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We all face temptations. Thankfully, the Apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 that we are not alone. Would you please take a few moments to read this passage?
When you face temptation, remember God is with you.
Paul draws a parallel between the church’s ordinance of baptism and the Lord’s Supper with the Israelites’ ordinances—the Red Sea crossing (Exodus 14:21-31), the cloud that led them through the wilderness (Exodus 13:21-22), the manna they ate (Exodus 16) and the rock that Moses struck to get water (Exodus 17:6). God’s people were not given a road map or a GPS to lead them from Egypt through the wilderness to the Promised Land. He led them Himself—with powerful signs of His manifest presence and provision.
We may slip into a modern form of deism—a philosophy originating in the 1600s that likens the universe to a clock that God the creator wound up, set down and let tick along on its own. Likewise, we tend to think that God created our world and us, but now He is a million miles away in heaven [watching and listening from afar]. The Lord reminds us that the opposite is true. In Hebrews 13:5 he says, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
We often miss the signs and reminders of God’s presence and provision, but He is continually reaching out to us. Knowing God is with us should prompt great peace and a sense of accountability. Being aware of His presence also changes the way we face temptation.
Who is ultimately responsible for the urges and temptations that want to trip us up? Does the devil make us do it? Does God try to trip us up?
James 1:13-14 teaches that we are tempted not by God but our own evil desires. James Allen explained, “No temptation can gravitate to a man unless there is that in his heart which is capable of responding to it.”
The Bible tells us that God is for us and not against us (Romans 8:31). God is faithful and He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. He will provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. He is reaching out to you. Will you take His hand and follow Him?
When you feel pulled to stray from the straight and narrow path, His Spirit, His Word and His people are calling out to help keep you going. Will you follow His Spirit, live by His Word and walk with His people?
When you face temptation, remember the example of others.
Even though the Israelites enjoyed the signs of God’s presence among them, their hearts were far from Him. They enjoyed tremendous spiritual privileges, but their hearts were revealed when Moses was at Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments from God. During Moses’ absence, Aaron and the people made themselves a golden calf to worship (Exodus 32:6). The saying certainly proved true, “While the cat’s away the mice will play.”
After presenting offerings to the golden calf, the people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry. The IVP Bible Background Commentary notes:
“The Israelites’ evil desires consisted in desiring “better” food than the manna, the spiritual food God had provided…; they wanted meat…. Just as Israel had once eaten in God’s presence…, so they ate and drank before an idol whom they called God. Later rabbis considered this the most embarrassing episode in Israel’s history (eventually some even found ways to blame it on the Gentiles traveling with the Israelites.”
While travelling through the wilderness the Israelites grumbled against God and Moses complaining about the steady diet of manna and the lack of water (Numbers 21:4-9). In response God sent poisonous snakes for judgment and many people died from the venom.
Paul cites a few examples in 1 Corinthians 10 of how Israel gave in to temptation. The Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament) are an emotional roller coaster ride describing how God’s people drew near to Him, then turned their backs on Him. The Bible does not romanticize the characters within God’s narrative; the Word of God reveals them warts and all. Whether they are role models who inspire us or bad examples that warn us, we can benefit from getting to know them all.
Our ultimate role model is Jesus Christ who resisted temptation and remained sinless throughout His human lifetime (see Hebrews 12:1-3). This same Jesus lives within His people today. We can experience a great transformation now, while looking forward to a great reward when we abide in Him every day.
While we yearn for a new heaven and a new earth—where there will be no more temptation—there is a strength, toughness and Christlikeness that grows within us as we endure. Beware. Our most vulnerable times are when we think we are invincible and untouchable.
Do you take the time to get to know the men, women and children in the Bible? Do you learn from the victories and struggles of other people? Do you take every precaution to avoid sin and temptation?
Remember God’s dealings with His people yesterday so you can face today.