Steven Furtick - The Way Of Escape
One Scripture I want to start with, and there's a journey that I want us to go on today from 1 Corinthians 10:13, and I ministered this to the young people, and then I've been dealing with it in my own life too. So, I want you to listen to this. It says, "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man, and God is faithful". Shout about the part of this verse you believe, "God is faithful". This part gets a little bit harder to shout about because it says that, "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". I want to speak for a few moments. The Holy Spirit's helping me on the subject of "The Way of Escape".
Father, your word is truth illuminated so that we might receive it. After we have received it, may we water it and may a harvest come from these moments that we have together in your presence. Bless your people now. Give them a leaned in posture, an open heart. Do the surgery that you want to do and stitch us up, and when we finish with our time together, we want to go back into the world better than we came into this place today. We believe you to do it, and we thank you in advance in Jesus's name. Amen. Amen.
You may be seated. So, when I said the word temptation in that verse, probably 1000 different things came to mind depending on who you are, what stage of life you're in. There's a lot of temptations that teenagers probably face today that I didn't have to face when I was their age, and I'm always like, "are you sure you want me to come and speak to the teenagers", because I'm afraid of being irrelevant. I used to speak to youth groups all the time. That was all I did was just travel all around yelling at kids, "Keep your pants on"! You know. The basic messages. Abstinence messages. I would even go into public high schools, and I couldn't even use the Bible, but I would just have to teach them and try to hold their attention. That's probably why I yell so much today and move around so much 'cause I got trained in having to keep people's attention, but things have changed a lot. You know?
So, I'm always afraid that I'm gonna say stuff that the kids are like rolling their eyes at like my kids roll their eyes at me and now I have teenagers, and so I have a little bit of a frame of reference, but I also just don't want to be talking on a level that just makes me sound like a dinosaur, like a tyrannosaurus Rex up here trying to preach the word of God. I'm not a pterodactyl up here trying to preach the word of God. A brontosaurus trying to preach the word. I'm just naming all the dinosaurs, you know. And yet, something in the Scripture that was really interesting is that Paul said there's really no new temptations. There's nothing that you're fighting against right now that somebody didn't already fight against.
Now, that ought to take away a lot of the shame for those of you who don't feel like you deserve to be in church because of what the man said was true that no temptation has overtaken you except what is common to man. That means that even if you struggle a little bit differently than the person three seats down your row, they need the same grace that you need to be saved, and you don't have to be ashamed about your need for grace. And yet, there is this particular way in which we are tempted we think we're the only ones. That I am the only one who is experiencing loneliness in this unique way. I am the only one who deals with these thoughts. I am the only one who cannot get over this and just move past it and deal with it.
Paul says, "no, it's common. You're not really that special. Satan didn't just make up a whole new temptation for you. You're really not that special". It's the same temptations and it's the same grace that was available to me as a teenager when my biggest temptation was AOL instant messenger. It's the same grace for Snapchat. It's the same grace. It's the same temptations. The Reformers had a term called Common Grace that they used to talk about how all people experience the grace of God in some measure just by virtue of being humans that were made in His image and according to His likeness, and then there is that special saving grace, but here Paul wants us to know that just like there is a common grace, there is a common temptation.
And so, you're really not alone, and you're really not that weird, and you're really not that broken, and there really were no parts or pieces missing in your box, that you really do have everything everybody else does that is needed to accomplish what God has purposed for your life. And just like we think that the world has never been worse than it is right now, Paul says this is nothing new. This is the same old crap. Can I say crap in my own pulpit after being a pastor for 13 and a half years, a grown man with gray hair in my beard? I'm sure I can say crap, and you wouldn't be offended by that, right?
It's the same crap, same old stuff that they were dealing with in Corinth. This church was wild. The church at Corinth, they would come in for Communion and get drunk on the Communion wine. That's why we don't even put alcohol in the cups when we do Communion. I don't trust y'all. It's grape juice. It's pre-fermented. It's Welch's. Some of y'all be wil'in' in church talkin', anyway, it's the same temptations. It's not like the church people say, oh, well, we need to get back to the church of the New Testament. You mean the ones where Paul had to write them a letter and say you shouldn't sleep with your stepmother? 'Cause that was the church. It's the same old stuff. It's the same temptations. Like, there was some pristine, pure, holy time when people didn't struggle. It's a different manifestation, but it's the same temptation. It's the same stuff. It's the same stuff.
