Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Way Out

By Colleen Podmore

1 Corinthians 10:13, ‘No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. 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 stand up under it’

It was a real blessing to be reminded of this verse in such a powerful way. The words and the thoughts stayed with me over the next few days and I reflected on the mystery of God. How He knows who we are and how we are made. He knows our struggles our failures. He’s interested in every part of our lives and He wants to share every part of our lives. Why, when we struggle do we think we’re on our own, toughing it out, fighting on our own? He’s given us every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus. We have everything we need to live for Him not just when we are in control but especially when we are out of control!

I’m amazed when I read these verses to understand that God does not tempt us. ‘He will not let you be tempted’ infers that someone or something else is doing the tempting. Our common enemies: the world, the flesh and the devil. God will not always rescue or protect us from temptaions but allows us to be tempted so that we can understand who we are, what motivates us, where our priorities lie. He showed us it is possible to overcome temptations when satan came and tempted Him in the desert. It was really a no contest! Jesus, sinless, defeated his enemy and our enemy. Praise His Holy Name.

We talked about ‘the way out’ that God provides and I think I have always thought that that would mean the temptation would be taken away, become non-existent, and no longer register. We think of strategies like, don’t even go there and flee the temptation –if we’re tempted to watch TV late at night, to drink alcohol, to smoke, to indulge in gluttony, sexual immorality all these things are outside the body – we can take them out of our lives but you can be sure when you are exposed again it will be like an allergic response – they will come back in force! What if we are tempted to despair, to doubt, to give up, give in, these are not so easy to flee from, they follow us constantly and cloud our judgement and steal our joy and we can wear them like a garment. What about, lying, stealing, cheating – our conscience can become dead immune to the Spirit’s leading, unresponsive.

I was really amazed to see something in these verses that I had never seen before and which I would like to share with you. You may already have seen this but look at the last few words of verse 13. What does it say? ‘so that you can stand up under it’ The temptation remains, we live in the world, we are exposed to our flesh and the devil hardly needs to tempt us.

So what I did was I sat down with a pen and paper and wrote down all the things that I was being tempted by. I was tempted to go and eat some comfort food, to criticise someone’s behaviour to despair and give up, to grumble about a certain situation. There was quite a long list. As I was writing my list, my thinking began to change. The comfort food was really no comfort –it would never satisfy as well as finding comfort and peace in God. If I were to criticise someone, well what about myself first. The Bible says to take the plank out of our own eye before we take the speck out of another’s. And why am I grumbling, why not trust God, why not pray?

So the ‘way out’ that God provides is to change our thinking! Nothing else has changed just my thinking about a situation, the need to repent and you can be sure love joy and peace come flooding in! The ‘way out’ is not to deny the temptation and the sin that springs from it but to understand and change the thinking behind it -to stand up under it.

How about you? What tempts you? Take some time to be honest before God, to list the temptations that you struggle with. Maybe the ‘way out’ that God provides will be to give you another perspective, maybe ‘the way out’ is to confess pride or selfishness. Maybe ‘the way out’ is to trust God more. Maybe ‘the way out’ is to forgive. For me I have to keep remembering that God is in control, this is ‘the way out’ for me.

So, first we must acknowledge the temptation – don’t let it be an annoying peace stealer, don’t deny it and pretend it’s unimportant, embrace the temptation, acknowledge it before God and ask Him to show you the ‘way out’, - what needs to change in your thinking, what steps you need to take. Confess it to each other as this will dismantle the power of the temptation and we can pray for each other.

For example: today we’ve come together to pray and worship and we’ve decided to fast, to go without food and water. We will be tempted by our bodies, they will scream out in agony, beseeching us to eat to drink. What is the ‘way out’? First, we should pray and ask God to help us. Remember that we can survive quite well for the short time that we fast. Remember the importance of fasting, what we are doing to enhance our prayer. Remember that God will honour us for this action that we are doing to be near Him and to help others. Realise that we do not live by bread alone. Write down what tempts us confess it if you want to and let’s pray.

(In what ways do we give in to the temptation and how does this affect our spiritual life? Is it like an idol that replaces God in our lives -are our affections placed on the thing rather than on faith in God)

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