Tried and Triumphant
1 Corinthians 10:1-22
This week’s lessons teach us that anyone can fall into sin, but nobody has to.
Finally, there are those sins that come to us from the devil. In the fourth chapter of James, verse 7, James gives instructions as to what we are to do. He says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” In this case fleeing the sin is not enough because if it comes to you from the devil, he is not going to flee from you by himself. He is stronger than you are. But James says, first of all, to submit yourself to God, and then resist the devil, and then the devil will flee from you. We find an example of this in the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are told about the Lord’s temptation in the fourth chapter of Matthew. The devil came to the Lord on that occasion after he had submitted himself to God the Father by prayer and meditation over the forty days in which he was in the wilderness fasting. When the devil came, Jesus resisted Satan with Scripture. The Scriptures are the Christian’s offensive weapon. This is the weapon our Lord used. Three times Satan came to Jesus and three times Jesus answered his temptation by quoting the Old Testament. To the first temptation Jesus said, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” To the second he said, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” And to the third he said, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” It was this kind of submission from which the devil fled. If you and I are going to resist the devil, it must be by our submission to God, and by our knowledge and faithful use of Scripture.
In the latter portion of this section of chapter 10, in verses 14 through 22, Paul ties chapters 8, 9, and 10 together by returning to this matter of food that has been offered to idols. In the eighth chapter he said that an idol is nothing and eating or not eating has nothing intrinsically to do with your spirituality, though for the sake of somebody who’s weaker in the faith, you perhaps should abstain in order that others might grow strong. He intensified this point in the end of chapter 9 saying that what this matter really involves is self-discipline and everyone should be self-disciplined.
Here in chapter 10 he takes it a step further by saying that in the case of food that has been sacrificed to idols, it doesn’t matter whether you buy and eat it or not. But, in a case where somebody says, “Well, if it’s a matter of indifference then, it doesn’t really make any difference at all what I do where idols are concerned,” and if his neighbor says to him, “We’re having a party in the temple and I’d like you to come along – the food is going to be offered to the god, and then we’re all going have a feast,” Paul says that is something quite different, because when you eat in that kind of situation, it has become a matter of fellowship and participation. You have to remember that while all of the pagan gods are nothing, there are, nevertheless, demons in the world and the demons stand behind these pagan religions. To participate in that way means participating in this kind of debased, demon worship. Paul says you mustn’t do that.
I think this relates to the matter of temptation because what he is really getting at with this final illustration is this: Are you going to go God’s way and determine to do everything you can to be as righteous as you can and follow Jesus Christ, or are you going to quibble over details asking, “How close can I get to sin without actually transgressing the law?” A lot of Christians do exactly that. Do not stay as close as you can to the edge. As long as you are on the edge, it might not be sin, but that is not where you should be. You should be walking with Jesus Christ as closely as you can, as strongly as you can. That is the evidence that you are truly born again. May God grant by his grace, that we might be different men and women than we would be otherwise because he has been with us and because we have the life of Jesus Christ within.
How are we to resist the devil’s temptations?
What is really behind religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, or Humanism?
Read the passages that were mentioned in today’s lesson: James 4:1-10; Matthew 4:1-11.
Do you allow yourself to get close to the edge of sin, or do you cling to Christ?