So whether the flesh, as James says, is activated, or whether Satan, as Jesus emphasizes here, is activated, the temptation is not the work of God in its evil sense. He allows the test to strengthen us. Temptation is when the test gets twisted into an internal solicitation to evil by Satan or our own flesh. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.
I'm your host, Phil Johnson. Whether it's financial hardship, watching a child suffer with illness, being mocked by the non-believing world, every trial you face is an opportunity to honor God. But those trials can also lead to temptation. You might waver in your faith, or lie to keep your job, or hide your Christian beliefs. So how do you keep your trials from leading to sin?
John MacArthur shows you that today as he continues his study titled, Pitfalls of Christian Liberty. If you have a Bible, turn to the book of 1 Corinthians, and here's John. 1 Corinthians chapter 10, we're looking at verses 1 to 13, and considering what is a very important passage.
And there's so much here, I kind of feel like I just don't know how to dive in because there's so much. And I want to tie it in with the other parts of 1 Corinthians, particularly this context, and yet there's so much in itself that I don't want to belabor that point. Basically, we're going to center on verse 13. The key word in verse 13 is the word temptation. Now when I mention the word temptation, it doesn't leave a whole lot of mystery in anybody's mind. That is a very familiar word to the Christian, and it's even a more familiar experience. We all understand the term temptation. Whenever the word is used, you understand a certain thing. And we all experience temptation.
There's no question about that. But the Greek word, for you Greek students, parasmos, the Greek word has no moral connotation at all. The Greek word isn't necessarily bad or good. It's strictly a neutral word and it means simply to test. Now the Holy Spirit will bring into our lives tests to bring us to righteousness.
Now watch. But Satan will want to turn those into temptations to solicit evil. And that's basically what we must understand about this word. For example, take the case of Job. God did not want Satan to make Job sin. God wanted Satan to test Job to prove Job's righteousness, right? So sometimes the test will even involve Satan. Sometimes God will even allow Satan to move in and to do things in our lives, but God's design is always that we would come out righteous, not that we would be seduced into evil.
All right. To begin with then, whenever you see the word temptation in the Bible, realize this. It is a neutral word. It could be translated try, test, prove, assay or tempt.
It gets its qualitative meaning, that is its moral value from the context, from who is doing the testing and what the purpose of it is. Temptation isn't sin. Sin is sin, right? Temptation isn't sin. But you can't go from a trial to a sin without going through a what? A temptation first.
So if you can hang in there on the trial, you're going to be a lot better off. So God will bring a test. God will never bring a temptation. God will bring a test into your life, an external circumstance, putting some pressure on you to stretch your spiritual muscle and God wants you to grow by it. But if you internalize that thing and let it become a solicitation to do evil, you know what's done that?
Not God. James 1.14, a man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own what? Lusts and enticed. You've internalized God's test for your growth and turned it into solicitation for evil.
Now there's still time to grab it and stop it and let it be a process of growth. Matthew 6, this is the Lord teaching his disciples how to pray. This is real practical stuff, but I want to just look at verse 13, one verse.
And I used to wonder about this. And lead us not into temptation. When I was younger I used to think that is a strange prayer because it assumes something. If I have to ask God not to lead me into temptation, what is it assuming? That God is going to lead me into temptation if I don't ask Him not to. God, oh, please don't lead me into temptation.
I used to think, well, why would I ask Him to? He's not going to do that. James 1.13, God tempts no man, right? He's not going to lead me into something evil.
Oh, I know. It must mean testing here, right? It must not mean an evil, but God do not lead me into testing to make me strong.
That doesn't make it either. There's a strange problem with this verse. It can't mean either one. You say, what does it mean, John? That's what it means. Listen. The prayer is this, Lord, stop me at the point where my trial is still a trial and don't ever let it become a temptation I can't handle.
You get that? Stop me at the point where my trial is still a test and doesn't turn into a temptation that will lead me into sin. That's the idea. And that's proven by the next statement, which is an equal statement, a parallel statement, but deliver us from Tu Paneru, the evil one.
