Let him that thinketh he standeth - Ὁ δοκων ἑσταναι· Let him who most confidently standeth - him who has the fullest conviction in his own conscience that his heart is right with God, and that his mind is right in the truth, take heed lest he fall from his faith, and from the state of holiness in which the grace of God has placed him. I have already shown that the verb δοκειν, which we render to seem, to think, to suppose, is used by the best Greek writers, not to lessen or weaken the sense, but to render it stronger and more emphatic. See the note on Luke 8:18.
In a state of probation every thing may change; while we are in this life we may stand or fall: our standing in the faith depends on our union with God; and that depends on our watching unto prayer, and continuing to possess that faith that worketh by love. The highest saint under heaven can stand no longer than he depends upon God and continues in the obedience of faith. He that ceases to do so will fall into sin, and get a darkened understanding and a hardened heart: and he may continue in this state till God come to take away his soul. Therefore, let him who most assuredly standeth, take heed lest he fall; not only partially, but finally.
Wherefore - As the result of all these admonitions. Let this be the effect of all that we learn from the unhappy self-confidence of the Jews, to admonish us not to put reliance on our own strength.
That thinketh he standeth - That supposes himself to be firm in the love of God, and in the knowledge of his truth; that regards himself as secure, and that will be therefore disposed to rely on his own strength.
Take heed lest he fall - Into sin, idolatry, or any other form of iniquity. We learn here:
(1) That a confidence in our own security is no evidence that we are safe.
(2) such a confidence may be one of the strongest evidences that we are in danger. Those are most safe who feel that they are weak and feeble, and who feel their need of divine aid and strength. They will then rely on the true source of strength; and they will be secure.
(3) all professed Christians should be admonished. All are in danger of falling into sin, and of dishonoring their profession; and the exhortation cannot be too often or too urgently pressed, that they should take heed lest they fall into sin. The leading and special idea of the apostle here should not he forgotten or disregarded. It is, that Christians in their favored moments, when they are permitted to approach near to God, and when the joys of salvation fill their hearts, should exercise special caution. For:
(a)Then the adversary will be especially desirous to draw away their thoughts from God, and to lead them into sin, as their fall would most signally dishonor religion;
(b)Then they will be less likely to be on their guard, and more likely to feel themselves strong, and not to need caution and solicitude.
Accordingly, it often happens that Christians, after they have been especially favored with the tokens of the divine favor, soon relapse into their former state, or fall into some sin that grieves the hearts of their brethren, or wounds the cause of religion. So it is in revivals; so it is in individuals. Churches that are thus favored are filled with joy, and love, and peace. Yet they become self-confident and elated; they lose their humility and their sense of their dependence; they cease to be watchful and prayerful, supposing that all is safe; and the result often is, that a season of revival is succeeded by a time of coldness and declension. And thus, too, it is with individuals. Just the opposite effect is produced from what should be, and from what need be. Christians should then be especially on their guard; and if they then availed themselves of their elevated advantages, churches might be favored with continued revivals and ever-growing piety; and individuals might be filled with joy, and peace, and holiness, and ever-expanding and increasing love.
It was this singlehearted purpose to win the race for eternal life that Paul longed to see revealed in the lives of the Corinthian believers. He knew that in order to reach Christ's ideal for them, they had before them a life struggle from which there would be no release. He entreated them to strive lawfully, day by day seeking for piety and moral excellence. He pleaded with them to lay aside every weight and to press forward to the goal of perfection in Christ. AA 315.1
Paul pointed the Corinthians to the experience of ancient Israel, to the blessings that rewarded their obedience, and to the judgments that followed their transgressions. He reminded them of the miraculous way in which the Hebrews were led from Egypt under the protection of the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. Thus they were safely conducted through the Red Sea, while the Egyptians, essaying to cross in like manner, were all drowned. By these acts God had acknowledged Israel as His church. They “did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” The Hebrews, in all their travels, had Christ as a leader. The smitten rock typified Christ, who was to be wounded for men's transgressions, that the stream of salvation might flow to all. AA 315.2
Notwithstanding the favor that God showed to the Hebrews, yet because of their lust for the luxuries left behind in Egypt, and because of their sin and rebellion, the judgments of God came upon them. The apostle enjoined the Corinthian believers to heed the lesson contained in Israel's experience. “Now these things were our examples,” he declared, “to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.” He showed how love of ease and pleasure had prepared the way for sins that called forth the signal vengeance of God. It was when the children of Israel sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play, that they threw off the fear of God, which they had felt as they listened to the giving of the law; and, making a golden calf to represent God, they worshiped it. And it was after enjoying a luxurious feast connected with the worship of Baalpeor, that many of the Hebrews fell through licentiousness. The anger of God was aroused, and at His command “three and twenty thousand” were slain by the plague in one day. AA 315.3Read in context »
The Lord designated a special family of the tribe of Levi to bear the ark; and others of the Levites were specially appointed of God to bear the tabernacle and all its furniture, and to perform the work of setting up and taking down the tabernacle. And if any man from curiosity or from lack of order got out of his place and touched any part of the sanctuary or furniture, or even came near any of the workmen, he was to be put to death. God did not leave His holy tabernacle to be borne, erected, and taken down, indiscriminately, by any tribe who might choose the office; but persons were chosen who could appreciate the sacredness of the work in which they were engaged. These men appointed of God were directed to impress upon the people the special sacredness of the ark and all that appertained thereunto, lest they should look upon these things without realizing their holiness and should be cut off from Israel. All things pertaining to the most holy place were to be looked upon with reverence. 1T 652.1
The travels of the children of Israel are faithfully described; the deliverance which the Lord wrought for them, their perfect organization and special order, their sin in murmuring against Moses and thus against God, their transgressions, their rebellions, their punishments, their carcasses strewn in the wilderness because of their unwillingness to submit to God's wise arrangements—this faithful picture is hung up before us as a warning lest we follow their example of disobedience and fall like them. 1T 652.2
“But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” Has God changed from a God of order? No; He is the same in the present dispensation as in the former. Paul says: “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.” He is as particular now as then. And He designs that we should learn lessons of order and organization from the perfect order instituted in the days of Moses for the benefit of the children of Israel. 1T 652.3Read in context »