The Greatest Sin!

I Corinthians 10:12-14

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

The featured Scripture I chose for this Gem is I Corinthians 10:12 through 14:

     ...let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No 
     temptation has overtaken you except such is common to man; 
     but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted 
     beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also 
     make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. 
     Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.

The first two verses were suggested as a memory exercise when I was in Seminary. So I memorized them many years ago. But I remember reading this I Corinthian passage and thinking “Why is this verse 14 about idolatry tacked on? What has it got to do with all the temptations which we face?” But as I contemplated it, I saw how important was the idea Paul was conveying! The apostle is writing about that which is a factor in ALL temptations – idolatry!

It concerns “…the great commandment…” (Matthew 22:38) found in Mark 12:29 and 30 (see also Matthew 22:36-38; Luke 10:27). Jesus said…

     “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the 
     LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD 
     your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all 
     your mind, and with all your strength.’”

And in John 14:15, He also said,If you love Me, keep My commandments.” So…

  • …if we are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, then…
  • …we are to obey the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength!

If we do not obey Him in everything, who are we following? We are following our own inclinations (thoughts, desires, wants, needs), exacerbated by Satan planting his ideas in our minds! Does that sound far-fetched? Here are Scriptures which support this:

  • Matthew 13:19 (Good News Bible) – “Those who hear the message about the Kingdom but do not understand it are like the seeds that fell along the path. The Evil One comes and snatches away what was sown in them.
  • Matthew 16:9 – Jesus “…said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan, You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.
  • Acts 5:3 – “But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?
  • II Corinthians 4:4 – “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded….
  • II Corinthians 10:3-5 –
     For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to 
     the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but 
     mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down ar-
     guments and every high thing that exalts itself against the 
     knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity 
     to the obedience of Christ.... 
  • II Corinthians 11:3 – “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

It has been said that there is a throne in our hearts (in our lives)! That throne is designed to be occupied by Jesus Christ through His Holy Spirit!

  • When we love and obey God heart, soul, mind, and strength, we keep Him enthroned as King over our lives!
  • When we disobey God and concern ourselves with what we want, we are dethroning the Lord, and are enthroning ourselves in the place where only He belongs!

Now, what would you call it when we set something up in place of God to lead our lives? That is idolatry – following anything else than the leading of our Lord!

  • In Luke 22:42, Jesus prayed in the garden, asking His Father, “…if it is Your will, remove this cup from Me.” It was the cup of suffering that He was soon to go through, being beaten, mocked, whipped, and crucified! It was horrible suffering!
     ✞   From Jesus’ humanity (He was perfect God and perfect man) 
         He did not want to suffer to such extremes!

     ✞   From His perfect sinlessness, He recoiled from bearing every 
         sin of every human being from Adam until the end of time!

But after expressing His reluctance, Jesus immediately said, “…nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.”

…nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.I have maintained that this is the most important prayer a Christian can pray! And we should pray this prayer every time we are tempted, every time we are making a decision! This is enthroning Jesus Christ in our hearts and lives in everything!

Go back to our featured Scripture: God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape….” What is that way of escape? It is “…nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.” And if we do not follow that way of escape, we are, in effect, saying,Not Your will, but MINE be done! We are then putting ourselves in the place of God (our own will in the place of His)! That is idolatry!

So if what Jesus said in Mark 12:29 is the greatest commandment, then breaking that commandment is the greatest sin! And it is the sin most often committed by human beings, Christians included!

It is no wonder that Paul said concerning all temptations, “Flee from idolatry!

One more thing: The apostle John,wrote a very practical letter concerning loving and obeying God, and loving our brothers and sisters in Christ. It is called I John in our Bibles. In that letter, the very last thing he emphasized, I John 5:21, is this: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

So, dear Christian…

…keep youselves from idols
…flee from idolatry”!