The New Testament says that the people of God in the Old Testament were not any different than we are in that their faith was put in the promised Messiah. They looked forward to God’s promises for salvation; we look back at the promise fulfilled. They also were subject to great temptations and they did fall into sin. When they wandered . . .
“. . . with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.’ We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” (1 Corinthians 10:5–14)
When I read this passage, my first response is gratitude for Christ. He is the way of escape. He is the only One who can deliver me from temptation, sin, and destruction.
Secondly, I notice the sins listed here. Lest I think mine are “not so bad” this passage includes grumbling alongside sexual immorality and putting Christ to the test. Every time I grumble about anything, that is sin. Complaining shows that I am not trusting God. Instead of being thankful for Him and all that He does, I am vocalizing that He does not love me, He is ignoring me, blah, blah. This griping is as bad as jumping into bed with someone other than my husband, or any other sin.
Chambers’ comments are a blessing and thought-provoking. He points out that temptation is not sin; it is part of life. Not everyone is tempted by the same things. What tempts me reveals the areas of my life that need attention. Those temptations may also reveal what fear prevents me from doing, a humbling thought.
Chambers also says that I can suffer from temptations from which bother only because I have refused to let Him lift me to a higher plane where I would face temptations of another order. This is a humbling truth too, because it says that my temptations reveal my level of spiritual maturity.
Temptation isn’t necessarily rooted in evil desires. It may come as a short cut to what is good. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, the three areas Satan appealed to were not sinful on the surface, but taking a short cut to my goals without relying on God is sinful. It is an expression of “I know better than God” or “I will do this quicker, better, etc.”
Chambers says temptation is essential to the full-orbed life, but I must also beware that I think no one else goes through the same temptations. The main thing is to realize that my Savior does not lead me into temptation, but He is fully capable of leading me out of them.
For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Hebrews 2:18)
Jesus will assist me when temptations come so I can see what is ruling my heart and bring it to Him in confession. I can also be thankful for His power to cleanse and transform whatever needs changing in my heart.