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.

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Temptation of Christ – Hebrews 4:14-16

Then Jesus Was Led By The Spirit Into The Wilderness To Be Tempted By The Devil.

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Firm Foundation

We have a wonderful faith, for our faith is in the One who spoke everything into existence, and who allowed Himself to be hung from a cross for our sins.  Jesus, the perfect, sinless lamb of God, was sacrificed for our sins, and is our great High Priest of the order of Melchizedek.  Unable to be our high priest through the lineage of Levi (and therefore Aaron), Jesus traces his ancestry from both mother and step-father to David of the line of Judah, where He claims the title “Lion of Judah“.  By Levitical law, Jesus could not have been our high priest by law – He didn’t qualify.  Instead, He became our high priest through an oath by God, becoming our eternal high priest, without beginning or end, just as Melchizedek, who was a type and shadow of Christ.

We know that Jesus suffered for us, and bore our sins on the cross.  But He did more than that.  He was tried and tested just as we are.  For although God cannot be tempted, because God is perfect, Jesus put on flesh to become like one of us, and therefore, He could be tempted (for although there is no sin in Him, He had a physical body that would be subject to the pain, suffering, and trials that we endure)…

Truly Tempted

What was the first thing that God did after Jesus began His earthly ministry (through the dedication of baptism)?  He was sent out into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted/tested.  Before any of us enters ministry, we too must be tried and tested to prepare us for what is ahead.  This is a pattern seen throughout the Bible:

  • Joseph, son of Jacob, was tried and tested for 17 years in the affliction of slavery and incarceration for crimes he did not commit
  • Moses was tried and tested for 40 years in the time-honored profession of animal husbandry – shepherding – before God would use him to rescue His people from Pharaoh
  • David, another shepherd, having poured oil over his head by Samuel to be declared the next king of Israel, suffered as an outcast from his homeland and hunted down by the elite special forces of his day for more many years because of the jealousy of Saul

In the same way, Jesus was tried and tested in the same way that we are:

Jesus also was tested in the Garden of Gethsemane where He sweat blood when His physical body was reacting to what He knew was coming – the cross.  Three times Jesus asked God to remove the cup He was about to drink, and three times He submitted to the perfect will of God.  No one can say that Jesus doesn’t understand the difficulties we face.  He put on flesh, and suffered as we have suffered.

Granted Grace

And in that, Jesus was perfectly suited to be our high priest, for the high priest had to be able to have compassion on the ones that He would offering sacrifices.  Without compassion, there cannot be grace.  And Jesus, being God, has both compassion and grace as well as firsthand knowledge of what it is like to walk the Earth with flesh.

Morning Mercy

The Bible says that God’s mercies renew every morning.  And that is good news for us, for we are constantly in need of God’s mercy.  Jesus is able to sympathize with us for He has shared in our pain and suffering, and knows what it is like to live through our trials.  Many have claimed that God, being perfect and spirit, cannot possibly fathom what we go through every day.  God had foreseen that, and provided Jesus an Earthly body, in part, to ensure that we can make no such claim.

As we ponder our difficulties, and struggle in our trials, let us remember that Jesus, our perfect and eternal high priest, suffered as we have, and is able to sit at the right hand of God, praying for us in our afflictions, for mercy and grace.  For He and He alone is perfectly able to understand our travails and come alongside us in our difficulties, having been there Himself.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I remembering that Jesus suffered as I have when I am going through trials?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are perfect in every way, and have provided the perfect sacrifice for my sins in Your Son, Jesus Christ.  He became flesh as one of us, perfectly able to sympathize with me as I suffer through the trials of this life.  Help me, Father, to remember that Jesus can indeed know what it is like to suffer in these bodies.  Help me to take courage and strength, knowing that He is at Your right hand, praying for each of us.  Help me to remember that neither Jesus nor You have ever lost anyone that was Yours.  Give me strength and comfort as I go throughout this day for the darkness of these times are threatening to overwhelm me.  Amen.

