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Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
Established November 2008 Published weekly on Friday
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1Timothy 2:3-4)
Good day and welcome to HBS. If you’re visiting for the first time, or if you’ve stopped by our Bible study once or twice before, please know I’m glad you’re here. I do hope you’ll stay awhile to “check us out;” to see what we’re about. If you have to go, please bookmark this site and come back later; the Light is always on here.
It’s good for the group to remember the city of Corinth was a two-port city making it a very busy hub of commerce and social activity. People were visiting it from all over the Roman Empire for various reasons, some for business, some for trade, and they were mixing business with pleasure while there. There was a tremendous exchange of money and culture and everything else you might imagine since Corinth was steeped in paganism. In Corinth the worship of Greek gods and goddesses brought in large sums of money, and people became wealthy from this activity, noting the sin trades have always been profitable.
Having been a sailor at one time in my life, and having visited many ports, in many cities, in various countries, I know something about the illicit activity that attracts (tempts) young men and old who are away from home for extended periods of time, with money in their pockets, and not much common sense or a moral compass to guide them. If a sailor wanted to find an all-night bar, drugs, a game of chance, or a prostitute in most foreign ports all he had to do was hail a taxi-cab and tip heavily, literally.
It wasn’t much different after our ship pulled into our home port in the USA. However, America’s poor lifestyle choices can’t compare to the immorality of Corinth in Paul’s day. Americans are rushing headlong as fast as they can to get there, Christians included, but they haven’t reached the Corinthian’s level of depravity yet. Against that backdrop and the gross immorality comes our Apostle Paul with God’s Gospel of Grace offering salvation, and now he’s writing to this divisive church in Corinth which hasn’t put too much distance between “now” and “then,” or their previous pagan lifestyle.
Paul wants the Corinthians to avoid Israel’s mistakes so he pulls them (and us) into his recount of five stories taken from the O.T., speaking specifically of the Exodus Generation’s failure to capitalize on their spiritual privileges.
Paul wrote: Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall (1 Corinthians 10:11-12; 9:24-27). Paul offers words of encouragement and warning in these verses, in effect saying no Believer should think they are immune from Satan’s spiritual attack. No one should be so arrogant as to say, “It can’t happen to me.”
As a matter of fact, when Believers are enjoying one of their “mountain top experiences,” feeling really close to God, so to speak, this is when they are most vulnerable to spiritual warfare: Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. Let’s compare Scripture with Scripture. Turn with me to Galatians, chapter 6:1, where Paul writes: Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to (who) yourself, so that (insert your name here) you too will not be (what) tempted.
Any one of us could fall (into sin) at any time, so we have to be alert, on our guard, at all times (1 Peter 5:8). But there’s good news… God’s got this, if you’re pursuing God!
Please open your Bible at 1 Corinthians 10:13.
1 Corinthians 10
13: No temptation (testing) has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted (tested) beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
We’re going to be examining the word temptation shortly, but before we do I wanted y’all to know this word is associated with the number 40 in Scripture (mentioned 146 times) and generally symbolizes a period of testing, trial, or probation:
· During Moses life, he lived 40 years in Egypt and 40 years in the desert before the LORD God selected him to lead His people out of slavery.
· Moses was also on Mount Sinai for 40 days and nights on two separate occasions (Exodus 24:18, 34:1-28), receiving God’s laws.
· God permitted twelve spies to investigate the Promised Land for 40 days (Numbers 13:25, 14:34).
· The prophet Jonah warned ancient Nineveh for 40 days that its destruction would come because of its many sins.
· It rained for 40 days and nights during the Noahic Flood.
· Jesus was tempted by Satan during the 40 days He spent in the wilderness.
· Because of their sin of unbelief at Kadesh barnea, the Exodus Generation was punished by God. Millions of people wandered in the desert for 40 years until they perished.
There are other examples in Scripture like the ones above; I just wanted to bring this important Bible fact to your attention so you'd be aware of it. Getting back to our Bible text, the word temptation in the Greek language is Peirasmos (pronounced: pi-ras-mos’), Noun Masculine, and it can be translated “testing,” or temptation and testing. Practically speaking then, every temptation is a test; every test is a temptation.
I’ve found three principles in verse 13 that we need to “home in on:”
Temptation is common to every individual – we’re all in this together. No one can say my sin is unique and then hide behind that argument looking to be excused. It’s impossible to operate a business and not be tempted to sacrifice people for profit, for example. A government employee may be tempted to forfeit integrity for promotion and we’ve seen quite a bit of this lately with the VA Hospital scandals. As with most, if not all government positions, employees who “foul up” aren’t fired they are transferred to another department, agency, or the like and often receive a promotion and a higher salary. It’s the veterans who suffer.
God is in control of our temptations – There isn’t anything outside of God’s control, so despite what you might think it’s not unusual to find this item on His list. Permit me to illustrate: Engineers put load limits on highways and bridges. You’ve probably seen the signs – 5 Ton, 10 Ton, or 20 Ton Weight Limit. I personally wouldn’t want to test the load limit on any bridge I’m crossing over by exceeding it, so I take them at their word. The same goes for the elevator I’m riding in. Every human being has their “load limit” too and God knows what it is; I also take God at His word. Some people are able to bear more pressure (trials and tribulation) than others that’s a given, but everyone has their breaking point. In this verse, Paul is saying God is faithful He will not allow you to be tempted (or tested) beyond what you are able to bear (Romans 8:28-39).
