When I think of examples of temptation in the Bible, two men quickly come to my mind. First, I think of King David who looked across the rooftops in his capital city of Jerusalem and allowed his eyes to gaze on the beautiful woman, Bathsheba (the wife of Uriah). Then, I think of the young man, Joseph, who was invited to spend intimate time with the wife of his boss, Potiphar. Each of these men chose a different response. King David sent royal messengers to bring Uriah’s wife to the palace. However, Joseph quickly fled the house, even leaving behind his outer cloak in his hasty departure. Two very different choices from these two men faced with the temptation of sexual immorality.
In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul provides examples of God’s provision and care for the people of Israel. Do you remember these? God guided them by sending a cloud, He brought them safely through the Red Sea, God sent manna for them each day, and He provided water in the desert from the rock. However, most of them lost their lives in the desert because they did not obey God (see 1 Corinthians 10:1-5).
Even though God’s chosen people had experienced God’s goodness, they fell into the temptation of sin and they disobeyed God. And so Paul reminds the church at Corinth of Israel’s history in the desert because the Corinthians struggled with many temptations surrounding them in their sinful world. Paul addresses his readers and says,
“We are warned that we must not desire evil things as they did, not worship idols as they did… We must not indulge in sexual immorality… And don’t try the Lord’s patience… And don’t murmur against God… All these things happened to them as examples—as object lessons for us—to warn us against doing the same things.” ~1 Corinthians 10:6-11 (TLB)
Paul warns the Corinthians that they are capable of falling into the same sinful actions. This is a sinful world and temptation is a part of each day. We are all human, we are weak, and we cannot face temptation on our own strength. Paul David Tripp shares the following:
“…even though we are God’s children, we lack the power on our own to fight the spiritual battles in which the world of sin and temptation engages us. As we face our vulnerability and weakness, there are things you and I should pray for regularly. We should pray for purity of desire, wisdom to recognize the enemy’s tricks, and strength to fight the battles we can’t avoid… So we need protection, not just from external temptation but from our own blind eyes and wandering hearts.” (New Morning Mercies, February 2)
We are never alone. But the sad reality is that we often choose to act alone. We often fail to cry out and ask the Lord for His help, His strength, or to request His intervention. Other times we just need to make the simple, but oh so difficult decision, to run away as fast as our legs will carry us.
Why did King David fall into temptation and Joseph ran away from temptation as fast as his legs would carry him? What made the difference? King David chose to stay on his rooftop and gaze longingly at this young, beautiful, naked woman. He allowed his lustful desires to overcome him and he sent for her. On the other hand, Joseph ran out of the house in response to the teaching that was planted deep in his heart. He believed God’s truth was the best path to follow. Wow! Where did that strength come from? Let’s read Paul’s words of caution and instruction:
“So be careful. If you are thinking, ‘Oh, I would never behave like that’ —let this be a warning to you. For you too may fall into sin. But remember this—the wrong desires that come into your life aren’t anything new or different. Many others have faced exactly the same problems before you. And no temptation is irresistible. You can trust God to keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it, for he has promised this and will do what he says. He will show you how to escape temptation’s power so that you can bear up patiently against it.” ~1 Corinthians 10:12-13 (TLB)
Remember these simple principles:
- You too may fall into sin.
- The wrong desires in your life aren’t new or different.
- No temptation is irresistible.
- You can trust God to stand with you in the midst of the temptation.
- He will show you how to escape temptation’s power.
Perhaps you find yourself facing a particular temptation today. Read and review God’s truth with your personal situation in mind. Pour out your heart to the Lord and ask Him to show you the way of escape and then, in obedience, run away from the temptation as fast you as you are able.
I encourage you to take some time now for reflection, listen and sing along with this song – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuvfMDhTyMA&list=RDMMLuvfMDhTyMA
Jesus, You are our defense and righteousness in the midst of a sin filled world that draws our focus and attention away from You – each and every day. Oh Lord, how we need You!