When You Are Tempted…

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)

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.

Our Verse of the Day encourages us to continue the pursuit of holiness for our lives. Let’s break it down and examine it in more detail:

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.

No matter what you are going through … no matter what you face in the battle against sin in your life … there is someone else who has waged the same fight. The sinful human nature is common to the human life we experience here on earth. And if you have been “overtaken” by the sin that so easily ensnares you (Cf. Hebrews 12:1), know that you are not alone. What you have allowed to become a stronghold in your life is common to all mankind. And I believe the greatest temptation that has overtaken any human is the sin of “unbelief.” I think when most sin occurs is when we are most vulnerable to its deception and we have fallen into faithlessness toward God. Yes, when we ignore His invitation to intimacy, we lose the awareness that God sees all! David asked: “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” (Cf. Psalm 139:7) Indeed, there is no place we can go outside of His presence. When we wander from God, we do not leave His presence; rather, we abandon His divine power and His hand upon our lives. Unbelief weakens us! It renders us powerless to overcome sin rather than being mighty to the pulling down of strongholds. Yet, there is an answer to this plight of temptation!

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NIV)

3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

The reason temptation can overtake us is because we try to fight the battle in our flesh and not in the Spirit realm. Our weapons to resist and flee are not natural but spiritual! And those weapons are fasting, prayer, and the sword of the Spirit – which is the Word of God! (Cf. Ephesians 6:17) Paul instructs us to put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil (temptation) comes, we may be able to stand our ground, and after we have done everything, to stand. (Cf. Ephesians 6:13). Even Jesus was not exempt from being tempted by Satan when He was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness! With every high and lofty arrow of temptation aimed straight for His heart, Jesus responded to Satan with Scripture: “It is written….” (Cf. Matthew 4:1-10) So, do we know the Word of God well enough to fight or resist temptation? Are we spiritually armored up to do battle and to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ? Spiritual warfare is real, my friends! And on the battlefields of our minds and hearts, the war will be won or lost….

God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.

I think far too often we lose battles and wave our white flags of surrender because we have not prepared ourselves for the war. When we “cave to crave” we have not yet reached what we can bear. Remember, God will not let us be tempted (tested) beyond what we can bear! So, what happens? Why do we sometimes fail? I believe James gives us some insight:

James 1:12-15 (NIV)

12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

So, we see that temptation comes from within our hearts. We just examined the condition of man – when the Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. (Cf. Genesis 6:5) David asked, “Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin”? (Cf. Psalm 20:9) Paul observed that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Cf. Romans 3:23) And John asserted: “If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His Word is not in us.” (Cf. 1 John 1:10) We need clean hearts and right spirits in order to find the path to victory!

What an encouragement to know that even when we are tempted … even when we are weak or faithless … God is still faithful to us. Indeed, His kindness is always intended to lead us to repentance. (Cf. Romans 2:4) David found that place of repentance; and we would do well to carefully observe His confession. I encourage you to read Psalm 51 … but this excerpt is what came to my heart: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” (Cf. Psalm 51:10-12) And John affirmed, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (Cf. 1 John 1:9)

But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

The truth of the matter is you and I will be tempted. The text does not read, “But IF you are tempted….” No human being is or has ever been without temptation. It has become part of our human experience since the transgression of Adam and Eve. And even though God showed Himself mighty to deliver His people, they still wandered and rebelled against Him. God demonstrated His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Cf. Romans 5:8) And yet Jesus asked, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Cf. Luke 18:8) Faith is essential in this battle against temptation, because faith determines whether or not we will engage our human will to resist each temptation that comes. I am reminded what Moses wrote:

Deuteronomy 8:2-5 (NIV)

2 Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands. 3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. 4 Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. 5 Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you. 6 Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in obedience to Him and revering Him.

God took His people into the wilderness and then He led them through it. God caused His people to hunger … and then He fed them. So, I think it is important for us to realize the testing and trials that the Lord allows are not temptations; rather, they are used to expose the truth of what lies within our hearts. As Peter explained: “These (trials) have come so that the genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (Cf. 1 Peter 1:7) And James encouraged: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (Cf. James 1:2-4)

My friends, we will all be sifted! We will all be subjected to temptation … in order to test the sincerity of our faith! But let me encourage you, that even now, Jesus sits at the right hand of God and He is interceding for us. (Cf. Hebrews 7:24-25) God may send you into the wilderness, but He will lead you through it. God may allow you to hunger and thirst, but He will fill you and sustain your life. God may allow Satan to sift you with temptation to test the genuineness of your faith, but Jesus will intercede for you so that your faith may not fail. Praise Him!

So Now You Know…

Have a Blessed Day!

“I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You.” ~ Psalm 119:11

Does God Know You?

