In Chronology

Written by Stephen Cox

 

There was a great line in a Joan Armatrading song that summed up Temptation: 

 

“Temptation drags you down – takes you where you want to be.” 


A temptation is only a temptation if there is a desire within me to do that thing. One person can see $50 that someone has left on a table and can be tempted to steal it. Another can only think of handing it in or trying to give it back. Temptation then is an inducement to do what we know is wrong. What makes temptation hard to resist is that it is often the very thing that we would like to do.

 

I wouldn’t be surprised at all if for many of us, when we first hear the word, our immediate thought is that it refers something good, with just a small cost attached. But when the Bible talks about temptation, it’s serious. It’s deadly. Jesus  teaches us in the Lord’s prayer to pray that we will not be led into temptation. Temptation is dangerous, because it leads to sin. 

 

Were it not for God’s grace, sin would result in our eternal punishment. One book I read recently had a chapter entitled  “Sin is worse than Satan”. Now I’d never thought about it like that, but I think the author got it right. Satan can injure us horribly but he cannot destroy our souls. Sin, however, separates us from God. Jesus said that if your hand causes you to sin then it’s better to cut it off than to be thrown into hell. We only need to look at the world around us to see the mindless destruction that is caused by sin every day. Sin is terrible. It will be punished. And temptation, in the Bible, is the  temptation to sin. 

 

The first step in avoiding temptation is to recognize what it really is that you’re being tempted by. Sin will present itself attractively, which shouldn’t surprise us, as Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. Don’t be fooled by the attractiveness. Put up a fight! Say No to sin, and let Satan do his worst, because when you’re fighting against sin, God is on your side. 

 

There’s a number of verses in the Bible that talk about resisting temptation which I’d love to be able to share with you, but today I just want to look at one verse. 

 

“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.” 

1 Corinthians 10:13

 

This is a magnificent verse which has been a sweet reminder to many a saint of God’s faithfulness.  Can I encourage you to memorise it so that when the day of evil comes, it will help you to stand. 

 

This verse has three different parts to it, and each part helps us to resist temptation. 

 

The first part says that no temptation has seized you except what is common to man. That means, your particular temptation to sin isn’t unique and you needn’t be alone in your struggle. God has given you brothers and sisters in the Lord, some of whom will have gone through the same temptations that you are going through, some of whom may be going through them at this very moment. That means that there are people you can talk to who will understand your particular struggle because they’ve been through it themselves.  So seek out those brothers and sisters in the Lord who can help you through it and who have experienced God’s grace in the face of it. 

 

The second thing our verse tells us about temptation is that God is faithful, he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. These are magnificent words as they give us the strength we need to bear up under temptation and not give in. In the original, the word ‘faithful’ comes first for emphasis. Faithful is God.  I’ve never heard anyone say ‘God is faithless’, but 

sometimes when we give in easily to sin that is exactly what we are saying. God is faithless, he promised to help me in my struggle but he can’t deliver. Yet this verse says exactly the opposite.  Faithful is God. He will never let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. If you’re facing a temptation, it is one that you can bear, with the help of our faithful God. It might seem difficult, even too difficult, to bear, but if you’re facing it, that means you can bear it, because God will only let you face it if you are able to bear it. Faithful is God. 

 

The third thing this verse tells us about resisting temptation is that God will provide a way out.  When you are tempted, God will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. This, again, is a sweet reminder of God’s almighty power in enabling us to resist sin when we would otherwise falter in an instant.  It might be difficult, as resisting sin always is, but it will be there. God is faithful: he provides the escape route from sin, and gives us the strength to take it. With God’s help we can resist temptation. 

 

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.” 

1 Corinthians 10:13 

 

Try to memorise it. But most of all, may God help us to believe this promise and to act on it. 

Amen. 

 

 

Stephen Cox

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