Tried and Triumphant — Part Four

1 Corinthians 10:1-22 This week’s lessons teach us that anyone can fall into sin, but nobody has to.

There is a second truth we should learn from this section as well. It comes in this magnificent verse 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 is a verse you should memorize early in the Christian life because its teaching is so important. It says temptation is common. Just because you are a Christian, you are not going to avoid temptation. But this verse tells us God provides the way of escape for Christians when the temptation comes. You may say, “I just couldn’t help it,” but that is a lie of the devil, because God always gives you a way of escape. The reason so many of us fall so often is that we are not looking for that way of escape. That is why we fall. And when we do, we must recognize that God made a way of escape. If we sin it is not God’s fault.

As you study Scripture and what it has to say about temptation, you find that it says temptation comes to us from different sources. Some temptation is fleshly. We immediately think of sexual sin, but there are other fleshly sins as well. Overeating is a fleshly sin. Laziness is another. There are other sins that come to us from the world as it tries to force us into its mold. This is to think like the world, to have the world’s priorities, to make choices the way the world does. This is worldliness. There are also temptations that come to us directly from the devil.

It is interesting that the Bible gives different instructions for resisting the different sources of temptation that come our way. In other words, there is a different strategy for each category. First take this matter of fleshly sins. What does the Bible say that we are to do in the face of fleshly temptation? In Paul’s first letter to Timothy he discusses sexual immorality. He gives Timothy advice that any young man or any young woman should heed in similar situations. It is very simple. He says, “Flee from sexual immorality” (1 Cor. 6:18). That means run away. If you find yourself in a situation where you are tempted to a fleshly sin, do not stand around and debate it. Get out of that situation. Why? Because in other situations you always have your reason on your side. Your reason, as an ally, comes to offset the temptation. But, if you are tempted to sexual sin, to give just one example of a fleshly sin, you know that your reason does not have a whole lot to do with it. So Paul says when you are in such a situation, run away from it. Get out! That is the way that this particular sin is to be resisted. The same strategy applies to overeating. The only way to resist overeating is stop eating. Get up from the table. Go away. If you are indulging in too much television, the only thing to do is get up and turn off the television. These are all fleshly sins and Paul gives very practical advice.

What do you do with sins that come from the world? Paul gives the answer in the twelfth chapter of Romans. He says, “Don’t let the world force you into its mold. Be transformed from within by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (v. 2). He is saying that you have to live close to God in the Scriptures and allow God, as you grow in the Christian life, to enable you increasingly to think as God thinks rather than as the world thinks. This takes time. It is a matter of Christian maturity. Because none of us is completely mature – we are all worldly and involved in worldly sins – we need to draw near to God and allow the Holy Spirit to do that kind of trans-formation which makes us different people as the new life of Christ comes to fruition within us.

There is yet another kind of temptation, which comes to us from the devil. We will look more closely at this temptation tomorrow.

Study Questions
  1. From what three sources does temptation come to us?
  2. How are we to defend ourselves against temptations of the flesh and the world?

Scripture Memory
Memorize 1 Corinthians 10:13 to help you remember to look for God’s escape door the next time you are tempted.

Further Study
Read The Mortification of Sin by John Owen for a deeper understanding of the horror of sin, its effects, and practical ways to fight against it.

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