These are my notes from a sermon series. It has not been proofed for spelling or grammatical errors. I present it to you as-is.
We are in a series of messages called Hooked and we are looking at the subject of temptation. Today we are going to take a look at how God helps us endure temptation. Let’s give our attention to 1 Corinthians 10:13 which says, “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure” (NLT).
When you are being tempted God gives you a promise. He promises you that “he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” The phrase “a way out” does not mean an exit to get away from the temptation, but “a way” to get through the temptation “so that you can endure it.” It’s like this, you find yourself in a burning building, the way out is through the fire. You find yourself lost in a dark cave, the way out is through the dark cave. God is going to show you the “way out” but you will need endurance to get through it. You find yourself lost in the valley of temptation and the only way out is to get through it and that will take endurance.
Today I want us to take a close look at some of the ways out that God provides that allows us to endure the temptation until we get to heaven. There are several ways that God helps us endure temptation.
Your conscience: a God-given internal compass that steers you through the maze of temptations
Let’s start with your conscience. Your conscience is a God-given internal compass that senses right and wrong with a desire to do right. Your conscience was given to you to protect and guide you in the matters of what’s right and wrong. Romans 2:14-15 captures this idea, “Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. 15 They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right” (NLT). You are born with a conscience. One of the ways you can endure temptation is to listen to your conscience.
We are given a warning in 1 Timothy 1:19 regarding our conscience, “Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked” (NLT). When you start ignoring your conscience you run the risk of shipwrecking your faith. This does not mean you lose your salvation, but as you continue to violate your conscience you will discover that you start doubting God more, not trusting His word like you used to, and find yourself dropping out of church, not reading the Bible, and not thinking like a follower of Christ. You will find yourself spiritually shipwrecked.
God has given you a conscience that acts like a compass. God will often use your conscience to guide you and navigate you through the rough waters of temptation. Your conscience is one way out that God uses to help you endure temptation.
God’s Word: God’s map to guide you through the valley of temptation
Another defense against temptation is God’s Word. The Scripture is God’s map for you that helps guide you through the valley of temptation. Psalm 119:9-11 puts it this way, “How can a young person stay pure [how can he or she deal with temptation]? By obeying your word. 10 I have tried hard to find you— don’t let me wander from your commands. 11 I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (NLT). One of the ways you can help yourself not get trapped into temptation is knowing and doing God’s Word. When you mix faith and God’s Word together then your thoughts begin to change, your emotions begin to mature, and your behavior is adjusted. So now when you become angry, you sin not. When you are offended, you don’t retaliate, and you begin to see relationships differently and you want to honor God with that relationship. Your view of money changes and you are no longer greedy and you become more giving. God’s Word becomes a light to your path in the darkness of temptation.
God has given you his word and his instructions to tell where there is a way out so that you can endure the temptations along your path.
Prayer: Talking to God about your temptations
Another “way out” that God provides is prayer. You need to talk to God about your temptations. Jesus told His disciples and us in Matthew 26:41, “Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” (NLT). As soon as you sense that you are being tempted go to your heavenly Father and say, “Father, I am being tempted. I feel like I am being drawn away from your will. There is a part of me that wants to do right and there is a part of me that wants to do wrong. I need your help right now. What is the way out so I can endure this temptation?”
One of the first things Jesus taught His disciples was to pray for protection against temptation. When Jesus was teaching his disciples how to pray he told them that one thing they should pray for was this: “And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13, NLT). This prayer recognizes the spiritual battle you are in. It acknowledges the reality of an “evil one” who is trying to steal, kill, and destroy everything about you, especially anything that honor’s God. And Jesus knows that we need to ask for help when it comes to not yielding and giving in to temptation.
God has provided prayer as a “way out” to help you endure the temptation.
Fugitive: Be on the run from sinful passions
Another way out God provides is to have a fugitive mindset when it comes to sinful passions and temptations. A fugitive mindset is an attitude that runs from sinful passions. Let me show you this. Look closely at 2 Timothy 2:22 which says, “Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts” (NLT). The word “run” (phuego) refers to a fugitive. This running and fugitive mindset is to be persistent. A fugitive is a person who is continually on the run in order to escape capture. The faithful Christian is continually on the run, as it were, from the sinful passions that started when you were young.