God provides a way of escape – Paul’s not saying there’s an obvious way of escape. Paul is saying, “Look for the escape route; there is a way out!” Believers must take advantage of it. For example, minefields have signage stating: DANGER MINE FIELD. Seeing the signs, people wisely avoid the danger. Overcoming temptation (testing) in our lives is not you and me testing God by visiting the wrong places or hanging around with the wrong people; the kind of people who encourage (tempt) us to participate in wrongful activities, and then say, “O.K. God; do Your stuff… show me how to get out of here before I do something I’m not supposed to do,” as if God is our heavenly “Lifeguard.” We are accountable to God; we have responsibilities; we certainly know what’s right and what’s wrong. We have to do our part and Paul tells us in the next verse what we are to do:
1 Corinthians 10
14: Therefore, (since God provides a way of escape) my beloved, flee from idolatry.
15: I speak as to wise men (and women); you judge what I say.
Idolatry and immorality, i.e. paganism in the city of Corinth was considered normal activity; it was part of the daily routine. Offer a dead animal as a sacrifice in worship to a false Greek god or goddess in the morning, have sex with a temple prostitute, eat a meal afterwards, if there’s time, and then head on out to work or to a ship bound for another port. Just routine run of the mill stuff…
Before anyone chimes in saying, “There are no idols in my life.” I think it’s best to perform an immediate inventory before making that assumption. Anything that captivates the heart of the Believer, and displaces God in the process, is idolatry.
1 John 2:15 says, Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. It does not say, nor mean to say, if any man or woman love the world he or she is not saved, or that the Father does not love them. It merely declares that the love of the world and the love of the Father cannot occupy the same individual’s heart at the same time.
Some of the idols that might be on your inventory list could include: your car, your home, your job or career, your hobby, your children, your business, your religion, your spouse, your girlfriend or boyfriend, anything that displaces God from being the Main Thing in your life is an idol. Thus, our Apostle Paul, speaking as to wise men (and women) exhorts the Corinthian Believers to flee from idolatry – to run for their lives, as a deer runs away from an approaching hunter.
In the 1970’s entomologists determined that male moths were attracted to flame because it contained some of the exact wavelengths of light given off by female moth’s luminescent pheromones, and they wrongly assumed they were going to get “lucky.” The male moths headed straight for the light, or fire as it were, and were burned alive. In effect, the flame deceived the moths, tempting them toward the fire and to their death.
Matthew 4 teaches that Believers have a tempter as well, an enemy actually, for Satan is constantly trying to deceive us. He’s using the same scheme to bring about our downfall that he used on the woman in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-6). Why? Because it works! He’s continually bombarding us with things that appeal to the eye: For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world (and Satan is the god of this world) - (1 John 2:16).
Jesus said: “The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your vision is poor, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! (Matthew 6:22-23)
Darkness in both the O.T. and the N.T. is a suggestive word. In the book of John for instance Light symbolizes Jesus Christ and truth whereas darkness connotes everything that is anti-God: the wicked (Proverbs 2:13-14; 1 Thessalonians 5:4-7); judgment (Exodus 10:21; Matthew 25:30); and death (Psalm 139:12). Salvation brings Light to those in darkness (Isaiah 9:2).
The Lord Jesus Christ counsels Believers to make sure our focus is on the best things; those things which are not seen or realized, yet are eternal, and to place our joy in them. True faith isn’t interested in excess, but with the real meaning of life; and it can’t be found by shopping and then stuffing our attic and garage with stuff. The worldly man or woman has been deceived by the father of lies; his or her vision is poor, and their body is full of darkness (2 Corinthians 4:4-7).
Satan is referred to as the accuser, the slanderer, the father of lies, the murderer, the deceiver, and our adversary (1 Peter 5:8). Our Apostle Paul writes: our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12). In 2 Corinthians 2:11 Paul said we are not ignorant of his (Satan’s) schemes - or we shouldn’t be. We are not to fear, so don’t go there, this book informs us Greater is He who is in you, that he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).
“Satan is an illegal on the earth. He's a created being. He has no authority here because he wasn't born here. Mankind had rightful dominion of the whole earth.” Charles Capp
Our adversary’s main weapon against us is the lie or deception. Satan tries to make something appear to be truthful but it’s really a lie; it’s a deception. I once heard it put this way: “If I were to tempt you, you would know it. If I were to accuse you, you would know this too. But if I were to deceive you, you would have no idea. Satan’s power is in the lie. If you take away the lie, you remove Satan’s power.
How do we disarm Satan? Jesus showed us all how to do this during His period of temptation is the wilderness (Matthew 4). We remember what God has said; we use this book, in other words. With each temptation, Jesus’ response was, “It is written…”
That voice you hear inside your head is not an indication you need a medical appointment it’s your conscience and it’s warning you to flee from idolatry or Satan’s lies: I will bless the LORD who has counseled me; Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night (Psalm 16:7, 42:8, 63:6, 73:24).
(To be continued)
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