Write that in if it doesn't say that. Deliver us from the evil one. Satan, Lord, don't let my test become an opportunity for Satan to wipe me out.
That's the idea. Pray that God intervenes. You ever pray that? Lord, I'm in a test.
Oh, God, I'm leaning on you. I'm defenseless, and I want you to make sure this thing doesn't become a temptation I can't handle. So whether the flesh, as James says, is activated, or whether Satan, as Jesus emphasizes here, is activated, the temptation is not the work of God in its evil sense. He allows the test to strengthen us. The temptation is when the test gets twisted into an internal solicitation to evil by Satan or our own flesh.
You know what the idea in the Christian life is? Keep your tests tests, right? Now, that's a simple way to say that in the Christian's life, you're a lot better off if you let your tests be tests and don't turn them into temptations, because then it gets tough. Then the war is on.
Now, that's what he's saying. There are going to be tests, 1 Corinthians 10, verse 13. There are going to be tests.
We might as well get ready for that. And the idea is not to let those tests become temptation. Now, watch what he says. There's no testing or temptation that takes you, but such as is common to man. You ever heard the word anthropology, the study of man, the Greek word anthropos? This is anthropinos, human.
Listen to this. There is no temptation taking you, but such as is human. The Corinthians may have been saying, oh, you know, our temptations are supernatural.
Paul says bologna. You know, you never had anything but a human temptation. You can't say, Lord, I'm trying, but I have these superhuman temptations. You know, you hear people say, oh, I wouldn't have done it myself, but the demons did it to me. As if they were totally helpless.
And they were oppressed by superhuman beings. Listen, you will never have any temptation or testing in your life that is anything other than human. So, nothing superhuman. And you want to know something?
You're not going to have anything different than I go through, and I'm not going to go through anything different than you go. We're all in the same thing, aren't we? Human, common to man, characteristic of humankind.
You want to hear something kind of startling? Did you know that even the temptations of Jesus were never anything more than human? That's all. Hebrews 2 18 and 4 15 says, in a sense, he was in all points tempted like what? We are. He never had a temptation above the human realm.
You know why? You can't tempt God. He could only be tempted in his humanness. In James 1 13 it says, God cannot be tempted with evil. So, Jesus didn't have superhuman temptations. He had the very same ones you and I have, and that's why he's a faithful high priest, able and willing to succor those that are tempted.
Cover the same ground we have. You know why it says in James 5 16, confess your sins one to another? Because we're all in the same boat.
And it's helpful to know that we have the same problems according to Galatians 6 2, we can bear one another's burdens, right? People say, oh, I don't want to confess what I've done, it might shock you. I hear people say that to me. I would never say what I've done, it might shock you. Shock me? What's to shock me? You've done something no one else has ever done?
You've got a new one? You've got a different temptation? I've been there.
Join the human race, there is no temptation that isn't just plain common to man. Even Jesus went through them. They're all the same, lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, pride of life, and we've all got the same one. And that's what the life of the believers within the body means. We share with one another. We pour out our hearts to one another. We bear one another's burdens. We confess our sins to one another so that we can hold each other up.
Because we're all the same thing. So he says to the Corinthians, number one, you'll never face anything superhuman. So don't say, well, I couldn't help it, I got into a deal that was sort of superhuman and it was beyond me to handle.
No, no, no. There never will be a temptation that isn't just a human thing. And listen to me people, if it's a human temptation and you have a divine resource, you can always handle it, right? Because greater is he that is what?
In you than he that is in the world. So you never have to feel, well, I couldn't help it, I got into this thing and oh, it overwhelmed me. No, it's all human, just human. On the other hand, there's another thought there and that is that you can't blame God. Temptation is inevitable and with our humanness it's going to come, but it's something that we can handle. We can't blame him for letting us get tempted beyond the human capacity. Alright, now we've seen some things. No temptation takes us, but what is just human? Now here comes the great transition and the great key to the whole verse, but God is faithful.
Oh, what a super thought. You know what that means? God keeps his promise, right? God keeps his promise.
