Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 4 * BOOK 27
I CORINTHIANS 9:19 – 10:17 – PART 2
Let’s begin in I Corinthians Chapter 10. Remember what kind of city Corinth was, and here comes the Apostle Paul preaching The Gospel that we’ll be teaching in a few weeks in Chapter 15 (how that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again according to the Scriptures). That’s The Gospel that saves you if you believe it for your Salvation, and it was the only Gospel that Paul knew. And out of that came pagans – multitudes of them to believe that Gospel, and as it says in the Book of Acts, Paul turned the Roman empire upside down with this message. Now to these Corinthians who are plagued with all these temptations, and problems, and testings, Paul says in verse 13:
I Corinthians 10:13
“There hath no temptation (or testing) taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
Let’s look at Hebrews Chapter 4 for a moment. Remember, as believers we are going to face temptations everyday. We’ll never leave temptations until we leave this life, but we do have these promises, and this is what we have to learn to hang onto.
“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, (remember when Christ presented His own blood as we studied back in John 20, fulfilling the priesthood of Melchisedec the High Priest of all.) Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. (Because we have someone who is constantly aware of our moment by moment existence.)For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched (now that’s the negative – let’s read it from the positive approach) For we have a high priest who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; (why?) but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” Where we fail, He didn’t. Now since He was sinless, and perfect (but since He tasted every situation that we have to come up against), oh look at the invitation in the next verse.
“Let us therefore come boldly (we don’t have to shrink to come into the presence of God. We can come right into the throne room at any time, day or night.) unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
The door is always open. Often you’ll read of new executives, presidents, or football coaches, saying they have an “open door policy.” That means their employees or players can come into their office anytime. But they’re not the beginners of that. God instituted it, The Lord has an open door policy. All right so what are the points in which he was tested like we are? Well we need to start with I John Chapter 2, verse 15. Most of you have seen this before, but I’m realizing that the more you repeat something the more likely you will remember it. Now verse 15:
I John 2:15-17
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world, If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (our priorities are upside down). For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (and here’s why we shouldn’t get taken up in the world) And the world (this whole world system) passeth away (and when it leaves the desires for it will also pass away), and the lust thereof, but he that doth the will of God abideth for ever.”
How many times have you heard me say, “Young people, why gamble your eternity for 15 or 20 years of the fast lane here? It’s not worth it.” I have to tell people, “Look at the lives of some of our famous people – entertainers and such. They are living high on the hog, but for how long? Just a few years! And then the flush of beauty wears off and they’re just cast away and are no longer important; and how many of them end up committing suicide? How many end up in the Betty Ford facility for alcohol treatment?” Well, this just says it all. The things of this world pass just like a blade of grass that comes up in the morning and you cut it off in the afternoon. But, he says, the things that are eternal are going to last forever. Now, let’s go back to Genesis. Poor old Eve is going to be the first to face these areas of temptation that are common to all men. And as John listed them, the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life.
Those are the three areas of temptation that every human being is going to have to face almost everyday. Eve was the first, back in Genesis Chapter 3 and starting at verse 6. Satan has already approached her and is holding this conversation and tantalizing her and, after all, there was something more to be gained if she would listen to him and eat of this forbidden tree. Remember Eve has already got it pretty good. I’ve always said she had the best husband that was ever made! The guy was sinless, perfect. What more could you ask for? They were living in all the beauty of paradise. They had no sickness, no death, no disease, no insects, no thorns. But she wasn’t satisfied. And Satan detected that and so he comes and tells her that there’s something better.
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, (in other words, it was beautiful appearing fruit. It wasn’t an apple. I think it was some form of a grape-type fruit. It just appealed to the eye) and a tree to be desired to make one wise, (there’s the pride aspect. She had everything else, but now if she could be just as wise as God, that appealed to her pride), so she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, (now she wouldn’t have eaten if she was stuffed full like after a Thanksgiving meal, so what must she have been? Hungry! And so the natural appetite was in high gear.) and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”
The eye says, “Have you ever seen anything so beautiful to eat?” And then Satan, on top of that, says she would be wise as God – and those are the three areas that mankind is still confronted with. The lust of the eye, the pride of life and the lust of the flesh. The words `lust of the flesh’ doesn’t always mean that (we can desire a lot of things in a proper amount and they are certainly good for us). Now when Jesus told Paul that he had tasted every temptation as was common to man, we see them in the temptations back in Matthew where He’s been out in the wilderness those 40 days fasting and it was a perfect setup for the temptations. And sure enough, the Devil comes along, realizing that He’s been out there in the desert and that He’s hungry.
“And when the tempter came to him, he said, `If (that’s a strong word isn’t it?) thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.'” Well, if he’s hungry, what does the thought of bread do? It just sends those taste buds crazy. And so now he is to be tempted with this whole concept of satisfying his hunger. And so what does Jesus answer? Look in verse 4.
“But he answered and said, `It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.'”
Now what’s the lesson? In spite of our physical appetites, whatever they are, what do we have to temper them with? The spiritual things that are far more important. I’ve tried to stress, not only to my own kids, but to other people and myself and my wife, that we have to keep our priorities straight. So many people mean well, but they’ve got their priorities upside down. And when that happens you’re headed for trouble. So now, Jesus is saying, “Listen Satan, there is something more important than feeding the physical. The most important is to feed on the spiritual.” Now in verse 5 Satan doesn’t give up. He comes back and takes Him up in the holy city and puts him on the pinnacle of the Temple with all of the Temple crowds down below. And remember the Temple pinnacle wasn’t as high as some of our skyscrapers today, so it was no problem seeing someone up there on the pinnacle of the Temple. That was easily within eyesight.
“Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on the pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, `If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down; for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.'”
