June 2nd

Help in Temptation

1For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3They all ate the same spiritual food 4and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert. 6Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: "The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry."[2] 8We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did--and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9We should not test the Lord, as some of them did--and were killed by snakes. 10And do not grumble, as some of them did--and were killed by the destroying angel.  11These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. 12So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! 13No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.  14Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. 1 Corinthians 10:1-14 NIV 

The above passage is a sobering reminder about how God feels about sin. The people of Israel committed just about every sin conceivable during their 40 years in the wilderness.  The psalmist wrote in Psalm 78:41 NIV, “Again and again they put God to the test; they vexed the Holy One of Israel.”  The things that happened to the Israelites were recorded for our benefit, so that we would know to avoid the path of sin they followed.   

Paul pointed out some major areas of sin that we need to be careful to avoid:

It can be easy to drift into any of these areas, but hopefully we’ll recognize them and steer clear of them.  As Christians, we have an obligation because of Jesus’ sacrifice to live for God and seek to please him in all that we do.  We may not be able to live perfectly, but we have to be willing to try to obey God’s commands. 

Any temptation that we face is something that is common to the rest of humanity.  We may think it is irresistible, but God says that he won’t allow us to be tempted beyond what we can handle.  He has committed himself to being with us at all times. He is faithful and stands ready to help us whenever we are tempted.  His Spirit lives in us and will help us find the way out of each temptation, provided we’re willing to look for the way out.  

Are we willing to look for the way out or are we hoping there won’t be a way out so that we can just go ahead and give in?  Do we secretly want to fall to the temptation to give our flesh a treat?  I remember many temptations that I fell to earlier in my life.  Most of the ones I failed at were sexual.  I knew they were wrong, but my curiosity and lust won out. I didn’t fully want to find the way out of the temptations because I felt I’d be missing out. 

We have to get brutally honest with ourselves and God about our true motives, because he knows exactly what they are.  He is not fooled.  We must start with truth and ask God to help us from there.  If we don’t want to find the way out, we must confess that to God.  For example, “Dear God, I confess that I don’t really want out of the temptation. Please help me to want to find the way out…to hate the sin for what it is before I have the decision to make about doing it (not after).”   

Paul’s final command is also important to address.  There comes a point when we simply must flee from temptation.  Paul specifically applied this to idolatry – i.e. “flee from idolatry.”  Sexual addiction is an example of sexual idolatry.  Sexual temptation seems to put many of us under a type of spell that renders us defenseless.  We are swayed by the promise of the pleasure we think the sin may deliver.  If that’s your situation with sexual temptation, then you must flee the temptation.  Don’t hang around to see if you can withstand it.  For example, Joseph ran out of the house when Potiphar’s wife was making her pass at him.  He didn’t hang around to see if he could fight her off (Genesis 39:6-13).  We too must be ready to “run out the door” whenever we get caught in a temptation trap.   

Questions for further thought:

Prayer:

“Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name. Lord, thank you for the riches of wisdom in your word.  Thank you for being faithful to your promise to help us in any temptation we face.  Lord, I confess that I have halfheartedly looked for ways out of temptations in the past. I confess that sometimes I didn’t want a way out and went headlong into sin.  Please create in me the desire to serve you with all my heart.  Please create a desire in me to always want to find the way out.  Please fill me afresh with your Holy Spirit and ignite a passion in my heart for you.  Thank you, Father!  I praise your holy name. Amen.”