“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 Corinthians 10:13)
Food For Thought… One of those “ways out” from temptation that Paul talks about is for us to take a good, long look at the plethora of Old Testament saints who crashed and burned at some point in their spiritual journey. In the previous verses, Paul writes,
“These things happened to [these Old Testament saints] as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (I Corinthians 10:11-12)
In other words, all you have to do is slow down and do a little Old Testament “rubbernecking” and it will make you think twice about making their mistakes. You know what “rubbernecking” is? It’s when you slow your car down and gawk at an accident along the side of the road. And if you have children in the car, you warn them: “Kids, that’s what happens when you don’t pay attention when you are driving!” My dad did that to me on occasion, and I’ve repeated the tradition with my children.
One of the greatest defenses against temptation of any kind if to slow way down, take a good, long look, and make the connection between what they did and what you’re about to do. That little cost-benefit analysis will likely lead you to say, “whoa, I don’t want what happened to David to happen to me.”
Take a leisurely afternoon drive through Old Testament country and look at the wrecks along the path of some of our faith-heroes. Take one look at what happened to Abraham in Genesis 16. Abraham got ahead of God’s timing with having a son, and Ishmael was the result. If you are wondering why that should be a warning sign, I’ve got three words for you: Arab-Israeli Conflict.” That’s what happens when you don’t trust God.
Take one look at Moses in Numbers 20:1-13. Moses decided to go a little beyond what God had commanded, and he struck the rock twice when God had told him only to command water to come forth from it. Because Moses tried to help God out, his disobedience caused him to forfeit entrance into the land of promise. Let that be a lesson to you: Even small sins can have huge consequences.
Take one look at David in I Samuel 11. A midlife crisis in a season of boredom along with an unwieldy use of power led to an adulterous affair. The affair led to a cover up which led to conspiracy which led to the deaths of some innocent people which led to a family in deep and abiding turmoil for years to come. That’s what happens when you choose a few minutes of fleshly pleasure over self-control.
Take one look at these good people who made bad decisions, and consider the outcome of their actions. Take one look and then hear Paul’s words loud and clear: “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (I Corinthians 10:12)
What temptations are you facing? Just remember, others stronger and closer to God than you faced those same temptations. They ignored the warning signs and they failed. And if they could, they would shout, “Don’t you do it! Just look what happened to me!”
In truth, they are shouting to you. Their examples are written down in God’s Word for your benefit. So take a good, long look. Do a little rubbernecking.
That is your way out!
Prayer… Father, when I am tempted to sin, bring the faces of Abraham, Moses, David and other Bible saints clearly into my mind and remind me from their examples of what happens when we choose not to follow you.
One More Thing… “Temptation usually comes in through a door that has deliberately been left open.” —Arnold Glasow