Posts Tagged ‘Temptation’

1 Corinthians 10:13-14

In 1 Corinthians 10:13-14 Paul is teaching a key principle and promise we all need to cling to. God is faithful – He will never let us down. If we fall to sin it is because we made that choice, not because God failed us. God has promised to supervise all temptation that comes at us through the world, the flesh or the devil. He promises to limit it according to our capability to endure it – according to our capability as we rely on Him, not our capability as we rely only on ourselves. “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability…” Remember that Satan’s desire for you and me is to “kill, steal and destroy”. He would destroy us in a minute if God would let him.

But God doesn’t just let him destroy us. Like a mom who keeps her child from the candy aisle in a store, knowing the child couldn’t handle that temptation, God keeps us from things we can’t handle. But what we can and can’t handle changes over the years. God has promised to not only limit our temptation, but also to provide a way of escape in tempting times. He will never force us to use the way of escape, but he will make the way of escape available. It’s up to us to take God’s way of escape. “…but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

The way of escape does not lead us to a place where we escape all temptation (that is heaven alone). The way of escape leads us to the place where we may be able to bear it. We will be tempted, that’s clear because the enemy wants to destroy us and temptation that he can use to lead us to sin is his chosen way to do that. But Paul reminds us that to be tempted is not sin, but to entertain temptation or surrender to temptation is sin. It is the choice we make regarding temptation, which is totally our own, that determines whether temptation becomes sin or not. When we bear temptation, Satan often condemns us for being tempted, but that is condemnation from Satan the Christian does not need to accept. It is merely a lie of the enemy.

Paul then tells the Corinthians to flee from  the idolatry at the pagan temples. It was there and happening around them every day. “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” Though the Corinthian Christians had the liberty to buy meat at the pagan temple butcher shop and prepare it in their own homes, Paul tells them they should flee from idolatry in regards to the restaurant of the pagan temple. Using the example of Israel, and their lapse into idolatry, Paul tells the Corinthian Christians not to participate in the dinners served at the pagan temple. It may seem harmless, which is how Satan always positions temptation, but there are consequences that we must be wise to so we can resist.

1 Corinthians 10:9-13

In 1 Corinthians 10:9-13 Paul reminds the Corinthian church not to test Christ. He recalls the story from Numbers where the writer describes the incident that occurred in response to the complaining of the people, God sent fiery serpents among the people. In their case, complaining hearts show them to be self-focused and more concerned with their own desires than God’s glory – the same issues causing trouble with the Corinthian Christians, who will not yield their right to eat meat sacrificed to idols for the sake of another brother. “We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.”

The Corinthian Christians regard the issue of eating meat sacrificed to idols and thereby causing their brother to stumble as a “small” issue. Paul wants them and us to know that it reflects a selfish, self-focused heart, which is the kind of heart God destroyed among the Israelites in the wilderness. It may have been a relatively small symptom, but it was a symptom of a great and dangerous disease. “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.” Paul makes it clear that we need to learn from the sins of those who have gone before us so we don’t follow the same path. We have a greater responsibility, because we can learn from Israel’s mistakes.

For the Corinthian Christians to resist the temptation to be selfish and self-focused, they must first understand they are vulnerable. The one who thinks he stands will not stay on guard against temptation, so he may easily fall. “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” Temptation works like rocks in a harbor; when the tide is low, everybody sees the danger and avoids it. But Satan’s strategy in temptation is to raise the tide, and to cover over the dangers of temptation. Then he likes to crash you upon the rocks that are now covered by water and not easily seen. God promises we have the ability to stand firm, but we must not allow pride to get involved.

Here’s a promise from God we should cling to, and live by. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.” We often want to excuse our particular tempting circumstances as “very unique” and a “special exception,” but God reminds us that our temptation is not unique. Many other men and women of God have faced the same or similar temptation, and have found the strength in God to overcome the temptation. Jesus Himself faced temptation from Satan directly in the wilderness under much more trying circumstances than you or I will ever face. Sin happens when we choose to disobey God’s ways and fall to temptation. It will come – but the choice in how we deal with it is ours alone.

Proverbs 7:16-27

In Proverbs 7:16-27 Solomon continues to warn about the woes of sexual immorality.  One thing to keep in mind here is that while Solomon describes this from his point of view, it happens in the real world in many ways.  Women are certainly not always the ones who cause sin to happen around the area of sex.  But Solomon makes the point through his eyes and experiences, and most importantly, no matter where the initiation or temptation comes from, it becomes a matter of personal sin when we make a choice to participate in immoral behavior that is against God’s will.  He has designed sex for a very important but specific place in His creation, and when we choose to take part in any other way we sin.

