God's Help for the Tempted Heart
God's Help for the Tempted Heart
1 Corinthians 10:1-13
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Nov. 10, 2013
*Do you ever get disappointed with yourself? Sometimes we do get disappointed with ourselves, and sometimes we should, because we have given in to temptation.
*Christian author John Ortberg once wrote about his disappointment with himself. Please listen to part of what John said: "When I look in on my children as they sleep at night, I think of the kind of father I want to be. I want to create moments of magic. I want them to remember laughing until the tears flow. I want to have sweet talks with them as they're getting ready to close their eyes. I want to chase fireflies with them, teach them to play tennis, have food fights, and hold them and pray for them in a way that makes them feel cherished.
*I look in on them as they sleep, and I remember how the day really went. I remember how my daughter spilled cherry punch at dinner, and I yelled at her as if she'd revealed some deep character flaw. I yelled at her even though I spill things all the time and no one yells at me. I yelled at her, to tell the truth, because I'm big and she's little, and I can get away with it. And then I saw that look of hurt and confusion in her eyes, and I knew there was a tiny wound on her heart that I had put there. And I wished I could have taken those 60 seconds back." (1)
*John went on to say how he was disappointed about his shortcomings as a father, husband, friend, neighbor, and human being in general. All right thinking people have been there, because one way or another, we all have given in to temptation.
*The good news is that God wants to help us overcome temptation in our lives. And today's Scripture shows us how.
1. First: The Lord warns us with an illustration.
*It's the illustration of the Children of Israel as they wandered in the wilderness with Moses. This illustration takes up most of this passage from God's Word, and it is a heavy-duty illustration for us.
*In vs. 1-4, Paul set up his illustration by describing how God blessed the Children of Israel in the Old Testament. Each Old Testament blessing has a parallel for Christians today. But their blessings were just a shadow of what we have on the resurrection side of the cross.
 For example, they had the presence of the Lord. He was in that supernatural cloud Paul mentioned in vs. 1&2. They had the cloud. We have the Holy Spirit of Jesus living in our hearts!
 In vs. 2, they were baptized into Moses. Christians: We have been baptized by God's Holy Spirit into the Spiritual Body of Christ.
 In vs. 3, they had spiritual bread. It was the miraculous manna sent from Heaven. Our spiritual food is the Body of Christ which He gave on the cross for our sins. As Jesus said in John 6:48-51:
48. "I am the bread of life.
49. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead.
50. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die.
51. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.''
*Jesus Christ is our Bread of Life!
 Next, in vs. 4, they had spiritual drink. It was the water that miraculously came from the Rock in the wilderness. But we have more! In John 4:14, Jesus said: "Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.''
*We are far better off than Old Testament believers, but the Lord wants us to see that we have much in common with them.
*Then comes the hard part in vs. 5: "But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness." And why were their bodies scattered or overthrown in the wilderness? The answer is in vs. 6, where Paul said: "Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted."
*They were scattered because of their lust. And what is lust anyway? It's the spirit that says: "I want it, and I want it now! I want what I want when I want it." And in vs. 7, that lustful attitude led some of them to become idol worshippers: "As it is written, 'The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.'''
*There they were in the very presence of God. They had already heard His voice from the mountain! All they had to do was look up, and they could see the miraculous cloud that covered the mountain. It was an incredible sight with lightning, thunder, fire, smoke, and earthquakes.
*They knew that God was right there on that mountain. But they turned away. They set their hearts and minds on having a good time, whether God liked it or not. But we can be tempted to do the same thing.
*Then in vs. 8, there was the problem of sexual sin: "Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell."
*This is a tough subject, but we have to face up to it, because God talks about it. We also have to face up to it, because sex sin is such a big problem today. It's no wonder, because our society is saturated with sexual messages. Sex is used to sell everything from deodorant to drain cleaner.
*Young people can't begin to comprehend how much our society has been corrupted over the last 50 years. Things really started going downhill in the 1960's. On TV we've gone from the wholesome "Father Knows Best" to the incredibly raunchy "Two and a Half Men." And the amazing advances in technology have also opened floodgates of filth. When people my age were growing up, you had to go out of your way to see bad stuff. Now you have to go out of your way to avoid it.
