|From the Pastors Desk|
|Tabernacle||The Value in Testing||Lesson 55|
Manchaca Bible Fellowship
|14 March 2004||Bible Lessons
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.
How was your week? Were you faced with temptations and tests that almost pressed you to the ground? If not this week, think back to the time when this was the condition of your life. My guess is, you won't have to go back very far in your memory to find such a devastating condition.
Were you tempted so severely that your resistance weakened and you "did it again?" Then did guilt and remorse set in and you felt you were either a failure or were being picked on unmercifully, or both?
If such a condition has been yours in the near past, then this passage will either be:
(1) A wonderful encouragement
(2) A gigantic frustration beyond measure
If we look carefully at this passage and its context, we will come to understand three specific things about our testings.
(1) Our testings are as common as an 'ol shoe
Satan wants us to think we live in a bubble, and therefore anything that happens is unique to us, alone. When Satan is successful in planting this concept in our minds, we lose a lot. A few of thing we lose are:
When we think our test is new, different and totally unique to us, then obviously we think our test has caught God "off-guard". And at best, He is going to have to scramble to get up to speed with our test.
If God doesn't already know all about our tests, then He ceases to be our rock and refuge to Whom we run for comfort, strength and guidance. If God isn't our rock and refuge in the time of trouble, where will we go for comfort, strength and guidance?
If we don't or won't turn to God, may I suggest a few alternates:
My trial, temptation or test is
The circumstance around that test may be different, BUT the test is the same. I don't know of many things harder to believe than that fact, especially when a person is under a severe testing-time.
If you are anything like most humans, you will think, "Why is this happening to me? There are lots of people who have done worse things than I have. WHY don't they have this test, instead of me?"
As a general rule, trials, tests and temptations do not come our way as punishment for a specific sin.
1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man;
It makes no difference whether this event is a result of personal sin, or simply because you are a human in a sinful world, and it's your turn for some testings (which are common to all humans).
Before we look at this second concept, we need to establish the fact of where these testings come from, and who is at fault in these situations.
James 1:12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
In our passages, 1 Corinthians 10 and James 1, there are three different Greek words translated to English as tempt, test or some other derivative, depending on your English translation. All except one of these words for tempt are basically the same, just different shades of meaning. Allow me to wrap them all up in a general definition.
The one Greek word, for tempt, used in these passages that is different is used of God in James 1:13.
"for God cannot be tempted by evil"
Wouldn't it be nice, to be in a condition of life where we were beyond the point of be tempted or tested? My friend, that is the theme of this whole passage. We can be in a state of mind in which we are not able to be tempted. We could see that fact, if we were willing to sit still long enough to examine the context, BUT that is the truth of the passage.
If we were totally controlled by the Holy Spirit, at all times, then even though confronted with a test, it would be an opportunity for victory and not a trial for defeat. Even though this state of mind is possible, it is not probable that any human would be totally yielded to the Holy Spirit 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
BUT none the less, we can have such victory in certain areas of our lives. This should be our goal, and our lives should be dedicated to achieving that goal.
However, just having the knowledge of this truth is not enough. We must experience every nuance of this truth over and over again, both in knowledge and experience, if we want it to become a reality in our lives
It is this point that,
We can't take the time to explore all the wonderful truths found in these passages, because we must move on to new ground. We need to establish, from these passages, that God is not the agent bringing the tests into our lives. As we learn from other passages, God allows and uses many external forces to produce this "proving and discipline" of our lives.
In the situations referred to in this passage, the pressure comes from within the life of the one being tested. The reason the person is in the state of being tested, is because they are NOT using what God has provided for them to escape the testing.
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
As with the fact that our temptations are common to humanity in general, this fact of not being allowed to be tempted beyond our ability to withstand, is also hard to believe with the natural mind, only. I'm sure you would agree with that, right?
Many times, we feel that we are already beyond our strength and ability to withstand, and the test is still going on, and on, and… No, we're not already tested beyond our ability, no matter what the test may be. We may not be WILLING to learn how to use "the way of escape", or not be WILLING to draw on those abilities.
We often think we are beyond our limit, because we are looking at our natural resources rather than our Spiritually gained resources, and we do not allow ourselves to be motivated by the results of a test, properly endured.
We can take inventory of our natural strength, BUT we can't see or understand the strength of the Spiritually acquired resources. God knows the inventory we have of both the natural and Spiritual resources. He alone knows how much we can handle, and how much we cannot.
God has promised,
The first step in this victory is to, by faith, believe God and stop assuming that He misspoke. Which of course, if He misspoke would mean that God is a liar. Not a good assumption!! There will be a great personal victory in taking this first step of faith and believe that God will NOT allow us to be tested beyond our limit.
