We all have an inner voice that tells us all kinds of things. Sometimes we say to ourselves, “How could you be so stupid.” Other times we tell ourselves encouraging words like, “Nailed it!” But we all have that inner voice.
It’s our biggest critic and her biggest fan. It has our attention and we listen to our inner voice whether we influence it or someone else does. It tells us the truth and it lies to us. It suggests things to us and we often obey it.
We’ve been talking about temptation and how to deal with it. As Christians, we cannot allow temptation to rule over us. It will lead to sin that leads to death. Instead, we want to glorify God and please him in everything that we do.
Last time we examined how temptation lures us in until we are trapped in our sins. James makes it seem impossible to escape. But Paul teaches us in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that there is a way to escape temptation when it comes to us.
Paul talks about temptation in the midst of a section of 1 Corinthians dealing with meat sacrificed to idols. The Christians were unsure whether it was okay to eat meat that may have been sacrificed to idols in their city. While Paul’s answering this, he addresses temptation briefly.
He begins 1 Corinthians 10 talking about how the Old Testament and the characters from it helpless as Christians because they are examples to us of what not to do. He is specifically referring to the idolatry of the Israelites in the wilderness.
These chapters from 1 Corinthians 8-10 deal with idolatry. Because the Corinthians came from a pagan background, the lure of idolatry must be strong. It seems they want to avoid it when they are even considering that meat may be sacrificed to idols and offered to them if they go to someone’s house.
Paul says that temptations and sending against God put him to the test (1 Corinthians 10:9). Sometimes we might think that we can be tempted and allow ourselves a bit of grace. We must not presume that God doesn’t notice. Premeditated sin is a slippery slope.
Romans 6:1 tells us that we don’t sin so that grace may increase. But Christians sometimes think that they can flirt with temptation and still remain pure before the Lord. We push the line a bit farther and farther. But we are not the ones who decide where the lines are. That belongs to the Lord.
And he sets the bar high. It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us that we are able to come close to meeting his standards. It’s not because we’re wicked. It is because holiness is not achieved through our own works or merit. It’s a journey of obedience to the Spirit.
Five Lies of Temptation
- I’ve Got This (1 Corinthians 10:12). Reverse humility is a dangerous foe. It’s actually pride. The moment we pat ourselves on the back that we are obeying the Holy Spirit and we’ve got this down is the moment the enemy of temptation strikes.
- I’m on My Own (1 Corinthians 10:13). Every time temptation finds us we think we have to combat it on our own. We’ll have to figure it out. All we need is our self and Jesus. But God didn’t make Lone Ranger Christians. The community of faith is our resource.
- No One Understands (1 Corinthians 10:13). We ask ourselves if we are the only person who has ever faced this temptation or its intensity. God is with us and he is faithful to us. Jesus understands more than anybody what we go through (Hebrews 4:15). Satan tells us not to ask for help because no one else has ever felt this way or fight this battle. But he is a liar and others have experienced this temptation. Temptation and sin lose their power when exposed to the light.
- I’m in over My Head (1 Corinthians 10:13). Temptation is so overwhelming and intense that we feel like giving up is our only option. We feel we are against the storm of temptation that swirls around us. And we feel inadequate, unable to handle what has been placed in our lap. God won’t let us be tempted beyond our ability. It doesn’t mean we won’t face what feels like an impossible temptation. It means that God is with us and we must rely on him and lay the temptation at his feet.
- I Can’t Get Away (1 Corinthians 10:13). After reading James 1:13-15, we think we must give into temptation because it never goes away. God always provides a way out, a way to escape it. His presence guides us out of the storm. We must resist it. We must rely on his strength and power. He gives us the ability to endure every temptation. We escape the temptation by running to him.
One of the ways to avoid temptation is through humility. Pride tells us that we are licking this temptation and sin stuff. We’re beyond this. We don’t need this lesson again. Pride brings us to the brink of the precipice. If we don’t humble ourselves, we will fall in head first.
Pride is a tricky adversary. Reverse humility is even more dangerous. We take pride in our humility but that doesn’t help us. At least with pride the alarm goes off in our hearts. With reverse humility we never see the enemy sneaking up on us.
God is our only ally in the midst of temptation. When we call on him and put the temptation in his hands, we can flee. But we must choose to run to God. He is our way of escape. We can’t trust in our own willpower, mental abilities, or anything else in our arsenal.
One way of escape God may suggest to each of us is accountability. Temptation has no power when others know our struggle. Don’t pick an accountability partner who struggles with the same temptations you do. All that will happen is the blind lead the blind into the same pit.
These are some of the lies of the enemy of temptation and some of the options that don’t completely solve temptation, for it will always attack when we least expect it. But these options will help us to kick fear to the curb and put it in its place.
Look for every way of escape to avoid the trap of temptation. Leave a comment and tell me some of the ways you have found to escape temptation in your life.