The inspired apostle gave Christians a very serious warning when he wrote to Corinth centuries ago (1 Co. 10:12). Oh, how relevant that warning continually proves to be when we are honest with ourselves! Oh, but how easy it is to forget this warning or unconsciously allow ourselves to downplay it!
There are a lot of positive blessings associated with being a Christian. We know we have access to “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” because we are “in Christ” (Ep. 1:3). We know we are part of the body of Christ which is his church and of which he is Savior (Ep. 5:23), and are not deceived by the false doctrines and traditions of men associated with salvation and worship found in denominationalism which have drawn away so many (cf. 1 Ti. 4:1ff; 2 Ti. 4:3-4). When compared to those out in the world, we may stand head and shoulders above them when it comes to morality and ethics. Those of us who are active workers in the church can also take pride and comfort in the fact that “(our) labor is not in vain” (1 Co. 15:58) and we make a difference in the lives and souls of others. All of this and more is good and we should gather great comfort from it (2 Co. 1:3-5).
Yet, let us never forget that even the best of us has sin and continues to sin (1 Jo. 1:8, 10). We face temptations every single day, and one of Satan’s greatest tools to deceive us into giving into those temptations is to get us to not judge ourselves with the same righteous judgment God gives to us (1 Co. 4:4a; 11:31; cf. Jn. 7:24b). God shows no partiality (Ro. 2:11), but we tend to show partiality to ourselves! Like the Pharisee of the parable, we tend to focus on the good we are doing and the shortcomings of those around us while choosing to ignore or downplay our own sins (Lk. 18:9-14).
As a result, we may look at the good we do for the kingdom of God as a crutch instead of the acts of selfless service God wants them to be. “Yeah, yeah, I know I shouldn’t do _____________, but it’s gonna be okay because after all, look at all the good I do for the church!” We may compare ourselves to the sinners out in the world or our weaker brethren and use that as a crutch. “Hey, why are you telling me to repent of ___________? After all, it’s not like I murdered anyone/committed adultery/skip church all the time because I’d rather sleep in!” Instead of gratefully finding comfort in our obedience to biblical doctrine concerning the oneness of the church and being motivated to obey further by repenting of our sins, we may use the fact that we obeyed the gospel and are part of the Lord’s church as a crutch. “If there’s anyone who needs to get right with God, it’s those churches who add to God’s Word and are not the true church! Focus on them instead of telling me I need to change ___________!”
I am so thankful Paul then gave us that wonderful way out in the next verse (1 Co. 10:13)! I am so thankful God’s grace exists (Ti. 2:11) and offers continual, immediate forgiveness…but only should we sorrowfully and penitently confess our sins (1 Jo. 1:7, 9; 2 Co. 7:9-11) and follow grace’s instructions (Ti. 2:12-13)! May we always examine ourselves honestly (2 Co. 13:5) and never insult God’s grace by choosing to rebelliously, unrepentantly, and willfully sin and thus bring upon ourselves his wrath (He. 10:26-31)! — Jon