Combat Training with God – 1 Corinthians 10:12-13

God Will Provide A Way For You To Honor Him When You Are Tempted/Tested

12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. 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 endure it.

Proper Precautions

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

Paul warns us that we should take a careful look at how we are walking.  When we think that we are doing well, and we are standing, BEWARE!  It is very likely that we will fall.  Pride has a tendency to distract us from having a proper perception of our circumstances.  While there are many who are walking properly, when we think we are walking, pay careful and close attention to your walk;  that is usually when you are about to step into a large pit of slimy quicksand up to your ears.

Common Causes

Paul tells us that there are common temptations that assail us.  The Apostle John lists them in three categories:

  1. The lust of the eyes
  2. The lust of the flesh
  3. The pride of life

These are the same methods that Satan tried to use to when he was testing Jesus after his forty day fast.  James reiterates that temptation is caused by our own evil desires:

13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

There is no temptation that is unique to you; it just feels that way.  You will find, if you talk to other people whom you can trust will hold what you say in confidence, that everyone faces similar temptations.  The source may be different, but the temptation is the same.  Everyone has different triggers, and it is up to us to ask God to remove those triggers so that we can start to react differently to temptation.  Removing a trigger in you life doesn’t mean that the evil desire is removed; it means that we have more than a microsecond to remember that we can say “NO!” to the temptation rather than giving in to it.

Royal Relief

It is terrible when we feel helpless to say “NO” to temptation.  But the reason that we say “YES” is that we are not saying “NO” in the first place!  God is faithful, and He will not allow us to be tempted beyond our ability to bear up under it.  We may not believe that, because we have been yielding to temptation for so long that, like Pavlov’s dogs, we automatically say “YES!” when the opportunity is presented to us.  But God is not cruel, and He will provide a way for us to honor Him when we face our temptations.

Difficult Door

The way to honor God during temptation is not easy.  And we need His help to overcome all temptation.  The good news is that the blood of Jesus Christ has freed us from the bondage of sin, so we now have the CAPABILITY to say “NO!” to temptation.  But how can we do that when our bodies are weak, and fail us each and every time we are presented with a challenge?

God is faithful to provide us with many examples in the Bible on how to deal with temptation.  The very first mention of temptation was when God approached Cain, and told him that if he did what was wrong, sin was crouching at his door, but he needed to rule over it:

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

Joseph was placed into a precarious situation with Potiphar’s wife.  She desired to know him physically, and even engineered a situation where they would be alone so there would be no witnesses.  When Joseph realized the situation that he was in, he escaped sin by performing the ultimate Houdini act – he escaped by running as fast as he could from the temptation.  This is not always possible, but it can be very effective.

When Nehemiah was faced with the temptation to hide in the temple from his enemies, he perceived that this was a ruse to get him to sin.  Nehemiah refused to give in to the ploy, and did not cower in the temple.  Temptation can come from may places.  It is important to remember to be vigilant in guarding ourselves against the wiles of the enemy as he tries to get us to do what is not right in the eyes of Almighty God.

Jesus Himself gave us a wonderful way to face temptation.  He used scripture to refute it.  God will give us the ability and the way to escape temptation.  However, we must remember that there may be consequences for saying “NO!”  Joseph was placed in jail after Potiphar’s wife lied about her seductress encounter with him. The fate of many of the saints in the second half of Hebrews 11 tells of their woes.

We too may face social, career, financial, and possibly many other types of loss, ruination, or troubles because we have chosen to say “NO!” to temptation.  These consequences may have lasting repercussions in our lives here on Earth, as well as our family’s lives.  Count the cost – God desires obedience in the face of opposition.  But God is faithful, and as we are obedient to Him, He will provide a way for us.  Even if that way is to be reunited with Him in glory.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question: What is my tendency when I am presented with a temptation?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Thank You for Your faithfulness in all things.  Thank You for providing a way to say “NO!” to temptation.  Thank You for giving me the opportunity to honor and glorify You with my mind, my words, and my body.  Help me to be faithful, even unto death, so that You may be praised, honored and glorified.  Strengthen me during my trials, and show me the way to resist them so that I would honor You.  And when I have been backed into a corner, whether through my own fault, or the evil, sadistic, hateful plots of others to discredit and destroy me, give me the strength to do what is right, even in the face of death.  I pray that You would help me when the fallout from these encounters causes my circumstances to be grim and dire.  I know, Father, that You are sovereign over all things.  Help me to endure so that I would not lose my reward.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Combat Training with God – Hebrews 12:1-3

Never Give Up, Never Surrender! (To Sin)

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Discard Detritus

The author of Hebrews reminds us to throw off anything that would hinder us in our spiritual pursuit of Almighty God.  Each  of us have issues that are both unique and common, in that we each have trouble spots in our lives that not everyone else has, but that others similarly face and have faced. These issues impede us from our spiritual growth.  For some, it may be the temptation of alcohol.  Others may be sucked in by sports.  Still others by lust.  The list goes on and on.  And while not everyone suffers from these, many do and have, and struggle even to this day with them.

