Intro: How long can you go without sinning? Could you go your whole life? Most of us would say emphatically “no”. Could you go 6 months? 1 Month? 1 day? 1 hour? Well, if you could go one hour, why not two in a row, or 12 in a row, or 720 in a row (month). Theoretically we could contemplate a sinless life, one temptation at a time. But we have and do sin. Somewhere along the line we all fail to overcome the temptation to sin.
1. But there is another important reality that must be considered here. Although we might see sin as inevitable, it is not inherited, compulsory, or unavoidable. You and I always have a choice, one temptation at a time. This is where the promise of God comes in to play. Do you believe this promise:
• 1 Corinthians 10:13 – No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
• I want to consider some of the implications that apply to us as we step out on this promise of God.
• The word for temptation is also translated as test, or trial in the scriptures. It can mean either, depending on the context. God tests men in order to bring about good. Satan tempts men to bring about evil. Thus God tempts no one. But he does allow us to be tested, so as to strengthen us. This occurs when we endure the test (temptation).
I. Promises Within the Promise: If we look carefully at these words of God, we notice that there is more than a single promise here. There are promises within this promise.
A. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man- Your circumstance is not unique. In that since you are not alone in the trials you face. We have a propensity for thinking that we are suffering more than others, or that our situation is more difficult. But God begins here by assuring us that other face the same temptations. In fact, our temptations are common to all men.
1. The phrase “common to man” is one word in the original language. It simply means “that which is human, characteristic of or belonging to mankind.” Temptations are fully human experiences, and are thus typical, or common to all. Circumstances differ but basic temptations do not.
a. Even the Son of God was “tempted in all things as we are” (Heb 4:15). Jesus’ participation in this common experience of being tempted, and not giving in to it made it so that “He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted” (2:18).
b. This commonality makes it possible and effective for us to “confess [our] sins to one another” (James 5:16) and to “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal 6:2). We are all in the same boat, and our ability to help each other in the time of temptation depends on our constant recognition of this fact.
B. “God is Faithful” – faithfulness here is fidelity or trustworthiness. God can be trusted to keep his word. Je is reliable. But here it is more than that. It implies that in the time of temptation (or test) God is on our side. Therefore we can place our confidence in what God does in the time of the test. What does He do? He promises two responses to my test:
C. “Who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able” – The words here clearly imply the sovereignty of God over the exercise of the test. Although God does not “tempt” us (or induce us to do evil), He does allow us to be tested by the choice of evil. But there is a promise here. He will not allow this to go beyond our ability to endure it.
1. Burton Coffman says… The notion of temptations being irresistible was not allowed by Paul… temptation, while allowed by God, is also controlled by him; and the Father will simply not allow a child of God to be tempted above what he is able to bear. In the wise providence of God, he has made a way out of every temptation; (from Coffman’s Bible Commentary)
2. It would seem to imply the infallible comprehensive knowledge of God concerning the individual spiritual strength of all men. If there is a temptation, then we can endure it, because God has allowed it. Lenski exegetes this phrase this way… God reduces the tempting power so that it does not exceed our power to resist. God sets fixed bounds even to the devil, beyond which temptation dare not go... (from New Testament Commentaries)
a. An example of this is seen in Job 1:12, when He gave permission for Satan to test Job: Job 1:9-12 – So Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing? 10 Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” 12 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord. Satan tempted Job to renounce God (evil), but Job passed the test. “Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God” (1:22). He was able to endure it, so God allowed the test.
• John MacArthur proposes this example: When the soldiers came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, He asked them twice whom they had come for, who was designated on their arrest order. After they answered for the second time, “Jesus the Nazarene,” He said, “If therefore you seek Me, let these go their way” (John 18:4-9). John explains that Jesus prevented the disciples from being arrested with Him in order “that the word might be fulfilled which He spoke, ‘Of those whom Thou hast given Me I lost not one'” (v. 9). The disciples were not yet ready for such a test. Had they been arrested, they would have been devastated, and Jesus would not permit it. As best we know from church history, most of those eleven disciples died a martyr’s death. The other, John, was exiled for life on the island of Patmos. All of them went through persecution, imprisonment, and countless hardships for the sake of the gospel. But they did not go though those things until they were ready to handle them. (from The MacArthur New Testament Commentary) But there are two provisions contained in this promise….
