He's saying, yeah, you have liberty. You have freedom in Christ. You have your right to go and to do those kind of things and to sit there if you want to and to eat that idle meat.
But if you do that and you keep doing it, one, you will offend a weaker brother, and two, you'll put yourself in a position to get engulfed in pagan idolatry. How do you make hard decisions? Do you create a list of pros and cons? Do you seek counsel from a friend or a loved one?
Perhaps you go online and just see what others have done. How do you decide whether or not to do something when there's no clear right or wrong answer? Well, today on Grace to You, John MacArthur lays out the biblical strategies that you should use when navigating life's gray areas. When there's no clear biblical command about what you should do or shouldn't do, today's lesson is part of John's study titled, The Pitfalls of Christian Liberty. And with that, let's turn to the lesson.
Here is John MacArthur. The key to the first 13 verses of 1 Corinthians 10 is verse 12. Verse 12 is the point that all of the other verses are trying to establish. Wherefore, let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. The danger of overconfidence.
When you think you stand, you are the most vulnerable for a fall. That's the idea that Paul is dealing with in these 13 verses, this first paragraph of chapter 10. He shifts a little bit in the next paragraph beginning at verse 14, goes into another theme, but for this one it is the theme of the danger of overconfidence. And so the mature Christians, the Corinthian Christians, you know, who are the smug, confident ones that have been around a while, they were saying this, Hey, look, we're in this society. We're mature. We've been well taught. Apostle Paul's taught us.
We've studied under him for 18 months. We know our way around. Look, we've got to be a part of our society. We can go to the festivals, the social occasions, the ceremonies, and we can attend the celebrations of our society. We can get involved in all of those things and we really don't have to fear because we're so confident, we're so mature that that stuff just doesn't really bother us. And if we have to eat idle meat, meat offered to idols, that's really no problem. We're able to resist the temptation. And even if there is an orgy there, why, we'll just sit in a corner and discuss theology.
We're not going to really get involved and we'll be strong enough to handle it. And so everywhere these mature, smug, confident Corinthians went, they were exposing themselves to the whole gamut of idolatry that was around them and trying to stay separated. But could they? Look at Exodus 32 and I want to point out what I think to be very fascinating truth. Exodus 32 is the reference that Paul has in mind when he talks about the idolatry of Israel. They were wandering in the wilderness. They had just passed through the sea and under the cloud, been given provision of God, and out there in the wilderness, Moses went up Mount Sinai to get the law. While he's up there, the people had a little idolatry going on, but I think something interesting here I want to point it out to you.
When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mountain, the people gathered themselves together into Aaron and said unto him, Get with it, Aaron. Do it. Go. Hop to.
Whatever. Moses had been gone for a while. Make us Elohim. That is the Hebrew word for God and I think it should be capital G, a singular. That's the name of God. Make us God, which shall go before us. For as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we know not what has become of him. We haven't seen Moses in a long time. We don't know where he is, but since he is not here to represent God, let's make another representation of God. Make us God. Say, John, why do you think that they're talking about God, the true God? How could they possibly do this?
Let me show you why. And Aaron said, Break off the gold earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons and your daughters, and bring them to me. Maybe Aaron hoped they wouldn't want to do that. This was kind of a stupid attempt to stop the process by making them provide the gold themselves, but they were willing.
He underestimated their idolatrous desires, perhaps. And the people did break off the gold earrings in their ears and brought them to Aaron. And they received them at their hands and fashioned it with an engraving tool after he made it a melded calf. And that is an Egyptian deity form. And they said, Listen, these are thy God.
The representation of Elohim is what I think that they were making. This is God. God is now a golden calf. You say that's blasphemous. You're absolutely right. But why do you think it should be God instead of God?
Look at the next line. Which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. Did they know who brought them out of the land of Egypt? Of course they did.
Who was it? Jehovah. This was an image to the God who brought them out of Egypt, Jehovah. They had made an idol to Jehovah. And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, Listen, tomorrow is the feast to Jehovah. They were actually worshiping Jehovah in the form of a golden calf. And they rose up early in the next day and offered, here comes again, these are traditional offerings to Jehovah. A bird offering and a peace offering.
And the people sat down to eat and to drink and rose up to play. Now listen to me, people. This is unbelievable.
You know what this is? Again, this is religious syncretism. Israel has taken the worship of the true God and translated it into the form of pagan worship.
You say, how did it happen? So many years when they were engulfed in Egypt over 400 years and seeing pagan worship had left such an impression on them that the first time they were without a leader, they reverted back to pagan idolatry and tried to connect the true God with it. And that makes the point, people.