*A wise man once said, "Sex is like a beautiful river given by God, flowing along between two banks: one man and one woman flowing along together for a lifetime in marriage. Pain and misery come when the water overflows its banks." (2)
*I've never lost my house to a flood, but some of you may have, and you know how devastating that can be.
*The worst flood I've ever been around was in Macon, Georgia in July of 1994. That was the summer my mom passed away, and I was with her most of those last five weeks. The flood was so bad that July that it swamped the water-works. Tens of thousands of people were without running water for over a month. The National Guard brought in trucks all over the city for people to fill their containers.
*I remember riding around with my brother to see the damage: House after house with waterlines up to the roof. Sheet rock and carpet and mud were everywhere.
*On the day of the flood, there was a carload of young people riding around in a parking lot south of town. They were riding round and round, cutting dough-nuts in the flooded parking lot. And they were having a blast. But they got too close to a big drainage ditch hidden by the flood water. They were swept away by the swift current, and all of them drowned. That's the kind of thing that can happen when we give in to sexual temptation. We won't always die. But somehow, some way, someone will always be hurt.
*Let's move on to vs. 9, where Paul said, "Nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents." Here the people were griping against the Lord and His servant Moses. And this seems like a much smaller sin to us. But God wants us to know that all sin is serious to Him.
*The Children of Israel "tempted" Christ. The idea behind that word "tempted" is something they did to God over and over again. They knew what God wanted. They knew the seriousness of sin. But over and over again, they refused to repent. They kept getting into the same trouble over and over. Have you ever gotten into that rut? When we do, we tempt God by taking advantage of His mercy and grace.
*And what about vs. 10, where Paul said, "Nor murmur, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed by the destroyer." Here again, they were grumbling and complaining against God.
*God had blessed these people beyond measure! He had miraculously saved them from the Egyptian army. He had provided for them in a miraculous way. They were better off than anyone else in the world. And so are we. But still they griped. And sometimes so do we. So in vs. 11&12, Paul says this to all Christians:
11. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come.
12. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.
*In all of these verses, God is warning us about the seriousness of sin. He is saying: "Stop making pleasure the center of your life. Stop the sexual sin. And stop the complaining. And if you are not doing these things, then stay alert. Stay on guard, because you will be tempted one way or another."
*Our loving God wants to help us overcome temptation, so He warns us with this illustration.
2. And He rescues us from isolation.
*God wants us to know that we are not alone in our struggles with temptation. That's why the first part of vs. 13 tells Christians that: "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man."
*Temptation sometimes "takes" us or "overtakes" us. That means it grabs us or seizes us. We are going along, minding our own business, trying to do our best, when wham! We get blindsided. And temptation breaks through our defenses.
*One of the things that can hurt the most in those times is the feeling of isolation. We can get overwhelmed by the weight of our guilt, and start thinking: "I must be the worst person who ever lived. No one could be as bad as me. How can I call myself a Christian?"
*Here in vs. 13, the Lord rescues us from this isolation. He says, "You are not alone. Lots of people have been right where you are. They have found the answer. And you can too!" That truth gives us hope, and it helps us to overcome our temptations.
*I'm so glad that God rescues us from our isolation.
3. He also knows our limitation.
*God knows our limitations. That's why in the middle of vs. 13, Paul said: "God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able."
*This doesn't mean God looks at us and says: "O.K. -- Rick's a 12 ounce. And over there, you are a 16 ounce. There's a 20 ounce. And wow! -- There's a two liter! You can really take a lot of temptation."
*No. It's much more like being a baby. This is true, because when we believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior, we are born again into the family of God. We are babes in Christ. So we begin as babies, just learning to walk. And our loving Heavenly Father walks behind us with His hands stretched out, ready to catch us when we fall. Much of the time, we don't even notice Him. But there He is, hovering over us. And He's not going to ask us to run a marathon, or walk across 165, not yet anyway.
*God knows our limitation, and that helps us overcome temptation.