Paul told Timothy the same thing in an earlier letter in 1 Timothy 6:11 where he said, “But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness” (NLT). Listen carefully, a man of God/a woman of God knows their limitations and acknowledges there are times to run from a temptation in order to get through the temptation. Physically speaking, there times when you will need to leave the party, leave the room, change the channel, and maybe leave some relationships. There are times where you need to run.
Sin is after you. It is chasing you. It wants you. The devil who is behind this pursuit wants to steal, kill, and destroy anything of God in your life. There are times you will need to run away and stay away from places, people, and things that would drag you away from God’s plan.
Running from something is best illustrated with a war zone. You are in a war zone and your mission involves going from point A to point B. However, there are certain places in this war zone that you want to stay away from if you are going to endure this battle and accomplish the mission. This is about getting you through the war, not out of it. Within this war zone, you need to have a fugitive mindset.
Planning: The ability to plan and prepare yourself to face temptation
The fifth defense that God has given you against temptation is planning. God has given you the ability to plan and prepare yourself to face temptation. You know you are going to be tempted. You know you have a battle with sin coming up. You need to prepare yourself. Look closely at Romans 13:14 which says, “Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires” (NLT). Remember, temptation begins with your desires. As part of the “way out” so that you can endure the temptation is to “clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
What does that mean? The phrase “clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ” represents the continuing spiritual growth of those who have become children of God through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. So, as you grow in Christ, the old clothing of sinful thoughts and habits is continually being discarded, and His divine clothing of righteousness, truth, holiness, and love is being put on. As the process of sanctification progresses, the Lord’s character becomes more and more your own character.
God’s Word goes on to day, “And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.” The phrase “don’t let yourself think about” (pronoia) means to NOT plan ahead on how you can get away with your sin. Don’t think about how you can insult someone, don’t plan on a way to steal something, don’t design some way you can privately sin, don’t arrange a meeting so you can get away with something or get what you want. Don’t think about a good lie so you don’t get in trouble. Don’t plan on how to get away with sin, rather plan and prepare yourself to be clothed with the presence of Jesus. Think about how to be honest. Think about how humbly respond to criticism. Think about how to express the truth in love. Plan and strategize righteousness, truth, love, joy, hope, and patient into your day.
Others: Allow others to correct and encourage you in your battle against temptation
A final defense or “way out” so that you can endure temptation is others. This is allowing others to correct and encourage you in your battle against temptation.
You need others in your life who can correct you, who can sharpen you. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend” (NLT). Have you ever seen iron sharpened? It’s intense. To sharpen that blade you have to apply friction, heat, and get close and personal with it. Listen, when a friend gets up in your face and tells you that what you are doing or about to do or have already done is wrong… God is using that person to sharpen you. Sparks may fly, it may get a little heated, and it may feel abrasive but at that moment you are being sharpened so you can cut your way through the jungle of temptation.
There are times where you need to be motivated and encouraged by others. Some of you already know what you have done was wrong and you already know what you need to do to make it right. You need someone to come alongside you inspire you, build you up, and give you strength. Hebrews 10:24-25 put it this way, “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near” (NLT). Think about how to urge someone on in their walk with God and how to inspire others to do what’s right and let others do the same for you. It’s amazing how many temptations can be overcome when others are helping you. Let them.
Before we end our time together I want you to see Galatians 6:1-2 which says, “Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. 2 Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ” (NLT). You will have family and friends who give into temptation. They are going to sin. Some of them will be “overcome by” that sin. They will be trapped by it, overtaken by it, overwhelmed by it, overpowered by it, and seized by it. If you want to help that person you are to approach them with gentleness and humility, not anger and vengeance. They have gotten off God’s path for their life and you are to help them return.
But you may be here today and you are not thinking about helping someone else because you know you are the one who has been overcome by some sin and need help. Will you allow us to help you? Can we, as a church, come alongside you help you “back onto the right path”? If so, we want to pray with you and talk with you and see what God can do in your situation.