Intro: The latest news that recently hit the headlines involved infidelity and attempted rape. One Senator just resigned when he was exposed of adultery. These landed on the headlines because these are well known men, men with authority and well educated and rich. But one could be poor, uneducated and ordinary and just as guilty except nobody cares because it is not newsworthy. Marital unfaithfulness is not new and the sin of adultery had been going on even among God’s chosen people. One of the excuses when committed by Christians is that David was also guilty of adultery. Last Sunday, we learned that all the unsaved will be judged and God gave a list of all the sins that they have committed and guilty of. Adulterers are no worse than liars. However, while still alive and exposed they don’t only hurt themselves but their love ones who are shamed by their action. How come they fall into sin? The Bible says that sin entered into the first man Adam and all humankind inherited the sinful nature. We may not be guilty of committing all the sins but we will sin because that is our nature. That’s why God sent His Son down to earth as the second Adam. Born of a woman, born under the law but did not inherit the sinful nature of Adam. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born with the nature of God. Yet, He was the Son of Man and had flesh and blood. He is everything like you and me except that He was pure from birth and he lived His entire life sinless in all purity and godliness.
So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being, the last Adam, a life giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.” 1 Cor. 15:45-49
What we will be looking at today is to understand man’s weakness to resist sin and how one can overcome the sins inherent to our sinful nature and what differentiates the true believers of Jesus from the unbeliever?
Last Sunday the Lord Jesus gave us a parable about the Wedding feast. Was there a difference between the guest who were chosen and the gatecrasher? We knew why he was thrown outside, the picture of hell. To understand our text today and to whom it was addressed to is very crucial. There is also a difference between the four gospels and the purpose they were written. Here’s how John summarized the purpose of writing the gospels,
“Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John 20:30-31
Now what about the letters of Paul and the rest of the New Testament? Were they not written for that same purpose and to whom was it written? The book of Acts is an historical account to tell us what happened to His followers after Jesus returned to heaven and I believe Christ continues His work in the lives of His disciples living today through His Spirit that is now in them. Miracles after miracles still happens everyday the greatest of which is the miracle of the new birth. The rest of the New Testament are letters of instructions for believers how they are to conduct their lives, apply the teachings of Jesus in our daily lives so as to be conformed to His likeness, and the power we have to live in righteousness. Let’s first find out to whom the message from our text was addressed to?
“Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes. To the church of God in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ – their Lord and ours.” 1 Cor. 1:1-2
Although this letter was to the church in Corinth, which no longer exists and written almost two thousand years ago, it is still current and applies to us here in Reno today in 2011. Why? Because Paul’s writing by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit says “together” with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Are we that? Is Jesus Christ our Lord and the Lord of this church? Are we doing what the early disciples were doing?
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Acts 2:42
“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.”
When I look back at my life before I became a Christian, I can hardly recall that I had to struggle resisting temptations. I may have used my head as far as doing foolish things, but I was not even conscious of being tempted. I sinned because that was my nature and I did it because I loved it. But now that I am a Christian the temptation has become real where there is a struggle to resist them. Every temptation that a believer is tempted with is common to all believers and nonbelievers. The difference is that non-believers do not resist the temptation but easily give in. They may use their heads as far as not killing anyone for fear of going to jail but with other sins they don’t and even if they don’t want to they have no power to say no. In fact most of the sins are deliberate, planned and pursued especially the sin of adultery and sexual immorality. There are also other reasons that prevents unbelievers to sin is their concern of the consequences and what people will say. Protecting ones reputation is a deterrent from sinning. And the best deterrent is ones fear of God, which according to the Bible is the beginning of wisdom. When a believer is tempted it is still possible that he falls because the Scripture say it has “seized you,” meaning you were caught in the trap. Falling into a trap is not deliberate. But will he stay and remain in sin? Here is what will be true to the believer as compared to an unbeliever.
“And God is faithful.” Faithfulness is God’s character. He will be true to all His promises and to the covenant. A believer may lack faith but God’s faithfulness is never lacking and will never fail. That’s why I believe that if God were the one who saved you, you can never lose your salvation. If it depended on you or you had a part in your salvation you will lose it because you will not be faithful to keep it 100%. Only God can keep His Word and His promises even when we are not. This is the bedrock of our salvation, the faithfulness of God and Christ to keep His covenant with us. We have learned from the Old Testament that the Israelites, descendants of Abraham could not remain faithful to the covenant by keeping the commandments, that’s why there was a need for a New Covenant. Only the Son of Man was able to keep the commandments and never sinned. And because with God nothing is too hard or impossible for Him, He is able to keep all His promises. So God is faithful, but what does His faithfulness have to do with our being tempted? Very much because our victory to avoid falling into the temptation rest upon Him. Here’s what He promises to do.