Have to be really careful because we'll start judging people if their temptation has a different flavor than ours. "Well, I just don't see how they could". Well, maybe they don't see how you could. Paul wants us to know that this is nothing new. It is the same temptation. In many ways, I've learned that the temptations I'm facing now as I approach the age of 40 are the same temptations I was dealing with at age 14. The reason that I was so honored to preach to our youth is that I was hoping to help them to see that the way that they will deal with temptation today will have so much to do with what they have to face in the future at a later time. It was important for me to get that point across because it's really nothing new.
What you struggled with then you struggle with now. It's many of the same temptations that have cycled through our lives, and it's the same need for approval, the same need for validation, the same reach for something to fill our soul. It changes clothes, but it does not change nature. It's the same temptation at the root of it in our hearts. It is our quest to depend on anything but God to reach for something physical and visible to make for ourselves golden calves and graven images that we can trust in and say these are your gods that brought you out of Egypt as we grow weary waiting for the real God to deliver us in our situation, as patience becomes harder and harder for us as we await the fullness of the presence and the promise of God in our own situations. We devise for ourselves escape routes, a way out.
It's hard to be human. It's hard to deal with the fragmented heart that is common to each of us, and so early in life we begin to manage the pressure to escape the pain, and we all find different ways. Some ways are innocent enough. Some ways are destructive, and most of the ways are somewhere in between. There's always a way of escape. Everybody in here, young and old, Baptist, Pentecostal, atheist, agnostic. We all have a way of escape, and I wonder what is it that you're trying to escape, and I wonder what is it that makes you feel trapped like you can't get out. See, it's one thing to be trapped in a situation. Have you ever been trapped in a situation? I hope that this is not one of those right now for you. What was that ballet that you tricked me into going to?
Oh, she took me to "Sleeping Beauty", but she didn't tell me that there wouldn't be any speaking parts. I was ten minutes into that ballet with Holly and Abbie, and I was praying. First I was praying for the Rapture, and then I was looking at the fire alarm thinking maybe I could pull that, and then I was praying, God, if you have to kill me, if you have to give me a brain hemorrhage to get me out of this, just... come on. Have you ever been trapped? It's one thing to be trapped in a situation. It's another thing to feel trapped inside yourself to feel like there's habits in my heart, ways that I lean, and I prop up on things that can't support the weight of my worry, but I find myself doing it over and over again. And so, you devise a way of escape. You find a way to not have to feel what you feel. You find a way out.
The context of 1 Corinthians 10 gives some real insight to the meaning of Verse 13 because in order for Paul to show the Corinthian church, hey, this is nothing new what you're facing, and God is greater than your situation, and He's greater than your sin, and He's greater than your shame, and He's greater than the thing that has a hold of you that won't let you go. God is greater than that. He takes them all the way back to Egypt. The Exodus story was critical to the heritage and the history of the people of God. It was in Egypt that they escaped from the famine. When the famine hit Canaan, God had Joseph positioned in Egypt.
How many know God always has someone in a position to meet the needs of His people? I need y'all to shout with an election year coming up. God's gonna take care of us. God is going to take care of us, and that's true in every area and season of your life. So, when they started starving in Canaan, Joseph said, "Get dad and bring him to Egypt. God has given me favor in the midst of this famine".
So, they escaped Canaan where there was a famine, and Jacob with his 130-year-old self had to relocate not to South Florida but to Egypt, a foreign place where he did not know the pharaoh, but the pharaoh knew Joseph and since the pharaoh knew Joseph, Jacob and all of the patriarchs and all of their wives and all of their children, not only did they get to move into Egypt, but they got to go to Goshen. Goshen was the place with the Kentucky Fried Quail. Goshen was the place where you can eat off the fat of the land. Goshen was the place of provision for a little while, and for years and years while others were starving, the house of Jacob was eating good in Egypt until one day the Bible says that a pharaoh or a ruler arose in Egypt that knew not Joseph. When Joseph died and pharaohs changed, all of a sudden, the place where they had escaped to became the place where they were enslaved in.
Sometimes the place you go to escape will become the place where you are enslaved. Can I break this down? It may be that you are escaping for survival. You escape to a relationship that is really not good for you, and you know that the relationship is not good for you, but you are so lonely rather than live by yourself because you feel like you're dying inside you would rather join up with someone who is bringing you down and even though you know that they're bringing you down or they are abusive or they are not walking in the same direction as you, you would rather walk in the wrong direction than walk alone in the right direction, and credit to you for being a survivor because some of the things that you did in your life, you wen to Egypt to survive. You went to Egypt not because it was a sin. It was just a matter of survival.
