James Merritt - The Other Side of Life
What happens on one side of life really does wind up determining either the success or the failure of the other side of life, because the invisible side of life begins with a problem that everybody in this room and everybody watching faces every single day. It doesn't matter whether you're young or old, it doesn't matter whether you're educated or illiterate, it doesn't matter whether you're rich or poor, it doesn't matter whether you're a believer or non believer, it doesn't matter whether you love God or you don't believe in God. And the failure to handle this one problem that we all face every single day has broken up more marriages, destroyed more families, killed more ministries, put more people in prison, probably cost more lives than anything else and everything else put together. And of course, I'm talking about temptation.
Now, if you just walked in today, you're a guest of ours, haven't been here before, we are in a series that we're calling... Otherwise, let me explain to you what this series is about. Life is simply a series of decisions that we all make. You are where you are financially today because of financial decisions you made in the past. You are where you are today in your marriage because of decisions you made about how to handle your spouse and your marriage in the past. The relationship that you have with your children or the lack of relationship you have with your children is directly a result of the decisions you made in how to handle that relationship in the past. Life is simply a series of decisions.
And every decision you make will generally always fall into one of two categories. You'll either make basically a wise decision or you'll make a foolish decision. What we've been saying in this series is that you can basically make your decisions in one of two ways. You can go through life doing what you think you ought to do, doing what you think is best, or you can go through life doing what you know God says is best, what God tells us to do in his Word. And we've been saying that God has given us principles that will enable us to make the wisest and the best decisions, both for ourselves and any life that we might impact. Be it our spouse or our kids or the people that work under us or the people that we work with, our neighbors that we live with.
Anybody that you have any kind of relationship with, you can live otherwise. You can live your life in such a way that you can make the most and the best positive impact you possibly can on the people you know and the people you love and in the process, get the greatest blessing yourself. Well, couple of weeks ago, we kind of zeroed in and we said we're gonna deal with the three major areas in life that had the greatest impact on us. The three areas of life that will either leave you with the greatest regrets you'll have in life or they will give you the greatest blessings you'll have in life. And what we said was beginning a couple of weeks ago, one of those areas is how you manage your time. Because we said, if you waste time, you're wasting life because time basis is what life is made up.
So it's very important that we manage our time wisely. Then last week, if you remember, we said the second area that gives us either our greatest regret and our greatest grief, our greatest satisfaction is how we handle our money. There's some of you here right now, you're struggling in your marriage. You know why you've got marital problems, you got financial problems. There are some of your right now, you're struggling emotionally, you are depressed. You know why you're depressed? 'Cause you don't know how to handle your money. You're sick and tired of having too much month left at the end of the money, you're tired of credit card debt, you're tired of the fact that you don't give God what God... you're tired of the fact that your finances are a mess.
So we talked about the fact that there's nothing that will test and is a greater test of your relationship to God or the character of your life than how you handle money. So the last couple of weeks, we talked about how to manage your time wisely and how to handle your money wisely. Now, today, we're gonna deal with that third area. And it may be the most important area of all because when you think about it, it may be why you've not handled your money well, and it may be why you frittered away too much of your time and wasted so much time on doing things that really aren't important. We're gonna do with that third area. And the reason why this is such a big deal is because this can determine whether or not you spend your life in a corner office or a jail cell. How you handle this can determine whether you wind up in a happy home or divorce court, how you head and all this can determine whether or not for you life is a joy ride or life is a guilt trail. It all comes down on how you face temptation.
Now, thankfully there was a man in the Bible that understood as well as anybody the unbelievable power of temptation and how you can overcome it. This was a man who faced temptation, he fought temptation, he overcame temptation. And because he did, God used him in a great, in a mighty powerful way. And he shared his secret with a church 2000 years ago that I wanna share with you today. So, if you bought a copy of a Bible, smartphone, tablet, iPhone, iPad, whatever it is you might use, I want you to turn to a book in the New Testament. It's called Corinthians, 1 Corinthians. Paul wrote a letter to the church in Corinth, there were two letters. He wrote the first letter and the second letter. We're in 1 Corinthians 10. Let me kind of set the backdrop of the story.
