I Corinthians 10:5-6

Dr. Steve Viars March 17, 1992 1 Corinthians 10:5-6

- tonight we're going to be studying I Cor. 10:5-6 and
  talking about "getting at the heart of Christian Liberty"
- we purposely skipped over these two verses last week
  because the subject they contain is a critical issue in
  this whole discussion
   - and I wanted us to have at least one night in this
     series on Christian liberty devoted to this subject

- if you're new with us tonight or within the last couple of
  weeks, we're talking about Christian liberty
    (areas in the Christian life that the Bible does
     specifically address and therefore the believer has some
     freedom to make choices)
     - often times there's some "buoys" - this is clearly
         right, this is clearly wrong -- but inside the buoys
         there's freedom for a believer to decide what's
         right in his/her particular circumstance
      - we're talking about issues like:
         - exactly what I listen to
         - exactly where I go
         - exactly how I dress
         - how I eat
         - what I do with my body

- now, contrary to the way many Christians approach this
    - Paul has constantly been emphasizing:
        - often it's best to enslave our liberties
        - to voluntary choose not to exercise that right
        - he's made that point several times in these verses

     - not: 1) Is this still OK?  2) Is it sin yet?
            3) I can handle this

     - but: 1) what is best?  2) what is safest?
            3) what will help me be most effective for the
                the Lord?

- in making those points - Paul has given two great dangers
   of misusing Christian liberty: (this is something I hope
   all of us will take away from this series because it
   summarizes much of Paul's argument)

    1) its effect on others - losing potential ministry to
         those around.

    2) its effect on you - leading yourself into clear acts
         of sin.

- INPUT - in Paul's argument as we've traced it through these
    verses--which "danger" did he talk about first?

    - let's take a minute and do this:
    - in the material we've studied in chapters 9 and 10,
      Paul has given 6 primary illustrations or figures of
    - some were given to emphasize and illustrate the first
      danger, some were given to illustrate the second.
    - in your notes - I've listed the six illustrations.
    - Just to keep us sharp--I switched the order in which
       they occurred in the passage.
    - Question is - was that illustration given to emphasize
        the first danger or the second one?

    1) Israel's Idolatry - (making the golden calf - Ex. 32)
        abusing the freedom of worship (2nd danger) - 10:7

    2) The fact that Paul didn't take a salary - enslaving
        personal rights - 9:15-18-(1st danger)

    3) Israel's Murmuring - Num. 16 - Abusing the freedom of
        speech- 10:10 - (2nd danger)

    4) Israel's Fornication - Children of Moab - Num. 25 -
        abusing the freedom of our bodies - 10:8 (2nd danger)

    5) Be like a Runner - controlling our bodies - 9:24-27
        (1st danger)

    6) Israel's Putting God to the Test - Num. 21 - abusing
        the freedom of God's grace and longsuffering - 10:9
        (2nd danger)

point is - when we think of enslaving our liberties - we
   ought to think of two great dangers of abusing liberty
     1) effect on others - losing potential ministry to those
     2) effect on you - leading into clear acts of sin

- one other thing we need to say about these verses is:
    - remember what Paul is doing with his argument
    - he's making it more and more focused and tonight he's
       going to come down to a critical "bottom line" of this
       discussion when he talks about the "heart" of
       Christian liberty

- we tried to diagram that last week

    1) Don't cause others to stumble (liberty bell with a man

    2) enslave liberty to win others (man with a ball and
       chain with many others around)

    3) control your bodies like athletes (stick

    4) order heart  (heart)

READ I Cor. 10:5-6

- we printed verse 6 to try to show how we're going to divide
   this verse up tonight

- I'd like you to draw two circles around some of the phrases
- 1st - "now these things were our examples
- 2nd - "as they also lusted"

- our outline will follow that format
- 1st - our examples (draw Roman I)
- 2nd - how they lusted (II)
- 3rd - how this fits into the subject of Christian liberty
        from the words in the middle of the verse

- the first thing I'd like to point from this verse is that
  we ought to:

I. Rejoice in our "Past"

    A. Every believer has an "automatic past."

        - INPUT - when Paul talked about "these things" in
           verse 6, what things was he talking about?
            (the children of Israel's experiences in the
        - yesterday we were with the XYZ group talking about
          learning - and Mr. Moore said - "It's one thing to
          make a mistake once - but its a lot worse when you
          make the same mistake twice because you didn't
          learn the first time."

