Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.1 Corinthians 10: 6-12
A few years ago, I had lunch with a most interesting man who commented that “man hasn’t created a new god in the last hundred years.” He comes from a mix of religious traditions which include hundreds of thousands – even millions of gods. Still, there is a ring of truth to what he said – there are no new gods, but there are plenty of false idols and ways to rebel against God.
In the passage above, Paul lists several of the failures of the first generation of Israelites after they were delivered from Egypt – sexual immorality, dissatisfaction, complaints against God. If we think that such failure isn’t possible for us, Paul reminds us that “you could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence” (1 Corinthians 10: 12 The Message).
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.1 Corinthians 10:13-14
Notice that even when we are tempted, God is faithful:
- God is aware of our temptations and will not allow more than we can handle when we rely on Him.
- God provides a way of escape and the power to endure.
We can learn from the failures of others. We can learn from our own failures, but the best option is simply to “flee.”