We never should see another person’s sin and think we are any better than they are. To do so would be to disregard the old stories like the one we find in Numbers 25. If these were written down as examples for us, we surely are not any better (1 Corinthians 10:6-11).
We never should be satisfied we have completely overcome any particular sin. While our lives should not be marked by a super-vigilance and fear that completely takes us out of the world, it also should not be marked by a supreme confidence and pride that says, “I could never fall into that sin.”
“Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did” (1 Corinthians 10:6). Desiring evil is nothing more than living as if God does not exist and does not exercise authority over our lives. We fall into evil when we pursue our own interests at the expense of God’s. As fallen creatures, humans are naturally inclined to desire evil. It is the Holy Spirit that makes things different for the Christian (John 16:7-8).
The Christian life is marked by self-awareness and humility. We read story after story of God’s expressions of grace and blessing on his people, followed by their immediate descent into the most vulgar of sins. Temptation comes at any time. “They have harassed you with their wiles … they beguiled you.”
The old Christian saying, “There but for the grace of God go I,” is one we ought to keep upon our lips. The apostle Paul said we should take heed lest we fall (1 Corinthians 10:12). The writer of Hebrews tells us to look to Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2).
The spear of Phinehas brought the plague to an end for God’s people. Sinners were pierced by a man passionate about the will and way of God. Here, we see the cross, where a man bearing the sins of the world was pierced – willfully. In a sense, he both carried the spear, and he received its point. And he did this for us.
Again, this calls for humility. We are sinners, too.