No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man… —1 Corinthians 10:13
The word temptation has come to mean something bad to us today, but we tend to use the word in the wrong way. Temptation itself is not sin; it is something we are bound to face simply by virtue of being human. Not to be tempted would mean that we were already so shameful that we would be beneath contempt. Yet many of us suffer from temptations we should never have to suffer, simply because we have refused to allow God to lift us to a higher level where we would face temptations of another kind.
A person’s inner nature, what he possesses in the inner, spiritual part of his being, determines what he is tempted by on the outside. The temptation fits the true nature of the person being tempted and reveals the possibilities of his nature. Every person actually determines or sets the level of his own temptation, because temptation will come to him in accordance with the level of his controlling, inner nature.
Temptation comes to me, suggesting a possible shortcut to the realization of my highest goal— it does not direct me toward what I understand to be evil, but toward what I understand to be good. Temptation is something that confuses me for a while, and I don’t know whether something is right or wrong. When I yield to it, I have made lust a god, and the temptation itself becomes the proof that it was only my own fear that prevented me from falling into the sin earlier.
Temptation is not something we can escape; in fact, it is essential to the well-rounded life of a person. Beware of thinking that you are tempted as no one else— what you go through is the common inheritance of the human race, not something that no one has ever before endured. God does not save us from temptations— He sustains us in the midst of them (see Hebrews 2:18 and Hebrews 4:15-16).
WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS
To read the Bible according to God’s providential order in your circumstances is the only way to read it, viz., in the blood and passion of personal life. Disciples Indeed, 387 R
1 Corinthians 10:13 – Temptation and the Way of Escape
He took the children in his arms . . . and blessed them.Mark 10:16
At a primary school in Greenock, Scotland, three teachers on maternity leave brought their babies to school every two weeks to interact with schoolchildren. Playtime with babies teaches children empathy, or care and feeling for others. Often, the most receptive are the students who are “a little challenging,” as one teacher put it. “It’s often [schoolchildren] who interact more on a one-to-one level.” They learn “how much hard work it is to take care of a child,” and “more about each other’s feelings as well.”
Learning from an infant to care about others isn’t a new idea to believers in Jesus. We know the One who came as the baby Jesus. His birth changed everything we understand about caring relationships. The first to learn of Christ’s birth were shepherds, a humble profession involving care of weak and vulnerable sheep. Later, when children were brought to Jesus, He corrected disciples who thought children unworthy. “Let the little children come to me,” he said, “and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mark 10:14).
Jesus “took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them” (v. 16). In our own lives, as His sometimes “challenging” children, we could be considered unworthy too. Instead, as the One who came as a child, Christ accepts us with His love—thereby teaching us the caring power of loving babies and all people.
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage [slavery] again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’” (Romans 8:14–15)
Abba is the Aramaic or Hebrew word commonly used for “daddy.” In Israel, a little child will call his father, “Abba.” And because we have received the Spirit of adoption, we have the right to address God as Abba. Father. Daddy.
Paul told us that we have two options. We can be led by the Spirit of God, or we can be under the spirit of slavery. The spirit of slavery makes us fearful of punishment; the Spirit of adoption leads us as God’s children.
The Greek word that is translated as sons indicates a “mature son.” When you are first born again of God’s Spirit, you become a child. But as you are led, you become a mature son or daughter of God. The pathway to maturity is being led by the Holy Spirit, no longer bound under a spirit of slavery. As Paul wrote in Galatians 5:18:
“But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”
In order to become a mature son or daughter of God, you must be led by the Spirit. But remember, if you are led by the Holy Spirit, you are not under the law. That is our freedom—not a freedom to do evil, but a freedom to love. Our motivation to do service for Jesus is love, the most powerful motivator in the world. It works even when fear does not. That’s what God is bringing us to. That’s what makes us mature sons and daughters of God. That’s the result of being delivered from the law.
Thank You, Father, that I am Your child. I proclaim that I am no longer bound under a spirit of slavery. I have received the Spirit of adoption. I have received the Spirit of sonship, and by Him, I cry, “Abba, Father.” Amen.
Vanity of vanities, all is vanity. — Ecclesiastes 1:2
It was left to that mournful Dane, Søren Kierkegaard, the father of existentialism, to say that all is vain and the quest has ended in utter despair; rationalism is dead and human reason has failed in its great effort to grasp and comprehend the universe in which we live.
