SBTS chapel live blog: Denny Burk — 1 Corinthians 10:1-13

Communications Staff — February 23, 2010

Preacher: Denny Burk, dean of Boyce College

Text/title: 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 — “Take Heed Lest You Fall.”

Burk recounted his wife calling him on Valentine’s Day weekend, crying after having fallen down the stairs after tripping on a ball.

Burk’s wife was crying primarily because she is 24 weeks pregnant. She was concerned for her little baby boy.

Burk rushed his wife to the hospital and – thanks be to God – the baby was okay and so was his wife.

As Burk and his wife reflected on the event, she said that she would never go down those stairs the same way again. She said she would hold on to the railing every time.

In essence, she was taking heed lest she fall.

Do you take heed lest you fall?

How many of you surf the Internet trembling that your sin might take you further down and deeper in than you might ever imagine. And that is just the Internet. Scripture says that wide is the gate that leads to destruction and narrow the path that leads to life. Are you taking heed to every step that you take?

To take heed lest we fall, we should pay attention to Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 10.

In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul gives a stream of Old Testament examples designed to teach people to take heed lest they fall.

Beware your privileges (1 Cor 10:1-5)

We have more in common with that Exodus generation than we think. In vs. 1-5 Paul says that Exodus generation had two of the same privileges that we have and yet they fell under judgment. Paul speaks of the Exodus generation being under the cloud, a reference to God leading Israel through a pillar of cloud and fire. This means that God’s presence was with Israel. We also have God’s presence with Israel in the Holy Spirit.

Israel also passed through the Red Sea, experiencing a baptism under the leadership of Moses. We also have received a baptism, a baptism in Christ.

Paul says Israel ate spiritual food and drank spiritual drink. This is a reference to manna. For Paul, Paul is speaking of an old rabbinic tradition, speaking of water that Israel carried around with them. This water is a type of Christ.

We have spiritual food and spiritual drink as well. Jesus is the bread of heaven, Scripture says. We have the Lord’s Supper.

Despite these privileges that Israel had, with most of them God was not well-pleased because they rebelled against God and turned away from Him. Paul is not saying that Christians can lose their salvation. But Paul is saying that some people experience external spiritual privileges, but will still one day undergo judgment. This is a warning to us.

Beware of your desires (1 Cor 10:6-11)

Paul says these things – these Old Testament accounts – were written as examples to us so that we would not crave the evil things that they craved.

Side note: The Old Testament is a Christian document written to teach us how to be faithful to Christ.

If God has your heart, then He has you. If God does not have your heart, then He does not have you. Jesus taught that out of the heart come evil thoughts and actions.

The exhortation is clear here: beware of your heart, beware of your desires.

Paul lays out four temptations in vs. 7-10.

  • Idolatry – The Israelites were having problems with eating, drinking and idolatry. The believers in Corinth were having problems with eating, drinking and idolatry.
  • Immorality – The Lord did not tolerate Israel’s immorality in the Old Testament. Neither will He tolerate our immorality.
  • Testing the Lord.
  • Grumbling against the Lord.

In every one of these instances, the people’s hearts went astray. When people fall into judgment, their heart is always the first thing to go. Paul is saying to us, “You have to beware your desires.” You must turn your heart from evil and set your affections on Jesus.

Beware of your strength (1 Cor 10:12-13)

Paul says, “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” The moment that you think you stand is the moment in which you are most vulnerable. You are not as strong as you think are. But God is strong. God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted beyond what you are able to endure. Nothing will surprise God and there is no temptation that God cannot enable you to stand against.

The same God who provided you salvation in Jesus, who provided you forgiveness in Christ, will provide you a way of escape from every temptation, if only you will take it.

A few days ago, Burk went down to those same stairs that his wife had fallen on. It was late at night and when Burk turned on the light switch to the stairs there was a flash and the light bulb went out. Burk thought, “Well, I know these stairs. I’m not pregnant. I’ll be fine.” And Burk fell and fell hard. He landed flat on his back and his head snapped back and hit the stairs. He thought he was strong, but he was not and he fell.

Self-reliance is deadly for Christians. God is saying don’t be arrogant people. We stand on Jesus as a humble, empty-handed people before God. If God did not sustain us in our salvation, we would fall.

We must count everything as loss compared to knowing Christ. We must fix our eyes on Christ and learn to crave Christ by craving His Word.

Take heed lest you fall.

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