You can't expose yourself to idolatry without having it at some point interfere with your theology. That's what Paul is saying. A feast to Jehovah. And they carried out a typical pagan feast. They sat down to eat and drink and rose up to have sex. That's what the word play means. It's the same word used in Genesis 26 when it says Isaac was having conjugal caresses with Rebekah. That's a very mild way to say it.
It means, you know what it means. That's what they did. They sat down, ate, got drunk and got up and had sex relationships with everybody in the crowd. An orgy.
What a ghastly deal. What a terrible marriage of God to an idol. And they were naked. Verse 25, Moses saw the people were naked. Moses came down there all stark naked running around having an orgy.
Now that would be something, folks. I don't know how many of the two million were involved, but what a mess. God was not happy. Verse 28, children of Israel did according to the word of Moses and fell that day three thousand men. They were slain.
You say that's not very many. Yeah, but the whole nation bore the guilt and later on the whole pile of them died. Now you see, those liberated people abused their freedom.
And they fell off because they went to sleep too close to where they got in. They never did let go of Egypt. The Corinthians were doing the same thing. They had become Christians, but they never had let go of the old life. And they wanted to hang on to false gods. And you know what happened to the Corinthians? Look at 1 Corinthians 10, 20.
Just a little further over in the 10th chapter. But I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrificed, they sacrificed to demons and not to God. You know, there may have been somebody around who was arguing that what the Gentiles were doing was maybe to the true God.
Paul says that's ridiculous. They're sacrificing to demons. And I don't want you to have fellowship with demons. You can't drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons.
You can't be partaker of the Lord's table and the table of demons. You see what they were doing? Same thing that Israel was doing. They go over to the Lord's table and have a time. They're all done at the Lord's table, go over to the table of demons, have a feast in the pagan temple. They were marrying the two again.
Same thing Israel was doing. He's saying, yeah, you have liberty. You have freedom in Christ. You have your right to go and to do those kind of things and to sit there if you want to and to eat that idle meat. But if you do that and you keep doing it, one, you will offend a weaker brother and two, you'll put yourself in a position to get engulfed in pagan idolatry.
You're a lot smarter if you avoid it. Paul warns, Israel was disqualified from usefulness as a witness by idolatry and you will be too. And he says it to us today. You say, but John, we don't have any idols in our land. How does this apply?
Is this irrelevant? Oh, listen, I think we've got idols in our society. We have idols. For example, there's the God of fame, of ego, money, education, position, sex, golf, tennis, clothes, cars, and on and on and on and on. And there are plenty of people bound down to those idols.
And that becomes a wedded thing. And there are people who have their Christianity but they've married it to something else that they worship. Plenty of idols. Ezekiel, I think, hits the nail on the head in chapter 14 verses 3 and 4.
In his indictment of Israel, he says here's the problem. Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart. That's the problem. It isn't that you've got a stone god or that you've got a metal idol or a wooden totem pole. They've got idols in their heart. Verse 4, every man of the house of Israel that sets up his idols in his heart. Verse 5, that I may take the house of Israel in their heart because they are estranged from me through their idols.
And that's the thing he's after. They had worshiped things in their hearts. There can be many false things. Anything untrue about God is idol worship. Anything other than God, which we worship, is idolatry. And if you don't believe it but you hang around it long enough, it will water you down. Israel couldn't even get away from Egypt. The Corinthians couldn't get away from the problem as long as they hung around the idol feast. And the same thing is true today.
As long as you hang around those kind of problems, you're never going to get rid of them. I remember a guy who was a minister who used to enjoy golf and he said, I love golf. I play golf, et cetera, et cetera, so many times a week. And I thought, boy, that's a lot. You probably shouldn't play that much. You could really get kind of tied down to it.
Oh, no. He really enjoyed it and he played it and finally he played it and then he'd gamble a little bit, a little bit more, a little bit more. And finally he was losing $500, $1,000, $1,500, $2,000, $2,500, $3,000 on a game, wiped out his whole ministry, went out of the ministry in disgrace. He had an idol. And as long as he courted that idol, there was no way that he would divorce it. He had the freedom to play golf.