Deuteronomy, read it, chapter 7, verses 9 and 10, it's all it says there. The faithful God, he is called, who keeps his promise and his mercy. Lamentations 3, 23, great is thy faithfulness. Psalm 89, your faithfulness reaches the heavens. Psalm 36, your faithfulness reaches the clouds. The Bible just goes on and on about God's faithfulness. It's one of the great themes of the New Testament. 1 Corinthians talks about it. 1 Corinthians 1, 9, God is faithful. 1 Thessalonians 5, 24, again, God is faithful.
So many places. Job says in chapter 5, verse 19, he shall deliver thee out of six troubles, yea, out of seven. And that's the idea of completion in the Hebrew mind. He's going to take care of everything. He's faithful. You say, well, what does that have to do with the verse?
Now watch. He is faithful. Look at the verse, verse 13, who will not permit you to be tempted, above that you are what?
Able. Do you know why? I'm glad God's faithful. You know what that means? He keeps his word. God said, I love you. Does he mean it? Will he keep it? Yes.
God says, I've saved you and I've prepared a place for you. Did he mean it? Yes. Will he keep his promise? Yes.
God says, you'll never be given a temptation you can't handle. Did he mean it? Yes.
Will he keep his promise? Yes. Boy, that's exciting. Think about it.
You want to know something? 1 Corinthians 10, 13 is the answer to the prayer in Matthew 6, 13. Lead us not into temptation. Don't ever let us have trials that could turn into temptations we couldn't handle. And here Paul says, he never will. He never will. And when it says that he will never let you get into a trial that could turn into a temptation that would bring you into sin because you couldn't handle it, then that's exactly what it means.
Boy, that's exciting, isn't it? He'll never let me get in a situation that I don't have the resources to handle. You say, but what happens when we sin a lot?
It's because we don't take advantage of those resources, right? Now, notice, go back to 1 Corinthians and we're going to hurry a little bit. We've got to finish. But will, with the temptation, also make, notice, the way to escape. Now, underline, the way. It's a definite article in the Greek, the way to escape. You know what my Bible, when I was a kid, said, a way of escape. And I used to think, boy, I wonder what the way out of this one is. And every different temptation must have a different way. You want to know something? There is the way. Did you know, and this might be a little revolutionary, so stay with me. Do you know that the way out is the same with every temptation? Oh, yeah.
It doesn't matter what it is. Every single trial that has turned into a temptation has the same way out. Now, listen to me. Every single trial itself has the same way out. If I'm in a test, there's only one way out. If I'm in a temptation, there's only one way out. It's the same for every test and every temptation. Whether it's a solicitation on God's part to good or whether it's a solicitation on the part of the flesh and Satan to evil, it always has the same way out. Just the same.
Definite article. There's always the same way out. You know what it is? You ready for this?
You ought to know this because there's only one. The way out is through. Do you get that? Oh, no, you see. Yes, Tim, you see, testing is a tunnel.
The only way out is through. You know how you do it? You endure, right?
That's all. Just to illustrate, you know how we pray. We say, oh, Lord, my dear friend is going through a trial. Lord, teach him what you want him to know.
Lord, take him through until he learns what he needs to know and bring him out. That's good. But when it's us, we say, Lord, get me out of this thing now.
Right? So it's a whole different ballgame. But there isn't any getting out of it now.
Trials are tunnels. And the only way out is through. That's all.
Notice that's what it says. He will with the temptation make the way to escape that you may be able to what? Endure it. That's the way to escape. Enduring. You know how Jesus escaped when the devil came to him and really put the test on him? What did he do? He took the full force of it right out to the end.
Right? He didn't say, Father, I'm leaving and start flying and fly to another hill. No. He stayed there and Satan unloaded all three of those things with the total force of all there was. The only way to escape is to go through. That's to endure. So when you get a trial, folks, just realize that at the beginning, will you? This is a test from God.
And the only way to let the test have its perfect work is to go through the thing. Look at the word there that says bear. It has a preposition connected with it. The verb part means to carry and the hupa, the preposition means under. You are under and you're going to have to go the whole way.