We are reminded to throw these things off.  Is there something in your life that just won’t go away, something that gets you in trouble each and every time that you encounter it?   It is time to bring it to the body, so that others can pray for your deliverance from it:

13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

Run the Race

The Olympic Games were very popular during the time when the author of Hebrews wrote this letter.  The imagery of the games would have been known and understood by all who had read it.  They had seen the training and effort that the participants who entered the games had endured in order to prepare for their opportunity to win their events.

We need to have in our minds the same mindset that the athletes of that day had – a complete and total focus on the goal.  They trained not only their bodies but also their minds for the sole purpose of doing the very best that they could in their field of endeavor.  The proper term is discipline.  They disciplined their bodies and minds.

In modern Western thought, discipline appears to be a pejorative, something that impedes a person from obtaining the desires of their hearts, and interfering with their pleasure and self-fulfillment.  But it is quite to the contrary; discipline helps us to eschew that which does not intentionally drive us towards our goal.  We cull the desires and behaviors that are at odds with our intentions and purposes and distract us from our pursuits so that we will be positioned to reap success from our endeavors.

We need to apply these same techniques and recognize their effectiveness as we learn spiritual discernment so that we can set aside the things that hinder us from completing our objectives.  When we are willing to do this, and allow the Spirit of God to provide us with the strength and endurance to overcome the emotional pain that this type of loss generates, we are able to fully embrace our freedom from sin and say “NO!” to it.  Every time we say “NO!” to sin, we grow a little stronger in our resistance to it.

Ask anyone who has quit smoking tobacco “cold turkey” how difficult it was.  The body rebels against the intentional withholding of the chemicals that brought pleasure and comfort and order with it.  The body rebels, and we may get irritable, the physical being greatly desiring what it is being deprived.  Withdrawal is never pretty, and it is the same way with spiritual withdrawal.  But such courses of action are necessary in order to grow and to regain control of that which we ceded to external stimuli and pressures.  And when we come in contact with other people who are doing what we used to do, the body cries out in a desperate attempt to ensnare the person again.  That is why it is sometimes so difficult for ex-smokers to be around smokers, and for recovering alcoholics to hang around drinkers.

Guide our Gaze

In this case, we have our goal in our sight – Jesus Christ is the one with whom we fix our gaze upon.  It is His example that we need to keep in sight as we move away from sin and move towards righteousness.  When we take our eyes off of the goal, it is easy to become sidetracked, blindsided, and fall back to old patterns of behavior.  It is hard enough trying to break a habit without having people constantly offer the very substance or circumstance that you are trying to avoid.

With spiritual habits, we are constantly bombarded by the devil and his minions to go back to life that we were living.  His calls to return are like daggers that zap our strength and feed the monster we are trying to starve to death.  And like anything else in this life, what you feed will grow, and what you starve will die (eventually).  Some things die long, slow, painful, soul-crushing, whining, loud deaths.  But die they must.  Remember to keep your eyes upon Jesus, our Redeemer, the one who shed His blood so that we could be free from our monsters.  Put the monsters in the dungeon where they belong, and make sure you don’t feed them – the enemies of our souls will try to do all that they can to feed and water them when we aren’t looking or ready for it.  Carefully planned ambushes that we don’t see coming are often the demise of the most well-intentioned Disciple.  Discernment keeps our spiritual eyes aware of our environment as we allow the word of God to light the path for our feet.

Wave off Weariness

Finally, we need to keep our eyes upon Jesus so that we can remember the strength that He had through submission to the Holy Spirit to endure all that God had preordained Him to endure for our sake.  We must always keep heart, even when our flesh and emotions fail us.  For long after our physical strength is exhausted, it is only through determination of heart that we are able to hold on and endure, pressing forward to the goal.  Most of us have not resisted to the point of bloodshed.  Let us remember the price that was paid, and determine in our hearts that the One who endured all of our sins upon the cross is worthy of fighting until our very last breath leaves our body, and we go into glory.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I feeding or starving the monsters I am trying to slay?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Your Son Jesus Christ has shown me the way to victory.  Give me wisdom and discernment to avoid the circumstances that would overwhelm me and cause my spiritual demise.  Help me to starve the monsters of sin that seek to overcome my soul, and give me the strength to resist them with Your word and Your strength when I am faced with them.  Help me to avoid the pits and ambushes of the enemy so that I will be best positioned to grow in Your word and Your ways.  And when there is no apparent way out, help me to remember the option that Joseph took when faced with the overpowering strength of Potiphar’s wife – help me to flee the situation so that I may not become entangled in it.  This I ask and pray in the name of your Most Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?