Temptation! What image comes to mind when you hear that word? Indulging in some decadent dessert? A pornographic image you saw somewhere?
Paul had four specific areas in his mind when he wrote about temptation in I Cor. 10. Notice that Paul’s teaching about temptation uses examples from the lives of the Israelis as they came out of slavery in Egypt and before they took possession of their Promised Land. He specifically says that their experiences are examples to us on how to stand up to temptation (v. 6).
Idolatry was the first sin Paul warns us about in v. 7. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have any golden calves hidden under a blanket in my back yard. Check. No problem with sin #1.
Immorality is sin #2 in v. 8. Now Paul is hitting a little closer home. Immoral behaviors and life styles are certainly an issue today. If you are having a problem in this area, listen up. Paul has some specific instruction for you.
Verse 9 is a bit nebulous. “Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by serpents.” What happened is recorded in Numbers 21:5. The people began questioning Moses (and God) about why he brought them into the desert—there were no McDonalds or Starbucks out there. What are we going to eat? And we’re thirsty!!!! As a result many of them died of snake bite. The plague of snakes was only stopped when Moses placing a bronze snake on a pole—whoever looked in faith at the bronze snake lived, whoever did not, died.
Verse 10 gets real close to where many of us live. Grumbling about situations we find ourselves in is an easy habit to get into. If you study Ex. 17 you will learn about the sin of Massah and Meribah. The Israelis found themselves in the hot desert with no water. The sin was not that they cried out about their desperate situation—the sin was that they questioned whether God was among them or not!
In all four scenarios Paul’s solution against falling into temptation is the same: Be careful that you don’t walk in pride, thinking that you would never fall into that sin. But when you are confronted with the temptation to act immorally or grumble about life situations and question whether God is still with you or not—stop and look for the exit. When you find yourself in any temptation, there is a way of escape. Look for it. God is faithful. By depending on Him, you will be able to endure it and overcome it.
Ps. 56:9b: “…this I know, God is for me.” Never question whether God is with you. Jesus promised to be with us to the very end. Hallelujah!