Lead us not into temptation… Deliver us from evil

Lewis DoylePosted on Monday, September 7th, 2015 by Lewis Doyle

Readings

1 Corinthians 10: 1-13

Introduction

This passage is a wonderful, reassuring and comforting part of scripture and one that I’m sure that you’re familiar with. If you have a book of memorable bible verses, I’m sure this will be in there. However, to understand what it means for us, we need to read it, as we do the entire Bible with three things in mind; as any Biblical scholar will tell you, it’s Context Context Context!

Corinth

Corinth itself was a land much like the modern world. It had an eclectic culture with Roman, Greek and Jewish people co-existing, or perhaps fighting for supremacy. Acts 18 tells us that there was a large Synagogue in Corinth so we know Judaism was vast.
Rome was a Theocracy. It was theopolitical. Caesar believed he was divine. In fact one of the main reasons the phrase ‘Jesus is Lord’ is found in the New Testament was because it was a statement claiming divinity of Jesus – the Roman’s often cited ‘Caesar is Lord’. Corinth therefore was a place of varying cultures.
Commercially, Corinth was in a very important position geographically, there was wealth.
In the middle of it all was a Church of Christians, trying to exist and Paul was trying to guide them, despite being away from them.

The book itself contains some well known passages:
Chapter 13 is probably the Bible’s most well known passage on Love – I’m sure you’ve been to at least one wedding where it’ been quoted!

The rest of Paul’s letter

If we look at this passage in the context of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians we will discover a few facts:

  1. Paul had been in previous correspondence; 1 Corinthians wasn’t Paul’s first letter to them (5:9) – this letter was in response to an earlier letter from the Church.
  2. The church had asked him some very specific questions regarding sexual relationships, getting married and eating food offered to idols – however he only began answering them from chapter 7. He spent a lot of time addressing the behaviour of the Church; he was concerned that while they were co-existing with other cultures, they should have been ‘counter-cultural’ – living with, but not as those around them. In fact in Chapter 5, Paul rebukes them for behaviour that is worse than the pagans!

In the passage we’re looking at today Paul addresses behaviour and it comes with a warning. Paul starts this passage with the word ‘For’ so we know this passage is very much a continuation from the previous one. He goes on ‘I do not want you to be ignorant’. He uses ancient Israel as examples. Israel were a blessed nation, they were the nation God chose as his own and yet the warning here is that despite being baptised into Moses – i.e. becoming covenant Jews, God wasn’’ pleased with their behaviour. In fact Paul reminds them that in one day 23,000 people died! That’s a pretty stark warning!!

Temptation

Let’s ask ourselves a question: is temptation sin?

  • The Bible tells us in Luke 4 that Jesus was tempted and Hebrews 4:15 reminds us that Jesus was tempted but was without sin. So clearly temptation is not a sin.
  • James says this in his letter

    “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God‘, for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death”
    James 1:13-15 (ESV).

    This therefore tells us that temptation is the catalyst for a process.

    Temptation will occur ; notice in the passage from James chapter 1 (above) the word when – “…when he is tempted…” – not if.
    We should also be aware that temptation is an opportunity for us to take our eyes off God as provider, sustainer and Lord. Jesus was initially tempted in his area of need; food. We’re tempted where we are weak; that could be in the areas of food, money, alcohol, lust.

    Paul knows temptation is the catalyst of a process and that is why he reminds us that there is a decision for us to make. He reminds us that there is always another option; God is faithful and will provide us with a way out.
    Paul also reminds us though, that every situation we find ourself in is not unique. We shouldn’t try to fool ourselves that our circumstance is special and therefore our sin was justified. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man” (verse 13 of our passage).

    • “the money was there for me to take, no one will miss it”
    • ”I needed to unwind and get drunk, everyone else does it, it’s been a hard week”
    • “all my friends look at these websites, its not harming any one”

    In the “Lord’s prayer” in Matthew 6, the sixth and final petition is ‘lead us not into temptation’. Temptation here is translated from the Greek word peirasmos. It’s most common usage in the New Testament according to VINES GREEK GRAMMAR is “regarding a trial or test that leads to wrongdoing”.
    Jesus instructs us to pray two things:

    1. that we are not lead into testing situations. Into situations where we may be tempted, and
    2. If we do find ourselves in those situations, that we will be delivered from the evil one or from evil

    When you undertake a study of Paul, there are several points that come out, one is his instruction for us, as Christians, to live a life that reflects our faith; to live counter culturally – as in his letter to the church in Corinth. This is best summed up in Paul’s letter to the Colossians “as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him. Colossians 2:5).

    A German scholar by the name of Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote an amazing book entitled “The Cost of Discipleship”. As well as being a great scholar he also vocally opposed to Hitler and took a stand against him. Like many that did that so he was arrested and transferred to a concentration camp and was eventually executed. In this book he coined the phrase ‘cheap grace’; he taught that a justified Christian is a Christian whose life reflects the forgiveness of sin – not someone who takes forgiveness for granted and lives as he or she pleases! Costly grace is living a life of sacrifice; choosing not to give in to temptation; not to conform to the world’s standards; but to live by God’s standards.

    Do you remember the TV game show ‘The Crystal Maze’?
    It was a 1990s TV shown in which contestants were required to obtain as many crystals as possible for use later in the game. To capture a crystal the contestants had to go through a variety of games (or tests if you will); some were mental challenges (such as solving puzzles), others were physical challenges (such as an obstacle course). Each of these games / tests had a time limit and (whilst some also had an automatic ‘lock-in’ if failure occurred) as the time begajn to run out many presented the contestant a choice; stay in and try a little longer to get the crystal or escape (to try again later in another game). The temptation to delay was often too strong for them and as a result many of them became trappe;, locked out of the game; because they gave in to the temptation of the crystal rather than looking for the way of escape.

    Paul reminds us of our responsibility ; we are likely to find ourselves in tempting and testing situations but we need to remember 4 things;

    1. We are children of God and should strive to live differently to those who are non-Christians
    2. No temptation is unique
    3. God will always ensure we have a way out; we aren’t stuck without a choice.
    4. God does not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are capable of overcoming – that is important to remember; Whatever your trial, with God at your side, you do have the capacity to overcome it!

    We should also take comfort in the words of the author of Hebrews:

    “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in our time of need”.
    (Hebrews 4: 15-16).

    Amen

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