Gospel Insights

by Michael Smith

 

Chapter Thirty One

HINDRANCES TO WALKING WITH GOD

Please read 1 Corinthians 10:1-12

 

The Christians at Corinth were rather fleshly and worldly, and so the apostle Paul needed to remind them of the Israelites who, having experienced God's continuous blessings and provision during their journey through the wilderness, fell into exactly the same sins the believers in Corinth were now doing, with the result that many of them missed entering the Promised Land.  It was a warning to the Corinthians, and to us, that we too may miss out on reaching the Promised Land - eternal life with the Lord Jesus.

We all know we don't have to be taught to commit any of the sins listed below; they come almost naturally to us because we have a fallen nature.  Being good all the time, however, doesn't come easily to us at all!  It is so much easier to choose to do the wrong rather than the right.  Nevertheless, we have been commanded to "walk in the Spirit" [1].  Let us therefore fear the sins that creep up on us, and which gain strength by our indulging them.  God can keep us from falling [2], but because we have free will He has not promised to do so if we deliberately and wilfully continue in sin [3].  He has, however, promised to strengthen us if we turn to Him for help in time of temptation.  He knows how much we can bear and is always there for us if we cleave fast to Him [4], and in Him we can overcome any temptation.

Idolatry was one of the main sins into which the Israelites continually fell.  Idolatry is the making of something or someone in our lives more important to us than God Himself.  For the Israelites in the wilderness it was the golden calf [5], but an idol can be anything - even ourselves.

Self-centredness is not so far from the sin of idolatry as it places self above all other interests and puts us at the centre of our world.  Self-centredness feeds the sin of pride which was the original sin of Lucifer - and we know how far and how hard he fell.  Pride is the belief that we know better than God for our lives and often goes hand-in-hand with arrogance; the belief that we are always right and always know best, and presumption; an over-confidence in our own reasoning.  These sins are often called the 'root' sins because they tend to lie at the heart of all other sins.

Two further sins are disobedience and unbelief.  Disobedience to (or rebellion against) God's will and plan for our lives is so serious that God labels it as equivalent to the sin of witchcraft [6].

The sin of unbelief often starts with small worries or doubts or fears about something, but these seemingly small things will eventually lead to us being unable to, or refusing to, put our trust and faith in God and His Word to us and can prevent our entry into the Promised Land [7].

Then there is the sin of lust.  There are many kinds of lust, but essentially it is a sensuous appetite for self-gratification regardless of how it might affect others.  We may lust after or desire (envy) what someone else has which can lead to greed and theft.  Other types of lust pervert the proper and clean love God has given His creatures for one another into selfish desires that result in ungodly and harmful affections.

Anger and wrath, or rage (extreme anger aroused by real or imagined wrongdoings of others against us), and unforgiveness can do great harm to our walk with the Lord.  Holding on to anger against someone for whatever reason will sow the seeds of bitterness in our hearts which Scripture warns us has extremely deep roots, and refusing to forgive someone who has wronged us blocks God being able to forgive us our wrongdoing against Him.  Once more, with these sins we separate ourselves from God and risk the loss of the eternal life we have in His Son until we repent [8].

Indolence and laziness can lead to sloth (a reluctance to work or make an effort); about which the Bible has much to say, particularly in the book of Proverbs.  Our lives here on earth are meant to be a preparation for our lives in eternity with God, but if we are indifferent in our physical doings we will most likely be so in our spiritual doings too, and will be throwing away our chance of eventually going to heaven.

We may lie, or gossip, or sow discord amongst our brethren.  We may be critical or judgemental, self-righteous or hypocritical, avaricious or overindulgent.  There are many sins, some obvious and some more subtle, that will hinder our walk with God through His Son, Jesus Christ, and which may ultimately separate us from Him for ever, but if we fall the Lord promises many times in His Word that if we repent and seek His forgiveness He will restore us [9].  So let us put off the flesh and walk in the Spirit: "...and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. ... the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance" (Galatians 5:16-25).

 

Footnotes

[1]  Galatians 5:16-26.          [2]  Jude 1:24.          [3]  Hebrews 10:26-27.          [4]  1 Corinthians 10:13.          [5]  Exodus 32.          [6]  1 Samuel 15:23.          [7]  Hebrews 3:12-19.          [8]  Acts 8:23;  Ephesians 4:31-32;  Hebrews 12:15.          [9]  Psalm 37:23-24;  1 John 1:8-9.

 

 

 

Chapter Thirty   |   Chapter Thirty Two   |   Back to Contents

 

 

Michael Smith 2013