One More Time

“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).
While hiring a car to take our group up into the mountains of Nepal to work among the churches in remote areas, I examined the tires. Finding them quite worn, approaching “baldness”, I asked the car owner/driver if he could not put better rubber on the vehicle. He smiled confidently and replied, “These tires have been up into the mountains and back many times.” I responded that I could readily believe that, but I was concerned about future trips, not past ones.
Too often we base our willingness to take chances with sin on past success. One might say, “I have drunk beer for years and have never had a problem.” Or another may boast, “I can gamble, win or lose a little, but walk away at any time. I never go too far or lose enough to hurt.” Often these claims are true, at least to date. But does this guarantee continued immunity from addiction or other peril? Paul’s warning is a serious reminder that it does not.
Of course, this ignores the argument over whether drinking and gambling (or other similar behaviors) in moderation are permissible to the Christian. I do not believe that they are. But in making arguments against them, one of the more convincing is the addictive, enslaving character of these and other sins. Consider another example. Bangladesh is troubled by arsenic in ground water in many areas. Many people have drunk small amounts of arsenic in their water for years without immediate death. But when one of our wells was tested and showed arsenic, we closed it immediately. Arsenic accumulates and even small amounts taken over a long period are detrimental to health. We don’t want to ingest any of it, especially knowingly. Should our approach to sin not be just as circumspect and cautious?
Of course, the warning against overconfidence does not apply only to taking deliberate risks with temptation. It is also directed against pride in one’s faithfulness and any assumption of invulnerability. No one is so strong that he cannot be tempted. No one is so faithful that he cannot weaken. Paul himself says, just a few verses earlier, “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27).
The Christian’s proper relationship towards sin and temptation is stated simply. “Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9b). “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The Spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38). “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:11). We are to abstain from all sin and flee from the danger of temptation. Rather, we must seek righteousness and strive in all ways to honor and please God. Let us take no chances, assume no guarantees, but trust in God and seek his path always.

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