Breaking the Bondage of Sin (1 Corinthians 10:13)

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“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

What would you say to a person who is trying wholeheartedly to live the Christian life but confesses that he is struggling with a sinful addiction such as pornography, alcohol, drugs, tobacco, a gay or lesbian lifestyle, explosive anger, impure thoughts, or gluttony?

  • Would you assure this person that Jesus could set him free?
  • Would you tell him about someone else who was not only delivered instantaneously from that practice but also from desire for it?
  • Would you urge the person you are trying to help to pray that God will give him a similar deliverance?

This is exactly what most Christians do. But when the person with the addiction begs God for deliverance and does not experience it, he becomes disillusioned with God and disappointed with himself. That’s why it’s unintentional cruelty to urge people to believe that God has promised to remove certain temptations.

Can God instantaneously deliver from sinful bondage? Yes!

Does God promise an instantaneous removal of temptation from your area(s) of weakness? No! Does that mean that God has not provided a means for victory over addictive sin? No! In Christ, and through the power of His Spirit and His Word, God provides freedom from any and all forms of willful sin. But this is on His terms.

In Christ, and through the power of His Spirit and His Word, God provides freedom from any and all forms of willful sin

Let’s explore the meaning of 1 Corinthians 10:13.

The Commonality of Temptation

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man.”

What a relief that our particular struggle with sin is not unique to us! Other people have faced exactly the same kind of temptation that we face, and some have even faced those that are more severe. What is involved when we are tempted?

James 1:14 says that a person is tempted when he is enticed by his own desires.

This means that the first step in temptation is attraction. You cannot be tempted by anything that does not have some kind of attraction for you.

The second step is allurement. Satan knows how to make things that God forbids exceedingly alluring (2 Cor. 11:2-4).

Steps three through five are found in James 1:15: “after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

The third step is acceptance. Up to step three, there is no sin involved in the life of the person being tempted. However, if a person gives assent to the temptation, choosing to embrace it mentally, verbally, or physically, he has consciously chosen to do wrong. At this point the temptation becomes a personal sin.

The fourth step is appetite / addiction. Some sins grow in their power and control over you until they become addictions.

The final step in temptation is the award —“sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

The Commitment of God

“…but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

Part of the Corinthian problem may have been that in the face of difficult temptation some Christians were not looking for a way out by endurance, but a way out by deliverance.

They did not wish to experience deliverance by walking through the fires of temptation but by escaping them.

THE PROMISE OF INSTANTANEOUS DELIVERANCE

God promises to some people a way out of temptation through instantaneous deliverance

God solemnly promises that He will not allow any Christian to be tempted above what he is able to bear. This means that God personally limits the power of temptation to the grace-enabled ability of each Christian to resist.

God personally limits the power of temptation to the grace-enabled ability of each Christian to resist

Because some individuals become so entangled in sin, so enslaved to its cruel power, so damaged in their inner person, so weak in their willpower, they are literally incapable of resisting any temptation in a particular area.

To persons thus severely damaged, God provides instantaneous deliverance and complete removal of any further temptation in their area of total inability. It is not a comprehensive deliverance, however. Those who experience miraculous deliverance in one or two areas do not experience deliverance from temptation in all other areas.

We rejoice with those who experience such instantaneous deliverance. But what is confusing is the way church leaders place such people upon a public pedestal. We are excited by their story, and we begin to think these are the true spiritual giants in our midst.

In reality, the opposite is true.

THE PROMISE OF DELIVERANCE THROUGH ENDURANCE

God promises to all other people a way out of temptation through endurance

Most people find that God has sufficient grace to enable them to resist temptation through the Spirit and the transformation of their minds through the Word of God. God has promised, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).

Further, the God appointed method for gaining spiritual strength and godly character is by resisting temptation of various kinds (Rom. 5:3-5).

One of the surest ways to discredit God’s truth is to exaggerate it. When someone takes the experience of another and elevates that experience to the level of God’s promise, he is exaggerating the truth. To imply that what God does for one person is grounds for believing He will do the same for all persons is wrong. Let me explain.

A husband and wife asked to speak with me privately. Their eyes were solemn and their hope palpable when they said, “Dr. Brown, would you be willing to counsel with our son? He is presently backslidden. He has sought God many times for deliverance from a gay orientation, and he feels God has failed him.”

I asked, “What are you expecting God to do for your son? Are you expecting God to deliver him instantly from his gay orientation?”

“Yes!” came the immediate answer.

I sighed and said to them as kindly as I knew how what I knew they would not want to hear. “God has not promised to deliver your son from his homosexual temptation. Although God could instantly deliver your son from his gay lifestyle, He does that only for people who are so damaged that they can resist no temptation in that particular area of life.

Most likely, God will give your son all the grace he needs to resist homosexual temptation and will give him the power to walk in obedience to His Word.”

I then asked them to think about what is common in the Christian life. Does God remove from heterosexual Christian men all temptation toward impure thoughts when they see an unusually attractive woman? No.

Instead, God gives them the grace-enabled ability to control their eyes and to keep their thoughts pure.

I asked them, “Why do you believe God is obligated to remove homosexual temptation from your son?”

DELIVERANCE THROUGH THE SPIRIT AND THE WORD

God’s usual method of deliverance through His Spirit and His Word

God’s normal method of deliverance from the practice of sin is through His Spirit and His Word. Think about the following truths:

1. God will allow you to be tempted only up to your load limit. He will not allow you to be tempted more than you can bear (1 Cor. 10:13). Therefore, if you give in to temptation, you do so because you want to please yourself more than you want to please God.

If you give in to temptation, you do so because you want to please yourself more than you want to please God

2. God expects you to flee temptation (2 Tim. 2:22). You are to remove yourself from anything that triggers your area(s) of weakness. Locate areas of weakness in your life and cleanse your life, your home, your environment of things that lead to temptation. Remove all stumbling stones. Romans 13:14 says, “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.”

3. Create barriers along paths you know lead to temptation and failure. Don’t go past the magazine rack; don’t have the Internet, a computer, a TV, a radio, or special “junk food” around you if you can’t resist the temptation to use them improperly.

4. Commit to full obedience to God’s Word. Romans 10:21 says, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”

5. Claim the promises of God. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3 promises, “But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.” Romans 6:7 says that because of our union with Christ, we have been set free from sin. Romans 6:11-12 teaches us to reckon ourselves free from sin and to stop yielding the members of our body as instruments of sin.

6. Learn how to watch and pray continually (Mat. 26:41), and how moment by moment to walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:17).

7. Hide God’s Word in your heart so that you will not sin against God (Psa. 119:9-11). Memorize as many Scriptures as possible that promise you victory. Learn how to resist temptation by praying the promises of God.

8. If you are having difficulty with a specific area of temptation, learn to use Scripture as spiritual medicine. Just as you take some kinds of prescription medicine, purpose to review God’s promises of victory. Instead of stopping after ten days, plan to continue the practice for sixty days. Romans 12:2 teaches that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. God will enable you to live each day with

God will enable you to live each day with complete victory over all temptation.

Further, as you allow the Scriptures to shape your thoughts, you will find the power of temptation diminishing the stronger you grow in God’s Word.

 


 

Originally published in God’s Revivalist. Used by permission.

Allan Brown
Dr. Allan Brown is Professor and Chair of the Division of Ministerial Education at God's Bible School & College. He holds his PhD in Old Testament Interpretation from Bob Jones University and is the author of several books and articles.