10 Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices. (2 Corinthians 2:10–11, NKJV)
The sinning Christian we read of in 1 Corinthians 5:1 was disciplined by the Corinthian church, and he repented of his sin (2 Corinthians 2:6-8). Now was the time for forgiving and rejoicing, not recrimination. Satan will seek an advantage against us, even when a Christian repents of sin. Therefore, we must always be alert for his subtle deceptions. We cannot afford to be uninformed and unaware of his strategies to entice us to sin. While we pray to our Father to not “lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one,” we must also equip ourselves with the whole armor of God and “be strong in the Lord,” to “be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10-11). When someone sins against us and hurts us, but then asks us for our forgiveness, we must fully and completely forgive (Matthew 6:14-15; 18:21-35). Otherwise, we are overtaken by sin, at the very moment we ought to be instruments of God’s mercy and compassion.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. (Matthew 6:13, NKJV)
Jesus is not saying to pray that we are never tempted; Temptations to sin come to us all. James settles the matter once and for all that the devil, not God, is the source of temptations (Jas. 1:13-15). Jesus is teaching us to pray for God’s watchful care so that we will not succumb to temptations (for by so doing, we choose to sin). “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation” was the Lord’s exhortation to the three disciples who slept in Gethsemane; and to us as well (Matt. 26:41). Sadly, we often sleep even as we walk into the midst of temptations, all the while expecting the Lord to miraculously rescue us from spiritual harm. While praying for God’s assured protection and to use the available avenues of escape when temptations come, we must vigilantly watch for the enticements the evil one will set before us (1 Cor. 10:13; 1 Pet. 5:8). God’s deliverance from temptation comes as we watch and pray, resist the allurements of the devil and refuse to sin against God.
14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:14–15, NKJV)
The fact that our great High Priest is exalted in heaven does not isolate Him from our deep need for relief in our struggles against sin. Although exalted on high, the Son of God is not hindered from understanding our feelings when we are tempted. We are exhorted to “hold fast our confession” for this very reason – that He has constant compassion for our frailty. Jesus has been tempted as we are. While He withstood every enticement, he refused every temptation, He knows the inward struggle that takes place when temptation happens. He offers “grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). May His ready compassion and steady love compel us to hold fast our confession to resist temptation, instead of letting go and sinning against our Savior.
33 Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.” 34 Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” 35 Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And so said all the disciples. (Matthew 26:33–35, NKJV)
We are tempted at times to overestimate our fidelity to the Lord. Peter thought himself immune to the temptation to flee when Jesus told His disciples He would be struck down (Matt. 26:31). In spite of Jesus telling Peter he would indeed deny Him three times, Peter still clung to his self-confidence. He would die before he would deny Jesus! All the disciples took courage from Peter’s declaration and joined in with the same pledge. No one is beyond temptation and sin. “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” warns us against self-righteous pronouncements of self-assured resistance of temptation (1 Cor. 10:13). “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding” (Prov. 3:5). He will give you a way of escape that you may be able to endure and prevail in Him. Take the Lord’s way of escape when tempted, and prevail through Him.
3 Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve. 4 So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him to them. 5 And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. 6 So he promised and sought opportunity to betray Him to them in the absence of the multitude. (Luke 22:3-6)
Judas made a choice to betray Jesus. The fact that Satan entered Judas does not at all suggest he lost his freewill in the matter. Satan set the enticement before him, and he gave into the temptation. It is the same with all temptation to sin: An enticement coupled with a person’s own desires (“But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed”, James 1:14). The tempter can be resisted: “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (Jas. 4:7). No one forces you to sin; the choice is yours. And, so is the accountability before God. The wages of sin is death. God gift is “eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). Choosing sin brings death. Choose faith in Jesus (Matt. 11:28-30; 7:21-23; Lk. 6:46).
Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (James 1:12)
Our adversary the devil knows how to wait. Like a lion stalking its prey, Satan has his eyes set on each one of us. He is patient – looking for an opening to strike and devour (1 Pet. 5:8). We have the armor of God to put on and by it, to stand in the day of trial (Eph. 6:10-13). By God’s good help we can endure present trials and temptations as we seek God’s approval instead of the passing pleasures of sin that cause eternal death. Choose divine blessings for the present and eternity. A promise is set before us, brother and sister. Let us love the Lord and not sin. He Lord is faithful to strengthen, protect and save.
13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. 14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (1 Corinthians 10:13-14)
Sin is not forced upon us. None of us are compelled to sin. By yielding to temptation, we choose to sin against God. Being tempted to sin is not sin; all of us are tempted to sin. Thankfully, sin’s enticement can be resisted. God is faithful to provide a way of escape when we are tempted to sin. God’s way of escape from sin’s temptation will demand that you make a deliberate decision not to sin. Do not put yourself into situations that make it easy to sin. (You cannot play with fire and not get burned!) Resist temptation by running away from sin instead of running to it. God’s way is right, so put your faith in Him. His path of holiness and truth will always lead you away from sin.