************ Sermon on 1 Corinthians 10:13 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on September 27, 1998
1 Corinthians 10:1-13
You heard it this past week. You will hear it again this coming week. You might hear it already on the way home this evening or in your easy chair tonight or on the way to work or school tomorrow. A voice whispering in your ear. The tempter's voice. "Go ahead," it says, "it may be wrong but you will like it. Go ahead and have some fun."
How do you handle the tempter's voice when it whispers in your ear? How do you deal with temptation?
Whether we want to or not, we must all take steps to deal with temptation. We must because temptation – in this life, on this earth, in our flesh – is inevitable. I saw a bumper sticker not too long ago which summed it up this way:
OPPORTUNITY ONLY KNOCKS ONCE. TEMPTATION LEANS ON THE DOORBELL.
Whoever came up with this saying certainly could see the big picture. In this life we will always be within an arm's reach of temptation. The Bible teaches that temptation is common to all men and women everywhere. The Christian life is a struggle. The world entices us at every moment from every corner. And if that isn't bad enough, we struggle with the evil inclinations of our very own hearts. But that's not the worst of it. Satan and his demonic helpers know our every weakness and seek to exploit them all so that we will fall when tempted. That being the case, we should do all we can to face and overcome temptation.
A general whose task it is to defend a city doesn't wait until the city is under attack to plan his defense. A wise general plans his defense strategy long before the threat of attack even presents itself. In planning his defense he asks questions like:
-How will the enemy attack?
-From which direction will they approach?
-Where are our weak spots?"
Likewise, believers should sit down ahead of time and plan their defense against temptation.
Topic: SinI want to tell you that something similar happens when Christians don't plan a defense against temptation – we see the temptation coming but don't do anything to evade it.
During the 1982 war in the Falkland Islands between England and Argentina, the Royal Navy's 3,500-ton destroyer HMS Sheffield was sunk by a single missile fired from an Argentine fighter jet. It caused some people to wonder if modern surface warships were obsolete, sitting ducks for today's sophisticated missiles. But a later check revealed that the Sheffield's defenses did pick up the incoming missile, and the ship's computer correctly identified it as a French-made Exocet. But the computer was programmed to ignore Exocets as "friendly." The Sheffield was sunk by a missile it saw coming and could have evaded.
In our Bible passage the Lord Jesus reminds us that we don't have to succumb to temptation. We don't have to listen to the tempter's whispering voice. As believers we have the power to resist. Why? Because the Holy Spirit within us is more powerful than the world, the sinful flesh, and the devil. So this evening I want to tell you how to deal triumphantly with temptation.
I What God Does Not Do
A Before moving on, I want to point out what God does NOT promise to do. God does not promise to remove temptation. God does not promise a way to escape being tempted. We may wish that He would but that's just not the way things are. God's desire is not that we should be delivered from being tempted, but that we should be delivered through temptation. God's desire is that we should be able to endure, to bear, temptation. God's desire, says our text, is that we "can stand up under" temptation.
When Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane before His death and crucifixion in our place, He said this:
(Jn 17:14-15) I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. (15) My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.Jesus mentions here that it was not His desire for the disciples to be taken out of the world and therefore avoid all temptation. His desire for them was that they remain in the world, but at the same time be protected from Satan. In other words, Jesus prayed, "Give them the power to overcome the Devil's attacks."
Nowhere does God promise that the tempter's voice will not be whispering in our ear.
B Why does God allow temptation in our lives? What is His reason or purpose? We find the answer from James and Peter:
(James 1:2-4) Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, (3) because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. (4) Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.When it comes right down to it, temptation is good for our souls. Coming through temptation develops and strengthens our faith. Coming through temptation proves our faith to be genuine and sincere. Coming through temptation brings praise, glory, and honor to Jesus.
(James 1:12) Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
(1Pet 1:6-7) In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. (7) These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
We need to see the difference between God and Satan when it comes to temptation, trial, and being tested. In temptation Satan appeals to the worst in man, with the wish that man may yield and do the wrong. In testing God makes an appeal to the best in man, with the desire that man should stand. Temptation says, "Do this pleasant thing; do not be hindered by the fact that it is wrong." Trial or proving says, "Do this right and noble thing; do not be hindered by the fact that it is painful." The one is a sweet, beguiling melody, breathing soft indulgence and relaxation over the soul; the other is a peeling trumpet-call to high achievements.
Satan tempts us to bring out the worst in us; God tests us to bring out the best in us.
C As we look at temptation I want us all to realize two things: first, temptation is part of our life; second, God is our Great Defender as we face temptation. Listen again to the Spirit-inspired words of our text:
(1Cor 10:12-13) So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! (13) No 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.This text tell us that as our Great Defender against the tempter's voice, God gives us two promises.
II God Limits Our Temptations
A The first promise: God has set a limit on the intensity of every temptation. He does this in two ways.
First of all, any temptation that comes our way "is common to man." When it comes to temptation and sin there is nothing new under the sun; no person struggles with a temptation that is unique and different. Think of the temptations the great heroes of faith had to struggle with:
With Moses, it was murder.
With Elijah, it was deep depression.
With Peter, it was public denial.
With Samson, it was recurring lust.
With Thomas, it was cynical doubt.
With Jacob, it was deceit.
Your temptation is not new or different and has been experienced by other Christians. That's the first way God limits the intensity of your temptation.
But there is also a second way that God has set a limit on the intensity of every temptation. "He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear." God knows how much you can handle; He knows your breaking point. Regardless of the nature of your temptation – be it in the area of money, sex, anger, gossip, drugs, alcohol – God knows your limitations. He promises to keep a watchful eye on the pressures Satan brings against you.
