No Temptation Can Make You Sin
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. 1 Corinthians 10:13NKJV
This morning we continue to study Westminster Larger Catechism Question 195, which asks, “What do we pray for in the sixth petition?” The fourth part of the answer states: “In the sixth petition (which is, And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,)… we pray… that we and all his people may by his providence be kept from being tempted to sin or, if tempted, that by his Spirit we may be powerfully supported and enabled to stand in the hour of temptation…” Today we consider the power of temptation.
As we saw in a previous article, there are three sources of temptation: the world, the flesh, and the devil. Each of these is far too powerful for us to defeat in our own strength, but as the verse at the head of this article clearly affirms, by God’s grace we can overcome any temptation that He allows to come upon us. In other words as Christians, God promises to never allow any temptation to come upon us that is too strong for us to resist. So that when we sin we can never say, “God I tried my best to resist, but You did not give me enough strength to bear it.” No, this Scripture affirms that God always provides a way of escape, He will always give us the strength to endure, He will never allow us to be tempted beyond our ability. Therefore, as Christians we must admit that whenever we give into sin, it is our fault. We could have resisted, we could have prevailed. As believers we sin only because we chose to not use the ability God has surely given to us.
Here we must affirm an important principle: God is sovereign over any and all temptation, though He Himself is never tempted and never tempts anyone. “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone,” (James 1:13). God perfectly and fully hates sin because He wholly sees through its disguises to see the fullness of its evil and ugliness at all times. Imagine if right after you had eaten your favorite meal of sumptuous food, when you were completely full and satisfied, someone immediately offered you vomit to eat – not disguising or hiding what it was, but holding out to you stinky, disgusting vomit and saying to you “Don’t you want to eat this? Doesn’t this look so good?” As you were smelling its horrible stench and seeing how awful it looked, and from the fact that you were full and perfectly satisfied and not hungry at all, I’m sure you would not be tempted in the least! That in a very imperfect way is how sin looks to God – except a lot more so! And that is surely the way sin looked to Jesus in His divine nature. In His divine nature He was fully God and could not be tempted by sin.
However, in His human nature, and because a major part of His mission as the great seed of the woman in covenant with God was to overcome Satan, Jesus was subjected to temptation in its full power. That is, Jesus had to say “No” to sin, as temptation presented it to Him in all of its disguised and camouflaged beauty. However, it is important to remember that Jesus had a sinless human nature, no “flesh.” That is, what we read in James did not apply to Jesus: “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed,” (James 1:14). That would also have been the case for Adam and Eve before Satan came. They would have had no internal mechanism drawing them to sin as you and I now have. In other words there was nothing in Adam, Eve, or Jesus that wanted to sin, that longed for sin and desired sin. We have that now and have to fight it, but by definition we did not have it before we had a sinful nature. However, they would have, and Jesus did have to resist temptation from two external sources: the world and the devil. And in this respect, the temptation that was thrown at Jesus was far greater than anything that you and I will ever have to face. For He had to defeat temptation from the world and the devil in the fullness of their powers. As for our flesh Jesus had it crucified with Him on the cross. Therefore, when God allows us to face temptation we should pray for deliverance from evil knowing that Christ, our great King and Captain, has already won the victory over all temptation and He is able and most willing to send His Spirit to rescue us whenever we call upon Him.