What tempts you? Delicious foods? Overindulgence of food? TV shows? Hobbies? Possessions? A new car? Men? Women? You name it.
Temptation in and of itself is simply an invitation. Admittedly, it is a very enticing, powerful invitation that can be hard to turn away from. How do you say “no” to temptation? Is it possible to be strong enough? In 1st Corinthians 10:1-13, Paul says that we need to be careful that we don’t think of ourselves as stronger than we really are. Instead we need to be strengthened by God to stand up under the temptation.
“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. 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 stand up under it.”
I love and I hate that image. I love it because it is real. Temptation doesn’t just go away like I wish it would. And Paul is saying that, despite my protestations to the contrary, God doesn’t always just remove the temptation. In fact, it seems most often he allows it to remain. That’s why I hate this image. The image of Atlas holding up the world, or a weightlifter standing up under a heavy barbell. I want life to be easy, comfortable, and temptation is the opposite. I don’t know that I want to be strengthened to stand up under temptation because that means I have to deal with temptation. I often don’t want to deal with it at all. But there is God saying that he will strengthen us to stand up under temptation.
How does that work, though? How does God strengthen us to defeat temptation?
First, like Paul said, we need to be careful that we don’t fall, if we think we are standing firm. Admit our weaknesses. Be honest about it. It will do no good lying to yourself and others. Admit it straight up. The first step toward victory is admitting that you have a temptation. Admit it to yourself first. Then admit it to the Lord. Take it to him in prayer.
Remember the Lord’s Prayer? “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” I love that because it is admission of our weakness, and it is a cry out to the Lord for help! That line from the Lord’s Prayer should be on the tips of our tongues all day long. It says “Lord, I don’t have the strength to be holy like you want to be holy. Would you strengthen me? Would you help me stand up under the temptation?”
Second, talk about it with others. We ALL struggle. We’re not the only ones.
And getting it out in the open with people will do a couple things. 1. Verify that you are not alone, and that you are not the only. It is encouraging when you realize that others are struggling alongside you. 2. It will lead toward accountability.
The internet is one of the most tempting places ever invented. If you are standing firm, be careful you don’t fall. Put internet filters on your computers and on your cell phones. There are a number of excellent options. Write down these names: Accountable2You, Covenant Eyes, and X3. I have X3 on my laptop. We have Covenant Eyes on our home computer. This is for men and women!
These filters/accountability software programs are great ways that you can be strengthened to stand up under temptation.
Another big one that Paul brings up is that the Israelites grumbled. Again, men and women: When things got tough, they got so negative. What about you? How do you handle the difficulties, the difficult people? Do you quickly get negative, grumble, complain? Look over your Facebook posts from the last few weeks. Are they fussy, critical, and complaining? There is a way out. Before you type the words and hit the “post” button, are you evaluating yourself? Do you have someone in your life that can speak honestly to you, if your attitude, your words are negative.
If you need to make a change somehow, then make a change!
Finally, make your temptations a matter of prayer. Paul says that the Lord will strengthen you to stand up under the temptation.
Feel free to discuss below, and listen to the whole sermon here.