"TAKE HEED LEST WE FALL"
Q: Who here believes he or she is strong in faith?
Q: Who here believes because your faith is strong, it's not possible to fall for the lies or temptations of the enemy?
The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers regarding their fathers, the Israelite's, how they were freed after 400 years of heavy bondage in Egypt.
Paul says this in 1 Cor chapter 10, verses 1-4:
"I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ."
What is Paul saying here?
Throughout their 400 years of slavery, the Israelite's continually cried out to God ... in faith ... to send a 'redeemer' who would lead them out of the misery of bondage. God heard their cries and prayers of faith -- and sent them a redeemer, Moses.
God's heart is always moved when we pray and live by faith.
Heb 11:6 tells us: "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."
And what is the opposite of faith? Doubt and unbelief.
And James 1:6-7 teaches us: "But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord."
The Israelite's had the faith God would rescue them, so were baptized into Moses 'in the cloud and sea.' The cloud (represents the Spirit) and the sea (crossing the Red Sea represents new life just as we, after baptized, represents new life in Christ; and together represent the elements of 'baptism.' Israelite's baptized into their redeemer, Moses, was a forerunner to us baptized into our redeemer, Jesus.
Jesus tells us in John 3:5-6: "Most assuredly I say to you, 'unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.' "
So, the Israelite's went through this 'baptism' before entering the Promised Land. The Promised Land for them is a representation of heaven for us. We too, must be baptized by water and the Spirit to enter heaven.
The Israelite's even received the Lord's supper from the Lord Himself: The bread
(manna) and the cup (spiritual drink of God's blessings). God combined baptism into Moses with baptism into the Lord.
God designed this to be the 'forerunner' of New Testament baptism and Lord's supper through faith! (We find buried treasure by digging deeper into the Word.)
Did we realize the Israelite's received both baptism and the Lord's supper?
In an article from Biblical Hermeneutics, the author writes:
"God uses baptism as a vehicle to apply his righteousness to a repentant sinner burying his old self with his sins into Christ's death. (Paul compares) the ... divinely orchestrated deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt with the means by which salvation is extended to the Christians in Corinth (and to us today). "
Continuing in 1 Corinthians chapter 10, verses 5-10:
"But with most of them (Israelite s) God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, 'The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.' Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer.
What was Paul saying here?
God led the Israelite's through the wilderness to test their faith. But, their hearts became hardened through unbelief. Their faith quickly faded and began to doubt God due to the adversity experienced in the wilderness. They cried out to Moses:
"Why did you bring us here to die?"
"We have no food, nor water, nor doctors, no change of clothes, none of the 'comforts' we had in Egypt!"
How quickly they forgot about the heavy bondage of slavery from which God just delivered them!
Q-- Did the Israelite s stop to consider the great miracles they had just witnessed? The ten plagues; God leading them with a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night; the parting of the Red Sea through which they walked.
Q-- Didn't they stop to consider if God had the power to deliver them, couldn't He also feed them and give them water to drink? Where were their prayers of faith they had at the beginning?
So, the Israelite's replaced faith in God with doubt, unbelief and distrust.
Yet, another example of doubt and unbelief was when the Israelite's rebelled against God by not believing Him they could defeat the 'giants' who lived in the land God wanted to give them. Of the twelve spies, only two, Joshua and Caleb, had the faith and trust in God to believe it could be done.
The doubt and unbelief of the people becomes apparent in Numbers 14:2-3,
"And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, 'If only we had died in the land of Egypt!
Or if only we had died in this wilderness!' 'Why has the Lord brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better to return to Egypt?' "
Then, in verses 8 -9, Joshua and Caleb said to them:
"If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land which flows with milk and honey." "Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them."
Finally in verse 10, we read: "And all the congregation said to stone them (Joshua and Caleb) with stones."
What did God think about this behavior? Numbers 14:11 tells us:
"Then the Lord said to Moses: 'How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them?' " Think God was angry with them?
--Because of their lack of faith, doubt and unbelief;
--Because of the continual complaining and murmuring against God;
--Because of their disobedience and compromise;
--Because many of them actually asked to return to Egypt which meant certain
God refused to allow the original 600,000 Israelite's whom He rescued from Egypt to enter the Promised Land. He made them wander through the wilderness for forty years until that faithless generation died off.
Out of those original 600,000 people, only two were allowed to enter ... Joshua and Caleb. How do we know they were the only ones God allowed in?
In Numbers 14: 26-27 and verse 30, we read: "And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, 'How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who complain against Me?' 'Except for Caleb, the son of Jephun'neh and Joshua, the son of Nun, you shall by no means enter the land which I swore I would make you dwell in.' "
Remember what Jesus said in Matt 22:14, "For many are called, but few are chosen." 600,000 were called, but only two were chosen to enter in.
Heb 11:6 teaches us:
"But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
The article in Biblical Hermeneutics goes on to say:
"(Paul) then states that the (biblical) account of (the Israelite's actions) were written for our learning and warns the Corinthian church (and us) to avoid fleshly lust and enticements, the likes of which many of the children of Israel indulged and were punished ... (and kept out of the Promised Land)"
And then in 1 Cor 10:11-12, we read: "Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the end of the ages have come.""Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed, lest he fall."
Series of six questions
Q1: As believers who love God and baptized, how can we be kept out of heaven?
The Israelite's coming out of Egypt were our example. They were God's people and baptized. Yet, they were kept out of the Promised Land because of their sin and willful disobedience.
Q2: How is it possible we, as strong believers, can fall into sin?
