by Bill Lamber

    There is just no way of telling how many times it has been pointed out to the people of God that they can fall away from God and be lost.  This is a point which has been much discussed among religious people, for it is a point of controversy.  Members of the body of Christ are quick to point out to their sectarian friends the error of believing the doctrine of “once saved, always saved.”  Yet, many of the children of God, while verbally denying this false doctrine, live as if they thought God would save them in spite of anything they might do.  They may be fairly regular in attendance, thinking that this will offset any thing God may have against them.  Others may attend very well, yet it may be that they only come out of sense of duty, not motivated by love.  Do you think that you have it made with God?  The inspired apostle would say to you - “let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12)

    In the context of the passage cited above, it will be seen that the apostle speaks of a number of things which occurred in the lives of the children of God.  We know that these were the children of God, for this is what God calls the Israelites (Deuteronomy 14:1), of whom Paul is writing in 1 Corinthians 10:1-12.  But, in spite of the fact that these were the children of God, with many of them God was not well pleased (v. 5).  Note some things which brought them into disfavor with God, for they are things which might also occur in our lives today.  They are examples for us, to show us that if we are to be well-pleasing to God, our lives will have to be ordered according to his will (vv. 6, 11).

    The apostle warns us not to be guilty of idolatry as were some of the Israelites.  One cannot remain in the favor of God if he has an idol in his heart.  God had told the Jews that they were to have no other gods before him (Exodus 20:3).  They had just been delivered from bondage in Egypt where almost everything imaginable, except the true God, was worshipped.  That the Israelites were much influenced by their erstwhile association with the pagans of Egypt is clearly shown by the making of the golden calf while Moses was receiving the law from God.  They became impatient and insisted that Aaron lead them in the making of the calf (Exodus 32).  “But,” one might say, “Surely you do not think that we would begin to do such things as this.”  Perhaps not precisely the same thing.  But we must not have an idol of any kind in our hearts if we would be well-pleasing to God.  The apostle Paul says that covetousness is idolatry (Colossians 3:5), and this is a prevalent sin among Christians.  Some of the indications of its presence in the life are: failure to give as we have prospered; deliberately missing the services in order to gain money; rank materialism, in which one’s desires for the things of the world become so important that the plain teaching of the Bible is disregarded.  Oh, we are not likely to be caught bowing down at an altar of a golden calf.  No, we are much more likely to be found at the altar of Almighty Dollar.

    Again, we are warned not to be guilty as some of them were.  In one day, twenty-three thousand died because of the involvement in this sin.  Some are determined not to be guilty of this sin, but they “take fire to their bosom,” thinking they will not be burned, when they engage in petting and over-familiarity.  Some would commit sins of immorality only in the heart, but this too is condemned by the Lord (Matthew 5:28).  The reading of obscene literature contributes to the delinquency of God’s people.  How can one possibly be improved by reading or viewing those things which portray illicit and perverted relationships?  The push is on to cram these things down the throats of everyone.  Just because there are those who are determined to live in such relationships does not mean that we are obligated to look upon them as normal.  They are condemned by the Lord, and will answer in judgment.  Don’t give them any encouragement to continue in sin.  What is “moral” or “immoral” has taken on a new meaning for those who condone such relationships.  Perhaps we will not actually commit fornication, but we sometimes get as close as possible, and what we have in our hearts can condemn us before God.

    We are likewise warned against making trial of the Lord.  We may do this by trying his patience with us.  We may feel secure that God will not destroy us here and now for our wickedness the way he has done in the past.  Will we thus provoke God to anger by our rebellion to his will?  When we know what we should do and fail to act upon that knowledge, we are guilty of sin (James 4:17).  We do not know how long we will survive in this world.  Our purpose here is to serve him, not to try his patience with us.

    Some of the children of Israel would cry unto the Lord for some provision of his mercy, and then almost immediately complain about it.  Moses had to be a patient man to put up with the constant murmuring of Israel.  He led them for some forty years in the wilderness, hearing all their complaints and pleading to God for them.  Christians sometimes complain about their lot in this world.  Instead of being thankful for the blessings of divine providence, they are disappointed that things do not always go to suit them.  Some grumble about the fact that “the Bible is so strict.”  Others murmur about how they “always have to go to church.”  Such people are not spiritual minded persons.  Let us consider, rather, how gracious God has been in giving us what we have in life, and how he gave his word to guide us.  How thankful we should be for his great love shown in giving his Son to die for us.  When we begin to really appreciate the provisions of divine grace, our lives will be fuller, attendance at all services will increase, whole-hearted participation in worship will be evident, and contributions will climb.  Are you really happy for what God has done for you or are you an ingrate?

    Many more things could be said along these lines, but if you will really be thoughtful about it, you can think of things we have not had the space to consider.  Being faithful to God is not impossible, for with every temptation, God will provide a way of escape, so that we do not have to sin against him (1 Corinthians 10:13). We must let him help us.