1 Corinthians 10:11-12 (NIV) 11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!
One of the most enjoyable classes for me in high school was the woodworking class. I still have a couple of the projects from that class - the first assignment, which was a footstool, and a cradle I made for my sister who was pregnant with her first child. We would take raw wood that was rough and unfinished and, using some great tools, form the wood into whatever we would plan for. There was potential for a great sense of accomplishment. Part of the requirements of the class, however, was to watch some safety videos that instilled in us the reasons for the extensive safety rules. We were to use push sticks when advancing wood through the saws, and ensure there was no loose clothing when around the power equipment. They could have just told us the rules, but what really drove home the necessity that the rules be followed was the graphic video examples of what would happen when fingers encountered a spinning saw blade or a shirt tie was caught in a drill press. Even today, those images produce a fear in me that prohibits me from even accidentally violating those ingrained safety measures.
While some might diminish the necessity of considering the writings before Matthew, there is a significant purpose in the whole counsel of God from Genesis to Revelation. (Acts 20:26-27) Though we are living in the age of grace, the purpose of this grace isn’t to eliminate the possibility of sin, but rather to deliver from its dominance and consequences. Right here in the New Testament, Paul is emphasizing the need for viewing the graphics of what happens when safety measures are ignored. The emphasis here is not on how we can just rejoice that we don’t live in the age of consequences, but that we should recognize that the God who is full of mercy and compassion is also full of uncompromising holiness and righteousness. He loves us so much that He sent His only Son to lay down His life so we could be delivered from the power of that sin to enslave us. He freed us in Christ to choose otherwise, to freely avoid the practices that will surely end in disaster. Jesus didn’t just eliminate the consequences of sin. He enabled a heart change that will follow Him to holiness and avoidance of the spinning blades and turning bits. By carefully observing what happens when sexual immorality, testing Christ, and complaining are chosen over Jesus’ provision of abundant life, the choice can become a no-brainer. How precious is the provision of these examples to provide for us an opportunity to produce great works of usefulness for the kingdom without losing any appendages or even our lives in the process.
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