Some of the things that we learn to medicate with. Some of the habits that later in life become masters over us. They did not start as masters. They started as medication. And so, we took a pill at first just to deal with it so we could deal with everyday life, but then it was two and then it was three and then it was a bunch, and now all of a sudden, I find myself enslaved by something that I escaped to. This is not just true of pills. This can be true of sex. You can look for a connection in sex and substitute it for love. It's not that you wanted to be dirty. It's not that you wanted to be promiscuous. It's not that you don't respect yourself. It's just that you wanted to feel something, and the feeling of loneliness can be so great that you would rather feel a dirty connection than a clean sense of confinement that comes from being quarantined in your own mind.
But the danger of escape is that Egypt can feed you quail one day and whip you with chains the next day. And the place that you escaped to becomes the place that you are enslaved in. Thank you for helping me, Lord. I told the Lord I wanted to preach this message with energy like it was my first time preaching it, and I feel His help today. A chain-breaking kind of anointing that can get deep down in your heart and help you to see how sometimes the place that we run to can become the place that we're trapped in 'cause I just want to escape. I just don't want to feel like this anymore. So now, that's why I'm going outside of God to meet a God-given need.
That's why I'm doing things that make me feel bad in the morning. I'm doing things that leave a wake of consequences that's going to affect me in a way that has no alignment with the real intention of what God has spoken over my life, but I just gotta get out of this. I hope one day that I'll have the courage to do this series called, I already have the name of it. I just don't have the guts to preach it yet 'cause I know how preach people are, and I can already see the YouTube comments, but y'all pray for me. One day I'm going to preach a whole series called, "Sins with Benefits". Y'all sound a little too excited about that. Kind of sketchy how y'all clapped about that. Because we will hear a lot of times about the consequence of sin, but if there were no benefits to it, it wouldn't be so popular.
There is a need that Egypt meets. There is as need that is met. You know, there is a longing that is fulfilled. When I go outside of God to meet a God-given need, it works. See, that's the problem. It works. It gets you out for a little while. It works until it doesn't. It works until it gets old. It works until it fries the neural pathways and now it doesn't work anymore, and now I'm doing it, but it doesn't even work anymore, and now I'm chasing something that doesn't deliver, and I want a way out. So, Paul says now you've got to back all the way up to Egypt and look at Verse 1. This is in the Bible, y'all. He said I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud. It's the same stuff. It's the same stuff. They were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea.
Remember the Red Sea that God brought His people through? Come on. Has God ever brought you out of anything? I don't mean you had a headache and it went away. That was ibuprofen. But I mean something that was deep. It was a pit. It was a depression. It was a darkness. It was a mistake. It was a mess you made, but God brought you out. Shout for 15 seconds. Matter of fact, shout if He didn't just bring you out. Shout if He brought you through. Oh, God. That's good to me. He didn't just bring me out of it. He brought me through it, and since I went through it, I got something from it. I had to go through the valley of the shadow of death so I could know it's just a shadow. The Lord is my shepherd, and I shall not want. Now, I've got a table in the presence of my enemies, but the only way to the table was through the valley. I had to go through the pain. And that's what God did, now, watch this, a history lesson.
Tell somebody it's nothing new. It's nothing new. What you're going through, God's people have been standing in front of stuff that they didn't think they could make it through for a long time. They came to that Red Sea, pharaoh behind him, the chariots clackin'. These were not, these were not basic chariots. These were Lamborghini chariots, faster than them, stronger than them, but somehow, some way, they passed through the sea. God brought them through it. God said I'm not just going to lift you out of it. I'm going to give you the strength to walk through it. No temptation. He brought them through it. He brought you through it. He takes you through it. Not around it, but through it. Keep trying to work around it. We put all these work arounds in our life, all these ways that we don't really have to deal with real issues, all these ways of escape that we try to make for ourselves.
You know, since I really can't be happy let me just take pictures like I am. They said we had overflow of Ballantyne. I'm just trying to make some seats for next week. I'm going to preach this 'til we got some empty seats. But really, it's the mercy of God 'cause He said it was the same cloud, same sea, same grace, and the same grace that is available if you're facing a Red Sea of trouble is available if you are facing a temptation in your life that has overtaken you. Interesting language because to say it has overtaken you acknowledges that it's stronger than you.