Paul was writing to believers in a city called Corinth. I've been to Corinth many times. There're a lot of ancient ruins. Not much of a city there really anymore. Lot of ancient ruins. And so I've got to kind of take you back 2000 years and kind of get this in your mind. When you think Corinth think Las Vegas. That'll help you. You think Corinth, you think Las Vegas. Corinth was a city that was known for two things. It was known for idolatry, and it was known for immorality. As a matter of fact, if you'd been alive 2000 years ago, the town was dominated by what was known as the Acrocorinth. Acro means rock. And it was a steep, flat top rock. And on the very pinnacle of that rock was the temple of a Greek goddess named Aphrodite.
Now, if you don't remember who Aphrodite was, Aphrodite was the goddess of love. And it was there that you could go up and you could worship any number of false gods that you wanted to worship. And oh, by the way guys, you got to enjoy temple prostitutes. Temple prostitute was rampant up there. They considered that a part of their religion because Aphrodite was a God of love and a God of sex. And so they believe that one of the ways that you would please the goddess of Aphrodite was if you engage with sex with these temple prostitutes. So, quite frankly, church attendance wasn't a real problem for a lot of guys back in that day. You didn't have to bus them in.
And so guys love to go to church. They couldn't wait till Sunday came around. And these temple prostitutes by the way, many of them were sex slaves. They were women that were forced into this religious sex industry. And so their job was to serve both the idolaters and the people that wanted sexual immorality at the same time. So every time you walked at the door, temptation was ready to take you by the hand and lead you anywhere that you wanted to go. So Paul knew he was talking to a church that lived in a city that was full of temptation. Oh, by the way, you didn't have to wait till Sunday to go to the temple, you could go any day of the week. That's why there were a lot of guys that were super religious. They would go to the temple several times a week. Couldn't get enough of it.
Paul knew that was the kind of church he was writing to. And so he says, "Look, I wanna give you some advice, not just for this church now, but for the church to come later on". And here's the advice that Paul wants to give us. You ready? Real simple. "Temptation can be tamed. Temptation can be Tamed". Now, if you're in 1 Corinthians 10 with me, we're going to look at two verses, verses 12 and 13. And what I wanna show you today are three simple things that you and I need to keep in mind that can help us tame temptation and keep it from becoming a sin that ruins the other side of life.
Let me just stop right here. You are hopelessly addicted to pornography. You looked at it before you even came to church this morning, you're gonna look at it when you get home this afternoon. You're addicted to alcohol, you're addicted to drugs, you have a volcanic temper you can't seem to get a handle on, you battle jealousy or insecurity. It's all over. I want you just to listen to the practical advice that Paul gives us because my prayer today is that some of you out there who keep living in the same prison every single day will finally find the key to get out of that prison and stay out of that prison and tame your temptation forever. Three simple truths, here we go.
Number one, Paul says, "I will be tested". Just get that down, "I will be tested". Now, Paul begins with a warning in verse 12. Here's what Paul says, "Therefore, let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall". Now, let me just stop right there. Paul starts out by saying, "I know there are a lot of you out there. You really think you don't need to hear this message, you think, 'Oh, I don't have to worry about this sin or that sin, this temptation, that temptation. Matter of fact, I think I've got everything covered. I really think I'm kind of hitting on all eight cylinders.'" Well, Paul will starts right out of the sheet and says, "Let me just give you a principle to remember and here it is, 'If you think you're too big for certain temptation, you're already too small to handle it. If you think you are too big for certain temptation, you are already too small to handle it.'"
Now let's go back. Before these Corinthians had come to faith in Jesus, many of them had worship idols on top of that temple, many of them had gone to the temple of Aphrodite, many of them had been sleeping with these temple prostitutes, many of them had engaged in sexual immorality, many of them went to the feast and to the festivals and they got drunk and they drank excessively and they became alcoholics. Here's what happened. They had heard the gospel, they were wonderfully saved, they had given their life to Jesus.