    - that's certainly true, but for the believer, there's
      even a better option than making the mistake once--
        - what's the better option? (learning from the
          experiences of those in God's Word and doing the
          wrong things they did)
    - Pastor's referred to that concept a couple of times
      with the phrase "learning to shave off someone else's

- Paul is saying - the experiences of OT Israel aren't just
  nice little stories to fill up time in SS class
    - these are our examples

    - every person who's trusted Jesus Christ as Lord and
      Savior automatically has a past
    - that person automatically has biblical examples, some
      positive and some negative. of people who have gone

    B. Implications

        1. this is why Bible study is so important

            - some believers in Christ will make wrong
              decisions in the area of Christian liberty even
              this week because they don't know the Scripture
              very well
            - they wouldn't know about the children of Israel
              and the Golden Calf--and they haven't carefully
              thought through the implications of that event
              to the subject of Christian liberty

            - Paul says - these things are our examples

        2. that’s why faithful attendance in the services is
              - we need to learn about the past,  our past

        3. that’s why one of our goals for ourselves and our
           families is that we know the Scriptures.

            - when our older children begin having more and
              more questions about Christian liberty, we
              ought to be able to sit down calmly and
              rationally and discuss questions like:
              - what are the implications of the Israel's
                murmuring in the wilderness to this
                particular question of Christian liberty?
                - they ought to know what we're talking about

    4. this is one of the ways God helps us grow in wisdom

       - have you ever noticed that some believers seem to be
         especially wise
       - it isn't necessarily a matter of age
       - some men some women are especially wise in their
          ability to handle life God's way
       - where does that come from?
          - why is it that some folks are able to
            consistently please the Lord, even in this
            "knotty" area of Christian liberty?
          - one of the answers to that is - they are people
            of the Word
            - they are people who want to know about and
               study the examples of Scripture to follow
               those who did well and avoid the sinful
               tendencies of those who fell

- see, we ought to rejoice in our past--we ought to be
  thankful for the examples God gave us
     - we ought to be committed to study them and learn about

- verse 11 adds one more idea  (READ)

    5. we must warn ourselves

        - they are written for our "admonition"
        - admonish is from the original word "nouthetew"
        - the idea in this context is using God's Word to
           identify ways we need to change

        - people who fail in the area of Christian liberty
          are people who don't warn themselves
        - they're always saying things like:
            1) there's nothing wrong with this
            2) I can handle this
            3) this won't hurt me
            4) one time won't make a difference
            5) you're just being legalistic
              - see, there's a lack of caution in all of that

- instead of being people who warn themselves:
    1) hey, I'd better be careful
    2) in what ways might I be falling short?
    3) maybe I should tighten up on that area of liberty
    4) look what happened to the children of Israel - I don't
         want that to happen to me or my family.
- see, there's a spirit of caution there--resulting from
   taking the examples of Scripture and warning ourselves
- the second thing Paul tells us in this verse is that we

II. Understand What Led To/Caused Their Sin

     - Paul says in this verse - the heart of the Christian
       liberty problem is the problem of lust
     - I think fundamentalism in many cases has made a major
       mistake by talking about this subject from a
       behavioral perspective only
     - Christian liberty is a matter of the heart--
       specifically in this verse a matter of lust

     - we need to carefully talk about this subject of lust
       because this subject is mentioned in some of the key
       passages in the Bible on growth

    A. What is lust?

        - the word translated "lust" in the Bible is the word
        - it literally means "strong desire"

        - it has to do with what a person wants in a given
            - what a person is craving (NASB), what a person
              believes they must have, or they need

    B. What does the Bible tell us about lusts/desires?

        1. all "desires" are not wrong

            - you may notice, I changed from "lust" to
            - the reason I did that is because the word
              "epithumia" is not always used in a negative

            - an example of that would be I Tim. 3:1 - "If a
              man desire the office of bishop, he desires a
              good thing."
            - see, we are "desiring people"
            - God has created us with the ability to think,
                and to want, and to desire -- there's nothing
                intrinsically wrong with that
            - in fact, it can be very good and very useful
              for a believer

        now, another passage we need to bring into this
        discussion is James 1:13-15 (READ) - develop the

        2. personal

            - INPUT - what from verse 14 tells us that
                      lusts/desires are personal?  (his own

            - there's a very important reason why that's in
              this verse

            - James was writing primarily to Jews, and the
              Jews believed in what they called "the evil
                - this was something that came on a person
                  and presented them with a temptation
                - so they were fond of blaming their
                  temptations on God (which is what verse 13
                  addressed) or on some foreign force
     - James says -no, no, no--those lusts/desires are yours
        - they're personal (drawn away of their own lusts)

        3. willful

            - this is one of the most important points we
              have to make in this section
            - you and I have the ability to choose what we
              want, what we desire

            - lusts/desires are a choice of the will

            - we know that because otherwise God couldn't
              hold the Israelites responsible for them in the
              passage in I Cor. 10 we're studying
            - it wouldn't be fair in this passage in James
              one of the first step in the sin process was a
              step over which we had no control

            - that’s different than the way some folks talk
              about desire
            - you hear some folks use the old illustration -
             "you can't stop the birds from flying overhead
              but you can stop them from making a nest in
              your hair."

