Overcoming Temptations and Trials Part Two
1Corinthians 10: 12-13 If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. (NLT)
Last week we discovered that Scripture shows us that Jesus was led into the wilderness where he was tempted. Another Gospel says He was led into the desert. It is in the desert or wilderness experiences of our lives where the enemy attacks us even more. Last week we examined the strategies of the tempter; the devil. This week we will finish looking at the nature of temptation.
These verses from First Corinthians highlight the truths about temptation so we can better understand its nature and be better prepared to combat it in our lives. The first lesson we need to learn is that over-confidence leads to falling away. Cockiness leads to failure. As God puts it:
Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall. Proverbs 16:18 (NLT)
Note the verse says if you THINK you are standing strong. It refers to our state of mind. We can lull ourselves into a false sense of security. David was at the height of his reign when he fell into temptation with Bathsheba. Certainly he must have thought he had arrived. He had been anointed at a young age yet patiently waited on the plan of God. He slew Goliath with a slingshot when all of the fighting men of Israel were cowering. He denied the temptation to kill Saul twice because he knew that he should not touch God's anointed. He had ushered in a new age of prosperity for the nation of Israel as king. David must have felt like he was standing strong in the Lord. But he still fell.
Peter was pretty sure he was standing tall as well. Jesus explained how the disciples would all abandon Him when this exchange follows:
Peter said to him, "Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will." Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, Peter--this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me." "No!" Peter declared emphatically. "Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!" And all the others vowed the same. Mark 14: 29-31 (NLT)
Emphatically Peter asserts his bravado! Even if I have to die with you! Yet when the challenge came, he too fell away. Our key verses today start with a sobering reminder that it is at those times in our lives when we feel most secure, that we must be most vigilant.
The second truism we need to take from the key verses is that whatever temptations we face they are no different than what everyone faces. The devil does a good job of convincing us that no one can understand what we go through. That nobody knows the trouble we see. This part of the temptation strategy is to divide and conquer. The purpose the enemy has is to make you feel alone. To make you go through your struggles alone. Why? Because we are far easier to defeat alone:
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12 (NLT)
A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated! But a triple braided cord is not easily broken, hallelujah! The enemy seeks to break us with despair. Think about all of the things in your life that you have encountered, dealt with, succeeded over or even failed at. Now how many people in your church could benefit from your collective wisdom about those areas? Simply apply it back to you whatever you are going through someone else has gone through it already. The schemes of the enemy have not changed over the thousands of years he has been tempting mankind. He tempted Eve by distorting God's Word, calling God a liar, and offering Eve the false opportunity to be like God. Sound familiar? That is how the world views itself. They doubt the Word, they make God out to be a liar and recreate Him in their own image. When you practice salad bar theology, that is picking the parts of the Bible you like and discarding the parts that make you uncomfortable, you are making man into God. The lies and schemes of the devil have not changed. That temptation you are facing is not unique. There is strength however, in the fellowship of believers.
The third fact from our key verses is probably the most important God is faithful! Our level of faithfulness need not be measured:
What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God's faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true, and every man a liar. As it is written: "So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge." Romans 3: 3-4
Let God be true and every man a liar! Nothing nullifies the faithfulness of God. Man responds in kind. Those who are nice to us, we tend to be nice to. Those who do not treat us well, we do not usually treat well. We are a conditional people. God has no such conditions:
Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself. 2Timothy 2: 11-13