Sermon preached on 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 at Lake Murray Presbyterian by Dr. Ben Sloan
“Doing the SameThings Others Do and Expecting Different Results” 1 Corinthians 10:1-13
6 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 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 revelry.” 8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9 We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel. 11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
Most think that Einstein said that the definition of insanity is “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” In reality, there is no record of Einstein saying that. We first find that in a Narcotics Anonymous paper- trying to encourage their members to learn from their mistakes and the mistakes of others. But if is so brilliant- that many attribute it to Einstein. “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. This is not just talking about individuals doing the same thing. You might say that this applies to how we look at learning from others too. We cannot do the same things others have done over and over and expect different results. If we cannot learn from the mistakes and successes of others we are in trouble.
Paul talks about learning from the Old Testament characters in this way. He says that these things- these stories from the Old Testament were written as both warnings and examples so that we might escape temptation.
I. LEARNING FROM OTHERS’s mistakes, failures, and accomplishments is so important. This is a lesson on how to escape the fire and trouble of temptation.
A. KEEP OUR COMPASS TRUE- TO KEEP US FROM SETTING OUR HEARTS ON EVIL THINGS AS THEY DID- have your heart always going in the right direction. There are many, many people who criticize Christ and criticize Christians. But one thing to ask is where are there hearts? What eternal good can they promise in life? Is there way better really than Christ’s way? Are they leading a meaningful, purposeful direction? It was easy for people to grumble in the wilderness- but what were they offering? They were offering to go back to slavery and sure punishment- and forsaking God and hope. Think carefully about your heart’s compass and where it is set.
B. TO STAND FIRM- LEST YOU FALL- The minute you think you are standing firm Pr. 16:18- Pride goes before the fall. In Montreat there is a great cold stream flowing down from Lake Susan. It is fun to get in that stream and rock hop- going from one rock to another. But I have seen that stream in a flood. Sometimes you could stand on a rock and it is real easy. But when the floodwaters come, that same rock is hard to stand on. There are times when we think we are just fine, but temptations come on us like a flood- maybe one bad thing after another- and we are looking for an escape. Guard your heart and your mind.
C. TEMPTATION HAS HAPPENED BEFORE- Do not think- I am all alone- no one has faced such overwhelming temptation as me- the real answer is saints have faced temptation and have resisted it. It is possible to resist any temptation. Paul’s whole point in this passage is to look at what people have been through before and learn. Learn from their failures- full of regret; But learn from their successes and how they resisted temptation.
The world will tell you that you don’t know if something is wrong unless you try it for yourself. That is nothing but foolishness. You don’t have to get hurt in order to know it hurts. Be wise and learn from the people who say, “That burned! That hurt! Sometimes we try something and think it is okay, without knowing it is hurting you- like smoking- we don’t get cancer right away. But there are many other things- learn from those who have gone before. Learn how to resist from those who have resisted.
II. LEARNING FROM OTHERS AS WARNING- Constant temptation to paganism- 3 characteristics: idolatry, immorality, grumbling. Paganism has always been pulling Christians away. But paganisms world-lust leads to unfulfillment and really away from hope and meaning in life as well as heaven and God.
A. Idolatry (7) – loving the things of this world more than God. In Colossians Paul defines greed as idolatry- loving things more than God. Giving your children is no substitute for love and time. If you are a talented person, a smart person, a person with a good job- be careful that you do not fall into the temptation of living for things because it feeds your talents, smartness, and work.
B. Sexual Immorality- leading to harm. Sexual immorality- that is sex outside marriage between a man and woman is not God’s norm. But can we not learn from seeing how sexual immorality destroys the faith?
One of the leading causes for the Reformation was the sexual immorality of the priests and pope of that time. So Luther and Calvin sought to marry as priests to keep sexual temptation down. Uganda is a living experiment on how to combat AIDS. While Sub-Saharan Africa is aflame with the AIDS epidemic 23.5 million (up 1.1 million from the year before) have HIV, 1.2 million died in 2010 of AIDS, and 16.6 million children were orphaned by AIDS. Uganda is the only country to turn it around. How did they do it? They unabashedly said that sexuality should be restricted to heterosexual monogomous marriage. The AIDS rate fell from 15% in 1991 to 6% in 2007.
C. Grumbling and complaining against God- leading to spiritual harm- There is always something to complain about. I could complain about paying taxes- but paying taxes means I have a job; I could complain about my clothes being too tight- but that means I’ve had food to eat; I could complain about the chores around the house- but it means I have a house; I could complain about the lady behind me who sings off key- for it means I can hear and be in church; I could complain about the alarm clock going off- but it means this is the day that the Lord has made. I could complain about my aching muscles at the end of the day- but it means I have done something.
Recent survey in Discipleship Journal found the following: temptations were more potent when they had neglected their time with God (81 percent) and when they were physically tired (57 percent).. Learn from what others say are their weaknesses.
III. LEARNING FROM OTHERS EXAMPLES- It is possible to resist temptation. In fact, no temptation is more powerful than God’s power.
The same Discipleship Journal article also said that Resisting temptation was accomplished by prayer (84 percent), avoiding compromising situations (76 percent), Bible study (66 percent), and being accountable to someone (52 percent).
A. Those who resisted temptation- Joseph (ran away), Jesus (quoted scripture and prayed in resisting temptation). Expect the same results. When we move away from whatever is tempting us- when we avoid whatever is tempting it will tempt us less, and we are definitely less likely to give into it. When we are getting a steady diet of the scripture- expect to be strengthened in your ability to resist temptation. Jesus really resisted his temptation by prayer. Today I have a magnetic sticker that says, “Pray Y’all.” It is a fundraiser for our new Children’s Ministry Building- put on by our preschool. It is good advice.
B. Those who Take spiritual nourishment- The same God nourishes us that fed the people with manna in the wilderness. The same God nourishes us with the same spiritual food and drink that He gave to the disciples long ago. Expect the same results. If you nourish yourself, and strengthen your spirit you are less likely to be tempted than when you do not. . `
It is not rocket science. I am not telling you anything new- or that you have not heard already. In fact, most of the time, you will find you have heard the words of God before. But we come because we need to hear again and again, to be reminded again- for we are tempted again and again. If we falter in our belief, do not be surprised at falling into immorality. If you fall into immorality- do not be surprised at finding all kinds of reasons why you do not want to believe. The secret weapon in resisting temptation- is not just the warnings and failures of others- but also the faithfulness of God- “But God is faithful and will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear.” While the same old temptations come to us again and again- sometimes in new ways- we have a secret weapon- God.
Today we will have communion. Communion is a reminder that Jesus was tempted to not give his body and blood for us- but He kept His promise. Our call is to remember his example: deny ourselves- take up our cross and follow Him. We need to digest the story, digest the memory, and let it live in us by the Holy Spirit.