“Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” (Wherefore, he that is of the opinion that he is established, let him have understanding lest he fall.)
Paul’s address to the church at Corinth is a discourse of the frailties of the natural man that is experienced by those who have been born from above. This ‘old man’ was not made over or ‘born again’ when the Spirit revealed the life within the brethren at Corinth but rather his vanity and wickedness became more evident as the truth was revealed. The brethren quickly divided into schisms claiming to be of Paul or of Peter or, for the more spiritual, to be of Christ. Their bickering and in-fighting made them weak as babes so that they could not be fed with the strong meat of the Word. They incorporated the tolerances and liberality of their pagan heritage into the order of the church to the point that they accepted the man that would have his father’s wife, and were proud of it. They boasted about their spiritual understanding and the ‘right’ they had to eat the meat offered to the idols in the shanties, continued to utilize the court systems as a remedy for legal matters and finally the issues of marriage and divorce had the brethren confused and dysfunctional.
Paul begins by re-establishing himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ and reminds them of his right which he has abrogated for their well being. He demonstrates that the love he has for them is more important than the right that was due him as a minister of the gospel. Then he, in this authority and for this love, begins to explain the contradiction of that which is born of the flesh and that which is born from above. All of the fathers of Israel had experienced the wonders and might of the power and glory of God. They had all been delivered from the house of bondage and under the cloud of the glory of God were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and the sea. They all had eaten that same spiritual meat and drank from that Rock that followed them and that Rock was Christ. But none of this was sufficient to convince them all of the holiness and righteousness of God and with many of them God was not well pleased for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Paul is not referring the church to those wicked outcasts because this is what happens to all who are not of the household of grace, but rather he is drawing attention to them as ‘our examples to the intent that we should not lust after the evil thing’. He did not say that ‘you’ should not lust but that we which included himself. Those things which happened to the house of Israel as they were delivered from Egypt and the hardness of their hearts is common to all man and no one is exempt from it.
Israel desired to be back in the comfort and ease of the bondage of the ‘strong man’s’ house rather that the liberty of God’s provisions in the wilderness. This is the nature of Adam to love the world and the things of the world. (Num. 11:4) They could not see the mighty displays of His power so they resorted to something they could see, touch and say unto, “these be the gods that brought us up out of Egypt” (Ex. 32:23). This idolatry (the worship of that which is seen) was fashioned from the gold and jewels which they received from the Egyptians when God gave them favour in their sight (Ex. 12:35).
They committed fornication at Baal-peor (the lord of the gap a Moabitish god who was worshiped through prostitution) when they forgot all that God’s hand had done, all that He had provided and protected them from and they joined unto the gods of the land of Moab. They prostituted themselves with the dust of the earth, being desirous of the things of the flesh, with complete disregard for the fact that they represented the chosen bride of God, walking by sight not by faith (Num. 25:2).
They tempted Christ in the wilderness after being given the spiritual meat, ‘manna’, and that water from the Rock which was Christ and said, “wherefore have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness for no bread, neither water and out soul loatheth this light bread” (Num. 21:5). The Bread of Life and that Living water were detestable to them and they again desired the old wine and old garments.
Finally they murmured (were discontent and enraged) against God for His sovereignty, His provisions and His designs as they sought the inheritance of bondage and desired to return unto the land of Egypt (Num. 14:2). This is Edom which is Adam and which is the earthen vessel that was formed from the same lump as those fitted for destruction by the wise and master potter.
“Wherefore he that is of the opinion that he is established’ and thinks he has overcome these things of the flesh, to he that is so high minded and superior to all others and who seeks his own well-being before the brethren and to him that is so heavenly minded that he does not see the wonders of God, “let him have understanding” and be taught of the Spirit “that wherein he thinks he is established, therein shall he fall”. The lust of the flesh and infirmities of the bondage of this corruption are common to man and were it not for the grace of God each and every one of His people should walk according to the corruption of the members of Adam.
It is the Spirit of God which dwells within each chosen vessel which mortifies the deeds of the flesh and prevents the depravity of the flesh from its natural course and causes the redeemed to walk after His statutes and commandments. God is faithful and He will not allow His children to be tempted beyond the limits He has equipped them with (afore prepared them unto) and will with these temptations provide a way of escape that His children may be able to bear the chastening of the Lord and to understand that whom the Lord loves He chastens. These temptations are for the trying of the faith within and the revealing of the corruption without and as the child grows in the grace and knowledge of His will the proving of the faith within reveals the true extent of the vanity to which the creature has been made subject to waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God and the deliverance from the tabernacle (dwelling places) in which they have sinned (Ezk. 37:23).
“Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee idolatry” The natural man thrives on what he can see and he worships the works of his hands but the child, justified by the faith and having peace with God, lives, moves and has his being by faith, and that not of himself for it is a gift from above. He is saved by hope which cannot be seen with the natural eye and he walks by the faith of Jesus Christ who loved him and gave Himself for him.
Your servant in Christ,
(Elder) Chet Dirkes
April 10, 2011