"Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."
1 Corinthians 10:12
How often have we heard this thought when a brother or sister has been lifted up in pride and fallen? These somber words are a warning to all believers.
“So anyone who thinks they are standing strong should be careful that they don’t fall”  (1 Corinthians 10:12, HSB).
We probably should take a few moments and look back at why Paul wrote this in the first place. In chapter 10, Paul reminds New Testament believers why the Old Testament is so important. It is not just a book of stories that we share with our children at bedtime. But it is a book of lessons for believers today to learn how important God’s Word is and why obedience to Him is vital.
“Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted” (1 Corinthians 10:6).
These Old Testament events are for “our examples.” Why was God angry with the Children of Israel? Why did He harshly punish some of them? What was it that they wanted? Let’s see if we can learn something from these examples.
1. All idolatry is against God and is wrong (v. 7). In Israel’s story, she often went “a whoring” after other gods.
“Some of the Corinthian Christians not only got too close in their association with idols; they also made an idol out of their own ‘knowledge’ and their own ‘rights’”  (Guzik – EWC).
2. All sexual immorality is a sin against God (v. 8). When Israel made the golden calf, she gave into gross sexual sin (Exodus 32). And Israel went to Baal worship at Peor (Numbers 25). When Israel worshiped other gods, sexual immorality resulted from her spiritual adultery. The city of Corinth was known for its sexual immorality. It is no wonder why the church had to deal with this temptation among believers (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).
“If the Corinthians believed their standing in Christ and corresponding freedom could be exercised in sin with impunity, they were wrong, possibly dead wrong”  (BKC).
3. All complaining hearts that question the goodness of Christ are sinning (v. 9). The children of Israel complained about not having food or water when the going got difficult as they traveled around Edom. Their complaint was against Moses and Moses’ God. God chastened them with “fiery serpents,” but in His grace and love for them, He provided a way of healing (salvation). They only had to “look and live” at the “bronze serpent” (Numbers 21:4-9). These same issues were a temptation to the believers in Corinth. God’s glory was not the issue to them, but what they wanted was.
4. All murmuring (griping) against God’s goodness is sin (v. 10). Israel’s murmuring was behind the hand in conspiratorial tones – muttering and grumbling. This is the method (MO) “of those who discontentedly complain”  (Thayer – TGD). We need to pay attention to the fact that Israel was murmuring about God’s provision of the manna in the wilderness. They were complaining about what He had given them!
“Paul wants them and us to know that it reflects a selfish, self-focused heart, which is the kind of heart God destroyed among the Israelites in the wilderness. It may have been a relatively small symptom, but it was a symptom of a great and dangerous disease” (Guzik – EWC).
“God’s judgment on the wilderness generation served as a cautionary tale for Corinthian believers who thought they were strong enough to participate in pagan religious functions without compromise and escape judgment at the ends of the ages. Paul called the Corinthians to recognize their impending accountability before the Lord (1:7–8)”  (CSB).
If God’s chosen people, Israel, could fall into these sins, as did some of the believers in Corinth, we need to guard well our own hearts that we do not fall for these sins also.
“Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”
Quote: “God has defeated Satan through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Through this overwhelming victory, God has also empowered you to overcome any temptation to sin and has provided sufficient resources for you to respond biblically to any problem of life. By relying on God’s power and being obedient to His Word, you can be an overcomer in any situation”  (John C. Broger).
 HSB is the Harvest Study Bible from Harvest Ministries in Guam.
 EWC – David Guzik. Enduring Word Commentary, the electronic version in eSword.
 BKC, Lowery, D. K. (1985). 1 Corinthians. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 527). Victor Books.
 TGD – J.H. Thayer. Thayer’s Greek Definitions, the electronic version in eSword.
 EWC, ibid.
 CSB, Akin, D. L. (2017). The Bible and Sexuality. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (p. 1825). Holman Bible Publishers.
 Broger’s quote downloaded: January 17, 2022. From: https://www.christianquotes.info/quotes-by-topic/quotes-about-temptation/.