This morning I connect with Pastor John Engle. He retired as the Visitation Pastor at Timberline Church, but was a consistent support during my health crisis. I enjoyed connecting once again, giving him a copy of my book and learning more about his background and life. Our neighborhood pool opened today for the season, but the mid 60 degree temps didn’t make it too inviting.
BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY… “So, whoever thinks he stands must be careful not to fall. No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:12,13 HCSB
We see the record of scripture, we see the story of individuals and of God’s people. When we read scripture and look at life itself, it seems that there is more failure than victory in the midst of temptation. Paul in preparing the Corinthian believers to be “faithful followers” of Christ, does a quick review of Israel’s history.
God’s people were given the Law. They had seen the deliverance the Lord brought to them in Egypt. They were instructed about the ways of the Lord, but when they faced the temptations that come by virtue of life, or lack of focus or just being “caught off guard” they had consistent failures.
Paul addresses the issues that confronted the Israelites, “Now these things became examples for us, so that we will not desire evil things as they did…Don’t become idolaters as some of them were…Let us not commit sexual immorality as some of them did…Let us not test Christ as some of them did…” (1 Corinthians 10:6-9 HCSB)
Here are some observations from Paul’s observations and warnings….
1 – Spiritual experience does not shield from temptation. Paul begins by observing how all of these people saw the might hand of God. They were recipients of miracles, they saw God in His glory, they partook of his miraculous provision, they saw the cloud by day and pillar of fire by night. But in the end they displeased God so much they lost their opportunity to inherit the promised land.
2 – Temptations are varied. We often think of the “big” sins and failures. But Paul points out a temptation to, “desire evil things” and “test Christ” along with idolatry and sexual immorality. Timing and vulnerability are keys to temptation. We read of Jesus’ temptation. The Bible says he had fasted and was hungry and the first temptation was, “turn stones into bread.” The account of Jesus temptation ends with, “the devil left him until an opportune time.” (Luke 4:1,13)
3 – Yielding to temptation brings sin and consequences. When Paul recounts the failures of Israel’s sin in the wilderness, he mentions a consequence related to their failure. For example, “…in a single day 23,000 people fell dead...some of them…were destroyed by snakes…” (1 Corinthians 10:9 HCSB)
4 – Over confidence is dangerous. Paul cautions, “…whoever thinks he stands must be careful not to fall.” James gave these instructions about restoring a “fallen brother.” “…you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” (James 6:1 ESV) The original language of this verse indicates, being tempted in the same way, with the same sin. So often someone in confidence will say or think, “that could never happen to me!” Those are dangerous words.
5 – No temptation is unique to you. The details may be somewhat unique but Paul says emphatically, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity…” (1 Corinthians 10:13 HCSB) One of the lies of Satan is that “you are special and unique and your circumstances didn’t give you a choice.” The Bible declares the Jesus was “tempted in all points like we are, yet He did not sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
6 – There is strength and victory available. “…He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) We would like to think “I can’t” but the Lord’s faithful says, “I can.” He is with us and will give us an “exit strategy.” It is not easy. Jesus “suffered” when tempted and so do we. But that is what makes Him as Savior that relates to fallen humanity. “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.“ (Hebrews 2:18 NIV)
It is a fact that we won’t always be successful. But that is not Christ’s failure. He shows the way we must follow. We can be thankful for Christ’s grace and the promise of 1 John 1:9 (NIV) “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Let’s strive for Gods’ “Plan A.” It is a far better choice.
Prayer for Today… “Lord, lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil.” I understand that plea is more than just words, but relates to my life, everyday. Allow me to always look to you and your strength. I give you thanks for the promise of help and victory as temptations come my way. I praise You for Your forgiveness and keeping me in your grace.”