THE POWER OF TEMPTATION (PART I)

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. (II Corinthians 10:12-13)

The primary subject of this passage is temptation.  As long as we are in this present world, we will face hourly, if not by the minute, fierce and powerful temptations.  Paul’s words, “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” remind us how weak we really are.  When we think we are strong and above temptation, beware, we can, and mot likely will, fall.

The problem with most of us is that we think we are stronger than we are.  We think that we can stand.  We believe that we are above temptation.  Why, we read our Bibles, pray, go to church, try to live good lives, are respectable, take pride in our integrity, glory in our accomplishments, and are considered good people in the eyes of others.  Why shouldn’t we stand proudly?

I am convinced that the most dangerous sin in my life is self-righteousness.  I have the tendency to stand (and to trust) in my own goodness.  Seriously, look at me.  I read my Bible daily, pray often, go to church (remember that I am the preacher!), try to live a good life, am respected by many.  I take pride in my accomplishments, and certainly am considered a “good man” as I have been told on many occasions.  I can stand tall and proud.  Really?

These very things become my downfall.  I begin to trust in my religion (for Pete’s sake, I am a Presbyterian!),  and in my morality, along with a host of other false gods.  It is precisely then that I fall.

Paul bragged in his self-righteousness (read Philippians 3:4-6).  He had all the credentials of a “good man” — he had an impeccable blood line; he was highly religious; and he considered himself blameless when it came to the law.  People in his day looked up to him.  He was a good, moral, upstanding, religious man.

But when he was converted, he saw himself as Christ saw him — a needy sinner.  Paul came to realize that he was trusting in his own self righteousness.

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them but rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith. (Philippians 3:7-9)

Paul is saying to me that I must give up trusting in my own self righteousness, my acts of goodness, my pride in my accomplishments and achievements, my deep longing for recognition by others, yes, all my acts of self-righteousness.  I then am driven to the cross where I find true righteousness that is not derived from my own efforts but is imputed to me through faith in Jesus Christ.  Only then am I truly righteous before a holy God.

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