That was the good news. But now they thought, "Look, now that I've surrendered my life to Christ, now that I have trusted Him, I can handle all of these temptations. I don't have to worry about anymore. I can still go up to the temple and do some sightseeing, I can still go to the temple and I can still go to the feast, I can still go to the parties, I don't have to worry about getting drunk, I've whipped that alcohol problem, I don't have to fall back into my bad habits". And let me just stop just to ask all of us a very honest question. How many of us in this room would be honest enough to admit that we've done the very thing that we never dreamed we'd do. Let's just be honest. How many times have we ever said this to ourselves? "I never thought I'd be in this position. I never dreamed I would allow myself to get into this situation".
Let me give you an otherwise principle. You ready for this? The areas of life where you think you're the strongest may be the places temptation attacks first. The very areas of life where you think you're the strongest maybe the places temptation attacks first. I read something the other day that absolutely fascinated me. Temple University did a study and they studied where a burglar or a robber would most likely to enter a home. Where do you think that is? You might wanna guess? Front door, ain't that amazing? You would think it would the back backdoor, you think it would be a window. You know where a burglar breaks in? The easiest place to get in. And most of the time, the easiest place to get in is right through the front door. It's the place where you think you stand the strongest is where you might fall the quickest.
I read a story the other day, is kind of a sad story that illustrates the point. July the 23rd, 2001, there were four young cousins. They were three girls and a boy, the youngest cousin was 11, the oldest one was 16. They waited into... Now, listen to this, they waited into shin deep water at a beach in Far Rockaway Queens, New York. Within minutes, three of them were dead. All four of them had been yanked off their feet, grabbed by the waves, dragged underwater by a current so violent and so quick that before you could say gone they were. What happened? Well, there is an ocean phenomenon that can literally reach up onto the beach and grab you and drag you into deep water. Environmentalist call this, the killer at the seashore. The common name is a rip, and the reason why a rip is so dangerous is this, I rip doesn't form on the water, a rip forms on the beach. I didn't know this.
See, people think that a beach is relatively solid. And they don't realize that here's what a beach is, a beach is a mixture of sand pebbles, rocks, seashells, vegetation, and water. And even though it can feel very hard, it is really very soft, it's very unstable and is very flexible. Well, every time a wave hits the beach, every time, it changes the contour of that sand. So all day long, you've got those waves coming in and erosion creates these small depressions in random samples. You've seen this, you walk down a beach, there'll be a pool of water here, and a pool of water over there, and a little pool of water over here. It's not like just a continuous stream.
There's these little depressions, one forms here, One forms there. Totally random sequences. While the water that keeps coming in from the ocean gravitates toward those depressions and it makes them deeper and it makes them wider and it creates a standard pull down as a rip. You've had this experience. Go to one of those depressions and stand there, let the water come up. You'll feel that water is very gentle most of the time, you'll feel that little pool on your feet. We now know that if a child is standing at the edge of one of those depressions, the ground can suddenly disappear and that child can be sucked away from the shore by what's called a rip, which is a strip of murky, darky, foamy water that move directly and quickly away from the beach. Temptation is a spiritual rip. You go off door of your house and you think you're standing on solid sand, but you're really not. And before you're know it, it can jerk your feet right out from under you when you think you're standing in a same place.
So this is what Paul is saying. He says, "Look, there's no temptation". He said, "Do not think just because you're strong that you can stand up against temptation". You need to understand that every day you walk out the door, you're going to be tested. Every day when we walk out the door, we're walking into a culture, we're walking into a society where the sand is shifting every day, where there really isn't a solid, strong, stable rock to stand on. And that's why Paul says, "Let him who stands take heed lest he fall". Always be on your guard. In fact, it'd really be good before we walked out the door every day, we prayed a prayer or something like this.
I just read this recently. "Dear Lord so far today I'm doing great. I haven't gossiped, lost my temper, lusted, been grumpy, nasty, selfish, or greedy. I haven't whined, complained, cursed or eaten any chocolate. I haven't charged anything credit card. But in a minute, I'll be getting out of bed and then I'll really need your help". Now, Paul said, "That's the attitude you aught to have". Because from the moment that you crawl out of bed to the moment you jump back back in, remember, you are going to be tested. That raises question. You say, "So pastor, how am I going to be tested? You say every day I'm gonna be tested, absolutely. How am I going to be tested"?
