Today we are starting a brand new message series called A Way Out which is going to deal with something we all face in life: temptation. We’re going to be looking at this topic of temptation for 4 weeks. The messages will build on each other week after week so I hope you’ll continue to join us as we deal with this issue, because I believe that there are many of you who, on the other side of this, will be significantly different. You will be free from things that have held you bondage for years and years. You will find a freedom and peace that you have longed for for so long.
In this sermon series we’re going to discover that God is faithful. No matter where you’re trapped – it could be something big you’ve never told anybody about or something smaller that everybody knows and it’s just annoying you, but we’re going to learn that God always gives us a way out.
If we can be honest with ourselves, everybody at one level or another has something in their life that is consistently there that should not be there. I don’t know what this is for you, it might be:
Alcohol for many people is a problem. You can have a drink or two every now and then and it not a problem, but there are those of you who do it every single day and you have a substance problem. It could be you’re smoking something you don’t want to smoke. You’re popping pills you shouldn’t pop.
For someone else it could be that you just lie almost sometimes for no reason at all. You don’t even know why you just told a lie. You tell a lie to cover up that lie and before long there are some people who really can’t even distinguish what the truth is because they lie all the time.
Others of you struggle with body image issues or eating disorders. That can be mean that you overeat or purge your food or it could be something as simple as a sugar addiction.
You don’t have to look probably beyond 3 or 4 people close to you, but someone has a sexual addiction. You’re looking at things that you shouldn’t be looking at. You’re acting out or some of you are moments away from acting out, because you’re visualizing things that you should never ever see.
For some it’s spending. You’re massively in debt and yet for whatever reason you go and buy more and more and more. You think, “I should stop,” but you can’t seem to stop, you just continue to spend and spend and spend.
For some it’s gambling. You enjoy the casinos, or horse races, or now of course you can just go online. You think, “I’m pretty good with this new game,” and then you lose something, and you lose some more and and all of the sudden you realize, “I can’t seem to get out.” You try to gamble your way out and you’re like getting more trouble.
As innocent as it seems, many of you are addicted to your phones and social media. You can’t even have a conversation with somebody without looking at your phone. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but you have no idea how much it’s robbing you because you can’t have an intimate relationship with anybody because you’re focused on virtual relationships rather than real relationships.
I don’t know what it is be for you, but I’ve been through enough to know that every one of us has something in our life that shouldn’t be there. In fact, this whole idea is what Easter is all about. Let me explain the whole story of the Bible real quick for you using three simple circles as illustrations. Are you ready?
The first circle represents GOD’S DESIGN – The Bible explains in the very first book, that God created a world that worked perfectly and part of His plan was for us to worship Him and relate to Him. But just as we see in Adam and Eve, we find the same problem within ourselves and that problem is that there’s something within us that desires to do things our own way, and this causes problems for us and others. This rebelliousness is called sin, and that leads to brokenness, which is our second circle.
BROKENESS – You see, life doesn’t work when we ignore God and His original design for our lives. When we sin, we distort God’s original design. The consequence of our sin is separation from God, both in this life and for all of eternity. Not only does sin separate us from God, but it leads to brokenness in all those ways we just mentioned, things that harm us like – alcoholism, drugs, lying, body image issues, sexual addiction, out of control spending, gambling, etc. We see this all around us and perhaps you’re even experiencing it right now.
Once we realize that life isn’t working, we begin looking for a way out, but often we look in all the wrong places. We move from one relationship to another. We change jobs. We try to numb the pain with busyness or distraction or alcohol. But what we find is that none of these things bring the peace we are searching for.
THE GOSPEL – At this point we desperately need some good news, we need a remedy. That’s where the third circle comes into play – the Gospel (which means good news). The gospel is what we celebrate on Easter – it is the good news that, because of His love, God didn’t leave us in our brokenness. Jesus came and lived perfectly according to God’s Design.
Jesus came to rescue us – to do for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves. He took our sin upon Himself and died in our place, paying the penalty for sin by His death. Three days later God raised Him from the dead defeating the powers of sin and death. And through Jesus’ sacrificial death, we can have forgiveness of our sins and be reconciled to God.
But I want you to understand this morning that simply hearing this Good News is not enough – we must turn away from our sinful lifestyle and stop trusting in ourselves. We need to place our faith in Jesus. We do this by confessing our sin to God, asking for forgiveness, and committing our lives to Him. The Bible says that if we do this, God will forgive us and give us a new start. Beginning today, by placing your faith and trust in Jesus and giving Him control of your life, you can begin a new life and find the way out of the life you’ve been living.
I want to let God’s words speak directly to this so we’re going to jump into the passage that we’re going to look at every week for 4 weeks – 1 Corinthians 10:12-13. The first part says this, “…if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.”