So now, I'm being told that there is something that is stronger than me working against me, and you know exactly what that is in your life. You know exactly what it is that you escaped to that you have become enslaved by and if it's not sex and if it's not pills, look. Some people do it with pharmaceuticals, some people do it with food. You can do it with drugs. You can do it with doughnuts. That's why I said temptation is a funny word. If we start making a list, of all the ones we don't struggle with and then we'll shout about how God is faithful with that, but blame can be a way of escape. You hear me preaching to you today? Because blame will get you out of having to take responsibility. The only problem is it gives the keys to your freedom to whoever you blame for the situation. And now, you're enslaved to the very thing that you were trying to escape from. Now, you're enslaved to bitterness because you escaped through blame. I could do this all day long. I could talk about how when you feel trapped in something, it's important what you trust in because whatever you trust becomes your master.
What are you escaping to? What are you escaping from? And have you escaped to something that has now started to enslave you? Cynicism is an escape 'cause it hurts to have hope. It opens the door to disappointment. So you just beat life to the punch. You just expect the worst, that way you're not surprised, and you put your faith in reverse and call it realism. So what's really sad about coming through the Red Sea is that after all the miracles that God does for you, and after the way that He saves you, and after the way that He becomes personal in your life, the Bible says that even after they went through the Red Sea, passed under the cloud through Moses after he references this Exodus motif that is so prevalent in the Jewish scriptures, he says in verse 5, "Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them, for they were overthrown in the wilderness".
And that's where the battle is, in the wilderness. Even Jesus went through the wilderness. And what you do in the wilderness determines whether you stay enslaved or move forward into freedom. We don't just pass through the wilderness once in our lives. The wilderness is not something you did 18 years ago. The wilderness isn't just when you lost your first job. The wilderness can happen several times any given week. I asked my friend before I came out, "How was your week"? And I said, "I take it back. I hate that question". Because you could ask me that hour by hour and get a different answer. There are some weeks I have where Monday is milk and honey and Tuesday is Canaanites, Hittites, Jebuzites, parasites, termites, cellulites.
And when they went to the wilderness, they were overthrown. They grumbled. They wanted out. You know where they wanted to go? Egypt. At least we could eat in Egypt. Nevermind. You forgot about the fact that they gave you mud without straw, trying to get you to make bricks without giving you materials. Nevermind that the devil has constantly been trying to keep you all your life in a state of feeling like you're not enough. You just wanna go back to the world, because at least it works for a little while. So we escape. We wanna build a tunnel back to Egypt. And then the tunnel becomes a trap. And they died in the wilderness. They died in the place where there was no water. They died in the place where there was no worship. They died in the place where there was no perspective.
It's interesting then that the Bible says that Jesus is a great high priest, and that He is able to be touched with the feelings of our infirmities. In fact, it says that He was tempted in every way like we are. Now I read that and started to argue with the Bible. Jesus didn't have kids. He wasn't tempted in every way as I am. He didn't ever wanna choke the very life that He produced. Jesus didn't have Amazon Prime. But yet it says that He faced every temptation. Because there's really only three. I know we make it complicated, but the Bible condenses it and says that any temptation you're facing today , not just the external ones, the internal ones, the same Bible that gives commands about sexuality gives commands about worry.
So don't think that temptation is only for one person. It said, "In every temptation Jesus faced it, yet He was without sin". He was perfect in the ways that we will never be. And guess where He went to prove His perfection. Let me show you this in Matthew 4. Give me the verse. It says, "Jesus was led up by the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil". Why would God, remember the Lord's prayer? Our Father, Lord in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Your Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. And lead us not into... temptation. "And the spirit led Jesus to the wilderness to be tempted by the devil". So Jesus is... driven is the more accurate word than led. Led sounds nice. Driven is more accurate. He had to go to the wilderness.
Why? Why did Jesus have to come incarnate? The word made flesh. Why did Jesus have to take on the form of human weakness and go to the wilderness? It says that they were overthrown in the wilderness. When Jesus came on the scene, the true Israel, the true expression of God, the second Adam, when Jesus came, the man who was fully man and fully God, Jesus, who is the express image of the radiance of God, Jesus, by whom, for whom, through whom all things were created that were created. Jesus came to the wilderness, watch this, for a rematch. See, in your flesh, in your power, in your strength, in your mind, in your human ingenuity, you are no match for the devil in the wilderness. But Jesus showed up in the wilderness because of unfinished business on behalf of anyone who would believe on His name and call on Him in the day of trouble.
So Jesus, after fasting for 40 days and 40 nights, had to pay a visit to the devil in the wilderness. Jesus came from heaven, which was pristine, to the earth to visit your enemy and pay a visit to what is tormenting you, to let the enemy know that he might be bigger than you but you got a big brother and a high priest who knows your weakness. And He went to the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. So now this is gonna be interesting, because how do you tempt the son of God? Maybe if you can get Him to question His identity. And the devil hits Him with three temptations. Remember, there's only three. They're all three listed in 1 John 2:15.
