of scripture. The first verse says this,
“Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.” – (1 Corinthians 10:6)
The many examples of the lives of people are given to us in the bible so that we can learn from their mistakes, as well as learning what good behaviour looks like.
The examples show vividly what happened to those who desired evil, especially the children of Israel after they left Egypt and walked in the deserts for forty years seeking the Promised Land. They suffered and many were destroyed. In fact of those who originally left Egypt there were only a handful from that generation who eventually came into the land of Canaan. The rest either died or were killed for their evil and sinfulness along the way.
Look at what this section of scripture continues on to say.
7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” 8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. – (1 Corinthians 10:7-10)
In each of these examples quoted, and remember there were other situations similar that are not mentioned, many thousands of people were put to death by the Lord for their sinfulness.
The Lord God will not tolerate wilful sinfulness and the seeking of evil, either in the world and even more within His people. We are called to put away from us all forms of evil and to learn to do what is good, right and true in God's sight. And that is why He gives us these examples as He says in the next verse.
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. – (1 Corinthians 10:11)
If Paul considered the end of the ages to be close back when he wrote these words to the Corinthian church, how much more should we listen to these words today as we see the signs of the end prophesied by Jesus and the prophets unfolding before our eyes?
This is a powerful lesson for us today. If God rejected those who rejected Him through the sinfulness and evil of their deeds and actions, then He will do so today.
God is prepared to accept our failures as we seek to learn and grow in the truth, for this is what His grace is given to us, to cover our mistakes as we learn, but He will not accept wilful rejection and evil seeking in anyone whether they call themselves Christians or not.
We know in many places how much God hates arrogance in mankind, along with its partner, pride. And what we see in the next verse is that those who sought evil in the examples shown in these verses did so out of arrogance.
Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. – (1 Corinthians 10:12)
It is arrogance and pride that cause a person to think they are standing above others. Those who consider themselves better than others and those who consider that they are righteous, just and good are simply showing their pride and arrogance.
We do not judge others. We do not have the right to consider ourselves better than others. We do not have the right to even judge ourselves, and when we “think that we stand” or consider ourselves righteous, we need to learn the lessons of the bible and take heed lest we fall.
Look at some of the examples of people who thought they were righteous in their own eyes but failed to find the righteousness of the Lord.
9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.' 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” – (Luke 18:9-14)
It was the arrogance of the tax collector that separated him from the Lord. Likewise when we are arrogant and consider ourselves better than others, we too separate ourselves from God. The tax collector on the other hand recognised his unworthiness and recognised his lack of righteousness in the presence of God. He humbled himself before the Lord and so received the answers he sought.
Anyone who, like the Pharisee, thinks that they stand righteous before the Lord and above others is standing on the precipice of a great fall. When we think we are strong, then we are weak because we are seeking to rely on our own strength, power or self righteousness rather than the righteousness and strength that comes from God.
With the righteousness of God, given to us as a gift by faith, through grace in the power of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, then we can stand before Him. But in our own strength and self righteousness we will fall for there is no righteousness except that which comes from God. Even Jesus said,
17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. – (Mark 10:17-18)
So if Jesus was not prepared to accept being called “good” and stated only God the Father was good, then who are we mere humans to consider ourselves good or righteous without God? And when we do such things we only show our arrogance.
The lessons of the bible in both the old and new testaments were given to teach us the folly of seeking evil versus doing good. They teach us the judgements on those who choose to do wrong and the freedoms bestowed on those who choose to do right.
Those who choose evil are rejecting the Lord and the ways of God, just as Satan first rejected God in his pride and arrogance and was thus judged and thrown out of the presence of God. The arrogant and proud are the sons of the devil and do the works of the devil.
Let us instead learn the lessons of the bible and choose Jesus' way and so receive His righteousness and the blessings of humility as we stand in awe of what God in His grace has done so that we may be redeemed from the pride, arrogance, evil and sinfulness of this world. And as we grow in Christ, let us beware of the arrogance that comes upon us from time to time thinking we have “made it” or are already there. It is when such thoughts come upon us that we may be setting ourselves up for a massive fall…and in this I speak from experience.
Be humble and do not allow arrogance to have any place in your life for it is not of God.
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