God does not bring the tests, as we have already seen. However, according to Rom 8:28, God will use all things that come into our lives, for our good. Therefore, even in the test, God wants to do more for us than simply remove the pressure.
I know! We think that just having the pressure removed would be good enough, but then we aren't God. God wants to make something Spiritually wonderful of our lives. We naturally want a little pleasure and a little MORE comfort. God wants to mold our natural being into the image of that Spiritual being, we received at our New Birth.
One of the basic principles of training for any athletic event, is to develop a person so they can do things they don't think they are capable of doing, at that time.
To develop a person for such an endeavor, there must be pressure applied personally and/or externally, and that pressure must be greater than the athlete thinks they can handle.
By applying such pressure, the athlete will discover that they can handle it, OR the added pressure will develop such ability over time and repetition. Time and repetition are two of most hated aspects of Spiritual growth and strength training, but two of the MOST needed aspects.
In this Spiritual "development program" God...
Allows the pressure to come,
If we had the time, or had taken the time to study the previous context, we would have seen that Paul, among other things, presents the need for PERSONAL DISCIPLINE. Certainly, if we are to "escape" from the clutches of tests and temptations, we MUST have a disciplined life socially, physically, Spiritually and in all other ways
However, personal discipline ALONE does not provide the "way of escape". Therefore, there must be DIVINE PROVISION, appropriated by PERSONAL DEPENDENCE. If we are going to be "more than conquerors" in the arena of testing, there must be at least three elements in our living.
PERSONAL DISCIPLINE DIVINE PROVISION PERSONAL DEPENDENCE
All we need for ANY Spiritual experience must and is provided by God. Humans have nothing within themselves that would allow them to even approach Spiritual living.
However, God does not force His provision on us. Over and over again, we are instructed to put down the works of the flesh and not let sin rule over us. These are acts of personal discipline. Even in the matter of personal discipline, God has provided strength for the task.
After we have done some "house cleaning" through personal discipline, then when the tests come, we MUST not rely on what we have done in the past. We must personally depend on God, at that moment, for His strength and provision to bear-up under the test.
Our human nature is of such, that it is very difficult to admit that we are not strong enough, within ourselves, to fight our own battles. Therefore, we often resist and ignore the Divine provision, which in reality is God's Own person. God's person may be in the form of His Word, His Son and/or the Holy Spirit.
All through the Old Testament, the great men and women of faith have taught us, that we very seldom turn to God as our source of strength, UNTIL all else fails. What a shame!!!!!!
Psalms 62:7 In God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, And my refuge, is in God. 8 Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah
Psalms 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, Though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah
Too often, we must enter into severe testing before we really understand and claim God as our "refuge" and "strength". The humiliation of testing strips away all human dependency, self pride and confidence in the things of the world, and then we have the opportunity to learn that God is enough.
Folks, this is a process
God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in time of trouble, BUT we very seldom discover that fact, until everything else has been taken away. When we come to God with empty hands, and weak knees, it is then we begin to discover that God can hold us up, make our way straight and supply our needs. God, Himself is our "way of escape" and He allows us to go through pressures and tests so we can better know Him and become like Him.
Even though the proper results from the test are very valuable, God STILL will not allow us to be tested above what we are able to bear. Most Christians want "help" with their tests, as a matter of fact, we would just simply like them to "go away". Our concern is not in the Spiritual benefit from such a test, BUT we are disturbed that the test has an adverse effect on our comfort in this sinful world.
We know that our tests or trials are common to all humans, yet most of us want "special" treatment, we want to be exempted from the trials. We should realize that these trials are a part of being human and God has promised to protect us from excessive pressure in those trials and God has promised to make a way of escape. THEREFORE, those facts should be exciting to us.
These "trials" plague everybody. Yet, as a Believer, these common things can be the very things that gives us..:
I'm sure that these two facts will not make us run out to the "Trial Superstore" and buy a bundle of trials. But knowing the Spiritual and physical benefits derived from properly enduring trials, should change our attitude FROM dread and fear TO challenge and confidence. Then, when trials do come our way, we can rejoice, NOT because of the trial, BUT because of the results of that trial. The Apostle Paul put that truth this way…
2 Corinthians 12:9 And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
We need to look at and possibly change our attitude toward trials. These O.T. "examples" were given to help us do exactly that.
All that is good, BUT there is more…
James 1:12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
If we will allow God to do so, He will keep us from excessive pressure in our trials and make a way of escape, while all the time providing an exciting relationship with Himself and He will give us a Crown of Life when He returns to earth.