It was at the time of the bloody First World War that Kierkegaard’s ideas began to take root, slowly at first, until today existentialism is without question the regnant, the dominant philosophy of our time in the world. Existentialism teaches that because of the finiteness of man and his understanding, he will never be able to grasp ultimate reality—that there is nothingness out there. The world is unintelligible, the cosmos cannot be comprehended, and ultimately all things are without meaning and significance. This has been the great contribution of existentialism to our time.
It is a philosophy of despair.
A young woman told me that when she was in college she embraced the existential philosophy. Certain pressures then came upon her and she endeavored to take her life. She ended up in a mental institution having shock treatments. All this because existentialism had robbed her of any meaning to life and ripped from her grasp any hold she had upon transcendental significance or purpose in this world. She knew the blackness and emptiness that the worldview of existentialism offers.
Question to ponder: Can you be a Christian existentialist? Is there such a thing as meaninglessness with God?
And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. —Micah 5:4
The Christian who has dedicated his life to God and has shouldered his cross need not be surprised at the conflict in which he at once finds himself engaged. Such conflict is logical; it results from the nature of God and of man and of Christianity.
He will, for instance, discover that the ways of God and the ways of men are not equal. He will find that the skills he learned in Adam’s world are of very little use to him in the spiritual realm. His tried and proven methods for getting things done will fail him when he attempts to apply them to the work of the Spirit. The new Adam will not surrender to the old Adam nor gear His new creation to the methods of the world. God will not share His glory with another. The seeking Christian must learn the hard way that it is “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6). OGM067
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through us.—2 Corinthians 5:20
The aspects of experience and expression are extremely important in the Christian life: if experience gets low, then expression gets low; if expression gets low, then experience gets low.
We focus now on expression. If this side of the Christian life is not transformed from a bottled-up, non-contagious type of outflowing, then spiritual staleness is the inevitable result.
Two young men, both fairly new converts, had been listening to a sermon on evangelism. Afterwards, they approached their pastor and said: “We have never shared with anyone the experience we have had in Christ. How do we do it?” He suggested that they could go out, knock on a few doors, and just begin to share their experience of Christ. The next night, in fear and trembling, they knocked on the first door of the street that they had decided to evangelize and found it to be the home of a well-known lawyer. They were a little nonplussed when they discovered this and blurted out: “We have come to invite you to join our church.” The lawyer said: “A lot of people have asked me to join the church over the years. Haven’t you anything better than that to say to me?” They said: “Well, how about committing your life to Jesus Christ?”
The lawyer invited them in, and within an hour had surrendered to Christ. “Now, where are you going next,” he said, “because I want to go with you.” Before the end of the evening, the lawyer had the joy of witnessing another conversion like his own. Things happen when people share.
O Father, help me to come to such a place in my Christian life that in every situation where You want someone to pass on a special word from You, You will hear me say, “Here am I, Lord—send me.” Amen.
When he arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to associate with the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, since they did not believe he was a disciple. Barnabas, however, took him and brought him to the apostles and explained to them how, on the road, Saul had seen the Lord, and that He had talked to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus.—Acts 9:26–27
Only God knows the potential of each believer. We can project what we think God might do in someone’s life, but we have no way of knowing. We see only outward appearances and behavior, whereas God looks at the heart (1 Sam. 16:7).
The apostles were skeptical of some who professed to be Christians. No one seemed more unlikely to become a dedicated follower of Jesus than Saul of Tarsus. He had been one of Christianity’s greatest enemies, even overseeing the murder of Stephen (Acts 7:58–60). When Paul suddenly expressed an interest in knowing the leaders of the Christian movement, it was natural for the apostles to suspect devious motives and to doubt his conversion. Nevertheless, despite the apostles’ reluctance, Barnabas assumed the best in Paul and risked his own life to be Paul’s advocate.
You may identify with Paul. Perhaps you were an improbable candidate to be a committed Christian. It may be that God placed a Christian friend beside you to help you develop your faith. Thank the Father for those He has sent to you who believed in what God could do in you, even when others doubted.
Perhaps you stand with the apostles. There may be some around you in whom you have little confidence, though they claim to be Christians. Be assured that if God could turn the proud and murderous Saul into one of the greatest saints in history, He is equally capable of redeeming those around you. Don’t give up on your fellow believers. Look to see where God is working in their lives, then join Him. It is a great privilege to be like Barnabas and to invest in the life of a fellow Christian. This is the purpose of discipleship.