B The Bible gives us several examples of how God limits the intensity of every temptation. One of the most dramatic has to do with God's servant Job. You remember the story. For some reason Satan appears before the LORD. "Where have you come from?" the LORD asks Satan. "From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it," said Satan. "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." Satan challenged whether this was really the case. So the LORD gave Satan permission to afflict all that Job has. However, He established some very strict boundaries: He said, "... on the man himself do not lay a finger." Later on Satan was given permission to afflict Job himself but was commanded to spare his life (Job 2:7).
Another example is Peter. Peter and the other disciples were gathered with Christ for His last Passover meal. At one point in the meal Jesus turned to Peter and said,
(Lk 22:31-32) "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. (32) But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."
In both instances Satan had to get "permission" before he could afflict and tempt God's children. Before Satan could go after Job and Peter, he first had to check it out with God. God determined whether or not Satan could tempt Job and Peter; and, God set limits to what form the temptation could take. And, He made sure it was not beyond what they were able to bear.
C In the same way, God determines how far Satan can go with us. We see here that Satan, like all creatures, is under God's authority. Let me tell you what this means:
we will never be tempted more than we can bear – never! Not in our weakest moments; not even when we are tempted in our weakest areas.
God is involved in our struggle with temptation. He isn't watching from a distance. He is right here functioning as a kind of referee to the whole situation.
"God is faithful," says Paul. He can be trusted. Even in our darkest hour of temptation, God has not turned His back on us. No matter how we respond, in both our victories and defeats, God remains faithful.
D Satan has many believers convinced it is a waste of time to resist temptation. They believe it is only a matter of time before they fall. So they surrender without a fight. I want to tell you that God does not want us to fall into this kind of trap. Instead, He wants us to believe His promise – that He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able to bear. Yes, we will fall – the Bible does not teach perfection – but we should never fall without a fight!
Think about it. Every temptation you have ever faced as a Christian could have been overcome. The same is true for every temptation you will face from now on.
Topic: TemptationMark discovered, even though he initially fell, that God did not let him be tempted beyond what he was able to bear.
Title: Passing the Test
Mark was very poor at spelling. On examination day he was stumped by many difficult words. Softly the tempter whispered, "Look at Jane's paper; she's an honor student and always gets them right!" Mark heeded the suggestion and copied several answers. The teacher noticed his actions and was greatly surprised, for she had always thought of him as an honest boy. When it came time to collect the completed work, she observed that Mark was having an inner struggle. After bowing his head for a moment, he suddenly tore up his paper. Although at first he had yielded to temptation, he finally decided to take a zero rather than be dishonest. Calling the boy to her desk, the teacher said, "I was watching you, Mark, and I want you to know that I'm very proud of you for what you did just now. Today you really passed a much greater examination than your spelling test!"
III God Provides a Way Out
A Out text tells us that God limits our temptations to what is common to man and to what we can bear; but that is not all it tells us. It also tells us that alongside every temptation God has designed a way out. That's God's second promise to us as our Great Defender against temptation. Although the situation may seem hopeless at the time, there is a way to avoid falling. When you are tempted God will "provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."
Every temptation has an escape hatch. There is always an alternative action.
Many people live in situations where they are constantly being tempted to sin. Oftentimes they seem to be trapped. God is faithful even in those situations. He always provides a way out.
If you sincerely want to escape temptation and you know you are going to face a particular temptation, go ahead and ask God to reveal to you the way out. Remember, a good general doesn't wait until the battle to plan his strategy. He thinks ahead!
B Think of Joseph and Potiphar's beautiful but bored wife. "Come to bed with me!" she said. That must have flattered the young man. It certainly tempted him strongly. But God provided a literal escape hatch. Joseph was able to run away (Gen 39:7-12).
Think of the prophet Micaiah. He was asked to speak a favorable word to the king about a planned attack against Ramoth Gilead. If he stuck to his principles and spoke only the truth he knew he would be persecuted. He was tempted to tell a lie. But the Lord gave him a spirit of bravery (1 Kings 22:13-28)
Think of the Rechabites and their oath to drink no wine (Jer 35). Think of David and his decision not to injure King Saul (1 Sam 26:5-25). Think of the people of Jerusalem deciding to put their trust in the Lord rather than in the King of Assyria (2 Kings 18:30-36).
Think of Jesus. He was in the desert. He was hungry. He was tired. The thought of the cross was beginning to fill Him with dread. Satan's temptations to avoid the shame and pain of the cross must have looked attractive. But God provided Jesus with the right words from the Bible to combat Satan so He did not fall into temptation, so that He went to the cross and the grave for our sins.
In each and every instance God provided the means of escape.
C What God did for Joseph, Micaiah, David, the Rechabites, and Jesus He also does for you and me. He always provides an escape hatch when we face temptation.
Do you lose patience with your children? Look for the way to quiet your heart. Do you worry about going too far with that guy or girl you are dating? Look for ways to avoid being alone too long. Struggling with lust and pornography? Avoid video outlets and magazine stores.
Whatever your area of sin, look for the way of escape. It will be there. God has promised to provide it. Take it.
Next week, like last week, you will hear the tempter's whispering voice. "Go ahead," it says, "it may be wrong but you will like it. Go ahead and have some fun." But you don't have to listen. You don't have to fall every time temptation comes knocking. You don't have to fall because God has made you two glorious, wonderful promises: He has promised to limit the intensity of your temptations and He has promised to provide you an escape hatch.
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