Well, that leads to the second thing you need to remember. Paul says, "I Will be tempted". I will be tempted. Paul goes on to explain why he gave them this warning. "Let him who stands take heed lest he fall". Why? Verse 13. "Because no temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man". Here's what Paul say. He say, "Look, temptations is the oldest trick in the book". You don't even get out of the first chapter of Genesis. The first two chapters of Genesis, you hit temptation. It's right there at the very beginning of the Bible. It comes with a territory. It's part of everyone's life. General temptation is common to everybody, specific temptations are common to somebody. As a matter of fact, the Bible is full of every conceivable temptation that you could possibly think about and you could possibly imagine. And you don't wants amazing, everybody struggled with temptation, everybody.
Some of the greatest people in the Bible struggle with temptation. Abraham, Moses, David, Paul, even Jesus was tempted. The great men of the Bible. The men that walk with God and love God, the man that was God, they were all tempted. Now, let me just stop right here and define what I mean by temptation 'cause there are all kinds of definitions out there. I'm not saying this is the best one. This is my definition. Here's what I mean about temptation. Temptation is the opportunity to fulfill a natural God given desire in an unnatural or ungodly fashion. Now another way of putting it is this, temptation is the opportunity to fulfill a legitimate desire in an illegitimate way.
Now let me just make sure you understand where we're going here. Everyone who has ever lived has been tempted, everybody. The problem is not everybody is tempted in the same way and not everybody is tempted by the same things. Temptation affects different people in different ways and different reasons. And see one of the reasons why we can't always help each other too much is because what tempts you may not tempt me and what tempts me may not tempt you. For example, illegal drugs don't tempt me. Smoking a joint doesn't tempt me. I've never done drugs, I've never been tempted to do drugs. I don't have any desire to experiment with drugs. I just don't... I'm not somebody, a goody goody two shoes. That just doesn't happen to be something that tips me.
On the other hand, I am thinking about joining chocolate chip cookies anonymous. I keep hoping somebody will invent a way to eat eminent peanut intravenously. You say, "Wow, pastor, I just don't have a sweet tooth". I'm becoming convinced. I told Tracy this the other day, "I think every tooth in my mouth has a sweet tooth". I really do, I'm just being honest. But see what tempts you doesn't tempt me. And Paul's point is really simple. He says, "Look, there's nothing wrong with you if you're tempted". Absolutely nothing, because temptation chases everybody, temptation faces everybody. This is why this is such a big deal 'cause it goes back to this church at Corinth. There are people to get this idea that once you surrender your life to Christ, temptations is a thing of the past, once you give your life to Jesus, hey, don't have to worry about that anymore.
Let me tell you the real truth, when you really get serious about Jesus, you will be tempted more and face temptation more places than you ever dreamed was possible. It doesn't decrease, it increases. Temptation is not removed when you become a follower of Jesus. As a matter of fact, the moment you become a follower of Jesus, you just became an enemy of Satan, you get on his most wanted list, you are public enemy number one. Temptation's not removed when you give your life to Christ, temptation is not repelled when you become a follower of Jesus. Even though you get the Holy Spirit of God in you, he doesn't repel temptation. Sometimes we get the idea the Holy Spirit like a spray. Lord just kind of spray it around me, temptation won't come around me. Totally untrue.
As a matter of fact, the Holy Spirit lives in you not to keep you from temptation, but to deliver you in temptation. It's not repelled, it is not removed, it's not reduced when you become a Christ follower. I don't care how much you love Jesus, I don't care how much you read your Bible, I don't care how much you pray, I don't care how much you go in the Lord, you will face temptation as long as you live. One of the things I know everything as a pastor, everyday I know this. When I get up every morning, I know I'm going to be tested today, I know I'm going to be tempted today. And I've been around the block enough to know, I already know the areas where I'm going to be tempted and see for me, half the battle is won when I get up every morning 'cause I'm not going to be taken by surprise, I'm not going to be overcome without my realizing.
