Before I begin I will define some key words used throughout the lesson.
TEMPT- to entice to do wrong by promise of pleasure or gain. To allure into evil. To test. To induce to do something.
TEMPTATION- the act of tempting. The state of being tempted, esp. to do evil.
IDOLATRY- the worship of a physical object as a god.
FORNICATION- human sexual intercourse other than between a man and his wife.
Temptation to sin is a fact of life. It can be very difficult to resist temptation. A lot of times, things look really good, but the Bible teaches that they are wrong. We are all tempted to do wrong, but if we have a good relationship with God and are listening for Him to speak His will for our lives, He will give us the strength to resist temptation. We must rely on the power of God to resist temptation, and overcoming one temptation will make us stronger to overcome the next one.
We must seek God's presence in our lives so we can overcome temptation. It is hard enough, even with God's help, to keep from doing wrong things, but it is almost impossible without God's help. To keep from giving in to temptation, we must seek His will through prayer and the reading of His Word on a daily basis. Prayer is a powerful defense mechanism against the temptation which leads to sin. When we ask God in prayer to help us resist temptation, He will do so. When we arm ourselves with the Word of God by putting on His armor, we become invincible and immune to sin.
I am going to spend some time discussing the dangers of giving in to temptation by using the Scriptures from I Corinthians 10: 6-13, and other background Scriptures.
I Corinthians 10: 1-5 reads, "Moreover, Brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our Fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of the spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness."
In these verses Paul reminds us that the people of Israel were brought out of Egypt through the Red Sea. With the water on both sides and the cloud covering them above, they "were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea." After that, God supplied them with food and water in the desert. Still they complained, sinned, and rebelled so much that most of them were not allowed to reach the Promised Land. Paul compares the Christian life with this wilderness experience of Israel. We have been rescued from sin and baptized into Christ. In our spiritual journey on earth we are fed by God's Word and strengthened by the Holy Spirit. But if we spend our lives in sin and rebellion, we can still be shut out of the Promised Land, Heaven. The printed text continues the comparison, warning us not to fall into the same sins that Israel committed in the wilderness.
I Corinthians 10:6 reads, "Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted."
Lust usually means sexual desire in modern English, but the Greek word means desire of any kind, either good or bad. The fault of the Hebrews on their journey was that they desired evil things, and that is what we are warned not to do. Two of the evil things are specified: idolatry and fornication.
I Corinthians 10:7 reads, "Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play."
Idolatry is referred to in the events recorded in Exodus 32. Israel was at Sinai when Moses went up into the mountain to receive instructions from God and was gone forty days. "And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights." (Exodus 24:18) Not long before, the people had heard God, "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image....Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them." (Exodus 20:4-5) The people had promised, "All the words which the Lord hath said will we do." (Exodus 24:3) But now they persuaded Aaron to make an idol, and they bowed down and woshiped it.
Is that just ancient history with no meaning for us today? Collossians 3:5 says, "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry."
This verse speaks of "covetousness, which is idolatry." Have you ever felt envious because your neighbor has a newer car, a bigger house, a more handsome husband, or a prettier wife? Have you ever gotten the best of someone in a business deal, kept too much change, or cheated on your income tax returns? Covetousness is not the only form of idolatry. Is your own time or comfort of pleasure worth more to you than meeting with the Lord's people? Does the hour of worship find you on your knees praying or on your knees polishing your car? There are more idols in the twenty-first century than Aaron could have ever made.
I Corinthians 10:8 reads, "Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand."
As I defined earlier, fornication is human sexual intercourse other than between a man and his wife. Numbers 25:1-9 records this disaster. The people of Israel camped in or near the territory of Moab. Women of Moab and Midian seduced men of Israel, not only to go to bed with them, but to join them in worshiping their imaginary god. According to law, both idolatry and adultery were punished by death. (Deuteronomy 17:2-5; 22:22-24) Moses told the judges to execute the guilty men of Israel. There was also a plague or epidemic that killed thousands. Paul says one who commits fornication sins against his own body. (I Corinthians 6:18) And I Corinthians 6:9-10 adds, "Neither fornicators, nor idolaters....shall inherit the Kingdom of God."
The Hebrews in the wilderness did a lot of grumbling and complaining when they were "much discouraged because of the way." They were tired of breaking camp and moving often, tired of eating manna, anxious about water supply. On one occasion the Lord punished them with a plague of poisonous serpents that brought death to many.
"And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned; for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole; and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived."
When our basic needs are met, we ought to be grateful instead of grumbling.
I Corinthians 10:13 reads, "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it."
With all the examples of history before us, there is no excuse for doing wrong. Paul takes issue with the easy excuses that are offered. For example, we often hear it said that this generation faces temptations never known before. Paul says there hath no temptation taken you but such is common to man. True, pot was not peddled on every campus way back then, but opium was available to those who were foolish enough to take it. Lust and fornication, grumbling and rebellion against God----these are almost as old as the human race itself. If they are more prevalent today, it is not because former generations were not tempted, but because they resisted the temptation. Consider another excuse that is often heard: "The temptation was overpowering, irresistible. He couldn't stand against it." Is that so? Paul says God....will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able. God is in control. He sets limits for Satan. He knows how much temptation you can stand, and He will not let any more than that come to you. If you give in to temptation, it is because you are not doing your best. God is faithful in limiting temptation to match our ability; we must be faithful in resisting to the best of our ability. There is always a way of escape, but we must take that way. And that way is JESUS, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Through His only Begotten Son, God Provides Strength in Times of Temptation.
quotes by c. j. bell
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