It's like the word endurance, hupa monae, to remain under. The only way you can go through is to remain under the thing and let it have its work and let it strengthen. The way out is through. Say, all right, John, I understand that God's going to bring tests and Satan's going to try to turn them into temptations.
Solicitation is too evil and my flesh will do that. And God will be faithful and He will never let me get into one that I can't handle. But I have to realize that the only way I'm going to be able to handle this thing is to realize I've got to go through it. And that I've got to endure. Now how do I endure? Now you get down to the nitty gritty. How do you endure?
I'm going to give you three keys. Number one, pray. Watch and pray, Mark 14, 38 says, lest you enter into what?
Temptation. Your test can turn into a temptation if you don't pray. Boy, I tell you, the first thing that happens in a trial, what is it?
What do you do? The first thing you do when you get a test or a trial? Pray. God, I'm defenseless. Lord, lead us not into temptation.
Don't get me into a situation I can't handle. Father, deliver me from the evil one. Lord, I lean on you.
I must have your strength. Watch and pray lest you enter into this thing. Alright, he says, let your trial be a trial.
And let it continue to be a trial. Don't let it turn into a temptation and a solicitation to sin. And to do that, you've got to pray.
You've got to give it to God. Number two, you have to trust. You have to trust. You say, what do I have to trust? You have to trust that God has sent you the trial for a great purpose, right? To strengthen you.
Like Peter says, after you have suffered a while, 1 Peter 5, 10, God's going to make you perfect. And he says in verse 9 there, resist the devil steadfast in faith. Faith in what? That God has a purpose. Boy, here comes the trial. Here comes the trouble. Here comes Satan and all of this thing. And I'm believing God in his purpose. If you can just let that stay external and say, God has a purpose in this. Oh God, I give you that trial. I ask you to take care of me in it. And I trust your purpose in it. And I'm going through.
That's the way out. And you get done, you look back and you say, whew, I feel strong. A new lesson. Strengthening. A perfect work is done.
If you collapse in the middle, you've blown it. The third point, pray, trust and focus on Christ. You know who was the greatest who ever lived in enduring temptation? At enduring trials, who? Christ.
The greatest. He could take these tests and endure them right to the limit. He was tested by Satan. Tested and tested and tested and tested and tested. And you know what I've always said?
I've always said that he had the worst tests because he never fell at any point so we ran them all out to the end. In Hebrews 12, 3 and 4 it says, hey, when you get weary and tired, remember Christ, will you? You haven't yet resisted striving unto blood. You're not dead yet. If you think you've got it rough, remember him. Remember what he endured.
To sum it up, beloved, it's simple. You're going to have tests. They're going to come in your life.
Just keep them tests, will you? And don't let them become temptations. And to do that, you have to endure. And to endure, you pray and you trust God's purposes and you lean on Jesus Christ and focus on what he went through.
Now let me give you an illustration to show how this works. And I like Pilgrim's Progress and this has a great illustration of it. Christian and Hopeful are on their merry way to the Celestial City down the King's Highway. And they get diverted and they're laying in a field sleeping.
Only problem is the field is private ground. It belongs to the Giant of Despair. He's called Giant Despair and he lives in Doubting Castle. And this great Doubting Castle in Giant Despair. Giant Despair comes out of his castle and finds Christian and Hopeful asleep and grabs him and throws him in a dungeon.
So Christian and Hopeful are in a slimy, smelly dungeon, locked behind a series of bars, a whole series of them. And the giant comes down and the giant's wife's always telling them what to do. The giant comes down and beats them up. And beats them up.
Doesn't kill them, but beats them up so much they want to kill themselves. That's a great definition of despair, isn't it? And so they languish.
This is a trial. And they're in despair and doubt. And Christian finally says, what a fool I am to lie in this stinking dungeon. Says to Hopeful, when I may as well walk at liberty, I have a key in my bosom that will open any lock in Doubting Castle. And he reaches in and he pulls out this key and it's got promise written on it. And he takes the key of promise and he unlocks the bars and he goes to the next and unlocks the next.
