Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Based Upon 1 Corinthians 10
Some of us are just too cocky. I must admit that I come from a social culture of extreme over confidence. I grew up in the city whose Stock Exchange has become the most powerful in the U.S., and maybe even the world. We boast the largest subway system in the world. It is the flamboyant birthplace of streetball, hip-hop music, and arguably, the modern skyscraper. And the last claim to fame I referenced, gives credence to my first sentence, since another city has equal or greater reason to claim this accomplishment. Our city is a melting pot of doers. It is a city undaunted by terrorism, unintimidated by threats of economic collapse, unimpressed by incredible feats of accomplishment. We are the gateway to the American Dream.
During the Old Testament era, the people of God had many reasons to feel special: They were the apple of God’s eye; to them was entrusted the oracles of God; to them God spoke the Ten Commandments; from among them God rose up the Redeemer of the world. Yet, at times they allowed these privileges to go to their heads. They often disobeyed their loving God, and brought reproach upon His name, and judgments upon themselves. Their story of tragedy and triumph is set in the eternal Word of God for our learning. We learn about the equal mercy and justice of God. We learn about His sovereignty. We learn about ourselves, how we should never become self-confident. We learn that if we think that we stand strong in our own abilities, we should take heed, lest we fall. Thankfully, we learn that our God is able to keep us from falling and present us before the Father with unutterable joy.
Temptations are an inevitable part of every person’s experience here on earth. The devil stops at nothing to sidetrack and discourage us. He knows that he cannot force us to do wrong, so he litters our pathways with ample opportunities to see some forbidden experience as more enjoyable or desirable than God’s ideal for us. And his manifold means of doing this really just boils down to this: No matter to what vice he lures our minds, if we consent, he has accomplished his purpose–to place a wedge between us and our God.
Let me say at the outset, that temptation is not sin. The Bible shows us how this works: “Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted from God; for God is incapable of being tempted by [what is] evil and He Himself tempts no one. But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions). Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death” (James 1:13–15, AMP).
So, temptation is not the issue here. The issue is how we handle that which can possibly mature into sin. Whenever there is some desire that arises in us that goes against God’s will, if we rush to Him in prayer and faith, we do not have to succumb and sin. “For no temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin), [no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear]. But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently. Therefore, my dearly beloved, shun (keep clear away from, avoid by flight if need be) any sort of idolatry (of loving or venerating anything more than God)” (1 Corinthians 10:13–14, AMP).
I must underscore that temptation in and of itself is not sin, and the Most High is able to keep us from falling. With every temptation that comes, He has already provided a door through which we can escape and remain faithful to Him. The key here is that He is faithful, He has provided the victory, and He has made a way of escape. We must simply remain surrendered to Him and we are safe.
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