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Understanding Temptation

4/22/07 CC/AM

1 Corinthians 10:13

Introduction: 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NASB95) No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

Our text speaks of a very common problem that we as human beings seem to face almost daily.  Temptation plagues us.  Paul gave some instructions to the Corinthians that are just as timely for us today.  He wanted to see them defeat the propensity of man to falling to temptation. We need to understand what we can do about it too.

Prayer

1.   It is inevitable        (No temptation has overtaken you)

a.    When was the last time that you were tempted?  Can you remember?  It probably was not that long ago.

b.   When will you cease to be tempted?  Probably pretty close to the last breath we take.

c.    We need to understand that we can count on being tempted for the rest of our lives.

d.   As it is inevitable that we will be tempted, we must understand that we do not have to fall prey to the temptation when it comes our way.  We do need to be ready and looking for it so we are not caught off guard and defeated by the temptation.

e.    Example: if you are on a diet you will be tempted to cheat.  Something will come into your path at some point in the day that you will have the opportunity to eat that you are not supposed to.  It is inevitable.  How will you respond?  You can rationalize and give yourself permission to eat it.  You can look around to se who is watching and eat it.  You can call your accountability partner and ask for help. You can walk away.  You can substitute your desire for a cookie with a stick of celery.  You enact your pre-determined plan. You can not help the fact that you were attracted to the cookie but it would be wrong for you to give into the temptation and eat the cookie!  It was inevitable that you would see something that you would like to eat, so you must have a plan for when it happens.

f.     Being tempted by a cookie is probably the least of our problems.  More likely something far more devastating than a few calories is out there waiting to do harm to us.  Our sinful desires left unchecked can do much more damage.

2.   It is universal         (but such as is common to man)

a.    Not only is it inevitable that we will face temptations throughout our lives, so does everyone else!

b.   Although we are individuals, we have the same problem.  We are tempted to sin.

c.    From the most spirit controlled believer to the least, temptation plagues us all.  The most prominent leaders in the Bible have had their struggles.  Even Jesus was tempted by Satan.

d.   Not only is temptation common to all of us, the objects of temptation are also pretty much the same.  Satan hasn’t had to come up with too many different items to tempt the majority of mankind.  He has used pretty much the same basic package over the years.  Pride, greed, prosperity, and sexuality have been pretty good tools for him to use for the last few thousand years.  Remember Satan is not a creator he is just an imitator who has taken what God has made good and twisted it into something sinful.

e.    How does knowing that temptation is universal help us when we battle it?

                                                            i.      It is nothing new so don’t panic.

                                                         ii.      It has been overcome on countless occasions by millions of others.

                                                      iii.      We are not alone and could benefit by talking with others who have are experiencing similar struggles and are being victorious.

Transition: But more than relying on other fellow strugglers we need to understand some other things.

3.   God is faithful

a.    We need to remember a few things about God.

                                                            i.      He does not tempt us.

James 1:13 (NASB95) Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.

                                                         ii.      He does not always remove temptation from our path.

                                                      iii.      He has given us a free will to make our own decisions right or wrong and we are responsible for the consequences of them.

                                                      iv.      Having victory over temptation is His desire and it strengthens and develops us.

James 1:2-4 (KJV) 2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

b.   God does not dangle in front of us something that tempts us to sin.  When it comes our way He didn’t bring it and He is cheering us on to have the victory over it.

4.   God protects us     (who will …able)

a.    I said that He will not always remove temptation from our path but sometimes He does!

b.   One of the ways that God protects us is to keep the temptation level confined to a degree that we are able to come through it without sinning.

c.    You might remember the chastisement of Job.  God gave Satan some leeway to afflict him but God also put limitations on what could be done to His child.  God protects us from experiencing more temptation than we can handle.

d.   Over the years I have heard people say for various reasons, “I just can’t take any more”.  In reality only God knows what we can take and will give us the grace and strength to deal with whatever He allows.  I guess I would be careful about saying that I can’t take anymore because God just might show us that we can!  When we do, we are strengthened through it and God graciously supplies us with what we need.

e.    Maybe instead of saying “I can’t take anymore” we should be rejoicing in the fact that God is enabling us to make it and has promised that even though we might in the flesh be at the end of our rope, in the spirit and in His power there are no limits to what we can do!

f.     I think that Paul is calling us to stand up with confidence to the temptation and claim the victory which God will provide for us.

5.   God provides a way out        (but with temp…escape)

a.    Not only do we have the promise that God will protect us from too much temptation, we are also told that there is a way out from the temptations that we are currently facing.

b.   Now the way of escape does not always mean that we can physically run away from the temptation.  Joseph did that when he ran from Potiphar’s wife.  Sometimes we need to be looking for the door.  Other times it might be impossible for us to physically leave a tempting situation.

c.    If the people you work next to like to tempt you or the people who sit next to you in class like to do the same, you might not have the option of going somewhere else.  The way of escape is still there, you do not have to yield to the temptation.

d.   Sometimes the way of escape has a lit exit sign over the door and others times it does not.  The fact is there always is a way to not get involved in the sin potential that is there.  I remember when I worked on the line and the people up the line would place center fold in my work space.  Pornography is a pretty common source of temptation for males, and I sure had the potential to stare and lust over the pictures, but I would just quickly brush them aside and go about my work.  I usually had an audience that was lurking somewhere nearby to observe my reaction to the photos.  I couldn’t leave my position to complain to my boss, who might have put the pictures there.  I was stuck but there was still a way out.  There always is, God promises.

6.   We must take it     (that ye…endure it)

a.    Since there is always a way out it is our responsibility to take it.

b.   Even the word used, “endure” gives the idea of not running from the temptation but standing up to it and claiming that by the power of Christ that we are going to withstand it.  It means to bear it upon your shoulders and stand up to it.  Reminds me of a portage in Algonquin.

c.    Often we cave into temptation without putting up a fight.  We might have forgotten that it is not to strong for us. We might forget to look for the way out.

d.   Let’s face it most of the time we give in to temptation simply because we enjoy sin, even though God’s word assures us that it leads to death.  We don’t really see it that way and so we chose to sin even though we shouldn’t want too and didn’t have too.

e.    Temptation is no match for God’s strength.  We have to allow Him to have control of us and when He has it, temptation will not have a chance.  It will however never cease.  We can be victorious over and over again!

Conclusion: Would you take a moment to identify the temptations that are common to you?  Would you realize that they will not stop but you do not have to be a captive to them?  Realize that all believers have and are going through similar temptations. Claim the promise that God will not let you be overrun by more than you can handle.  Be excited to know that He is protecting you from too many.  Understand that the ones that you experience have an “escape hatch”.  And understand that you are always able to face a temptation and stand up under it victoriously.

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