Warning Against Idolatry

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Warning Against Idolatry

1Co 10:1 For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea,
1Co 10:2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,
1Co 10:3 and all ate the same spiritual food,
1Co 10:4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.
1Co 10:5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
1Co 10:6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.
1Co 10:7 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."
1Co 10:8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day.
1Co 10:9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents,
1Co 10:10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.
1Co 10:11 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.
1Co 10:12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.
1Co 10:13 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.
1Co 10:14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.

It is a dangerous temptation and so very easy to love this world and the many pleasures it offers. It is natural to love abundance, affluence, riches, and to value a life filled with the sights, sounds, entertainments, possessions, and pleasures of this World. If a Christian falls into the trap of attempting to satisfy themselves by chasing this World and what it gives, then they fall into a silent but powerful idolatry that captures the heart. A heart emotionally dependent on the things of this world is an idolatrous heart because the priority is no longer God but me. An idolatrous heart is filled with it's own ways according to the scripture" the backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways but a good man is satisfied from above," Prov. 14:14.

The Apostle Paul warns Christians to examine themselves. The exact wording in 1Cor. 10:12 is "take heed lest you fall" meaning take a good look at your life and your heart, and be honest. The stakes are high - you can fall! The bible is filled with examples of idolatry and Paul in 1Cor. 10 points to Israel's idolatrous behavior as a warning to Christians to avoid falling into the sin of idolatry.  Idolatry is dangerous because God judged His people Israel, and according to Paul in 1Cor. 10, He will judge Christians if they fall into the same sin. We cannot believe that God will overlook a heart that puts its own desires first; in all of Scripture we are warned to put God and His eternal purposes first, and if we will not, then God will judge that sin.

Israel Enjoyed God's Blessings 
Num 10:33-36 So they set out from the mount of the LORD three days' journey. And the ark of the covenant of the LORD went before them three days' journey, to seek out a resting place for them. 34 And the cloud of the LORD was over them by day, whenever they set out from the camp. 35 And whenever the ark set out, Moses said, "Arise, O LORD, and let your enemies be scattered, and let those who hate you flee before you." 36 And when it rested, he said, "Return, O LORD, to the ten thousand thousands of Israel."

Israel Enjoyed God's Presence, Provision, and Protection
1. The Ark of the Covenant went before them.
2. The cloud of the Lord went before them whenever they traveled.
3. They had the declared blessings of Moses over them - "Arise, O Lord, and let your enemies be scattered, and let those who hate you flee before you. When the Ark rested Moses would declare - "Return, O Lord, to the the ten thousand thousands of Israel."

Even With God's Presence, Provision, and Protection the People Complain
Num 11:1 And the people complained in the hearing of the LORD about their misfortunes, and when the LORD heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the LORD burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp.
Num 11:2 Then the people cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the LORD, and the fire died down.
Num 11:3 So the name of that place was called Taberah, because the fire of the LORD burned among them.
Num 11:4 Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, "Oh that we had meat to eat!
Num 11:5 We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic.
Num 11:6 But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at."

Characteristics of an Idolatrous Heart
Num 11:4 Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, "Oh that we had meat to eat!,
An idolatrous heart has a strong emotional dependence on what it wants want; no peace, no fulfillment, no contentment, unless I get what I want.

An Idolatrous Heart is Driven by it's Own Desires
Who will give me what I want is the internal cry, and the priority, of every person who loves this world. This ongoing desire for more is like a demonic leaven that infiltrates and then fills the soul with a burning desire for more. An idolatrous heart will seek friends, churches, pastors, teachers, and even twist bible doctrines to feed their lusts!

An Idolatrous Heart Remembers Their Old Way of Life
The promises of righteousness have no real value for the idolater. Perfecting holiness in the fear of God is not who this person is. This person's heart, even when being led of the Lord, continues to lust after the pleasures of Egypt.  The manna reveals their heart. Physically, they're in church but their heart is in Egypt. They remember the fish, the garlic, and the leeks. Being a covenant person means nothing, being led by the Ark of the Covenant is meaningless, and the declarations of God's protection do nothing for the person who loves this World.


An Idolatrous Heart Hates God's Provision
People who love the World and what it offers are not a thankful people. They hated the manna from day one. Manna was food, God's provision while in the wilderness and a visible expression of His care for them. However, God's provision to an idolatrous heart is repulsive because their mind is driven by their lusts. Their mind is against God. They complained and cried out for the food of Egypt and only when the fire of God began to kill them were they willing to acknowledge their sin. How much better to repent out of love for God than fear of judgement. A good man will respond to the Holy Spirit, it takes fire to turn an idolater. The sin of idolatry is not that complicated - the idolater simply loves this World more than he loves God. In his view fish, garlic, and leeks are far more desirable than sweet fellowship with Jesus.  


An Idolatrous Heart Cannot Live by Faith
A person who loves Egypt cannot say, "the Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away, blessed be the Name of the Lord". They cannot say "I have learned to be full and to suffer hunger. I have learned in whatever state I am in to be content. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." An idolatrous heart is driven by love of this world and can never find contentment. But a person of faith is content with God, His provision, and the way He chooses to lead them.


God Will Not Protect An Idolatrous Heart
Paul warns the Christian to examine himself. We may think we are a covenant person, so did the people of Numbers 11. We may see ourselves as being led of the Lord, so did the idolaters of Numbers 11. We may see ourselves as in the very presence of God, those who murmured and complained were in the very presence of God. This leads to a a sobering truth - the external blessings of God do not automatically change an idolatrous heart. Real heart change comes only as we entrust our life to Him.  If we are trusting Him then we will love our fellowship with Him more than fellowship with the world. And if we really entrust our life to Him then we will stop complaining about the way He chooses to lead us.

God Will Forgive and He Will Cleanse From All Unrighteousness!
God will provide for you, He will lead you, and He will protect you. But the same God that leads, provides and protects also judges. Israel enjoyed God's very presence as the Ark of the Covenant was with them. God personally led them  as they traveled by the cloud that went before them. And they had the declared blessings of Moses who acted as a mediator for them with God. We who live by faith in Jesus Christ should take heed. If we love this world we should not think that Christ will protect us from judgement; this is what Paul in 1Cor. 10 is saying. Jesus does not protect the idolater from judgement. Remember, Christ was present when God's fire fell. He expects the idolater to examine himself, repent, and turn from His idolatrous ways. The redemptive work of Christ has given everything we need to turn from the sin of idolatry. We have promises that sin cannot have dominion over the person who walks in faith  -  unless, of course, that person willingly gives themselves to the love of this World.  Remember Lot's wife, we must flee Sodom, we cannot look back. The challenge has always been, and will continue to be, not can we, but will we put God first. Are we willing to love God more than our fleshly appetites? Paul in 1 Cor. 10 says we are given examples of how God judges the sin of idolatry. Paul clearly states that we, upon whom the ends of the world have come, are to take a very long and careful look at our own life. If an idolatrous heart is found, then turn. God is merciful, He will forgive and cleanse from all unrighteousness.

God bless you

Jim

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