I have the freedom to play golf. But you see, if that thing becomes a god, then I can't divorce the two and then I'm in trouble. Israel fell. Corinth was falling and so might we if we have idols. Look at verse 8. Second factor in the fall of Israel, the second thing that led to their disqualification as a witnessing community, and having been set aside, verse 8 says, neither let us commit fornication as some of them committed and fell in one day, three in 20,000. When anybody asks me how God feels about sexual sin, this is what I always think of. People say, well, what is God's attitude toward premarital sex or extramarital sex? I always say, well, his attitude is probably best expressed in the fact that there was a group of people who committed extramarital sex and 23,000 of them he killed in one day. Does that give you an idea?
That's his attitude. Now, idolatry and sex have always been related. In Numbers 25.1, there's an interesting statement. It says in relation to Israel, and they were always fooling around with the Moabites, and this was a result of Balaam and his activity, but in 25.1, I think it is, of Numbers, the people of Israel began to commit harlotry with the daughters of Moab. First of all, sexual activity, here it comes, and they called the people under the sacrifices of their gods, and the people did eat and bowed down to their gods, and Israel joined himself unto Baal Peor. That's the god Baal associated with Mount Peor, a local deity, and the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel. So you have harlotry in verse 1 and idolatry in verse 2. They go together, sexual immorality and idol worship. In Corinth, the principal temple in the city was the Temple of Venus. It was run by prostitutes, and orgies occurred all the time, and the Corinthians were saying, well, we're all right. We'll go up there and enjoy the feast.
We don't have to get into the orgy. And the Apostle Paul is saying, look, Israel couldn't divorce themselves from sexual immorality, and in one day, God slew 23,000 of them for it. Interesting footnote here is in Numbers 25.9, which describes later on in that same passage I read you, describes what God did to those that committed sexual immorality with Moab, and it says that 24,000 died.
Here it says 23,000. You say, is that a contradiction in the Bible? Well, it could be a copying error. There are some numerical terms in the Bible that could be copyist error, where you have a difference in the number, which to me goes to prove the fantastic accuracy of Scripture, because the variation is always so minute, and the only variations we can ever find are minuscule things like that, which is incredible when you think how that book has been passed down through the century.
So it could be a copyist error. On the other hand, some say it's round figures, that the number was between 23 and 24. One writer took 23, and the other writer took 24, and the truth is in the middle, and very often the Hebrews spoke in round figures. That's perhaps true.
But there's another thought, too, that might be right. He says 24,000 in total died in Numbers 25, 9. Here it says 23,000 fell in one day. There may have been a thousand who just lived past midnight.
So maybe both are correct. But 23,000 in one day and 24,000 total, if you take it that way, we're disqualified from being a part of God's witnessing community because of immorality. Now listen, the Corinthians were already into this. They were saying why we can attend all these things and do what we want, and you know what happens in chapter 5? One guy's already having sex with his father's wife, and it could have occurred at an idol feast. In chapter 6, verse 18, he says, You better flee from sexual immorality.
And the implication is they were already doing it. Don't you know your bodies are the members of Christ? Verse 15, verse 16. Don't you know that if you join yourself to a harlot, you drag Christ into that thing? Chapter 11 tells us some of the Corinthians had died because of sin.
So flaunting their freedom and fooling around with idol worship, they had fallen into a syncretistic religion, and they also had fallen into sexual evil. And I'll tell you something, people. You say, well, I'm a Christian. I can handle it. I can go here and do that and go here and do that.
You know, young people, it's amazing, young people always think they're in control of everything. Well, you know, I can go out and park and, you know, I can handle it. I'm a Christian.
We just get so far and then we start quoting Bible verses, you know. Yeah, we got a little program worked out, you know. Yeah, sure. Or listen, it's no problem for me. I can handle the girls in the office.
No problem. I can have lunch with them, dinner with them. Doesn't bother me a bit. Mm-hmm.
Famous last word. Well, yeah, pastor says, oh, counseling women, no problem at all. Oh, not at all. I just heard of a pastor who lost his pulpit because there were multiple dozens of women who had had sex relations with him in counseling. I mean, multiple dozens, folks.
You can handle it? You better not push your freedom too far. Many Christians today have been rendered useless because they couldn't handle sex. They're out of the race to win people to Christ, shelved. There was a third thing that caused the fall of Israel from a place of usefulness and that was tempting God. And this is very interesting, verse 9.
Tempting God. Neither let us put Christ to the test as some of them also tested Him and were destroyed by snakes. Now you remember in Numbers 21? That, again, covers Israel in the wilderness from which all of these illustrations here are taken. But Numbers 21, let me read you verse 5. And the people spoke against God and that's bad.
