Friday, January 17, 2014

Double-edged temptation

Frowning woman holding phone away from her ear.
TODAY'S SPECIAL: 1 Corinthians 10:1-17

TO CHEW ON: "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape that you may be able to bear it." 1 Corinthians 10:13

I bet you've seen this verse before! It's one I've quoted to myself and others to remind us that temptation—provocation to do evil, to sin—is not irresistible. But the writer of my Bible's notes on 1 Corinthians reminds me that  "temptation" has two meanings;
1] Enticement to sin
2] Testing in general.

He suggests that here "The word should probably be understood in the broad sense with the further understanding that while God permits testing for the purpose of strengthening faith and character, Satan entices to evil for the purpose of destruction" Donald Pickerell, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1592.

James speaks of the second kind of character-producing tests: "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. …Blessed is the man who endures temptation for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life" - James 1:2-4, 12.

It's interesting to note Paul's conclusion here in verse 13 in the light of what he has just reminded us of—the Israelites and how they failed their wilderness tests. Those certainly served that dual purpose of enticing them to sin and strengthening them if and when they resisted (Deuteronomy 8:2,16; 13:3).

Let's take Paul's words to the Corinthians to heart for ourselves today as we keep in mind:

1. Our temptations aren't unique either. They are also "common to man."

2. We must be on the lookout for temptation's escape route, that chink in temptation's armour. Some ideas:
  • Leave the room.
  • Close the laptop; shut down the tablet; exit the smartphone.
  • Stop reading the book or magazine (destroy it if need be).
  • Quote a memorized verse of Scripture (Jesus' method - Matthew 4:4,7,10).
  • If the temptation is to grumble, criticize etc., change focus. Think of things for which you're grateful, ways in which you appreciate the person you're tempted to criticize.
  • Recall how bad, guilty, and remorseful you felt last time you gave in to this temptation.
Can you think of more?

3. As we resist Satan's temptations to sin, we show what we're made of—what's really in our hearts
(Deuteronomy 8:2,16) even as our spiritual muscles are toned for temptation's next onslaught.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to recognize temptation when it comes, and to have the presence of mind to look for a way out. Thank You that temptations and testings serve a purpose in Your plan. Amen. 


New King James Version (NKJV) Used with permission. The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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