D. “But with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” God not only allows endurable tests, but he also provides “the way of escape.” Would you know how to escape this building if it were on fire? The word escape denotes an exit, the way to get out. There are signs pointing the way.
1. The definite article “the” precedes “way”, thus pointing to a specific and singular exit. It may suggest that God’s provided way of passing the test is the only way to pass the test. It is only provided by God, and it is provided so that you can endure the temptation.
2. But even more clearly implied is the presence of individual choice and responsibility. There is a way of escape. We may be prone to excuse ourselves by concluding that we had no choice, there was no way out. But God has promised to provide it.
3. The way of escape may not be easy or pleasant, but it is an option. It is a divinely-provided option.
II. Finding the Way of Escape… What is involved in enduring the test? Finding the way of escape that God provides? It is not some mysterious or mystical voice that tells us what to do. It is not a miraculous deliverance. Here are some essentials:
A. Recognize that God Provides a Way… Know that you can do the right thing, even in the most trying circumstance. We must think soberly about our choices, and be convinced that God is on our side. We can trust Him and what He says.
• Titus 2:11-12 – 1 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, The grace of God does not excuse our sinful choices, but calls us (teaches us) to live soberly, doing the right things, submitting to God (godly) in all of our choices.
1. Notice how Peter also presents these same elements in a prescription for those who are being attacked by the lion.
• 1 Peter 5:6-10 – Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle
B. Discern Right from Wrong… We mentioned this last week, but it is a vital key to our survival in the test. We must know God’s will, and be able to apply the truth to our circumstance. The way of escape is provided through the revelation of the Spirit of God contained in the Word of God through the apostles.
1. In Acts 20, Paul met with the elders of the church at Ephesus and warned them about a coming apostasy, when the wolves would appear from among themselves and devour the flock. Many would be tempted to abandon the right way. How could the elders prevent this, or prepare the church for the test?
• Acts 20:26-27 – Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. .. v. 31-32 – Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. 32 “So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
• Satan quoted scripture in 4, and attempted to get Jesus to use the scripture (God’s own words) against themselves. But Jesus knew not only what the Law said (it is written), but he also knew what it meant. He affirmed the integrity of God’s words above Satan’s interpretation of God’s words.
• Paul described the inspired scripture as that which will make a man complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16)
C. Have a Sincere Desire to escape (to not sin) Paul wrote in 2 Cor. 5:9 – Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. Many people fail to endure the temptation to sin, and succumb to the same inducement again and again, because they really do not want to do any differently.
D. Pray… The night Jesus was betrayed, He took the apostles to the garden with Him to pray, commanding them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation” (Lk. 22:40). When Jesus returned to the apostles He found them sleeping, and said, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation” (Lk. 22:46). Jesus wanted them to pray before the test arrived. He understood that the way of escape was from God, and that his disciples needed to be in close contact with Him. What do I need to pray for when I am tempted?
• Pray for wisdom to see the dangerous circumstances that threaten your soul.
• Pray for strength to resist Satan’s call. The courage to flee.
• Pray for stronger faith to trust God to protect you when you choose to do the right thing.
• Pray that God will encourage you through the support of other Christians fighting the same battle.
• Pray for a sensitive conscience to the presence of sin, and one that is able to be influenced by the words of God’s Spirit.
• Pray for forgiveness when you fail.
Conclusion: Faith in God’s promise is our defense against Satan’s temptation to do evil. It is the answer to God’s test that will make us stronger. There is reward is overcoming temptation. James 1:12 – Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
How long can you go without sinning? The question is moot. You have already transgressed God’s law. You are a sinner right now. If you do not have the blood of Jesus to atone for that sin, you are condemned, with no hope.
You can find forgiveness in the blood of Jesus, contacted through your faith and obedience to the gospel of Christ. “He that believes and is baptized will be saved.”