1 Corinthians 10:16-18
(Read Psalm 107)
We are privileged to read a portion of this first letter written to the church at Corinth by the Apostle Paul. The preface to this passage speaks of the children of Israel who had a history of taking on the ways of the world around them and forgetting God who has chosen them. When their backs were up against a wall or their enemy was hot on their heels, they were quick to call on God.
I. The Seducing Song of the Piper
This idea is not new. We, too, forget who we are in Christ and as we can see in this world around us, many are giving in and following the seducing song of the Pied Piper. The song is so seducing that we follow blindly, just enjoying the music that makes us feel so good. It is so seducing that we do not check the credentials of the one who is playing the song; if it makes us feel good, we just do it!
Following the seducing song of the unknown Piper has caused our churches to split over doctrinal differences. Some question the gender of God. God is Spirit – look out! Some want no reference to God as Father. Some have pushed grace into a corner that is preserved only for the sacred few. Some have taken our freedom to a place of power and authority that deconstructs, degrades, desecrates and ultimately destroys.
Following the seducing song of the unknown Piper has caused us to exploit the gifts and talents of our children for gain. It has us so mesmerized that we are intertwined into the things of the world that prompt us to use each other in ways that dehumanize the other. The news reports that the police are on the lookout for sex traffickers during the Super Bowl game. Woman and men will provide escort services to the detriment of themselves and their integrity.
The seducing song of the Piper has aggravated the demons that lay dormant in us for so long. They have declared open season on humanity. Those who are young, innocent, immature, headstrong, and just plain stupid will be the targets.
Bullying is on the rise and the biggest, baddest bully will win, but to what end. Who will be the sacrifice for the sins of this world? Paul warns the Corinthians that you can jump in and out of bed with the enemy but you will have to pay the Piper sooner or later.
We are living in a time when this is our epithet. God will not continue to let sin run rampant among us. We will be called on the carpet. Some of us think we have time to play, but the truth is you don’t have time to play. You don’t have time to pretend you are something you are not. Soon the Piper will grow weary as will God and you will be called on the carpet.
II. The Warning to the Church
The warning this morning is you can’t serve God and the devil too. You have to make up your mind. You can’t feast with the idols all week and come in here on Sunday and sit at the Lord’s Table. If nothing else, your heart will condemn you.
First Peter 1:18 says we are “redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers.” Could it be that the devil made you do it? Not really, but Peter is saying that as you look at the history of your forefathers, you see that they disregarded the blessings of God and sat at the feasts that honored the idols of the people.
III. The Consequences of an Empty Life
We must then ask ourselves what are the consequences of an empty way of life?
o Empty means you are lukewarm – you stand for nothing and you fall for anything.
o Empty means you have immature thinking and live as such.
o Empty means you sin knowingly against Jesus, others, and yourself. Listen to Paul’s words in Romans 7:21-25:
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
• Empty means we start to take God’s grace for granted. In the sixth chapter of 2 Corinthians, verses 1 Paul writes: As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.
We can receive God’s grace in vain when we come under its influence but fail to respond to it.
i] There was the great prophet Isaiah, with all his poetry and passion and pathos. How powerfully he presented the message of the coming Saviour, and yet he came to lament how few had received his preaching: “Who has believed our report?” (Isa. 53:1). The people pitied the prophet. “What talent, and what intelligence,” they said, “he could have made his mark in the world but instead he has dedicated himself to this pathetic message. The people received the message of his grace in vain.
ii] We can receive God’s grace in vain when we fail to live by that grace which we profess to have received.
There was the church at Galatia. How did that congregation start? By God’s grace alone! Then how did it go on? It sought to add to that free grace the engineering of man – circumcision and 7th day Sabbaths and food laws and feasts in Jerusalem and visits to the Temple there. Muddled mischievous men said that grace was all right for starters, but for full salvation you needed to keep those laws. Paul writes to them and says, “Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? (Gals. 3:3). They were setting aside a Christian salvation which was all of grace. Initially they came to Jesus just as they were ‘weary and worn and sad.’ He accepted them and saved them just as they were. The beginning of their Christian life magnified the saving power of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. They must go on trusting in that grace and not even think that ceremonies were essential in order to save them. Paul affirms his own convictions in these words, “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing” (Gals 2:21).
iii] Again, we receive God’s grace in vain when it does not become that mighty redeeming energy in our lives progressively sanctifying and cleansing us, making us increasingly like Jesus Christ.
Remember what Paul told Titus about the grace of God that has made its appearance in this world. “Grace “teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:12). Has grace been your teacher instructing you in practical obedience to those lessons? 1
Don’t be like your forefathers. Don’t thrive on the things that are not of God and expect it to be alright. There comes a time when the rubber has to meet the road…when we must get back to the place where we truly believe and abide in God through Christ Jesus.
What is not of God? Take time to read the Scriptures. Read the confession of David the Psalmist. He was a rascal and he was always before God. Are you as guilty as David? Does the fact that Jesus has shed His blood, given up His life so that you can be redeemed from the clutches of sin mean anything to you?
We must get back to doing the things and thinking in ways that please God. We must learn to walk by faith and not by sight. Are you will to be reminded that we are called to live a righteous life? In the Old Testament, the Hebrew children were told to remember the things of God. Do you memorize Scriptures that remind you of what God has done in your life?
We will take Holy Communion in a few minutes. It is not just something we do on first Sunday of the month. This one loaf of bread is a visible sign that as we partake of the pieces that are broken from it, we all are one with Christ and each other. As thanks is offered for this cup of blessing which is corporately blessed by all of us, we participate as “one” in communion with Christ Jesus as we partake of the bread and the cup. “One Bread, One Body”.
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