Hey, I know what's going out there today, I'm going to be tested, I'm going to be tempted. Now that raises big question. So how do you tame temptation? I'm going to be tested, I'm going to be tempted, so how do you tame temptation? That's by the remembering and the last thing I wanna put up there, this is the most important thing you need to remember. Here it is. God can be trusted. I'm going to be tested and I am going to be tempted, but God can be trusted 'cause I want you to listen. I want you to listen to the next three words that Paul gives there. Three of the sweetest, greatest words in all the Bible. You ready? Here they are. God is faithful. Can you just say that with me right now? You ready? God is faithful. Now let's say it like we mean it. God is faithful. Ain't that great? God is faithful.
All right, wait a minute timeout. God is faithful to what? God's faithful to his promise. God is faithful to who? God is faithful to his children. So what is God's promise to his children? Keep reading. God is faithful. Now watch this. And He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability. Let me just stop right there. Stop right there. At this point every one of us in this room knows two things about temptation. Right now, you should know two things about temptation. Number one, I am going to be tempted. So don't come and say, "Well, I would have overcome it but it surprised me". It shouldn't surprise you. You know you're going to be tempted. You know that. Here's the other thing you ought to know. God can be trusted that I will never, ever face a temptation that is greater than my ability to handle it.
Now, you're not gonna like some of this because some of you've been on a hook. You think that you've been on the hook. I'm gonna get you off the hook. Some of you think you've got this built-in excuse, I'm gonna take your excuse away from me. Let me tell you what I mean. In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus taught us to pray. You remember this. "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil". Now what Paul just said to me is this, if I will pray that prayer, God will answer it. If every day I'll say, "Lord Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil". I already know God is faithful, He will answer that prayer. I saw a bumper sticker about three months ago. I loved it. Here's what it said. It said, "Lead me not into temptation, I can find it myself". That really is true.
Hey, let me tell you something folks. You don't have to worry about finding temptation, temptation will find you. You don't have to look for an opportunity to be tempted. There are plenty of them out there, but when it does, here's what God says, it will not be a temptation so powerful, so big and so strong, it will give you a beat down you can't resist. So let me just stop because here's what I wanna say, some of you out there right now, you've got this big pity party going on. "Oh pastor, you just don't understand. I have tried to overcome this temptation, I just can't do it. It's just too big, it's just too strong, it's just too powerful. It is more than I can stand".
All right, let me just be honest with you. You're just not being truthful. You're just not being honest. You're not being honest with yourself, you're not being honest with your spouse, you're not being honest with your accountability partners, you're not being honest with me and you're not being honest with God. You're just not being truthful. You just better go find another excuse. You say, "Well, why are you so hard"? Because God is faithful. God made a promise. I don't care what that temptation is. It will not be so big and so strong and so powerful, it will be beyond your ability to handle it. So, here's the cold, hard truth we don't like to face up to, but our society needs to hear it, the church needs to hear it, we need to hear it, and here's the truth, we do not sin because we are tempted to sin. And we'll say that again, we do not sin because we are tempted to sin. Temptation is the opportunity to sin, it is not the cause of sin. People do not sin because they're tempted to, they sin because they want to.
You say, "Can you be a little plainer"? Sure. You don't give into temptation because you have to, you give it a temptation because you want to. You don't give it a temptation because you just can't resist it, you give into temptation because you just won't resist it. And I know that's true because God has already said, "You will never... I will not let you be tempted beyond your ability to handle it". Well, that raises another question. So, how does God do that? How does God enable us to handle the temptation? You ready? Look at this, "But with the temptation, He will also provide the way of escape that you may be able to endure it".
Now, listen, this is kind of surprising. This is God's plan to tame temptation. It's not what you're thinking. I'm sure there are some of you that don't know your Bible or maybe you're not a believer, you don't understand Christianity and you would say, "Oh well, I bet I know how God does it. God just gives you the power to overcome it, God gives you the power to defeat it, God gives you the power to whip it". Remember again the prayer of Jesus. He said, "Lead us not into temptation". But then he said, "Deliver us from evil". Listen to this, God's plan for you to tame temptation is never to lead you into it, but to lead you out of it. And the way God does that is not by giving you the power to overcome it, the way he does that is providing a way to escape it.
