You Can and Must Resist Temptation
I’ve entitled today’s message “You Can and Must Resist Temptation.” You can and must resist temptation. Over the next three weeks, we’re going to examine 1 Corinthians from verse 1 all the way down to verse 13, but today we’ll focus on verses 12 and 13. The verse you’re probably most familiar with is verse 13, “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.”
I want you to read this verse aloud with me. I want this to stick in our heads. We’re going to read this aloud together each of the next three weeks. Read 1 Corinthians 10:13 with me. This verse is usually lifted up as a verse to give hope to struggling people, right?
People usually say, “God won’t give you more than you can handle, won’t give you more than you can bear. You can overcome anything.”
You Can and Must Resist Temptation
By Jess Arnds
Preached on: Sunday, December 29, 2019
2146 Buford Hwy
Duluth, GA 30097
So anyways, so you know, it’s obvious there’s a lot to be light-hearted about because there’s so much heaviness in the world and I keep doing this, I keep picking passages that have a certain intensity to them and today is no different. Today’s passage has both a warning and an encouragement in it, and I choose it because it’s really burdened my heart and I believe it’s what we need to hear, and I know that it’s the Lord’s will because here I am, I’ve survived the study of the week and I’m here to give it to you. So I know that the Lord wants you to hear this and to examine this passage and it’s his word.
So as we approach the word of God, I want you to consider a couple of things. There are two categories of people that attend a church. There’s at least two categories. The first category are those who look for ways to indulge temptation. That’s the first category. They look for ways to indulge temptation. And the second category are those who look for ways to resist temptation. Going in different directions. Put it this way: there are those trying to get away with sin and there are those trying to get away from sin. It’s not always obvious in the church who that is but in a body of believers, and it’s always been this way, there is a mix of people, a mix, and they’re here for various reasons. Maybe they like the community. Their family goes here. Maybe they like being identified with the people of God and that’s why they’re here, for friendship, for community. That’s the main purpose. But they want to skirt as close to sin as they can while still participating in the community. Then there are those who know their great need of a Savior and their desperate need to turn from sin, and they fear God and they come because they want the word of God, they want to be fed, they want to resist temptation and sin in their life because we all are tempted, but what is your relationship with temptation and what’s your approach to it?
In category 1, those who are trying to get close to sin and temptation, these people are part of the church, they claim to be spiritual, they claim to be strong, they even have a certain confidence and arrogance about them perhaps, or even feigned humility, they’re proud of their humility. They sit under solid preaching and they affirm sound doctrine and they’ve witnessed the Lord transform people around them, they’ve witnessed God’s work, and yet they’re not driven by love for God or love for neighbor, nor are they concerned about God’s will but rather how they can fulfill their own selfish desires. God is a means to their ends. They want to use God to get what they want. As long as God’s will makes sense to them, they will follow him, but as soon as God’s will conflicts with their desires, they will grumble, they will complain, and they will try to get people rallied to their side to support them in their cause. They gossip and they conspire, self- righteously thinking that they are somehow looking out for the common good but they really demonstrate a divisive spirit and they do damage to the body.
It is those who are driven by their own passions and lusts and they seek to justify them. When life gets hard, they will excuse their own sin, believing that they deserve this small indulgence. They believe they can’t help it, that sin was forced upon them. When being a Christian gets hard, they will long for the apparent freedom that the world offers. Their hearts are in the world while their feet are in the church and they will put the Lord to the test. They will get as close as they can to see if they don’t get burned. They will stick their toe in the water. They will wade out into the surf to see how far they can go before they fall off the ledge. They want to hold on to their Christian identity but they want to modify the lifestyle to accommodate their preferences. When the pull of idolatry gets too strong they say, “God will forgive me. He will understand. He would never want me to suffer. He would never want me to be unhappy,” because their concern is not God’s will, God’s pleasure, but their own and they want God and you to support them in that cause so they proceed thinking that they are safe from the judgment of God and the negative consequence of sin. The truth is, it’s questionable whether or not these people genuinely know the Lord.
Does this describe you and your relationship with temptation and sin? Are you looking for a way to indulge your preferences and your desires? Do you want to modify what Scripture says to justify your idolatry? Is that you?
The second category are those who want to flee from sin. They want to resist temptation. They are genuine believers and they might see other believers indulging in worldliness and they are tempted to follow. They’re influenced by ungodliness but their ultimate desire is to love the Lord, to serve him, to follow him. If something is sinful, they’re grieved when they participate, not because of self-righteousness but because they love God. They want the Lord to be pleased. They’re willing to suffer for him and would rather suffer than do something that displeases or brings dishonor to him. They would rather suffer. They would rather put up with injustice. They would rather put up with being wronged than to dishonor God. That’s in 1 Corinthians, by the way. They are tempted to join the grumbling and the gossip and the conspiring, but they fear the Lord and the consequences of sin. They want to enjoy the world, they have a temptation there, the temptation is strong, it would be easier to give in, to listen to the world, to have fun, to enjoy acceptance in our society and to have the culture think well of them, but they want to avoid temptation but it’s so strong they’re not sure if they can hold out. They’re not sure if they can hold on. They fear that and they fear the consequences of sin. “How will I handle these temptations? Can I resist? Can I endure? How can I resist the onslaught of the world, the flesh and the devil?” These are the questions this person is asking, not how close can I get and how much can I do, how far can I go?
Which category are you in? Humble love and submission to the Lord while still being tempted by worldliness, or are you proud and complacent in your idolatrous cravings and ungrateful grumblings against the will of God, feeling safe in your worldliness and seeking ways out of godliness? Which one are you? Today’s passage has something for both categories.
Please open your Bibles to 1 Corinthians 10 and we’ll start reading in verse 1. 1 Corinthians 10 starting in verse 1. I’ll wait for you all to get there because I want your eyes to see this. 1 Corinthians 10:1, the Apostle Paul writing to the church at Corinth says, “For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea.” Who is he talking about? He’s talking about the children of Israel in the wilderness when they left Egypt during the exodus and wandered in the wilderness. They both went under the cloud. They followed the cloud that represented God leading the children of Israel and that cloud is what protected them from the Egyptians. They all were under that and all passed through the sea. When the Lord parted the Red Sea, they all passed through it.
Verse 2, “and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” The word “baptized” just means “immersed.” They were in and among the people of Israel and followed Moses.
Verse 3, “and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink.” What’s he talking about there? The spiritual food, the manna from heaven and, of course, the word of God that was delivered to them. It was literally spiritual food from God, and they drank the same spiritual drink. That was where on a couple of occasions God supplied water for them in the wilderness by just this rock out there in the desert producing water miraculously through the work of Moses. So they drank that same spiritual drink. They all saw it. They all participated.
Again verse 4, “for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.” We’ll get into that in future weeks, what that means.
Verse 5, “Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness. Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.’ Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. 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.”
Lord, we come to You. You know our hearts. You see our thoughts. You know every decision and You know exactly the work that needs to be done there. I pray today, Lord, that Your word like a sword would cut straight to the heart of every individual here; that those who should be crushed will be crushed, and those who should be encouraged will be encouraged. I pray, Father, that You would give each person discernment into their own heart, open their eyes to their standing before You. Show us, Lord, where You want us to change, where our faith needs to be strengthened, where our resolve needs to be renewed, where we need to be broken, where we need to repent. And I pray, Father, that none of us would leave here without Your word leaving its imprint on our lives, and that we as a body would be more and more unified as we are conformed to the mold of Your word. So help us today. Help me to convey the message that You want preached. We pray in Jesus’ name.
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