The woman has prepared and was tempting this simple young man to enjoy a delightful experience.  “I have spread my couch with coverings, colored linens from Egyptian linen; I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love till morning; let us delight ourselves with love”. She becomes more and more specific about what she wants.  And then she assures him that it will be in a safe environment. She doesn’t give any details that might wake up the simple man’s conscience – like her husband’s name or any details about him. “For my husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey; he took a bag of money with him; at full moon he will come home”.

With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him. Guzik describes the steps of seduction that the woman uses to lure in this simple man to a web of sinful behavior:

  • A well-chosen target (simple…a young man devoid of understanding, 7:7).
  • Available to meet (the path to her house…a woman met him, 7:8, 7:10).
  • Provocatively clothed (with the attire of a harlot, 7:10).
  • Of bad character (loud and rebellious, 7:11).
  • Looking to trap and seduces (she caught him, 7:13).
  • Free with physical affection (kissed him, 7:13).
  • Gave some recognition to religion (peace offerings…paid my vows, 7:14).
  • Pursuit to make one feel desired (I came out to meet you, diligently, 7:15).
  • Promise to please the senses (I have spread my bed…I have perfumed my bed, 7:16-17).
  • Invitation to her bed (I have spread my bed…I have perfumed my bed, 7:16-17).
  • Promises of love, delight, and sensual pleasure (let us take our fill of love until morning; let us delight ourselves with love, 7:18).

This wasn’t an accidental connection.  It was planned and well executed. And it works as designed.

The simple man falls. All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life”. There is no question that resisting would be difficult.  That’s how all sin presents itself.  The enemy is adept at providing us opportunity to sin that seems almost irresistible.  But the price for sin is high, and we somehow forget the reality that sin will cost us our life.  It’s why we need a Savior.  Without Jesus, we’re all doomed for eternal separation from God.  Sin costs everything.

Solomon ends this chapter reminding us to pay attention to his words.  “And now, O sons, listen to me, and be attentive to the words of my mouth”.  Sin doesn’t have to have its way in our life.  It is always a choice.  It never happens to us.  Solomon reminds us that adultery and sexual immorality begins in the heart. It doesn’t begin in our hormones or natural wiring as men or women. It happens when we fail to guard our heart.  If our heart falls to sexual immorality, our feet will quickly follow.  We have to win the battle there, in our heart and mind, and avoid the situations that can cause us to fall prey. “Let not your heart turn aside to her ways; do not stray into her paths, for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death”.  Guard your heart – it is the key to standing strong!

Matthew 4

Matthew 4 has Jesus being tested.  “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness  to be tempted by the devil”.  Any question about whether you and I will be tempted.  Jesus was, and so will we.  How did he prepare for it?  “After fasting  forty days and forty nights, he  was hungry”.  We see that Jesus was human – he got hungry.  And after 40 days that would be intense hunger for sure.  Satan comes at Him where he would be weakest.  That’s how the enemy attacks us.  He knows our weaknesses and attacks there.  “And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are  the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread”.

Satan goes after Jesus at His weakest point.  But Jesus tackles the enemy with scripture.  That is our offensive weapon to fight with.  “It is written”.  We need to know scripture so we can use scripture to stand against the enemy.  God’s Word is our only defense.  That’s why we are continually reminded to read it, hear it, memorize it, meditate on it – because it is the one thing we can depend on to stand fast against the devil.  We need to realize that the enemy knows the Bible too.  “Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple….it is written”.  Satan can quote scripture with the best of us.  He proves it as he attempts to tempt Jesus to sin.

Jesus deals with two more temptations and each time listens to Satan quote scripture as part of the tempting.  But Jesus replies with scripture in context and as God intended, not the twisted way Satan tried to use it.  And then He had enough. “Then Jesus said to him, Be gone, Satan”! There is power in the name of Jesus against the enemy.  Satan must submit to Jesus and His authority.  “Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him”.  Jesus may have felt like He was dealing with the enemy alone, but He wasn’t.  God had His angels ready to minister to Him which they did immediately after Jesus sent the enemy away.

John the Baptist is arrested and the torch is passed to Christ to carry on the preaching of repentance.  “From that time Jesus began to preach….Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”.  He now is taking the lead in challenging people to get right with God.  And to do that, He begins selecting those who will walk with Him the next three years.  “While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers….he said to them, Follow me, and I will make you  fishers of men”.  Peter and Andrew are the first to be called.

“Immediately they left their nets and followed him”.  No negotiating, no wondering, just obedience.  They answered the call immediately without hesitation.  Jesus continues as “he saw two other brothers….Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him”.  James and John do the same exact thing, picking up and leaving their dad and jobs behind so they could walk with the Savior.  The twelve were a vital part of how Christ would prepare the ministry to continue after His death.  His ministry begins to flourish, and “great crowds followed him”.  He was little known but His message resonated and people were drawn to Him.

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