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#18 Strategy for Standing

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STRATEGY FOR STANDING

(A Series on I Corinthians)

Westgate Chapel 8/23/98 a.m.            I Corinthians 10:1-13

PROPOSITION:  That to stand in Christ to the end of our lives on earth is not automatic, with severe consequences if we fall, but more than possible in His power.

I. introduction

-     THE apostle Paul uses the verb, “to stand,” several times in his epistles to describe the attitude of the Christian life.

-     THERE are two Greek verbs used in the New Testament that are translated “to stand” and are used to convey the opposite meaning of...

*     Sitting.

*     Reclining.

*     Being moved.

*     Or falling.

-     I KNOW you have this figured out already, but the objective of your human nature, of Satan, and of this world, when it comes to things eternal, is to get you to...

*     Sit down.

*     Recline.

*     Be moved.

*     Fall.

-     RITA and I were listening to the Moody Bible Hour on the radio, driving from Cleveland, Tennessee yesterday to Nashville to fly home.

-     THE talk show host was interviewing several evangelical leaders on the disgrace clouding the presidency right now...and Dr. Stohl quoted research that 60% of married men admit to having committed adultery AND that the number is the same for me inside the church as outside.

-     WE are raising a generation of so-called believers in America who sing the songs, read the books, attend the seminars, March for Jesus, but who do not know how to stand....and will be very surprised when they hear Jesus say at the end of their race,

      “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:23)

-     SO, for the security of my own eternal future, and for yours, I am compelled to preach to you this morning from I Corinthians 10:1-13...about standing.

*     Romans 5:2 says that it is God’s grace on which we take our stand.....in contrast to our own strength.

*     Romans 11:20 says that is by faith that we stand......it is not our works.

*     Romans 14:4 says that it is God who will cause us to stand.

*     I Corinthians 15:1 says that it is the Gospel of Jesus which forms the basis of our standing.

*     2 Thessalonians 2:5 says that it is by holding to the teachings of the Word that we stand firm.

-     PAUL finds the Corinthians believers a little arrogant on the subject of standing in their faith.

*     They are in the middle of a huge dispute about different leadership....but think it is no big deal.

*     They are allowing open sexual sin in the congregation....but think it is no big deal.

*     They are sucked in by the apparent wisdom of the world....but think it is no big deal.

*     They are very open with their liberties in their lifestyle, regardless of what it does to the weaker brother...and think it is no big deal.

-     AND in the heart of the first 13 verses of I Corinthians 10 Paul writes,

      “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!” (I Corinthians 10:12)

-     THAT is the theme of the first thirteen verses of this chapter.

-     AND in the context of the first thirteen verses, Paul says four things about standing.

 

ii. it is not automatic

-     HERE is the first lesson about standing.....standing is NOT automatic.

-     AND to prove his point, Paul draws from the example of the Israelites in their exodus from Egypt and lists the blessings of God that they enjoyed....which you think would surely have caused them to stand.

-     LOOK at verse 1,

      “For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. (2) They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. (3) They all ate the same spiritual food (4) and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. (5) Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert. ” (I Corinthians 10:1-5)

-     JUST look at the blessings that they enjoyed!

*     The cloud (verse 1)....speaking of God’s protection against the enemy.

*     Crossing the Red Sea (verse 1)....speaking of God’s special deliverance from the captivity of sin.

*     Baptism into Moses (verse 2)....speaking of God’s provision of spiritual leadership.

*     Food (verse 3)....speaking of God’s sustaining provision.

*     Water (verse 4)....speaking of God’s life-giving, thirst-quenching blessing.

-     WHAT a privilege they enjoyed!

-     WHAT a called, blessed people!

-     BUT the Bible tells us that of the almost 2 million of them that left Egypt under this cloud of blessing....only two were standing when they finally crossed into the Promised Land (Joshua and Caleb).

-     THIS people was blessed with so much....but still fell.

-     WHICH goes to show us that standing is not automatic.

-     IT is wonderful that you are saved!

-     PRAISE God for the baptism in His Spirit and that you speak in tongues!

-     YOUR testimony about God’s protection in 1982 is great!

-     WE love to hear how He provided for your miraculously in 1997!

-     AND how you led someone to the Lord in April this year!

-     BUT is not how well you started, or how blessed you have been, but whether you are still standing at the finish line that counts.

 

iii. THERE ARE severe consequences

-     HERE is the second lesson about standing....falling has severe consequences.