Then we get to some good news, I want you to help me out by reading it out loud. It says “And God is” What? Everybody say it out loud, “And God is faithful.” Even if we are faithless, our God is always faithful.
How is He faithful? It goes on to tell us that “He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.”
When you are tempted, and you will be, all of us will be – when you are tempted, what will our God do? It says, “He will also provide,” what? Say it loud, “…a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
What I hope you’ll understand is that every time there is a temptation there is always a way out. Every single time you are tempted to do something that would be harmful to you, harmful to others, or hurt the heart of God, there is always a way out.
Let me start with a simple definition of temptation. What is temptation? There are many definitions. This is the one we’re going to work with. Temptation is anything that promises satisfaction at the cost of obedience to God. Temptation is anything that promises satisfaction – “you’re going to like this;” “you’re going to feel good;” “its going to make your life more meaningful.” It promises satisfaction at the cost of obedience to God.
Scientist tell us that when we give in to whatever the temptation is, our brains actually release a little chemical called dopamine. It gives us a hit, a buzz, a thrill. You want it, you make the purchase. You want to look, you take a look. You want to say it because it’s going to feel good to say and so you say it. Your brain rewards you for it with a little bit of dopamine and there’s the thrill, there’s the buzz, there’s the high, there’s that moment, there’s that feeling of satisfaction, but then it’s followed by the regret, remorse, sadness, guilt, and shame. Many of you know that cycle all too well. Temptation is anything that promises satisfaction at the cost of obedience to God. As we build the foundation today that is necessary to build upon in the weeks to come, we’re going to keep it real simple and talk about 4 truths about temptation.
Truth number 1, we need to embrace this – it is not a sin to be tempted. It is not a sin to be tempted. Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest, as Jesus, who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one Jesus who has been tempted in every way just as we are that he did not sin.” In other words Jesus was tempted just like we are, but being tempted is not the same as sinning. You have to understand this because our spiritual enemy will use what’s called false guilt to make us feel guilty when we shouldn’t feel guilty.
For example, eating a donut is not a sin. If for you, you’re learning to eat healthy and you feel convicted that you don’t want to eat a donut but then you walk into work and there’s a dozen chocolate frosted donuts and you walk by and they’re calling you and you look at one but then you walk on by, you did not sin. You were tempted, but you did not sin. If you pick it up and you smell it, is that a sin? I don’t know. You’re getting technical on me. If you lick the chocolate off the top? Ok, that probably crosses the line. I don’t know.
Or perhaps you’re driving down the road ladies, and you see a guy with no shirt on and he’s jogging or men, you see tight pants girl or whatever and you think, “I better turn around and make sure they get across the street okay.” If you do that, you probably went too far. If you’re driving by and there’s an attractive person and you just keep on driving, you didn’t sin. You were tempted, but you didn’t sin.
To be tempted is not the same as to sin. What our spiritual enemy wants us to do is to feel guilty, to feel that we did wrong, because often when we feel guilty we medicate our guilt with sin. We think, “Well, I already feel bad so I might as well get some satisfaction.”
The second thing, if you’re taking notes is this – you are never above temptation. You are never above temptation. I don’t care who you are. You are not above temptation. Verse 12 of 1 Corinthians 10 said, “If you think you’re standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.” Be careful, if you’re sitting there thinking, “I’m so glad so and so is here to hear this. I don’t need this, but I’m glad I got somebody else will hear this.” If that’s going through your mind, be careful! Anytime you think, “That’s not me. I’m above that. I would never do that,” understand this – our spiritual enemy will come at you at your weaknesses and he will come at you at your strengths.
How often did you see the great family guy who really does love his family end up doing something stupid? What happened? He was overconfident in his strengths. Whenever you see a doctor who understands medicine and really cares about health and he’s getting hooked on prescription medicine. Why? He overestimated or she overestimated her strengths. He will come at you at your weaknesses, he will also come at you at your strengths. Never ever, ever, think you are above it.
So often people that think, “I would never go there. I would never do that,” and they’re the very people that fall the hardest and the fastest. We have to guard against self-confidence, because scripture says that our heart is deceitful above all things. We never know when we’re going to be vulnerable. We have no idea what we are capable of. Any single one of us is capable of the grossest sin given the right environment. We are not above temptation.
So, Number 1, it’s not a sin to be tempted. Number 2, you are never above temptation. Number 3, God will never tempt you. God will test you, but He will not tempt you. There’s a difference. Why do you test someone? In order to promote them. We test someone to move them forward. God will test you, but He will never tempt you. God tests you to move you forward.
Satan tempts you to move you backward – and there’s a big, big, difference. God is not going to put a temptation to sin in front of you, but God may test you. Are you going to be obedient in this? Are you going to be faithful in this? That’s a test, not a temptation. In fact, James said it this way in James 1:13, he said, “Remember when you are being tempted, do not say, ‘God is tempting me.’” God has never tempted you to do wrong.