How did Peter fall, denying Jesus three times? Through fear of death.
In Matt 16:25, Jesus teaches us: "For whoever desires to save his life will lose
it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it."
When the times comes and we may be threatened with death for our faith, will we sin by denying our Lord as did Peter?
Can believers who have the Holy Spirit still sin? Yes. We can still sin and 'grieve' the Holy Spirit within us.
In an article taken from Got Questions.org, the author says this about 'grieving' the Holy Spirit:
"We grieve the Spirit by living like the pagans, by lying, by being angry, by stealing, by cursing, by being bitter, by being unforgiving, and by being sexually immoral. To grieve the Spirit is to act out in a sinful manner, whether it is in thought only or in both thought and deed."
Can we sin just by a thought? Jesus said in Matthew 5:28, "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart."
Q3: How did David fall, a man after God's own heart and filled with the Holy Spirit? Through the lust of the flesh.
Gal 5: 16-21 tells us: "I say then: Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." ... "Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are:
adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."
David knew Bathsheba was married to Uriah, David's faithful commander who was dedicated to David. Nevertheless, because of David's selfish ambition to 'know' Bathsheba, he committed adultery with her. And she conceived, so they couldn't hide the adultery. David even had Uriah killed in battle to hide the sin.
Then, was David really filled with the Holy Spirit? He wrote in Psalm 51:10-11,
"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me."
"Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit
Were Peter and David truly strong believers? Absolutely! But, as human beings, we all have frailties and weaknesses. And the enemy knows how to get to us through our weaknesses.
The bible describes after David and Peter sinned, both repented and asked God for forgiveness! They knew the Lord is quick to forgive ... IF we repent!
Q4: What are some other ways believers can fall into sin? Through:
1. Idolatry. (Money, job, car, fame). Anything in the heart that comes before God.
2. Unforgiveness. (this will also keep us out of heaven!)
3. Bitterness, resentment, selfishness, unbelief, doubt, jealousy.
4. Compromise. (ex) ordaining homosexuals as pastors, giving our approval to
ungodly laws enacted by ungodly people. Exactly what's happening today.
5. Thinking when tempted by the enemy, 'I can't fall.' 'I'm too strong a believer!' Do we think our faith stronger than David's or Peter's? If so, that's pride speaking!
1 Cor 10:12 tells us:
"Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed, lest he fall."
Q5: Why do so many believers fall into sin when being tempted?
Because we are made of flesh and have self-will, it's still possible for a believer to backslide. Instead of immediately rejecting a sinful thought and covering it with the Blood of Jesus, we allow the thought to circulate in our heart. The thought could then lead to a strong desire, followed by a sinful action, if not immediately put away.
2 Peter 3:17 tells us: "You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked."
So, even though we may have been saved, there is still no guarantee we'll make it into heaven ... if we sin without repenting and putting that sin away.
Too many believers become lax because they think they already made it: that I was baptized, occasionally pray, occasionally read the word, and sometimes go to church. So, they drop their guard and eventually stop praying, stop reading the word, stop going to church or go only sporadically.
Jesus tells us in Matt 24:13, "He who endures to the end, will be saved" ...
The one who stands firm, who follows God, who is faithful and repentant.
Brothers and sisters: It's a slow fade that eventually becomes eternally fatal.
And the Israelite's did just that - and they are our example of what NOT to do!
They treated God as their personal 'genie in a bottle' -- Imploring God to act when in a desperate situation, then placing Him back onto the shelf after the prayer was answered. How did they place God back on the shelf? By not praying, by not reading His word, by not going to church and neglecting the gathering of the brethren.
So, by not keeping our heart filled with the things of God, we allow the enemy room to creep in. If our house is not filled with God, we make room for the enemy to enter.
God delivered the Israelite's from bondage. They were baptized, and walking on the path to the Promised Land. BUT, somewhere along the way:
-- They stopped worshiping the Lord as they did prior to being delivered,
taking Him for granted. As the word says, "The people sat down to eat
and drink and rose up to play.'
-- They gave in to the sin of unbelief regarding God's promises to them; promising
He would be their Jehovah Jireh, their Provider and Protector.
-- They became disobedient and unthankful, complaining and murmuring about
the lack of food, water and other provisions they had in Egypt, yet forgetting
that while in Egypt, they were slaves under hard bondage.
-- Some even asked to be led back to Egypt. Why? Because God took them out
of their comfort zone while in the wilderness. They didn't realize He was
testing their faith, trying to teach the Israelite's to trust Him for all their needs.
God does the same with us today ... through trials. Will we complain and murmur like the Israelite's or trust God to get us through them?
-- The Israelite's had forgotten all the miracles God performed to deliver them from Egypt. Just as we sometimes forget what God has done for us!
So, after a time, even God's patience ran out with the Israelite's.
He vowed not to allow that wicked generation to enter the Promised Land.
So, even though they were His people and baptized, due to sinful behavior, disobedience and unrepentance... they didn't make it, baptized or not!
Q6: What could the Israelite's have done to change God's heart towards them?
What step could they have taken so God would have allowed them entrance into the Promised Land?
REPENT, ASK FOR FORGIVENESS, AND TURN FROM THEIR SIN!
But, they didn't and continued in their sin ... which is perhaps why throughout scripture, God refers to the Israelite's as being a 'stiff-necked' people ... like so many Christians are today ... refusing to put away their sinful behavior.
--If, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever;
--If, God is not a respecter of persons;
--If, God's word remains the same for all generations;
"Therefore, let him who thinks he stands take heed ... lest he fall."