A Promise of Overcoming Temptation"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." (1 Corinthians 10:13)
How's that for a great promise? I'm not sure offhand if
I can think of a better promise anywhere in the entire
Bible. It's the most universal promise I know because
everyone of us is tempted, aren't we?
Let's think about temptation for a moment before we
really delve into that promise and all that it means.
Mark Anthony, the famous philosopher, scholar, warrior,
and statesman, the one who was the suitor of Cleopatra.
A man who was almost without "peer" in history. His
tutor once said, "O Marcus, O colossal child, able to
conquer the world, but unable to resist the
temptation." I have a feeling that assessment doesn't
only describe Mark Anthony, how about you?
Temptations are certain - The first thing we can
say without any doubt is that temptations are certain.
A temptation is a trap that's set before you by Satan.
It's his lure to get you to sin.
We usually think of temptations as very negative
things, because they lead us to that which is our
destruction. But quite frankly, temptations are almost
always packaged very, very attractively.
Do you know the difference between a trial and a
James, the half brother of Jesus, makes that clear. He
says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you
face trials of many kinds, because you know that the
testing of your faith develops perseverance." (James
1:2-3) Therefore, a test (trial) is that which is
allowed upon you or even sent upon you by God for your
But in that same chapter down at verse 13, James says
"When tempted, no one should say, 'God is tempting me.'
For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt
You see temptations are sent by Satan for your
devastation. Tests are sent by God for our development.
Temptations are by designed for our devastation. As
long as the devil's around, there will be temptations.
You know the old adage that there are two certainties,
death and taxes, right? Well, there really is at least
one more. There will always be temptation. No one is
exempt, not the young, not the old, not the educated,
not the uneducated, not male, not female, not black and
not white. I don't care how many years or how closely
you've walked with God you will not be immune from
temptation. In fact let's debunk that myth right
There are a lot of people who believe the more
spiritual you are the more you will begin to vindicate
and abstain yourself from temptations. It's not
Look at the children of Israel, God's chosen people
back in the days of the Exodus when Moses led them out.
Look at the spiritual privileges and blessings that
Paul says in verse one, "For I do not want you to be
ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers
were all under the cloud and that they all passed
through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in
the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same
spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for
they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied
them, and that rock was Christ." (1 Corinthians
Do you see all the advantages they had? They had the
cloud, they followed it. They had the food from God.
They drank the water given to them by God. Paul said
Christ himself was accompanying them. "Nevertheless,
God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies
were scattered over the desert." (vs. 5) That's one of
the great understatements in the Bible. God was only
pleased with two of them out of about two million. Why?
They fell victim to temptation. Temptations are
Temptations are common - Though they come in
different guises, Satan uses the same basic ploys on
all of us.
We're told some of the temptations that the children of
Israel kept falling victim to. "Do not be idolaters, as
some of them were; as it is written: 'The people sat
down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan
revelry'." (vs. 7) Now idolatry is simply putting
something in God's place, giving some object his
preeminence and his status. It's true today as much as
it was in the days of the Israelites. It flourished in
Paul's day. It's a common temptation.
He said they fell victim to sexual immorality.
Not much has changed, has it? It's a common temptation.
"We should not test the Lord, as some of them did" (vs.
9) It's the idea of trying to put God on the
spot, playing games with him, testing his
patience and taking liberties with his mercies.
The children of Israel did that and oh so many people
do that now.
grumble, as some of them did - and were killed
by the destroying angel." (vs. 10) That may be the
greatest temptation facing believers then and now. What
I'm trying to get you to see is, every temptation that
Paul cited among the Israelites was present in his day
1,600 years later, and those same temptations are
present right now 1,900 years after Paul. Idolatry,
immorality, arrogance, discontentment; you boil it down
and we, humanity, share the same basic temptations.
Nothing has changed.
The Apostle John says in 1 John 2:16 that you can take
all the temptations and the sins they lead to, and
group them into one of three categories:
(1) lust of the flesh,
(2) lust of the eyes and
(3) pride of life.
But "No temptation has seized you (listen) except what
is common to man." (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Common pattern of Temptations - James tells us
the pattern. "Each one is tempted when, by his own evil
desire, he is dragged away and enticed." (1 John 1:14)
The Greek word that's used there for enticed is a
fishing term. It doesn't take much imagination to see
the principle does it? I'm not a very good fisherman,
but I understand the concept.
You take a hook, but you don't just throw the hook in
the water, do you? You've got to put something out
there called bait, or we even call it a lure. That's an
appropriate name. You see it has to be just the right
one for a bass if you're going after a bass or just the
right one for a trout if you're fishing for trout. When
that thing hits the water, you make it at-tractive, and
you pull on it and you twitch it and you get the
attention. Until finally so caught up by their own
desire for food, the fish hits it. James says that's
exactly the way it is between Satan and us. Sure
enough, the devil uses the same old bait on all of us,
and he keeps reeling us in.
Temptations are crafty. So, if you think you are
standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! (1
Corinthians 10:12) Oh be careful, temptations are so
crafty. If you think you've got some kind of spiritual
status and you're beyond all that now and you know your
maturity level has taken you to a whole sphere where
you don't worry about falling to temptation. Bam!