- that’s not really a good way to describe our desires
    - we have the ability to control our wants
    - we have the ability to choose our desires
        - what we're going to focus on, let motivate us

- one of the famous theological wordbooks, known as "Kittle"
   says this about this word - "the essential point in
   epithumia is that it is a desire as impulse, as a motion
   of the will."

- now we can look at that either positively or negatively
- positively, this gives a lot of hope
    - we can choose to want what God wants
    - we can choose to desire to please Him more than
        anything else
    - we can develop habits of thinking that motivate us to
       be his kind of person

    - as believers, the Lord has given us the capacity to
       conform our desires to HIS desires, to His Will, to
       His Word

- of course, that’s not always the case
     - cf. EZ. 14:3 (READ)

- John Calvin - the human heart is a factory of idols

- so when we talk about issues of the heart, we're talking
    about--what are you wanting?

- now, let's say two more things about lusts, and then we'll
    start tying some of this together

    4. dangerous

        - this passage (James 1:14-15) says that sin always
          begins with wrong desires (note comprehensive
          nature of this verse)
        - because of that, it’s critical that we learn to
          control this area of life
            - for some of us, that’s going to be hard because
              we've developed years of mental habits of
              wanting this or wanting that
            - in fact, if we took time tonight, you could
               probably think of significant periods of time
               where you were wanting something, or living
               for something far different than wanting to
               please God
- we must control this area of life because its so dangerous

    5. enslaving

        II Peter 2:18-19 - "For when they speak great
swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of
the flesh, through much wantonness, those that are just
escaping from those who live in error. While they promise
them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption,
for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought to

- now, let's bat around a couple of questions about this
- (draw a throne) Who's supposed to be on the throne of our
- we've got all kinds of desires in addition to that
   - let me use a timely example?
   - is there anything sinful about desiring to see Purdue
       beat IU? (or vice-versa)

    - but could that ever become sinful?
    - When?  (when that desire became more important than
       being God's kind of person?)
    - how do you know if a desire has become more important
        than pleasing God?) - watch what happens when the
        person doesn't get it.

    - Calvin - it's not so much what I want that gets me in
        trouble, but that I want it too much.

    - let's suppose, for a minute, that Purdue lost that game
      by two points
    - what might happen in the life of a fan, player, or
      coach, that would prove that winning that game was more
      important than being God's kind of person?

- the point is - in order to genuinely change in that area--
    at some point the issue of lusts would have to be
    addressed and dealt with.

-now, we need to factor this back into I Cor. 10:6
- let's think about the question: "In what ways did the
   Israelites lust?"

    C. In what ways did the Israelites lust?

        - let's go event by event

        1. idolatry - abusing the freedom of worship - golden
             calf-Ex.  32

            - Paul says - they abused their freedom of
               worship...they misused their liberty and
               sinned as a result, because they were desiring
               sinful things
            - INPUT - what sinful desires may have led to
                them building a golden calf like the
                Egyptians had?
                  cf. I want..., I must have..., I need...

        2. fornication - abusing the liberty of our bodies -
             Num. 25

             - INPUT - what sinful desires/lusts may have led
                 to that act of sin?

        3. putting God to the test - abusing the liberty of a
             God who is gracious/longsuffering - Num. 21

             - INPUT - what sinful desires/lusts may have led
                 to that act of sin?

        4. murmuring - abusing our freedom of speech - Num.

             - INPUT - what sinful desires/lusts may have led
                 to that act of sin?

- bottom line is - Paul says--we must understand what led
   to/caused their sin
      - the answer is - their lusts...what they were wanting
            - it wasn't simply a problem of behavior
            - it was a problem with their inner man,
            - it was a problem with their heart

- INPUT - now, according to verse 6--what impact should these
          verses have on us?

III. Avoid That Tendency In The Way You Exercise Your
     Christian Liberty

    - see, the fundamental issue in Christian liberty is not
    - it's a matter of the heart

    - whether we please the Lord in these areas or not
      depends largely on what we want
        - it depends largely on whether we've controlled and
          channeled our desires into God's word and God's

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video