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Combat Training with God – Galatians 6:1-2

Carry Each Other’s Burdens

1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Seized by Sin

The sin nature within us never is satisfied.  Without constant vigilance, it is easy to slip up, and begin to justify sin.  Once sin has been embraced, it ensnares us and keeps us in bondage.  We need to remember this when we see other Christians who have been ensnared by sin.  It is with compassion and gentleness that they need to be confronted, and brought out of slavery and back to righteousness

Righteously Redeem

Paul instructs believers to gently restore those who have been caught in sin once more.  Sometimes, it is the unwrapping of grave-clothes of the newly released captives that needs to be addressed.  Other times, it is seasoned disciples that have gone astray.  Look at how far David had fallen.  God raised him from being a shepherd of sheep to the King of Israel, leading His people.  And while he was noted as being a man after God’s own heart, he raped Bathsheba and murdered her husband, never batting an eye.  Nathan the prophet was sent by God to restore him.  In the restoration of one who is entrapped, it is crucial that we do so gently.  Harsh or judgmental attitudes usually do not bring about the needed atmosphere for repentance.

Elude Entrapment

When we go to restore one who is in sin, we must be extra vigilant, for we ourselves may be tempted by the very same sin that we are trying to help another disciple overcome.  Oftentimes, it is something that we may have struggled with.  Sometimes, there is demonic activity involved, and the demons causing encouraging the behavior will try to do the same to the person who comes alongside the fallen.  They would like nothing better than to entice another disciple with their evil taunts, warping the thoughts of even the most pious people.

Bear the Burdens

Paul further encourages us to bear one another’s burdens.  This does not mean that we become enablers of lazy people by doing their work; rather, we help them with the things that weigh them down so that they can breathe again to complete that which they have been called to do.  Moses was confronted by Jethro regarding the way he was administering the law.  Jethro suggested that Moses find men who were capable men that feared God to help him with the task.  This greatly reduced the burden on Moses’ shoulders, and greatly reduced the time for justice to be enacted.  When you see someone who has an overwhelming burden, and you have the time and ability to help, offer what you can so that the person can be more effective.

Complete the Commandments

When we carry one another’s burdens, we fulfill the law of Christ – to love one another as Christ loved us.  Love fulfills the law, and helping each other is showing unconditional, sacrificial, and volitional love towards others.  And outsiders will know that we are the disciples of Christ when they see the love that we have for one another.  For if you love Jesus, you will obey His commands.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I loving others by helping them to bear their burdens?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have said through Your Son, Jesus Christ, that we should take His yoke upon us, for His burden is light.  Yet it is absolutely impossible without yielding our lives to You so that Your strength can flow through us to complete Your goals.  Help me to be yielded to You.  Show me how I can help others be more effective in their ministry, and help me to be more effective in mine.  Send others to help bear my burdens when they become too weighty, and help me to be there when You have enabled me to help them with theirs.  Father, help me when I engage others to help restore them from sin that I would not be tempted in the same manner that they were.  Guard my heart so that I would not because a casualty in the battles we face with spiritual enemies.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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Combat Training with God – Matthew 4:4

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Jesus must have been reflecting on Deuteronomy the day that the Spirit of God led Him into the desert, exhausted and hungry, to be tempted (this word can also be translated “tested”) by the devil.  Three times the devil tempted Him.  And three times, showing us how to deal with temptation, Jesus quoted the Word of God (Deuteronomy 8:3, 8:16, 8:13).

The Bible tells us that Jesus was tempted in the same way we all are.  He was tempted in the three main areas of weakness that all human beings have:

It is interesting to note that before he tempts Jesus in each of these areas, the devil tries to call into doubt the calling and nature of our Savior – “If you are the Son of God…”  He likes to twist the Word of God – in this case, through omission (compare Matthew 4:6 vs. Psalm 91:11-12) – and is the absolute master of Historical Revisionism: the art of lying.  It’s hard to fight an enemy that you don’t know or understand.

It is much easier to recognize the attacks of the enemy once you understand them.  Sometimes we need to just flee temptation.  But our one and only weapon in the full Armor of God is the Sword of the Spirit.  The Word of God is the Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17).

So let’s ask ourselves a question:  How rusty is our sword?

A short prayer of preparation:

Lord God Almighty, You are Holy, Holy, Holy.  I thank You that you have shown us how to fight against the flesh, the world, and the devil.  Guide me this day in Your Holy Word that I might have a response to temptation in all of its many facets.  Bring to mind your Holy Word as I go throughout the day, that the sword in my armor may be clean, bright, and sharp.  Help me to stand when needed, flee when needed, and fight when needed.  Father, help me also to recognize when to do each of these things.  Prepare me for battle this morning that I may honor you in every area of life.  This I ask in the precious name of my Lord and Savior, My battle commander, Jesus Christ, Amen.

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