“Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents” (1 Corinthians 10:8-9, NKJV).
What does Paul mean here when he speaks of “tempting Christ”? Simply put, tempting the Lord means putting him to the test. We tempt him whenever we ask, “Just how merciful will God be to me if I move forward into this sin? How long can I indulge my sin before his anger is stirred? I know God is merciful, and this is an era of grace with no condemnation toward sinners. How could he possibly judge me, when I’m his child?”
Multitudes of Christians casually ask the same question today as they toy with a wicked temptation. They want to see how close they can get to hellfire without facing the consequences of sin. All the while, such believers are casting off conviction from God’s Word. They’re tempting Christ.
Any time we go against truth that God’s Spirit has made clear to us, we’re casting off Paul’s warning: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).
Ask yourself if you are testing the limits of God’s precious gift of grace. Are you asking Christ to indulge your sin in the face of your outright rebellion? You may say to yourself, “I’m a New Testament believer. I’m covered under the blood of Jesus. God won’t judge me.” By continuing in your sin, you are treating Jesus’ great sacrifice for you with utter disregard. Your present willful sin is putting him to open shame, not just in the world’s eyes, but before all of heaven and hell (see Hebrews 6:6).
Paul describes a way of escape from all temptation: “No temptation has overtaken you except such as 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” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Dear believer, don’t flirt with sin and tempt God. Our escape is a growing knowledge and experience of the holy fear of God.