Section One: The Spiritual Characteristics of a Godly Life.
Our current theme: Characteristic Three: Being Victorious.
Our reading for today: 1st Corinthians 10: 1-13 (MsgB)
Remember our history, friends, and be warned. All our ancestors were led by the providential Cloud and taken miraculously through the Sea. They went through the waters, in a baptism like ours, as Moses led them from enslaving death to salvation life. They all ate and drank identical food and drink, meals provided daily by God. They drank from the Rock, God’s fountain for them that stayed with them wherever they were. And the Rock was Christ. But just experiencing God’s wonder and grace didn’t seem to mean much—most of them were defeated by temptation during the hard times in the desert, and God was not pleased. The same thing could happen to us. We must be on guard so that we never get caught up in wanting our own way as they did. And we must not turn our religion into a circus as they did—“First the people partied, then they threw a dance.” We must not be sexually promiscuous—they paid for that, remember, with 23,000 deaths in one day! We must never try to get Christ to serve us instead of us serving Him; they tried it, and God launched an epidemic of poisonous snakes. We must be careful not to stir up discontent; discontent destroyed them. These are all warning markers—danger!—in our history books, written down so that we don’t repeat their mistakes. Our positions in the story are parallel—they at the beginning, we at the end—and we are just as capable of messing it up as they were. Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence. No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; He’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; He’ll always be there to help you come through it.
It might seem logical to assume that once a person becomes a believer in Christ (see our blog sessions from week 1 and 2), aligning themselves with the Almighty God of the universe, that life here on planet earth just might go a bit easier than when we tried living it on our own. And when God adds in the wondrous advantage we followers of Jesus have through the indwelling and empowering work of the Holy Spirit (see our blog sessions from week 3 and 4), we just might be tempted to believe that we’re nearly invincible, and that the Christian life is nothing more difficult than a nice little walk in the park!
Apparently, this prideful overconfidence that can creep in when we’re called “the children of God” was as much of a problem in the first century as it seems to be today. Actually from what Paul indicates here in his letter to his friends in Corinth, pride and arrogance about one’s faith had become a major stumbling block, and it sounds as though Paul was determined to address this hideous oversight before it destroyed the church altogether!
You see, it’s very easy now-a-days to define Christian discipleship using the same set of criteria the good folks in Corinth we’re using. As we read Paul’s stinging letters (1st and 2nd Corinthians) to the these immature followers of Christ, it’s obvious that they believed themselves to be “complete” in their faith because 1) they had prayed the sinner’s prayer, 2) been baptized, and 3) were operating in the gifts of the Holy Spirit! But alas! One quick review of Paul’s letters, and it’s painfully obvious that there was a multitude of sinful behaviors still operating in the day-to-day lives of these overconfident, prideful “children of God!” This sad story, which illustrates how easily well-intentioned men and women who proclaim faith in Jesus can so very quickly fall into the many temptations of sin, brings us now to the subject of “victorious living.” So over the next two weeks (blog sessions for weeks 5 and 6), we’ll tackle this theme together.
So let’s start here…
As I see it, there are many Christian leaders today who declare boldly that if you and I are truly serious about living the victorious Christian life, we simply need to get our act together and just stop our sinning. The mantra for these folks and their crusade against sin has become synonymous with Nike’s popular theme for buying shoes… Just Do It!
Now at first glance, that approach seems right. But, my friends, I’m here to tell you that if you step on board the Just Do It train, you are embarking upon an endless pursuit of sin management, and I can tell you from first-hand experience, that work just never gets the real problem solved. Yes, you may grit your teeth and push a few sins off to the side for a season, but the whole approach of sin management is simply a work in futility!
You see, the problem of trying to attain the victorious life by living a lifestyle that is free from sin just never really addresses the deeper, darker issues that lie beneath the surface of our sin. For that, we must address our real enemies. But beware, my friends, this is not going be pretty.
Join us next time as we begin to unmask a hideous, two-headed monster who hates to be identified and brought into the light…but by the grace of God, here he is…
Our ugly enemy with the two talking heads? Satan & Self.
My prayer: Jesus, I truly want to hear the warning Paul writes to his friends. Overconfidence and pride in our position as “children of God” can truly be a poison from which I may never recover. Illuminate for me, Holy Spirit, where I might be dangerously close to walking that path Paul warns us about. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So let’s be honest here. Are there areas of pride and overconfidence creeping into my faith? Have I taken the grace of God and mis-used it in similar ways as the Israelites, or possibly in the same manner that the first-century Corinthian church did? If so, what needs to change in my thinking and in my actions?
So what is God speaking to you today as we attempt to live the Christ-centered life?
Over a thirty-six week period, you and I will take a deeper look into twelve key characteristics of a godly life. In other words, we’ll take A Journey into Christian Discipleship. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Journey home page for ease of use. ENJOY!
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