The Limit Of God’s Patience

They despised the pleasant land; they did not believe in His word, but grumbled in their tents.

–Psalm 106:24-25

In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul listed five sins that are guaranteed to bring God’s judgment into our lives. Yesterday we saw that God judged the Israelites for evil desires and for misplaced affections–that is, idolatry. Third, He judged their blatant immorality. Look at verse 8: “Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day.” That is a reference to Numbers 25, when the Israelites engaged in sexual immorality with Moabite women. In judgment, God sent a plague against them. God hates sexual immorality, and you cannot engage in immorality without paying a price.

Fourth, the Israelites engaged in continuing rebellion against God. Look at 1 Corinthians 10:9: “Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents.” That word “try” means to test, to push to the limit. The reference here is to Numbers 21, when the Israelites so tried God’s patience that He sent fiery serpents to destroy them. What does it mean to test God, to push Him to the limit? It means to keep on sinning against God and taking for granted that He is going to forgive you. A lot of people mistake God’s patience with tolerance for sin. They think if they are not struck by lightning the moment they sin it means God does not really care. No, if God has given you a period of time before He judges you, it is only so you might repent. There is a limit to God’s patience with sin.

Fifth, Paul mentioned bitter discontent. He said in 1 Corinthians 10:10, “Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.” In Numbers 16, God sent a destroyer who killed fifteen thousand Israelites in a single day because of their grumbling. Do you know why God hates grumbling so much? Because when you grumble, you are voicing dissatisfaction with God’s plan and provision for your life. Grumbling is a terrible testimony of the God you supposedly serve. Because of that, God will send judgment into your life for grumbling.

Paul continued in 1 Corinthians 10:11, “Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction.” God recorded what happened to the Israelites for our benefit. He has no patience for evil desires, misplaced affections, immorality, rebellion, or grumbling. God is certain to judge those sins. Now, not all suffering is a result of God’s judgment against our disobedience, but some of it is. We have different names for it. Sometimes we call it cancer. Sometimes we call it an accident. Sometimes we call it a financial reversal. But it is really God’s discipline for our disobedience against Him. You cannot keep on sinning against God in these ways without experiencing God’s judgment in your life.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Believer Beware” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.

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