Job 23:10-11 (NIV)

But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold. My feet have closely followed His steps; I have kept to His way without turning aside.

Did you know that the Book of Job is the oldest one in the compilation of the Holy Scriptures? Biblical scholars believe Job to be a contemporary of Abraham in the Ancient Near East.  The importance of this story of Job is that it provides us with some amazing insights into the relationship between God and man. Job delves into the many questions each of us have probably already asked of God along the way of our own faith journeys.  We often wonder why “bad things happen to good people,” and Job probes the purposes and will of God in afflictions and sufferings. So I like this excerpt from Chapter 23 because it does raise some personal questions for us to examine as we walk with God through this experience of life:

But He knows the way that I take.

Job asserts that God knows him … knows him intimately. Ask yourself: “Does God know the way that I take?”  Because He is God, the obvious answer is, “Yes.”  But what are the implications of His omniscience?  Does it impact the way we conduct ourselves – understanding that God sees us … that we are continually before Him even though we cannot see Him?  Does it mean that God has already determined the course we will take in life?  Then how does “free will” interact in this process?  Fascinating to ponder … but we should take a deeper look at this issue. Are we consciously desiring to please God with the decisions we make in our walk each day?

When He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.

Job asserts that when God evaluates him (tests his faith) that he will pass the test!  How do you feel about that kind of boldness?  Would you consider it arrogant?  Yet Job appears to have complete confidence in his faith toward God.  Do you ever question the steadfastness of your own faith?  Why?  Note that Job is forward looking in his statement: “WHEN God has tested him.”  Job sees testing as a given.  He expects it!  So I believe we should, too.  And the “coming forth as gold” does not necessarily mean that he passed every test that he endured.  We most likely have not and will not either. However, I believe it does mean that Job expected God to refine him in the processes of testing such that the final outcome of his life would be purity or holiness toward God….  Think about that one for personal application if you will….

My feet have closely followed His steps.

Job asserts that He has stayed in step with God and His will has been revealed to him.  Remember, Job lived long before Moses gave the Ten Commandments, so the basis on which Job made this assertion is unclear.  However, we do know there would have been an oral tradition at a minimum from the time of Adam until Abraham.  There were customs and traditions of worship shaped by the faithful remnant of each generation. I like to think that Abraham and Job both shared a profound understanding of what it means to “believe” God.  And written sources from the period which were “morally instructive” and incorporated the wisdom given by God.  The Apostle Paul even wrote about the “natural” knowledge of God all people should possess in his Letter to the Romans:

Romans 1:18-20 (NIV)

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

If you think about it … there is a natural, innate knowing that God exists … that He created us … that He wants relationship with us … and that He communicates and reveals His purpose and will to man through His Spirit … His Word … and in these last days through His Son.  (Cf. Hebrews 1:1-2) I think, bottom line, we just need to listen!

I have kept to His way without turning aside.

Job asserts that He has not wavered in his faith or in his conduct based upon the obedience of faith.  Again, I find Job to be quite bold in his claim because I’d say few of us have been that “perfect” in our walk with God.  Maybe you have self-discipline of Job … but I have stumbled along the way and turned aside from time to time.  Yet, God in His grace has brought me to repentance and disciplined me as needed to correct my waywardness.  The writer of the Book of Hebrews gives us some insight (and comfort) along these lines:

Hebrews 12:4-11 (NIV)

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and He chastens everyone He accepts as His son.” (Quotes Proverbs 3:11-12) Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as His children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in His holiness11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Nevertheless; righteous Job … patient Job … remained obedient to the way of the Lord.  He turned neither to the right nor the left but made his path straight.  He was steadfast.  And God was pleased with Job … and found delight in him.  So I’m not sure the question is whether or not we have turned aside at any point in our walk with God (whether presumptuously or otherwise); but rather, “Is your relationship with God like one would have with their father?”  Do you receive chastisement or discipline from God with the same respect or reverence you would from an earthly father?  Though imperfect, our earthly fathers did what they thought best to guide us in godly or acceptable behavior. But our Heavenly Father is perfect in His manner with us.  He is the most trustworthy person we can have in our lives.  And we can expect that He is going to discipline us out of His great love for us….

Well, I might have let my thoughts ramble a bit too much, but even a few verses from the Old Testament can move us … can stir us … and help us see how God has always ordained for us to live righteous lives and to pursue His holiness.  He designed us … He created us in His image to enjoy life itself … life as He defined it and intended it for us … abiding in Him and He in us.  How I pray each of us will fully grasp that we can have a life of fellowship with God like Job did.  And this life is found in His Son. For without Jesus, there is no life. (Cf. 1 John 5:11-12)

So Now You Know….

Have a Blessed Day!