I Corinthians 10:6-13
“The Promise of Deliverance”
Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church
Mighty God who delivered the Israelites from bondage in Egypt, who cooled the fiery furnace, who closed the lions’ mouths, who sent Your only begotten Son to save us from our sinful nature, we come to You today, gathered as Your people, because we recognize that we need a Savior. Rescue us today, through Jesus our Redeemer. Amen.
Have you ever woke up to your alarm clock blaring, knowing you had something to be at, and then thought to yourself, “15 more minutes …. They won’t miss me …. Suppose I call in sick ….”? Of course you have. Maybe you didn’t follow through with that temptation, but you know you’ve been tempted.
That’s the thing. Everybody experiences temptation. All people get tempted. No one escapes. And you know what? All people also yield to temptation! Not every time, but even once and you’ve joined the club.
Temptation is a reality for everybody. I am tempted, almost constantly, to eat another donut.
Now, not all temptations hold the same consequences; right? Falling to the temptation to sleep another 15 minutes on your day off is probably not that big a deal. Falling to the temptation of sleeping with another 15 people probably is.
Today we are going to talk about that latter kind of temptation – that which is an invitation to DISOBEY God. It is vital to remember that temptation is not a SIN, but DISOBEDIENCE to God is a sin!
Give me a quick show of hands – did anybody here make a New Year’s Resolution? Who has been tempted to go off your diet, to skip a morning of Bible reading, to watch one more half-hour of TV? Right? We are 3-½ weeks into 2016! Of course we have all been tempted to break our Resolutions! In a general way, this is one of the most significant challenges every adult follower of Jesus faces – overcoming temptation!
How can we, as growing disciples of Christ, as people who claim Jesus as our Savior and Lord, as church-going citizens of the Kingdom of God, how can we resist temptation?
If you look at your Sermon Notes Page you’ll see that there’s a simple 1-2-3 step process for resisting temptation. Don’t believe it. These steps will not secure you a sin-free life. They are, indeed, three practical steps toward overcoming temptation, but the only real security is in a living relationship with Jesus Christ as our Redeemer.
Today we read from Paul’s letter to the Church in the sin-harboring city of Corinth. This city sat at the intersection of two major sea ports, with sailors and dockworkers and people from all over the known world – and all the sinful temptations that that kind of social climate produces; and Paul writes to the believers there to help them cope with the various temptations that spawned all around them. Listen to these words from I Corinthians 10:6-13…. —-
“6 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” 8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9 We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.
11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. 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 endure it.”
Paul begins this particular pericope reminding these Corinthian Christians of the mistakes made by people in the past – these things occurred as examples to keep us from making the same mistakes! So he tells us what they did and why it was wrong; and the command for us is to not do the same things!
Step number 1 is Assume RESPONSIBILITY. When we sin we have no one to blame but ourselves! We can cry that our mother didn’t potty train us soon enough, or that the environment in which we grew up was filled with violence, or even that my genetic code “made me this way” – but the decisions to act on our temptations are all our own. I decide to eat another donut, to drink another beer, to steal what isn’t mine, to cheat on my test or my taxes or my spouse. Those are all on me; on you; on us.
The first step to overcoming, resisting the next temptation is to take responsibility for our own actions – confess our sins, repent, and ask for God’s help.
In the margin of your Sermon Notes Page, scribble down a temptation you are willing to assume responsibility for today.
Step number 2 is Be on GUARD. Look at verse 12: “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” We seldom fall when we think we’re on slippery ice; we might, but we’re usually much more careful, maybe even asking for help, when we know the ground is slippery. But when we think it’s dry, solid, safe – that’s when we take our eyes off the surface and start to make moves we shouldn’t have. We slip when we get a little over-confident or careless – when we think we’re safe!
The second step in overcoming, resisting the next temptation is to be on guard. When I’m a little hungry, I should not go near the table with the free donuts! I should run away from the temptations that usually get me down. That’s why 12-step support groups work. They help their participants recognize their own tendencies to falling, and avoid those slippery slopes. Call your sponsor. After confessing our sin, we repent – literally, we turn around and walk the other direction – and ask for God’s help.
In the margin of your Sermon Notes Page, scribble down a place where your temptation is most dangerous and beware of that danger.
Step number 3 is Claim God’s PROMISE. Look at verse 13: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to all mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can handle. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
Let’s take a minute to unpack that verse. First, he says that no one on earth is alone or exempt. All mankind faces temptation – and yours is really no stronger than anyone else’s.
Second, he reminds us, “God is faithful.” The whole of Scripture is account after account of God’s fidelity, His faithfulness, to His creation, to His character, to His Covenant of grace for His people. He is faithful. “Who is like Him, seated on the throne? The mountains bow down, every ocean roars. Praise Adonai!” “Beautiful Lord, wonderful Savior, I know for sure, all of my days are held in Your hand … You gently call me into Your presence, guiding me by Your Holy Spirit.”
The next line says, “He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” Sometimes we hear that line as, and some Bibles translate it saying, “He won’t let us be TESTED beyond what we can handle.” Tested implies that God is giving our faith a trial, to see if it’s real. God does put tests in front of us, but I think the context of this sentence holds that Paul meant to say “God won’t let us be TEMPTED beyond what we can bear.” Here’s why I believe that’s what Paul meant. God does not tempt us. James is clear about that in James 1, “God does not tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.” God does not drag us away from Himself. Temptation is an invitation to DISOBEY God. Satan gives us those invitations. Paul’s line in I Corinthians 10:13 is in the passive voice: “God will not allow us to be tempted beyond…” He will not let Satan invite us to disobey in ways God will not give us an answer to.
But God will allow us to be tempted – that’s the broken, free-choice world we live in! But the last line in today’s passage says, “God will also provide a way out ….” Claim God’s PROMISE!
The third step in overcoming, resisting the next temptation is to claim God’s promise. After confessing our sin, after repenting – turning around and walking the other direction – we ask for God’s help.
In the margin of your Sermon Notes Page, scribble down a possible way out for you from your most susceptible temptation.
These are, indeed, three practical steps toward overcoming temptation – assume responsibility for your own actions, be on guard for the next temptation, and claim God’s promise of a rescue; but the only real security is in a living relationship with Jesus Christ as our Redeemer.
As we move into our time of prayer, let’s begin with a moment of silence as we each confess an area of temptation we are susceptible to slipping into, repenting of those times we have decided to go that direction, and asking Jesus to walk alongside us every day, as our Savior and our Lord.
Family Bible Study; “Advanced Bible Study Commentary”; Winter 2002-03; Pp. 58-65.