When you do that, as soon as it starts with that, you know we're in a lot of trouble. They started speaking against God and Moses. We say, wherefore have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? What did you bring us here for? Just so we could die?
Now listen. For there isn't any bread and there isn't any water and we hate this manna. And the Lord sent fiery snakes among the people and they bit the people and many of them died. The Lord said, I don't like that.
I do not like that. You're pushing me too far. We want this, we want this, we want this. They kept pushing and pushing and pushing and griping and God finally said, that's it. They pushed to see how far God would go. How much could they force God to do? We don't like what you're giving us.
We want this and we want this and we want that. What would God allow? You know there are some Christians, if we can just extrapolate out of that, here's the point he's making. There are some Christians who want to push God to the limits all the time. Their whole view of the Christian life is not what can I do to please God, but how far can I go and get away with it? How long a rope does God have around me? When do I get the yank?
How far can I go? Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5, they thought they could play along with the Holy Spirit, string him out. Peter said unto them in Acts 5, 9, how is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, there goes your husband's feet and yours are going right after him.
Both of them drop dead. You think you can test the Holy Spirit? How far do you think you're going to push God? Satan says, why don't you dive off the pinnacle of the temple? The scripture says he should give his angels charge over thee to keep thee lest thou dash thy foot against the stone, etc.
Jesus said, you shall not what? Tempt the Lord your God. Don't force God to do something. Don't get yourself in a situation and then force God to get you out of it.
That's pushing. Don't push God. And here were the Corinthians just, you know, we want the old life. We want the goodies we used to have. Why are we so restricted?
It isn't fair. How come we can't have any fun? So they were pushing the edges of their liberty, running as close to the old life as possible and demanding to have what they once enjoyed. They weren't willing to cut off the old life and accept the new life. And the Corinthians were having the same thing.
They were saying, yes, we're Christians, but we're going to do everything we used to do and God will take care of it. Why, this is the age of grace. God is so wonderfully forgiving. And Paul reminds them, you know what happened to Israel when they just pushed God as far as he would go and just took as grace as far as it could go. God just took one day at stock and then he said, I think I'll deliver a little group of snakes down there and bid them and they died all over the place. Now Corinthians, that's something for you to think about.
Let it be an example. And you know some of the Corinthians had already died because they had pushed God too far? Coming to the communion table with sin in their lives and going through the communion and God says, that's pushing me too far.
Bang, you're dead. Some of them were sick. Some of them were weak just because they were pushing God too far. This is grace, people, and I thank God for it. And I'm glad I'm in the age of grace, but let's remember that there is a place at which God doesn't get pushed any further. Fourth, and the last thing that he mentions in terms of the evil things that brought about the demise of Israel, quickly, complaining. Oh, you say, how did that get in there with all those horrible things? Verse 10, neither murmur as some of them murmured and were destroyed by the destroyer. You say, who's the destroyer?
That is the destroying judgment angel, the same one that slew the firstborn in Egypt, the one that was ready to slay the people in Jerusalem in David's time in 2 Samuel 24, the one involved in the destruction of the Assyrians in 2 Chronicles 32, the death angel, if you will. You know God slew people with the death angel for griping? Oh, no. Hallelujah for the age of grace.
Well, I'm with you. You say, what does this mean? What does this translate to?
The Corinthians. Oh, Lord, we don't like to live a restricted life. We don't like to not be able to do what we want to do. We don't like to be set aside.
We don't like to have this case. Listen, people, for us, this is what it says. Murmuring is a failure to be satisfied with God's will for your life. Did you get that? Failure to be satisfied with God's will for your life.
Don't do that. There are a whole lot of carcasses strewn all over the desert, the carcasses of people who weren't satisfied with God's choices for them. God had to marry one of them there. Discontent. Paul says, I have learned one thing. Philippians 4, 10, in whatsoever state I am, what? Therewith to be content. Christians today are guilty of complaining.
That's dangerous. Well, why does God, why do I have to be here? Why can't I be doing that?
Well, how come He gets off? Why did I have to be married to her? Why did God do this?
I wanted to be a missionary, or I wanted to be. Why am I over here punching the clock? I never seem to be able to get ahead in life.
Why is it that my bills are never paid? Well, you start griping and murmuring about the things that God has chosen for your life, and you're murmuring, and that's problematic. The Old Testament folks, they were fairly afraid to do that, you see.
You know, there was a little rebellion in Numbers 16, and that's what he has in mind here. And Korah and Dathan, Moses says, come, I want to talk to you. And they said, forget it. We're not interested in talking to you, you phony. All you did was lead us out in the wilderness so you could play prince, so you could be a big hero.