We’ve already seen the first temptation, the lust of the flesh – hunger. The next one is the lust of the eye, whether ours or someone else’s. In this case, it’s someone else’s, because what is Satan setting? A great showmanship event! I can just see him like a Madison Avenue advertiser. “Now look, If we could just send you sailing off the tip of this temple, and then at the last moment have angels just sweep down and pick you up and spare you from hitting the ground, look what it would do to that crowd of people! Can you imagine it.” What a show that would have been. And old Satan says, “Just imagine, if you could do that, what we could do to those people down there on the Temple pavement.” Let’s see what Jesus said:
“Jesus said unto him, `It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.'”
He is saying, “I’m not going to do it. I don’t care what you tempt me with.” That’s the second one and now comes the third one, which was the pride of life. Now I don’t suppose anybody really can understand this next temptation except politicians, or maybe military commanders. Someone who can get to the place of controlling massive numbers of people. Power just literally grabs them. That is what true pride is all about – to get control over other people. That’s why some of your notorious emperors have come, such as Napoleon, Stalin, Hitler, or whatever. They get so power hungry because they can control massive numbers of people. Now let’s look what Satan does to Jesus.
“Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;”
Jesus and Satan are both spiritual. Even though Christ is here in the flesh, He’s here in the spiritual. And so from the spiritual concept, Satan could let Jesus look all the way back to Nebuchadnezzar and maybe all the way back to David’s great kingdom and could show him forward and all the great empires that would yet be coming down through human history. He says to Jesus, “Just think, if you’ll fall down and worship me, you can have control over all these nations. They’ll be bowing at your feet because they are yours.” Quite a temptation wasn’t it? But isn’t it amazing, Satan must not have known, and I think there’s a lot of things that Satan doesn’t know, that one day these same nations will be under Christ’s rule when He rules and reigns. And they’re going to come as a result of His Sovereignty.
But you see, Satan is naive enough to offer them to Jesus if He would fall down and worship him. Now you see, the whole idea of all of this is to show you and I that Satan is doing the same thing to us. He is constantly bombarding us with desires of the flesh. He is constantly bombarding us with things that appeal to the eye. If he didn’t, television would die overnight, because the only thing that keeps television going is the commercials. Now they are coming up with the infomercials. In fact, they are squeezing me off the air in a couple of places because these half hour infomercials can generate much more income than a little ministry like ours. But you see, it’s appealing to people seeing these things and they say, “I want it!” And then the next great temptation is to get to the place of permanence and power over people whether it’s a small or great number.
These are the three areas, as I’ve taught for 20 years, that every human being is faced with. Whether we are a believer or nonbeliever. That’s beside the point. There are still the three categories of temptation. But what’s our hope? Now come back to I Corinthians again. This is our hope, our comfort, that even though before the day is over I’m going to be confronted with something within these three areas and The Lord is going to show me that way of escape. Now we have to look for it. God isn’t going to put that way of escape smack dab in front of us. Here again, we become people of choice. And when we’re confronted with a temptation and we know it’s about to get us, we look for that way of escape, because God has provided it for us.
I Corinthians 10:14
“Wherefore, (because of that ability to find a way of escape) my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.”
Now don’t sit up and say, “Well, that doesn’t appeal to us. We don’t worship idols today.” Oh no? You know, I imagine that most idols in America today sit in that little part of the house we call the garage, isn’t that right? That automobile simply becomes their idol. I was showing somebody my cattle awhile back, and I’m proud of them, I love them. And the guy says, “Hey, Les, they’re not your idol are they?” Well, they could be! Absolutely they could be! And the same way with any of you, whatever it may be. It may be your garden, your kids, your grandkids, your business, your job. And so Paul’s admonition is to look out and don’t let something become your idol, but in everything put The Lord first and foremost. Let’s look at verse 15. And in spite of the fact that these Corinthians were carnal, they still had a lot of problems living the Christian life, how does he approach them? As what kind of people? Wise men!
I Corinthians 10:15
“I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.”
Fair enough? And it’s just as applicable to us today as it was to the Corinthians then. Now let’s go on to verse 16, and again, the best way I can put this is that he shifts gears. One commentary I read said Paul doesn’t write the book of Corinthians with a real continuity. I’m beginning to see it. All of a sudden he’s talking about something and then boom! He’s off on another thought. Well, the Holy Spirit is doing it for a purpose, I know. But here is a good example. Here he has just been talking about resisting temptations and fleeing from idolatry and all these things. Then all of a sudden in verse 16 he takes us to The Lord’s communion table.
I Corinthians 10:16
“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? (The Lord’s table) The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?”
Where is the first instance of presenting the cup, the wine, the grape juice, or whatever your particular church uses, and the broken bread? The Lord’s upper room experience! And He said, “Take this cup and this is My blood which will be shed for you.” He hadn’t died yet so this was still future. You see, what I’ve always stressed to people when you look at those verses back there in the Four Gospels, is that even though Jesus did those two things, did He give any explanation? Did He institute it as something that somebody was supposed to do? No! It’s just dropped like a hot potato. You don’t see anything more of that cup and bread. Now, of course the first instance was way back when Abraham met Melchisedec, when it says they brought Melchisedec bread and wine. So you see, way back there we already had a picture of The Lord’s table. But when Jesus talked about it in the Matthew account, He merely said:
“For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” He gave no explanation. There was no criteria for how to process it until here. Now Paul tells us what it’s all about and how it is to be practiced in the local church.
I Corinthians 10:17
“For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.”
You remember in Jesus’ earthly ministry and He told them that unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you cannot partake with me? What did many of His followers do? They about up-chucked and they left. They could not comprehend eating His flesh and drinking His blood. But you see, they were ignorant. That’s not what Jesus was talking about it. He was talking about a spiritual communion of His shed blood and His broken body.