You're on your way down. In fact, we're told in the
Bible that pride goes before a fall. (Proverbs
The Pharisees caught themselves in that trap. They
thought they were so obedient they were beyond sin and
they didn't even recognize the fact that they were
wallowing in it. You never climb too high, you never
run too far. Be very, very careful about throwing
stones at someone else who has fallen victim to
temptation, because your time might be next. Now have I
scared you enough about temptation? Surely I have. It's
certain it's common and it's
crafty. But here is the best news, and this is
our promise. Temptation is conquerable. It really
Temptation is conquerable - "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."
(1 Corinthians 10:13) That passage tells us several
1. Our God is
faithful. He's not going to desert you when
temptation surrounds you. He's not going to let you
down. He's right there where He's always been and you
can count on Him. You can count on Him to do what? You
can count on Him to do things that are extremely
important. He will keep that temptation within limits
and boundaries. Now mark that down.
a. As strong as they
seem at times, temptations are not limitless. They
are bounded by God's power. Re-member they are
orchestrated by Satan, they're not random.
Temptations are like bait to a fish, luring us to
sin. But remember that God is stronger, wiser, and
ultimately going to defeat Satan. Nothing that
Satan uses as a ploy against us escapes God's
notice, nor does it supersede his power.
b. God knows the
power of every temptation. He knows each persons
limitations are different and the power of each and
every temptation. He will not let the combination
of those two things create an overload.
2. Temptation is
conquerable. When I have fallen victim to
temptation, and wanted to indict God for letting me
fall, though it was my own choice, I go back and reread
the conversation that Satan had with God Almighty the
book of Job, where God said to Satan you can test my
servant Job but you go this far and no farther. You see
God knew exactly what he was doing. He has limits.
So temptation is conquerable, first of all,
1. God will keep
temptation within limits.
2. God will provide
a way of escape. That is the most magnificent part
of the whole promise. When I find myself surrounded
by temptation, if I'll just keep my eyes open,
there's a way out right there. Sometimes I've had a
hard time believing that because my eyes were so
focused on the temptation. Have you ever fallen
victim to that?
Think about the fish analogy that James uses again. Is
the problem for that fish that it is in the water or is
the fish being drawn to the lure by its desire for
food? Is the problem that he doesn't have a way out?
He's got every way in the world out. He's got a whole
lake. He's got a whole ocean. He can take off and swim
in a million different directions. That's not the
problem. The problem is his attention is absolutely
obsessed on the bait. The great news is there's a
way of escape every time but one must focus on the
escape not the lure, the temptation.
Key defenses - What does the scripture teach us
about defenses against temptation? You prepare yourself
for those testing moments that Satan puts before you,
don't walk in blindly, or naively.
1. Run from
temptation. When you see a temptation that's
sent straight from the devil, run from it, don't toy
with it, don't flirt with it and don't entertain it.
Just run! You're not going to be the first human being
to try to whip the devil one on one. A lot of human
beings have tried and nobody has ever whipped the devil
one on one yet. Sam-son thought he was pretty strong,
didn't he? He thought he was tough. He thought he could
handle anything, but ask Delilah how weak he was.
Be like Joseph, who when Potiphar's wife grabbed him by
the coat and said, "come and lie with me." You talk
about fleeing from temptation, Joseph literally fled
and left his coat right there in her hand.
2. Guard your
thought life. Proverbs 23:7 says, "For as he
thinks in his heart, so is he." As the fountain is, so
will be the stream. Quench the spark and you stop the
fire. Philippians 4:8 says, "whatever is true, whatever
is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever
is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is
excellent or praise-worthy-think about such things. The
reason for that is simply this: temptation flourishes
on inconsistent thinking.
In the book of James, right after he talked about the
luring nature of temptations, like a bait before a
fish, he says, "Don't be deceived my brothers." You see
temptation is built upon the premise of deception. I've
wondered how many fish have been caught out there in
all those lakes. Once they're in that net and are being
pulled into the boat, I wonder how many of them are
thinking, I wish I hadn't swallowed that. I wonder how
many people who swallowed the bait and thought as they
were being reeled in, I wish I hadn't swallowed that.
Eve did the same thing. How was she tempted? How did
she fall? She was deceived. So guard your thought life.
Don't be deceived.
3. Fall in
love with the Lord. This is so critical, so
fundamental. Fall in love with the Lord. Who you love,
changes your desires, and desire is the key to
temptation. You see it goes back to that lure. That's
When I was growing up at home, my Mom wanted me along
with my sisters to do the dishes. Now I'll be honest
with you. I would try to find every excuse in the world
not to do those dishes. Mom, you know it hurts my back
because the sink is too low and all this. And then I
started dating my wife-to-be. When I'd go over to her
house we would eat there, after dinner we were still
dating then, she'd say, "Hon, would you help me with
the dishes?" I'd say, "Oh, I'd love too."
Now what's the difference? It has nothing to do with
dishes. No. I had fallen in love with the one who
wanted me to do the dishes. Now it's not that I didn't
love my Mom. Oh, you understand, I don't have to go
into all that. You see it's the same way, when you fall
in love with Jesus, you'll find your heart more firmly
set on the things that he desires instead upon the
things that Satan desires. The key is having the right
4. Pray. If you don't
see the escape when temptation is all around you, and
you don't remember the promise then Pray! Right then,
right there. I don't care where you are, just drop that
head, get down on your knees and pray, be-cause prayer
may be your means of escape.
Abraham Lincoln once wrote, "I have been driven many
times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I
had nowhere else to go." If you sense that you have
no-where else to go, go there and watch God give you
that way out. Prayer has a way of totally diluting
until it destroys temptation. Adapted from Amazing Grace Class
#1162 - Steve Flatt, June 5, 1994