4. But God also provides our liberation.
*We see this truth in the last part of vs. 13, where Paul said that with the temptation, God "will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it."
*God will make a way for us to escape! How does He do that? Well, if we are Christians, if we know Jesus as our Savior, the Lord has several ways for us to escape.
 One way is Scripture, like we see here today.
*Psalm 119:11 says: "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." And talking about husbands and wives, but also talking about the relationship between Christ and His Church, Ephesians 5:25-26 says:
25. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it,
26. that He might sanctify and cleanse it" (How?) "with the washing of water by the word.
*One way God helps us overcome temptation is Scripture.
 Another way is strong prayer.
*In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus teaches us to pray like this to our Heavenly Father: "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. . ." (Matthew 6:13)
*Just hours before the cross, Jesus twice told the disciples to watch and pray so they wouldn't fall into temptation. But they fell asleep. Listen to the Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane. God's Word puts it this way in Luke 22:39-46:
39. And coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him.
40. When He came to the place, He said to them, "Pray that you may not enter into temptation.''
41. And He was withdrawn from them about a stone's throw, and He knelt down and prayed,
42. saying, "Father, if it is Your will, remove this cup from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.''
43. Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.
44. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. And His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
45. When He rose up from prayer, and had come to His disciples, He found them sleeping from sorrow.
46. Then He said to them, "Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation.''
*One way God helps Christians overcome temptation is strong prayer.
 Another way is spiritual friends.
*Hebrews 10:25 tells us don't forsake "the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching."
*There are people in this world who will pull us up, and people who will pull us down. God wants us to hang around with the people who will lift us up closer to the Lord. So, one way God helps us overcome temptation is spiritual friends
 Another way is His special intervention.
*I can think of more than ten times in my life when God arranged circumstances or intervened to get me headed in the right direction, or stop me from heading in the wrong direction. God intervened in my time of weakness. -- And why? Because He loves me! And He loves you too.
 God has many ways to help us escape from temptation. But the first and foremost way is through God's only Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.
*If you don't have Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then nothing else you try will matter. Paul said God will make the way to escape temptation, and Jesus IS the way!
*Jesus Christ is the only real way to escape sin. In John 14:6, Jesus said: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by Me." Jesus said that on the night before He was crucified. And when He died on the cross, it was for our sins. When He rose from the dead, He proved He could help us. If we believe in Jesus and receive Him as Lord and Savior, He pardons our sins and gives us an everlasting home in Heaven.
*On Veterans' Day we also remember the million plus soldiers who died to give us freedom. Hershel Ford tells the story of one of these fallen heroes. The story goes all the way back to World War I.
*After one of the battles, a chaplain went out on the battlefield with the medics, to help care for the wounded and dead. They found one young soldier lying on his back. He had been killed by machine gun bullets. But before he died, he had taken out his Bible. It was resting on his chest and the soldier's finger was pointing to a verse. The same verse where Jesus said: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by Me."
*When the chaplain turned the Bible to the first page, he saw the same verse again: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by Me." The chaplain also saw that the Bible had been given to the soldier by his mother. (3)
*The good news from that story is this: The young soldier who sacrificed his life and his Godly mother are both in Heaven today. And they always will be, because Jesus IS the way!
*One way or another, all of us will be tempted. But God wants to help us overcome our temptation. Put your trust in Jesus Christ. Receive the Risen Savior as the Lord of your life.
*Jesus will forgive your sins. He will give His eternal life to you. And day by day, He will help you overcome the temptations you are sure to face in life.
*Let's talk to God about these things, as we go to the Lord in prayer.
(1) Adapted from "The Life You Always Wanted," - sermonideas.com/Sermon47.asp - My Source: Sermons.com sermon "With a Little Help from My Friends - King Duncan - Mark 2:1-12
(2) Original source unknown
(3) KERUX ILLUSTRATION COLLECTION - ID Number: 18902 - SOURCE: Fredericksburg Bible Illustrator Supplements - TITLE: The Motto Of A Dying Soldier's Life - AUTHOR: W. Hershel Ford - DATE: 2614