SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Paul begins the chapter by referencing Exodus 17, where the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years and were led by a great cloud. He also mentions a teaching in Psalm 95. Sadly, the Israelites wandered for 40 years and died in the desert. Paul explains they were punished for their sins and made an example.
- The great evil the Israelites did was 1) worship idols 2) commit sexual immorality 3) test God 4) grumble against God. Idol worship is when we give highest priority, value, and love to something other than God.
- Paul reminds us that we are not the first to be tempted in these ways. These temptations are common to all men. Our friends and neighbors struggle just like us. But, God is faithful and will not allow us to be tempted more than we can handle. Not only that, God will help us when we are tempted if we just ask for his strength.
- The chapter closes with Paul referring back to I Corinthians 6:12. If you remember, this was the Corinthians slogan to justify their sinful behavior. Paul is reminding them once again that what really matters is not what you do or don't do, but your conscience and how it affects others. If we really love God and people, we will seek their good first.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- When we look at the story of the Israelites in the desert, we see that God takes sin very seriously. Furthermore, we have no excuse to sin. We think we do -- we're human, we're weak, our situation is different, God is holding out on us, God will forgive us anyway, etc. But we don't. And we don't want to make an excuse to sin, because when we sin we are rebelling against God and choosing to live a lesser life.
- Isn't it interesting that God sees grumbling just as sinful as idol worship? Often, we categorize them into "big" sins and "little" sins. But the truth is, sin is sin. It's all the same to God.
- We have freedom in Christ. However, we need to make sure that the things we do don't hurt others or cause them to stumble in their faith.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- What common temptations do you face? What is your highest priority? Is it God or something else? If not, how can you change your life so that God becomes number 1?
- We all face temptation, but have you thought about the steps you can take to prevent it? Maybe you could have an accountability partner? prayer partner?