Self-confident Corinthian Christians thought they could live carelessly around immorality without being corrupted, but they were wrong. Many stepped into the quicksand of temptation. As Christians, I believe we ought to be more like Joseph when he was in Potiphor’s house and flee from immorality, not stick around and flirt with it. Jesus gives us freedom so that we may serve Him more effectively in righteousness, not so we can see how close we can court disaster.
We can all fall into moral trouble simply because we are overconfident in ourselves. We enter into relationships which may not be wrong in themselves, but which offer strong temptations. We may go to places or do things that are closely associated with immorality. And when temptation comes, we usually tell ourselves that we can handle it, often times finding out too late we cannot. Simply, we forget Jesus. We forget to call on His mighty name to help us.
The Corinthians were guilty of another major sin: testing God. Some Corinthian believers were pushing their freedom to its limits, no doubt to see how much of the world they could enjoy. They were testing God and risking severe discipline. As with some Christians today, the Corinthians may have thought they lived in an age of easy grace and that they were free to do as they pleased.
The Israelites tested God during the 40 years following their exodus. They complained about being brought out of Egypt, and about the food and drink God provided for them. They even complained, questioned God’s goodness, and exhausted His patience. In general, the Israelites had forgotten their need to please God. Instead they were concerned only with His pleasing them. Chosen people or not, Israel discovered that even God had His limits. When they questioned His goodness, they tested His patience. God would not let them cross into the Promised Land without receiving punishment. Likewise, some of the Corinthians had gone past God’s limit and became sick or even died (1Cor. 11:30).
Even today, we can become unknowingly corrupt in the race of Christian Life. To prevent this, we must always be on guard against the evil one’s deceits. To do this, we should pray and read our bibles daily to keep the living word of God fresh in our hearts and minds. When we do these things, we can confidently recognize and turn from Satan’s concealed quicksand. If we still fall into temptation, our first defense is to pray, turning the matter over to our Heavenly Father. Next we must trust. When we pray, we must pray trusting that the Lord will answer and help us. We should focus on our Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus endured more than we could ever be called on to endure. He understands our trials, and He is able to take us through them (Heb.12:3-4).
Paul expressed that concern the over-confident Corinthians should take heed, lest they fall. Proverbs 16:18 reads, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” It is easy to enjoy our freedom in Christ so much that we forget we are His, bought with a price and called to be obedient to His living word and to His service. Christians who become over-confident are less dependent on God’s word and spirit, and become careless about their living, thus becoming more open to temptation. This is when we are in the most danger and should actively seek the Lord and His Holy Spirit to guide us safely through Satan’s swamp.
I remember while in Martial Arts, I was over-confident and prideful in the weeks leading up to my first Black Belt testing. During the actual testing nothing went right. I was knocked out, a TKO in the first three seconds of my sparring session, and after that, I couldn’t break all of my boards. The whole experience proved to be awful, yet a good life lesson for me. I was shown, even though I was certain I was able to handle everything by my own strength and skill, I needed to be humble and keep my guard up.
Following the strong warning about self-confidence and pride, Paul gives the Corinthians a word of encouragement about God’s help. First, he assures them none of their temptations are unique. He tells them they can also resist and overcome every temptation if they rely on God. Did you know the basic meaning of the word temptation (Greek: periasmos) is simply, ‘to test or prove;’ and the word originally has no negative connotation. Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness. Job was tested in much the same way. God allowed Job to be afflicted in order to prove His servant was an “upright man, fearing God and turning away evil,” (Job 1:8). Satan’s purpose was the opposite, to prove Job was faithful only as long as the blessings and prosperity lasted.
God’s tests are never a solicitation to evil. In James 1:13 we read, “Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted by God, for God cannot be tempted by evil and He does not tempt anyone.” God often allows circumstances into our lives to test us. Like Job we usually do not recognize them as test from God, but our response to them can prove our strength or weakness in our faith.
In closing, our confidence and focus should rest only in Jesus Christ. To help maintain our confidence and focus, we should spend time daily in the word and in prayer. Don’t be laid low by the abuse of your freedom in Christ. Many of the Corinthian Christians, over-confident in their own moral and spiritual strength, had become careless about their activities, which consequently turned into idolatry and immorality. Let us not try our Lord’s patience. Don’t complain and find fault about the blessings God provides us. Don’t forget that our concern should be pleasing God. Instead of demanding God serve us better; let us use our freedom to better serve our Lord.
We pray. Dear heavenly Father, paraphrasing 1 Corinthians 10:23, “All things are permissible.” But we know not all things will promote our growth in Christian character. The next time we question whether we should be seeing a certain movie, participate in a specific activity or engage in a certain habit help us to remember to ask ourselves: is this pleasing to God? Will it keep us from prayer? Will it diminish our love for God’s Word? Will it spiritually tear us down by separating us from other Christian believers? Father, help us stay focused on your Son Jesus; help us be more pleasing to you. Amen.