Summary: The sermon discusses the problem of temptation and how Christians can learn to deal with temptation.
Sermon for January 11, 2004 - Deal with Temptation
A survey in a Christian magazine asked readers a very personal question. What in life presents you with the greatest spiritual challenge? So those who answered ranked areas of greatest spiritual challenge to them. And once the survey totals were tallied, this was the order of those challenges:
1. Materialism. 2. Pride. 3. Self-centeredness. 4. Laziness. 5. (Tie) Anger/Bitterness.6. (Tie) Sexual lust. 7. Envy. 8. Gluttony. 9. Lying.
Discipleship Journal, 11-12/92
Oscar Wilde said, “The best way to deal with temptation is to yield to it”
Mark Twain said “There are several good protections against temptation, but the surest is cowardice”.
Benjamin Franklin said, “It is easier to suppress the first desire than to satisfy all that follow it”.
T.S. Eliot famously said, “Human kind cannot bear very much reality”.
My topic tonight is a tough one and an important one. It’s actually one that brings us all onto the same page. My topic is Temptation, and our scripture this evening speaks to this topic in some very interesting and challenging ways. You may not find this message the most comforting you’ve ever heard, but I want to try and deal with this area because it is so hugely important for us to learn to be real with ourselves about. It’s one thing ever getting the courage to talk to others but our temptations - our real temptations. Something that may be harder still is facing them ourselves.
Janet Malcolm, an American author said, and I’m paraphrasing, “There are a few among us...who...(are able to) block out the unpleasantness of self-knowledge. Their lies to themselves are so convincing that they are never unmasked. These are the people who never feel in the wrong, who are always able to justify their conduct, and who in the end...
cause their fellow-men to turn from them”.
Most of us want to understand ourselves better. Many of us sometimes scratch our heads at our own behaviours. For a Christian, self-knowledge is one of the big KEYS to being students of Jesus, to being disciples of our Saviour and God. So we need to pause and think. And tonight our focus is the whole issue of temptation, and our text, as you’ve heard is 1 Corinthians 10:1-15. Let’s have a closer look at our passage tonight.
1 Cor 10:1 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 1 Cor 10:2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 1 Cor 10:3 They all ate the same spiritual food 1 Cor 10:4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.
Paul is making an important statement here. He’s really saying that these folks were just like us. He builds what he’s saying as you’ll see because he wants to protect us from trying to distance ourselves from the ones who have gone before us by saying we’re cut from a different cloth.
Paul really does emphasize this. He says that their source, unbeknownst to them, was Jesus, the Christ. He is speaking about the pre-existent Christ, the Son who has always been with the Father; the Son who is the second person of the holy Trinity. The cloud and the parting of the sea were evidence of God being with them. That which nourished their spirits also was God in Christ. Paul is saying that like the Corinthians, the people of Israel were in relationship with
In the book of first Corinthians Paul is writing to a pretty motley crew of a church. They had all kinds of really, really bad behaviours. If you want to know what I mean in detail I encourage you to read the book this week. They were participating in all kinds of sin and damaging behaviour and thinking that this was perfectly normal and healthy. They thought that way because they were a young church made up of folks who were part of the culture of ancient Corinth.
In the pagan religious practices of that day, what we understand as sin was very often celebrated in their pagan worship. Each and every one of the believers in the church in Corinth had come out of that setting where these behaviours were commonplace, normal. So when Paul wrote to this church, he was teaching them a new normal, new behaviours that were honouring to God and not destructive to them.
Discipleship is really about learning a new normal, God’s norms. The wisest way to live our lives. The healthiest way to relate to one another. So here in vv1-4 Paul emphasizes the sameness of the people of Israel, God’s chosen people. They are just like us. After making this connection between the Corinthian church and the people of Israel, Paul goes on to say some hard things: