Summary: All Christians can overcome temptation by taking the way out that is provided.
There’s a real benefit to the ability to resist temptation... especially in the realm of sin.
For some, it will be easier than others – but if any of us wants to succeed in our spiritual lives – let alone the rest of our lives – we must come to grips with how to overcome temptation.
That’s what we’ll be looking at today. There’s a few verses in 1 Cor 10 that discuss temptation and how we can overcome it. And let me tell you this right up front – the 3 application points in the scripture are quite simple it’s a simple truth, but they are difficult to implement!
TRANS: The first word on overcoming temptation that we’ll find is this:
1. Quit hoping for a miraculous cure for your temptations (v. 1-10)
1 Corinthians 10:1-10 (NIV)
1For 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. 2They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3They all ate the same spiritual food 4and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert.
6Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7Do 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 pagan revelry." 8We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9We should not test the Lord, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.
Sometimes we say things like “If only God would show himself, then I’d have faith.” OR “If only God would do a miracle, then I’d have faith.”
Have you read anything from the Old Testament recently? In 1 Cor 10 Paul recounts all the ways they messed up and how God reacted.
When the Israelites were led out of slavery in Egypt, they had all sorts of benefits. God’s presence led them in a cloud by day, and with a pillar of fire at night. They had a leader who actually met with God and talked with him in such a way that they had supernatural revelation from him. God worked all sorts of miracles to free them from slavery, and to feed them every day. Yet all of this was not enough to keep them from falling into temptations of idol worship, sexual immorality, testing God’s goodness, and just simply grumbling.
See – having miracles done in your life will not keep you from being tempted to sin. Having an incredible church, with godly small group leaders, will not do it either. It didn’t work for the Israelites, and it will not work for us today!
So instead of wishing that God would just “show up” and save the day when we’re tempted, we are going to have to take some other tactic for overcoming temptation.
2. Be vigilant in your fight against temptations! (v. 11-12)
1 Corinthians 10:11-12 (NIV)
11These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. 12So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!
“I haven’t had any problems with computer viruses in a while. I don’t need my firewall today. I think I’ll just browse the net and make a bunch of internet purchases without it today.”
“I haven’t felt tempted by sexual images in a while. I think I could watch that R rated movie.”
“You know I haven’t gossiped in a long time – I could probably call that friend and ask just a few questions about our mutual friend – just to pray for her of course!”
Never forget what Peter tells us about the devil:
1Peter 5:8 (NIV)
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
ILLUS: We’ve all seen those nature movies that show how lions hunt other animals. They are extremely smart. Instead of going for the strongest – they try and get a weak/young/small animal separated from the pack and then they pounce.
The moment you leave your “pack” (translated: small group) you put yourself in danger of attack.
The moment you start thinking you have overcome and have arrived spiritually is the moment you’re asking for trouble.
ILLUS: This is why in 12-step groups such as AA they always introduce themselves by saying “My name is _____, and I am an alcoholic.” These people realize that even though they may have been clean and sober for years – the possibility always exists to fall back into the sin that once held them.