Where does temptation come from? James 1:14 tells us where – it comes from our own desire. You say, “No, I’m a good person.” Technically, no, you’re dead wrong. You are a bad, sinful person and so am I. We are naturally bent away from God. You never have to teach a 2-year-old to be selfish. You don’t have to do that because by nature we are not good people. Temptation comes from our own desires which entice us and drag us away; then those desires give birth to sinful actions. It starts with a desire and then it’s born into a sinful action. Then, when sin is allowed is to grow, what does it give birth to? Death.
Sounds pretty dramatic, doesn’t it? Death?? Really?? But if you ask any married couple where someone let sin in the door where that sin led them to. Sin never makes life better. Sin always destroys. It promises satisfaction, but it costs obedience to God. We think, “This is going to fun. This is going to spice up our marriage. This is going to help. This is going to help me relax. This is going to make me feel better. This is going to make me feel more special.” The hit, the buzz comes for a moment and then it starts to unravel and it leads to death…destruction every single time.
So many people have fallen into this deceptive way of thinking that says, “It’s no big deal. This is just the way I am. This is just my one thing. I can’t overcome this. God just made me this way. This is just how I am. I’ve tried to change but I just can’t overcome this. This is my one thing but God understands that.” Those are all lies from Satan. Listen, God is righteous and in the power of Christ, He calls us to follow Him, not by our own power, but through Jesus He will lead us into righteousness.
Every temptation…write this down because this is powerful…every temptation is an invitation to depend on Christ. Every temptation is an invitation to depend on Christ. When you are tempted, God is faithful. He will always give you a way out. Every time you’re tempted to do whatever is disobedient to God that is an invitation for you to depend on Christ, because in your own fleshly nature you don’t always have the ability to say no to temptation.
Number 1, it’s not a sin to be tempted. Number 2, you are never above temptation. Number 3, our God will never tempt you. Number 4, this is the title to our series and this is what we have to embrace – there is always a way out no matter what. No matter you’re facing, no matter what gross sin has you held hostage, no matter what small annoying thing that everybody knows about has you in its grips, there is always, always a way out.
1 Corinthians 10:13
Our God is what? Our God is faithful.
He will not let you be what? He will never let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.
And when you are tempted; what will our God do? He will provide a way out so that you can endure it.
What might your way out be? I don’t know, but I’m here to tell you that God will provide a way out.
It may be confessing it. “Whoever conceals his sin,” scripture says, “does not prosper. But whoever confesses and renounces them, finds mercy.” We confess to our God for forgiveness. If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive our sin and cleanse from all unrighteousness. But we also confess to others for healing. If you confess your sins to one another and pray for each other that Scripture says that you will be healed.
That’s one reason why Growth groups are so powerful because in a group of other like-minded people we’re not battling sin alone. We’re in a community with other people praying for each other. One of the ways I want to encourage you to respond to this message today is to talk about this stuff with your friends. In fact, we have some online discussion questions you can use each week for some 1-on-1 conversations. Just invite your friend to grab some coffee or take a walk in the park and talk about these things together – it might just change both of your lives!
For some of you it’s going to be counseling or therapy or rehab. It’s deep and you’ve tried and you’ve tried and you’ve tried, but you’re not getting there on your own and you need some deep healing and you to detox and you need distance and you need time.
For some of you it’s going to be accountability. You need someone that can ask you the tough questions. You might need a couple of friends that are going to get in your face and love you enough to ask the hard questions and not let a day go by without being in your life.
For others, you simply need to repent – to make a firm decision to turn away from your sinful choices once and for all. I’m not talking about remorse. Remorse is saying, “I’m sorry, I got caught.” Repentance is, “God, I’m sorry. I need Your help. I need Your grace.”
Whatever it is, listen to me – there is a way out. There is a way out. There is a way out. There is always a way out. Our God is faithful. There is always a way out. If you fall, God will pick you up again and give you a way out again.
Here’s what you need to hear. Christ in you, not you in you, because you and you will lose. Christ in you is stronger than the wrong desire in you.
What is temptation? Temptation is anything that promises satisfaction at the cost of obedience to God.
When we are weak, we are vulnerable to give in.
The good news is that also when we’re weak, Christ’s strength is made perfect in us. That’s why every temptation is an invitation to depend on Christ. Christ in you is more powerful than any wrong desire in you. Every time you’re tempted, God is inviting you to trust in Jesus who will set you free because the good news is this. Our God is faithful. When you are tempted, He will always give you a way out.
The way out is through His son Jesus and by the grace of Jesus we can be free.
I want to invite you to turn from your sin and place your trust in Jesus today for the forgiveness of sin and the beginning of a new life. As we sing, won’t you come forward and give control of your life to Christ today?