Let me give an illustration. Randy, whenever I fly, I'm flying to Mississippi tomorrow. Whenever I fly, Kelly knows this, my assistant. There's always one row I asked for. I wanna sit in one particular row. You know what that row is? What's that row? It's the exit row. I want the row. Wait a minute, listen. You say, "Well, I know why you want the exit row". Well, why do I want the exit row? You say, "Well, because if the plane crashes, you wanna get out". No, not really. What do you mean? Well the number one cause of death in a plane crash is not the crash. Think about it. If the number one cause of death in the plane crash was the crash, you don't need an exit row. You already exited. You know what the number one cause of death is in a plane crash? Fire. Number one cause of people dying in plane crashes, fire. That's why I want the exit row. If I survive the crash... if I don't survive the crash, I don't need an exit row. But if I survived the crash, why do I want that exit row? 'Cause I know right now the greatest danger to my life is fire.
Here's what Paul is saying, every time you start smelling the smoke of temptation and every time you see that little flicker of fire start to kinda build up and start burning. Here's what Paul says, "If you'll look, you'll find an exit sign, if you'll look, you'll find a door that says, 'Exit.'" I never forget my last day BASS Convention. We're in St. Louis and I was presiding over the convention and it was such a relief. I kinda hammer the gamble. Gavin and I say, "This convention is dismissed". And I was so convinced, this is a burden. Now I was just so happy and so glad. And I turned around, there was Dr. Rogers, Adrian Rogers was standing there. I'll never forget this. I was standing there and he put his arm around me. He pointed to a door, an exit door. He said, "Jim," called me Jimmy. Said, "Jim, you see that sign right there"? I said, "Yes, sir". He said, "What is that"? I said, "There's an exit sign". He said, "That's what you are an ex-it".
And I'll never forget that as long as I live. But here's the point that I want you to understand. God says, "Look, every time you're tempted, there will always be a safety valve, there will always be an escape hatch". You don't have to give into temptation. Every time temptation knocks on the front door of your life, God says, "I'll always provide a back door of escape". That's why we've gotta take responsibility for our own actions, that's why we can't blame anybody else for anything else, for our faults and our faults and our failures except us. You can't blame your sin on God, you can't blame your sin on the devil. You can't say, "Well, the devil made me do it".
Let me give you some good news. If you are a follower of Jesus, the devil can't make you do anything. He can't make you do anything. Sex may not always be consensual, sin is. There's no such thing as non-consensual sin. There was a man that was applying for a big job and he was being interviewed for this job. And the interviewer said, "Look, you need to understand sir, this is a very big job and we're looking for the most responsible person to fill this job". When he said that the man said, "Well, then I can tell you right now, I am the man for the job. You can stop the interview. You need to hire me right now. I know I'm the right person for the job". And he said, "Well, sir, with all the respect, how do you know that"? He said, "Because of all the jobs I have ever had in my life, if something went wrong, I was most responsible".
See Florida people don't get it, urban people don't get it, Tennessee people don't get it. Explain it to them later. Look, here's the cold hard truth. If you look back on your life and you took the wrong path, you look back on your life, you made the wrong call, you look back on your life, you did the wrong thing. It's because you failed to look for the exit sign. You didn't take the door, you didn't take the way of escape. And most importantly, you failed to trust God. Listen, if you don't hear anything else I say, listen to this. God does not give us the strength to fight temptation; He gives us the speed to flee temptation. God does not... never read this. God does not give us the strength to fight it; He gives us the speed to flee it.
So let's get practical. Let's just get real practical here. I don't know that I've ever met anyone who from the time they were born made a conscious decision, "I just want to miss my life up, I would ruin my life, I wanna flush my marriage down toilet". The truth of the matter is if your failure to tame temptation has gotten you into a financial mess or relational mess or a professional mess or a moral mess, it doesn't happen because you planned on it to happen. Nobody ever plans or intends to get into trouble. The problem is we don't plan not to.
You see, we don't plan to experience temptation. We just don't plan to escape it. That raises another question, very practical. "Okay, pastor, so how do you escape it"? God said he provide a way of escape. So how do you escape temptation? First of all, if at all possible here's rule number one, don't ever deliberately get into a tempting situation. Just don't ever deliberately get into a tempting situation.