“He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” The “you” addressed here are those who are already born again believers of Christ. As human beings we have the power to resist temptations. However, left on our own we cannot be victorious in all. One example of resisting sin base entirely on human power is the case of Joseph. He was practically seduced by the wife of his master. Day after day, she was inviting him to go to bed with her. But he resisted. Why? Joseph had the fear of God. God gave him a vision that he would be great some day. He knew that if he gives in to the temptation this was sin against God and would get him in trouble with his boss. He resisted because he feared God and was determined to do the will of God. In contrast, David gave in to the temptation after he saw Batsheba bathing. God knows our strength and our weaknesses. It is like stretching a rubber band. There is a limit when it will break and God knows our breaking point. So we have these two men who are men of God and one gave in while the other did not. And both did not have the Holy Spirit yet in them.
Temptations are not just limited to sexual immorality. Jesus was tempted by food when he was starving, wealth and power to possess in exchange for worshiping the devil. Then we can be tempted by fear of man just like Peter who denied Jesus three times. He feared that he will be arrested with Jesus and punished with Him. Have you ever been tempted to tell a lie related to your job for fear that you could be fired by telling the truth? Peter lied by denying that he knew Jesus. Did God know his limitations and what he can bear when tempted? Yes. God knew that he would deny Jesus three times and Jesus revealed it to him beforehand. Yet God allowed it to happen even though Jesus prayed for him.
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32
Simon’s failure in denying Jesus was not intentional or deliberate. It came when he was confronted with the possibility of being arrested also.
But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” Luke 22:33
Even after he was with Jesus more than three years he reached his breaking point and gave in to fear. I have no doubt that he meant what he said but at that time he was only relying in his own power because he did not yet have the Holy Spirit in him. But was the Son of God unfaithful to His promise?
“But when you are tempted, he will provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” After Peter failed Jesus looked at him with compassion.
The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.” Luke 22:60-62
I believe when Jesus looked at Peter it was not to condemn him but lovingly reminded him of what Jesus said he would do. That was not a rebuke because Jesus knew that he would fail. He looked to remind him that He knew why he reacted the way he did and understands fully his weakness. Yet it caused Peter to weep bitterly in repentance and felt the guilt. After Jesus resurrected, Jesus lifted him and to stand up from under his failure. Three times Jesus asked if he loved Him? And Peter answered that he did. Yet even that love that he had for Jesus was still human love because the Holy Spirit was not yet given. But what happened after the Holy Spirit came down at Pentecost and went into every one of the believers? Peter was never the same again. He became fearless to preach the gospel and he openly did in the temple courts.
The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand.” Acts 4:1-4
What changed? What made the difference? Peter and together with all the believers were now indwelt by the Holy Spirit as well as every born again believer of Christ today. We will all be tempted with the same temptation that the apostles and disciples were tempted with. The greatest temptation Christians will encounter is persecution for being a Christian. Our sinful nature regarding the cravings of the flesh should be put to death.
“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed which is idolatry.” Col. 3:5
These sins have already been given up at salvation when we repented of all sins found in the Ten Commandments. But is it still possible to fall into any of these sins? Yes, but we have God’s power and His faithfulness to provide a way out. Young Christians may still be ignorant of who they are and what power they have to resist all the temptations of the evil one. We need to be watchful and then pray for God to provide a way out. But first we have the responsibility to decide either to say no or to give in to the temptation. Those who give in to sins of the earthly nature, the top of the list being sexual immorality should not think that because they are already saved it’s okay and they will not lose their salvation anyway. We are not to forget that God saved us from the penalty and from the power of sin. Being saved is never a license to sin. There is this truth for those who intentionally keep on sinning.
“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of the raging fire that consumes the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the Law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?” Heb. 10:26-29
Notice what it says, “after receiving the knowledge of the truth.” This is only head knowledge but not believing from the heart. One can believe the facts about Jesus without commitment to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. But for those who have repented and received Jesus as Lord, here’s what is true. We have the Holy Spirit and we are now partakers of the divine nature of God
“No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning because he has been born of God.” 1 John 3:9
So in regards to sexual sins here’s what God has commanded.
“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own: you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” 1 Cor. 6:18-20
What are we capable of deciding? To flee just like what Joseph did. Who will provide us the way out and the power to stay out? God the Holy Spirit.
Can we depend on our strength? No. That’s why before this verse in our text we have this warning,
“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” 1 Cor. 10:12
We can stand only by the grace of God when we humble ourselves before God for He gives grace to the humble. The victory is in Christ, through Christ and because of Christ.