“For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness. Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY.” Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.” (1Co 10:1-12)
It is relatively common to hear a representation of the current age (the New Testament era) that leads one to believe that immorality no longer disturbs God. There are various ways one spins this out, many of them beginning with a poor view of the atonement and / or what it means to be “in Christ.” It is often stated (even sung) that the wrath of God was satisfied on the day that Jesus died. In addition, it is frequently communicated that if you are a believer, God no longer sees your sin, He just sees Jesus. The idea that it would have been difficult to live when people were “saved by the law” and we are now fortunate that we are saved by grace seems to prevail in the mind of many. It should be understood that salvation was never a legal issue and grace is not license to sin. The opening passage, quoted from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, seems to take an approach that challenges and, hopefully, clarifies such erroneous assumptions.
God’s goal is that human beings make use of His provisions to overcome bondage to sin and enter into a life based on purifying ourselves just a He (Jesus) is pure (1 Jn.3:3). We are to “…put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth…” (Ep.4:24). He intends, as He always intended that we “…be imitators of God, as beloved children…(that we)…walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma…(that)…immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints…” (Ep.5:1-3).
Notice that the opening passage indicates that God’s response to the wickedness of the Israelite serves as an example of how God views human evil. There surfaces an exemplary list of things we (Christians, the church) are to avoid. This list arises from that which “most” of the Israelites had done, with which “God was not well-pleased.” We learn that we are not to “crave evil things…be idolaters…act immorally…try the Lord…(nor) grumble…” As we recognize that God’s response was quite severe, we are told, “…these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.”
This should be no great revelation. Unfortunately, when a shallow, twisted view of the Gospel; of grace and salvation infects the mind of the “average Christian” (and sadly, the average pastor), such a perspective is shocking. Beyond the aim of calling individual believers and the body of Christ to pursue mental preparedness and moral purity is the challenge of the church becoming a transforming influence in our culture and in the nations. The culture shaping influence of postmodern, Marxists, secular evolutionary theory is prevailing and most church-folk are cheerfully ignorant. A “ticket-to-heaven” mentality has dampened the zeal for truth and action, leaving the church impotent and anemic.
“Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?” (Ps.94:16)