All the way until he unlocks the final gate and walks out and the giant's running down this deal after him. What is John Bunyan saying? John Bunyan is saying is this, you're going to have trials in life. And if you let those trials turn to the temptation, you're going to end up in the Doubting Castle under the key, under the lock of Giant Despair. But you know what will get you out of that? The knowledge of God's what?
Promises. The knowledge of God's promise. To know that God has a purpose. That God is faithful. That God's going to bring you through. That God's going to do a perfect work. That God will never leave you alone. That there's no temptation taking you but will have a way out.
And that way is through. What those promises do is unlock doubt and despair. So, when we abuse our liberty and our trials turn into temptations, none of them is ever more than we can handle.
What a promise. But if we fall, nobody to blame but ourselves. Let that be a comfort and let it be a warning. Father, thank you for our look at your work. And we've really just introduced some thought in a very provocative area. Help us to realize that we can't always tell why things happen the way they do. But help us to realize, Father, that you're bringing things to pass in our life not to draw us into sin, but to do the very opposite. And when we are drawn into sin, we have perverted that thing which you've brought in our lives to perfect us. We thank you for the lessons learned in that. Teach us, Father, further as we study and think on these things in Jesus' name. Amen.
That's John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary, continuing his series called, Pitfalls of Christian Liberty, here on Grace to You. John, today you gave three keys for enduring a spiritual test. You said we need to pray, trust in the purposes of God, and focus on Christ. But what about when someone else is going through a time of testing, a trial? Certainly, we don't want to make matters worse for a loved one by saying or doing the wrong thing.
So what's the best way to give practical help to someone else who is being tested? I think there's a pattern in the Bible that is laid out in the book of Job, where Job had massive, massive problems, an accumulation of problems beyond what anybody would ever experience. And he went to his friends. And his friends, rather than listening to him, just started telling him what they thought was wrong.
And they were wrong about the diagnosis of everything. And, you know, their speeches go on for chapters after chapter in the book of Job. And Job just keeps saying, that's not me. That's not me.
You're not talking about me. That's not true. So finally, you come to the point where you realize that the beginning of the book of Job, his friends said nothing. And that was the greatest comfort they gave to Job.
They were silent. And all wisdom left when they started talking. So I think the tendency in helping people is to hurry to a diagnosis and hurry to a conclusion.
And in the case of the friends of Job, they had no idea what was going on because it was between God and Satan in heaven, as the first two chapters indicate. So it's hard for young people particularly, or people who know the word of God, to back off and just listen and pray with someone. Sometimes just getting on your knees with someone, I've found through the years, and praying for the Lord to show them the path and show them the way and reveal his providence and his care is the greatest gift you can give them.
Don't be in a hurry to give cut and dried answers. Be a listener and pray with people and let the Lord lead. I think you have to tell people there's a process in coming through this thing, and a short answer is not likely to be the one that God chooses to deliver you from this.
He's probably teaching you something through it, and there's a process that he wants to accomplish. Accept that. Pray for wisdom and understanding as you go through it.
Right. Thank you, John. And friend, if you're going through a difficult trial right now, let me recommend John's book, The Power of Suffering. It explains the gracious, good, and loving purposes God has for the pain and hardships in your life. It also looks at the way Jesus handled suffering and how you can follow his example. To order The Power of Suffering, contact us today. The Power of Suffering costs $10.50.
Shipping is free. Pick up your copy when you call us at 800-55-GRACE. You can also go to our website, gty.org. This book will show you how to respond to suffering both during trials and afterward. Again, to order The Power of Suffering, call 800-55-GRACE or go to gty.org. And friend, if you are benefiting from broadcasts like today's, know that we're able to produce these programs and take verse-by-verse Bible teaching to listeners all over the world, because people like you support us. So if you're benefiting and you're able to help, I would encourage you to express your support today. You can make a tax-deductible donation by mail. Write to Grace to You, Box 4000, Panorama City, California, 91412. Or call us at 800-55-GRACE or go to our website, gty.org. And now for John MacArthur and the entire Grace to You staff, I'm Phil Johnson. Thanks for tuning in today and be here tomorrow as John MacArthur looks at the rights God has given you as a Christian and whether you should ever give them up. It's another half hour of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on Grace to You.
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