-     LET’S pick it up at verse 6,

      “Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.”

-     THEN Paul lists four things from Israel’s life that describes what has tripped the Corinthian believers and caused them to fall.

1.   Idolatry (verse 7)

      “Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: "The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry."

•     An idol is anything or anyone you put in first place in your life and affections.
*     Your family, or your children can be an idol.
*     Friends can be an idol.
*     Success.
*     House.
*     Recreation or pleasures.
•     This is one of the things that caused Israel to fall and forfeit the Promised Land.
•     This sin leads to many others because it puts your appetite in first place instead of God.....and opens to door to any number of illicit lusts.

2.   Sexual immorality (verse 8)

      “We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did-- and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died.

•     This is any improper sexual gratification outside of God’s intentions for marriage.
•     Pornography in all of its forms, fornication, adultery, homosexuality, petting, incest.
•     This sin led Israel to fall and lose their inheritance.

3.   Testing the Lord (verse 9)

      “We should not test the Lord, as some of them did-- and were killed by snakes.”

•     This is the sin of presumption, where you make decisions and go ahead with your plans presuming on the will of God and not humbly inquiring what He wants you to do.
•     Presuming on His kindness and provision without being deeply grateful for every blessing....and testing the Lord.
•     It is a loss of child-like humility and dependence that comes from familiarity with the Lord.
•     Neglect tests the Lord.
•     Longing for what you have left behind tests the Lord.
•     This sin caused Israel to fall and lose their inheritance.

4.   Grumbling (verse 10)

      “And do not grumble, as some of them did-- and were killed by the destroying angel.” (I Corinthians 10:6-10)

•     Israel grumbled about not having food and when God gave them manna they grumbled about that.
•     They grumbled about their surroundings.
•     They grumbled about their hardships.
•     They grumbled about the things God provided.
•     They grumbled about their leadership.
•     They grumbled about the promises of God and died in the wilderness.
•     Grumbling is a sin because...
*     It uses energy that should be spent serving God.
*     It makes the grumbler unhappy.
*     It is contagious, appealing to the carnal nature that wants to be the center of the universe. It is that root of bitterness that springs up and defiles many (Hebrews 12:15).
*     It dishonors the plans, disciplines and provisions of God.
*     It is not conducive to thanksgiving, which is the heart of true discipleship.
*     It does not promote the spirit of prayer.
*     It destroys hope.
•     This is one of the sins that caused Israel to fall after all the miracle that they had seen in their lives.

-     LOOK at the consequences of these sins!

*     23,000 die.

*     Many killed by poisonous snakes.

*     Many killed by the destroying angel.

 

iv. the warning is clear

-     THIS is no small matter.

-     THE next lesson that we learn about standing is a stern warning against all arrogance and presumption, which Paul found in the believers in Corinth.

-     VERSES 11-12,

      “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. (12) So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!” (I Corinthians 10:11-12)

-     THIS calls for constant self-examination and a spirit of true humility.

-     THE Bible is full of stories about godly people who thought they were standing and even invincible....and came crashing down because they were careless.

-     THIS is a warning to us....to keep us standing all the way to the end.

v. the victory is provided

-     NOW for the good news!

-     THERE is victory for the people of God against all of the enemies ploys.

-     WE are NOT destined to fall!

-     IT is NOT inevitable that you fall!

-     GOD has provided a strategy for your to stand all the way to the finish line....and it is found in verse 13,

      “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.

-     IT is going to happen. You WILL be tempted. Jesus was.

-     YOU don’t have it any worse than anyone else.

-     YOUR background is not unique in some way that has determined your demise.

-     THE temptation is NOT the sin.

      “ And God is faithful...

-     THERE is the reservoir of your ultimate victory and mine. God is faithful even when we are not.

      ...he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.

-     NO ONE will ever get  more than what they in God can handle.

      “But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (I Corinthians 10:13)

-     THERE will always be a way out provided by God....and the end result will be that you STAND.

vi. conclusion

-     THERE it is!

*     Standing is not automatic just because you are the people of God and have received His blessings.

*     This is not a game. The consequences of not standing are severe.

*     Be careful. The enemy will come at you from a number of directions. This is a warning.

*     The victory is provided.

-     YOU don’t have to fall.

-     IF you have, there is forgiveness IF you repent and turn to Jesus.

-     THERE is strength to STAND all the way to the finish line.

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