By: Jim Kaseman
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.” (I Cor. 10:13 NKJ)
We may think that our individual situations and the problems in our personal environments are unique to us – that we are experiencing a
one-of-a-kind attack upon our steadfastness in the Christian walk. But God informs us that this is not so. In the Scripture reference above, we see then that the temptations which dog our steps are not peculiar to our own private world; they are “common” to the human race. We also see that in His faithfulness, God sets a limit to the degree of temptation that comes our direction. It will not be more than we can handle. Furthermore, anytime it goes beyond that limit, God promises that He will protect us from that which exceeds our capacity for resistance.
In other words, God has given us a “way of escape” and that way is none other than Jesus Christ who conquered the necessity to yield to temptation. (Hebrews 4:15)
Let’s see if we can’t get a better I understanding of all that’s involved with temptation so that we may always escape!
The Bible informs us that all types of temptation can be classified in one of three categories: “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes,
and the pride of life.”(I John 2:16)
Temptation in itself is not sinful. It is how we respond to temptation that makes the difference.
The Bible says, “Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (James 1:14). In other words, when we are drawn into temptation, we have no one to blame but ourselves. It’s our own sinful desires that tempt us and motivate us to do wrong. According to God’s Word, temptation is a “snare” (I Tim. 6:9) and should be avoided. If you continue to allow yourself to be “enticed,” it will only be a matter of time before you will become “ensnared or trapped.”
Temptation in a Biblical sense is always a negative. Even in a secular sense, it is a word that alludes to evil.
Temptation never emanates from God. (James 1:13) Seducing is Satan’s thing – it’s his tool for destruction.
Temptation is a very real force and all of us are subjected to it! C.S. Lewis in his book, “Mere Christianity,” has this to say on the subject:
A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the enemy army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives into temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the fullest what temptation means – the only complete realist!
JESUS OUR EXAMPLE
Jesus is the only one who endured the whole gamut of temptation and still came through untouched! Because He was a complete victor in “all points” ever encountered in human experience, we can learn by following His example. How did Jesus type with temptation? Let’s find out:
TIME WITH GOD
In the Biblical account of Christ’s temptation on the mount, we find that Jesus did not face the crisis alone. (Matt. 4:1-11) Having just spent 40 days and nights fasting and praying and communing with the Father, Jesus was saturated with the presence of God. This was truly “the whole armor of God.” Very few of us would fall prey to the talons of temptation if we spent ample time with the Father.
WORD OF GOD
Another important principle is seen in the reliance Jesus demonstrated in the Holy Scriptures. Everytime Satan came up with one of his little schemes, Jesus countered with a passage from the written word. On the devil’s next attempt, he pretended piety, and he, too, quoted a passage from the Bible. His motive however, for Christ, being rooted and grounded in the Holy Scriptures, could see through the devil’s
heretical misinterpretation of the Word.
KNOW WHO YOUR ENEMY IS
Finally, Jesus was able to recognize who His enemy was. Many people have no idea that the devil is the instigator of the schemes they get sucked into. All I they see are very attractive offers – a chance to get rich quick, an opportunity for glamour, fame and power. They don’t take the time or make the effort to look behind the pseudo “beauty” to the ugliness of its satanic source. But Jesus knew He was dealing with the evil one and He rebuked him. “GET THEE BEHIND ME, SATAN,” Christ commanded. Never for a moment did Jesus confuse the “leading of the Lord” with “the lying of Lucifer!” Unfortunately, humans often do.
Seldom is temptation a one-time shot. We may resist the first time, but it keeps beckoning and whispering rationalization into our listening ears. If we hang around long enough, it will undermine our will power or won’t power and we topple to its evil suggestion. IN the word of Jesus we “enter into temptation.”
The, only way we can hope, to handle the subtle, but powerful pull of temptation is not only to spend time with God, use the Word of God,
know your enemy, but also to make a hasty exit and flee from the tempting situation. The Apostle Paul said to Timothy: “flee youthful
lusts.” This means to get up and run away from that which is tempting – to wait around is pure folly.
We can learn a lesson from the humble frog. I am told that if you drop a frog into boiling water, he will immediately jump out. But if you place him in a pot of lukewarm water and turn the heat on, he will stay there until finally, he boils it. When the temperature rises gradually, he is unaware of the danger.
So it is with temptation. When it’s offered us in small comfortable doses, we tell ourselves that it’s perfectly harmless. We make verbal attacks on “legalism” and rationalize about shedding our “out-dated” standards of Christian ethics. And before we are aware of it, we are doing things that previously we had vowed we would never do. Like the frog, we have stayed in the danger zone so long that we have “boiled” our consciences and do not even know that we have killed our Christian testimony. Through a process of gradualism, we have entered into temptation.
JESUS – THE WAY OF ESCAPE
Let us be vigilant and aware of the deceitfulness of the tempter. Let us cling to the only “way of escape,” our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…and let us follow His instructions. When we do this, temptation will never get the better of us and great will be our reward!
“Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised
to those who love Him.” (James 1:12)
(The above material is the March 1992 issue of the Jim Kaseman Ministries.)
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