You got what you wanted, and the rest of us are going to die out here. And he says, I don't like your rebellion. And God says, I don't either.
I'll take care of it. And God slew 14,700 of them, and 250 of them, he opened a hole in the ground and it swallowed them up. Numbers 16, and the rest of the people said, it is not good to murmur. And you know, for the most part, the Old Testament people from time to time had to be taught that lesson.
And I say to you, it is not good to murmur. So Paul warns the Corinthians that a lack of self-denial, a lack of self-control in their privileges is going to lead to abuse. And they will fall into idolatry, into sex, into pushing God too far, into complaining and griping because they think God is always so gracious and forgiving and they start bellyaching about their lot in life and they start complaining all the time and ultimately they will be tempted, they will fall into sin and they will be rendered disqualified for the service of God.
Listen to me people, the continual fooling around with things that are questionable reveals a lack of self-control and there is a potential for disqualification. You flirt with the old lifestyle, you test God to see how far his patience goes, you complain about his choices for this life, there is going to be rebellion and disqualification is potential. Look at verse 11 and we'll close. Now all these things happen unto them, for examples that are written for our instruction or admonition upon whom the ends of the ages are come.
That is, we're the last generation, we're the last dispensation and everything that happened to them is to teach us so that we don't fall into the same trap that they did and wind up disqualified. God help us to be useful to him as a witness in community because we enjoy our liberty to its limits with two things in mind. You don't abuse it by offending someone else.
You don't abuse it by living so close to where you got in that you fall. You're listening to John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary as he continues his current study titled Pitfalls of Christian Liberty on Grace to You. John, you gave an exhortation at the end of the lesson. You called on Christians through the help of God to be useful to him as a witnessing community. And certainly we at Grace to You want to be useful to the Lord and we know that there are many people who share that desire and who deserve our thanks.
Absolutely, and I want to just let you in on an example of that. This is a letter from a 19-year-old college freshman named Avery who told us this, and here's the letter. My dad introduced me to your broadcast and listening to it most mornings during my senior year of high school helped me deal with the stress of getting into college and reminding me to cling to Christ and his truth.
This past year has been really challenging for me as I have moved to college, made new friends, taken demanding classes and developed a new routine. Almost every morning the first thing I do is put in my AirPods. For those adults in the room who don't know what those are, those are little tiny speakers you stick in your ear. But the first thing in the morning I put in my AirPods and I listen to Grace to You while I get ready for class. You've helped me immensely in standing firm in Christ in an environment where Christianity is opposed. Thank you, John and Grace, to you for being so bold in the work God has called you to and for being a pillar of truth and strength in this chapter of my life, praying for you all, and it's signed Avery in Oklahoma.
Wonderful letter, and when you pray for Grace to You, you that are listening with us today, when you support Grace to You with a gift, you're making possible the influence of the Word of God on people like Avery. You're helping them grow strong in faith. And in a day when evil seems to have influence like never before, and particularly in a university setting, you're helping us equip God's people to stand firm on biblical truth.
You're making yourself useful, as we've been talking about today, for kingdom purposes. So thank you for partnering with us. You're making a difference that only eternity will fully measure.
That's right, and friend, whether you're like Avery at university or a mom caring for her kids or someone going to work each day, it is our goal to strengthen you and to help you be a light wherever you are and in everything you do. If that's the kind of ministry you want to support, I encourage you to consider making a donation today. You can mail your tax-deductible gift to Grace to You, Box 4000, Panorama City, CA 91412, or you can also donate online at gty.org. Or you can express your support when you call us at 800-55-GRACE.
Again, that's 800-55-GRACE. And thank you for standing with us as we take the Word of God to spiritually needy people around the world. And before we sign off, let me remind you about an app simply called the Study Bible. It gives you the text of Scripture as well as instant access to thousands of free Bible study aids, including blog articles, devotionals, and more than 3500 of John's sermons. Also, for a nominal price, you can download the notes from our flagship resource, the MacArthur Study Bible. That's about 25,000 detailed explanations from John MacArthur that will help you better understand and apply the teaching of Scripture. To get the free app, again it's called the Study Bible, visit our website, gty.org. Now for John MacArthur and the entire Grace to You staff, I'm Phil Johnson. Thanks for tuning in today and be here tomorrow when John looks at biblical principles that will help you overcome temptation. It's another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-13 01:06:02 / 2023-03-13 01:18:51 / 13