I read about a little boy who was sitting on an apple tree that belonged to the farmer next door. And the farmer saw him and he walked over to and he said, "Son, are you trying to steal one of my apples"? And the little boy said, "No sir, I'm trying not to". Don't get yourself into tempting situations. That's why I don't ride in a car with a woman alone, that's why I don't go to lunch with a woman alone, that's why I don't counsel women alone. You say, "Well, pastor, you don't trust yourself". No, I trust God. I don't read the Bible I'm ever supposed to trust me. And I don't, I trust God. I can't stand the heat so I just stay out of the kitchen. Now realize sometimes you walk into a temptation... It happens, you walk into attempting situation, inadvertently you stumble into it.
You say, "Okay, pastor, what if I do"? What if I'm a door to door salesman and I'll ring the doorbell and a beautiful lady comes to the door and she's naked. There's a biblical word for that, run. Not hard. You don't say, "Can I come in and pray about it"? You just run. We are never told in the Bible to fight temptation, we are told to flee temptation. Listen to these verses, "For so flee youthful passions". Here's another one, "Flee from sexual immorality". So fleeing temptation may mean you gotta do different things in different situations. So what do you mean? Well, you may need to get off the bus Gus, you may need to make a new plan Stan, you may need to drop off the key Lee and get yourself free. Because as you walk down the streets of life, this is the way it works for all of us.
You're walking down the streets of life one day, you're minding your own business, you don't intend to do anything wrong, you turn the corner and all of a sudden, you walk right into temptation. What do you do? First thing you remember is this, "All right God, where's the exit sign. I know you provided a way of escape. And I also know this, you're never early, you're never late. You don't provide the escape before the temptation, you don't even provide the escape after the temptation". Here's what he says, "With the temptation, He will provide the way of escape".
There was a four year old girl and her dad had told her before you the street, you learn to look both ways. I've been doing this with Harper since she was a little boy, my grandson, always out. Sometimes I've taken him out to the street and I said, "Okay, we're gonna cross the street, what do we do"? He'll say, "I know pap, I know pap. You look one way then you look the other way".
I've taught him to do that. Was a little girl, she had been taught to look both ways. So one day she was walking with her dad and they started to cross the street. And as they're walking across the street, there was this dead squirrel right in the middle of the street. And I mean, it was a terrible scene. There was blood and guts and intestines and everything and fur just spread out right in front of her where that little girl was crossing the street. And her dad looked down and she looked down at that squirrel. And her dad said, "Well, honey, that's just too bad". He said, "I guess the car was just going too fast". And the little girl four years old looked at him and she said, "Dad, that wasn't the problem. The squirrel didn't look both ways".
You know what? She was right. The dad totally missed the point. The speed of the car was irrelevant. The dumb squirrel didn't look both ways. And squirrels that don't look both ways become dead squirrels. Now, you walk out of your door of your house and you only look one way, temptation will run over you every time. You have to look both ways. There's the temptation but there's also the exit. And every time you look one way and you see that temptation, you look the other way, God says, "I promise you there will be a way of escape".
So let me just close with this. I want to make this real practical. Down to earth, let's get real right here. What's your greatest temptation? What is the greatest spiritual battle you face in your life? What is it? Pornography, anger, bitterness, jealousy, greed, lust. Think about that temptation right now. It gives you fears. Let me ask you a question. So where's the way of escape? And there always is one. Where's the way of escape? You're addicted to pornography. Maybe you need to put a program on your computer and give somebody else the password where you can't get into it. Well, what about my smartphone? You need to do the same thing or drop the smartphone. What about that lady you're attracted to at work. And right now it's just emotional and you're thinking about going to lunch with her. You just don't do it. You don't even get a loan with that woman unless is with you, you just don't. You avoid those situations.
Let me tell you why, let me tell you why this is such a big deal. Jesus Christ didn't just down the cross to save us from the penalty of sin, He died on the cross to free us from the power of sin. And that Jesus that died on the cross. That crosses a highway, it's called the way of escape. And I'm gonna tell you what I have learned in my life. Every time you face temptation, every time, if you'll run to Jesus, you'll turn your back on that temptation. Because Jesus said, "I will never lead you into it. I will deliver you from it". And he will do it every single time because He is faithful. Let's pray together.