BUT there is still more…
1 Peter 1:6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,
If we will allow God to help us through our trials, instead of blaming Him for them, our faith in so doing, will be considered by God to be of greater value than a big pile of gold.
Not only will our faith in allowing God to help in our trials be better than gold, that faith will bring praise, honor and glory to God when Christ comes back to this earth at the conclusion of this present Messianic age.
What does this have to do with Israel in the wilderness? Well, let's take a look and see.
1 Corinthians 10:5 But with most of them (Israelites in the Wilderness) God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. 6 Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust (greed) after evil things as they also lusted. 7 And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play." 8 Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; 9 nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; 10 nor murmur, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come. 12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 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.
These examples were given by the Holy Spirit to us at the end of the Messianic Ages… SO we would have what we need to move through these daily testing and on to Spiritual victory. If you don't want help from the Holy Spirit with your tests, then don't pay any attention to these examples.
Many Christian are like those who are sort-of "involved" in sports. At a sport's event there are those in the stands who are experts in all matters concerning that sport, let's say football.
These sportsmen know all the facts of every major game since the ice age. These sportsmen really do know their football. They have read the books, they know the strategy, they have the play book memorized.
These sportsmen could have called the plays better than the coach. They could have made the play better than the players. When they leave the stands, they will be heard to say, "We really beat the socks off of 'em today, didn't we?"
However, not one of them
Many Christians are somewhat like these sportsmen. They know how to run the church, they know their doctrine, etc. etc.
However, when it comes to the real activity of Christian living, they only have a theory and very little reality. Theory only helps when they are in the stands critiquing the game. However, what a player needs for the real game is the theory practiced over and over again until it become second nature
We need to be disciplined and trained by our trials, and we need to have the God given examples stamped on our minds, so we will know how and be able to play the game. Those two aspects of "knowing how" and "being able" are vastly different.
These God given examples were recorded in the Old Testament for us, on whom the end of the ages have come, so we will both "know how" and "see how" it is accomplished.
The enemies that confronted the saint-of-old were overcome in the same manner that we can overcome the enemies that face us, today. In the heat of the battle, we can look to the God given examples (if we know them well) and find direction to overcome our enemies.
I've watched quite few football games and have slept through even more. Therefore, with my vast knowledge of the game, I have concluded that it is quite easy to be a quarterback.
If you are an astute student of football, as I am, you will have noticed that most quarterbacks wear a little "armband". That "armband" has notations on it so he will know just what to do.
All the quarterback has to do is look over to the sidelines so the coach can give him a signal. Then all the quarterback has to do is look at his armband, match the coach's signal with the notations on the armband and the rest is easy.
It's ok to call me an lunatic, BUT before you become too vocal, remember, many Christians "play" the Spiritual war in a very similar manner.
A quarterback becomes a good quarterback because of hundreds of hours of discipline both mentally and physically. He has gone through test after test. Any quarterback that makes it look easy, does so because he has been through the "trial of fire" day in and day out for years, and he has learned from those trials.
A quarterback that says--- "Boys! I don't want to go to practice today because it might be a little hard."---- we call that quarterback "retired".
Quarterbacks become good quarterbacks because they learn the theory, they know their opponents, they know their team's ability and they have learned from the tests and failures of the past. BUT they do not become good quarterback, because they have a nice comfortable bench on which to sit, while they are watching the game.
Those Old Testament saints fought against principalities, and powers and the spiritual host of wickedness in heavenly places. We too fight those same enemies, and we have victories for the same reasons as found in the our God given "examples".
Ephesians 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
We are also assaulted by these Spiritual forces, we are discouraged by them, and too often defeated by them, just as Israel was discouraged and defeated.
When we see how the saints of old trusted in God, held on to God's promises, renewed their strength by faith, and then set about to diligently do what God set before them, those events become examples for us in the struggles and battles we face in life, daily.
These struggles are not limited to AWANA or the Sunday morning service.
You are in this battle 24/7!!
This battle is won or lost around the breakfast table as well as behind the pulpit. We are under attack. We are not living in a beautiful, pleasant world designed for our enjoyment, and the quicker we get rid of that demonic idea, the better.
We're on a battlefield, not in a recreation hall. We're under attack. We are running a race that must be won. We are fighting a battle with a clever and ruthless enemy. His devices are well honed through centuries of practice, and his strategies are very subtle, and we can easily fail. We need these Holy Spirit given examples.
1 Corinthians 10:11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come. 12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 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.
|© Clyde White, Austin TX, 2004|