Scripture Passage: 1 Corinthians 9:24-10:22 based on the LCMS Daily Lectionary for August 17
Meditation: Falling away occurs on the inside first. Paul warns believers, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall” (10:12)! Falling is a real possibility for Christians. Just before these words, he gives us a litany of Israel’s failures and falling away.
How did Israel fall? They fell in several ways. They worshipped idols (10:7). They committed sexual immorality (10:8). They tested the Lord (10:9). They grumbled against God (10:10). Israel fell, and Paul uses their failure as an example to us of what not to do! Paul goes a step further and targets the real issue.
Often, we get hung up on the external behaviors without ever going deeper, below the surface. Paul says that these are “examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did” (10:6). First, is the Hebrew bible, or as Christians call it, the Old Testament, relevant to us today? Yes! He says that these were “examples” and “written down as warnings for us” (10:11).
Yet, Paul’s concern goes further and deeper than this. Israel had set their hearts “on evil things” and so had the Corinthian church. The heart is the issue. This external behaviors are symptoms of heart trouble! Often, Christians have focused on the symptoms, “do”s and “don’t”s, and let the person die of a heart attack. The law reveals our need for grace, but it seems that we often never get there.
I almost wished that Paul had never said what comes first. The warning should shock us! Those who are baptized and practice Holy Communion may fall! Paul says that the Israelites were baptized (10:1-2), ate spiritual food (10:3), and drank spiritual drink which was Christ (10:4). In spite of this, God was not pleased with them (10:5)! With these words, the seriousness of his warnings to us sounds loud and clear!
Even Christian, who participates regularly in the sacraments, may go astray in their heart and life. Idolatry, sexual immorality, testing God, and grumbling against him are only symptoms of the heart. Where is your heart set? What is the focus of your heart? What do you activities reveal about it? When you practice the sacraments, do you receive with faith what God has promised?
Meditate on God’s Word. Draw close to God each day. Listen to His Word for you.
Living the Word Today seeks to provide brief devotional thoughts for daily living from a passage of Scripture. It is not meant to be academic exegesis, but a humble attempt to listen to God’s voice through His written Word.
THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version.