Examples are some of the greatest teachers. We look at examples of people to see what to do or what not to do. We see someone get in trouble we learn not to do what they did. It’s really that simple. But are we always good at learning from those examples? Not always. And let’s never say never. It’s easy to think that we would never do some of the things other people have done. We would never say that. We will never act that way. But that’s where the challenge comes in. Actually working hard at not doing those things.
In the Old Testament we have a lot of examples to learn from. One of those is the people of Israel. They didn’t just get in trouble sometimes, they got in trouble a lot. And were punished. We are given a record of that so that we will learn from it. Look at what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10:1-11, “For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. 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.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 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.” We’ve got to learn from their sins. Their example shows us what the consequences are.
But if we think we’ll never do any of those kinds of things, then Paul says we’re in danger. Paul went on to say in 1 Corinthians 10:12 that anyone who thinks they’re standing firm better take heed and pay attention. Don’t be complacent. Be on your guard. Make sure that you really are keeping yourself from sin. We’ve got to pay attention to these examples and keep them fresh in our minds. Be careful. Watch out.
Thankfully Paul also said of the temptation to sin that “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” (1 Corinthians 10:13). We can overcome temptation. We can keep from sinning. With God’s help and guidance. With His strength. But we have to want to overcome the temptation. And we have to be looking out for it and be ready to fight it. Let’s learn from the sins of others. Let’s not follow the same path they did. Learn. Grow. We can do it.