Spoiler alert: the devil is not creative. There's only three things he can tempt you with to try to get you to be something that you're not. There's only three things he can tempt you with. It's the lust of the flesh. That's what I feel like doing, the email I feel like sending. The lust of the eyes. It's what my senses tell me, living by senses, living by surface appearances. And then there's the pride of life. That's what I think I know. That's what I tell myself that I know. That's when I start being like Adam and Eve in the garden. Their sin wasn't eating an apple. Their sin was that they thought they were like God knowing the difference between good and evil. That's what the sin was in the garden, and that's what it is today. It's the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life. If you're 16, if you're 61, it's the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life.
I told God, "I can't preach this to the whole church. This is a youth sermon". He said, "Tell them just like they told them. Some of them, if they would've heard this sermon when they were 16, they wouldn't be struggling with what they're struggling with at 61". But you're hearing it now. You're hearing it now. So the lust of the flesh. He catches Jesus hungry. He's been fasting 40 days and 40 nights, and He's hungry. He's hungry. The devil always knows when you're hungry. And if you only come to church every five weeks when it's convenient, you are going to be too hungry to be strong against the temptation of the enemy.
I got six claps, and one is my mom, but it's true all the same. You're too hungry. You eat junk when you're hungry. You're susceptible when you're hungry. You try to turn stones into bread when you're hungry. You try to eat stuff that won't satisfy. You try to live off of people's compliments when only God's validation is able to sustain you. That's the lust of the flesh. It's the pride of life. He said, "Okay, if you won't turn the stones into bread, then throw yourself off this cliff". Watch this: "Prove it. Prove you're the child of God. Prove you're a real man. Prove your intelligence. Prove your worth".
Just keep earning and earning, and chasing and chasing, and never stop to ask why, and never stop to be generous. Just keep proving it. Just keep going out there confident and never really admit your need to anyone so that they can see the real you and give the water to your soul that you need to make it. Just prove it. It's the pride of life. And then there's the lust of the eyes, you know. He took Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world. By the way, Jesus didn't leave the wilderness and go to another place, because the temptation is always on the movie screen in your mind. And he showed Him something that looked like an opportunity, but Jesus knew that He came for the cross. And the devil said, "If you bow down and worship me, I'll give you all of this. You don't even have to go to the cross".
Just like God will offer a way of escape, so will the enemy. But when the way of escape becomes just another set of chains, Jesus said, "Away from me, Satan, for it is written. You shall worship the Lord God only, and Him only will you serve". Jesus, in the wilderness 40 days, 40 nights. Why 40? That's the exact number of years that the nation of Israel spent in the wilderness. Jesus said, "I'm gonna do in 40 days what you couldn't do in 40 years. And no temptation", come on Bible lovers. No temptation has overtaken you. The same grace that enabled Jesus, the same spirit that enabled Jesus to endure the cross and despise the shame and sit down at the right hand of God, this spirit lives in you. And the only way Jesus made it through the wilderness, in Matthew 4, is because of what happened in Matthew 3, where it says that Jesus went down to the Jordan River.
And let me give you this for your own heart today. When He went to be baptized by John the Baptist, it wasn't just for an external show of obedience. It was for the voice of affirmation that He would need from His father to survive in the wilderness of temptation. It's so beautiful that I can't do it justice in the time we have allotted, but it says that when Jesus came up out of the water that a dove descended on Him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is My beloved son. This is My beloved daughter".
So when the devil questioned who Jesus was in the wilderness in Matthew 4, the dove had already told Jesus who He knew He was in Matthew 3. I'm trying to say when you've been through the water and when you've heard the voice of your Father, and you know you came from God, and you're going back to God, and your life is in God's hands, you can make it through the wilderness when you've been through the water. But you gotta get to the water. You gotta get to the water. You've got to know where to go in these times. You've got to know who to trust in these times, or else you'll escape to things that will enslave you in the end.
Can I tell you something on the authority of God's word, maybe not even knowing your name today? God has already made the way of escape for you. And it will not always be obvious. Let me promise you, the Red Sea did not look like a four-lane highway. It looked like a death trap. But it is sometimes straight through the thing that you fear that leads to the freedom that you desire. He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able. Oh yeah, well on your own, you'll be overthrown in the wilderness, too.
And if you've been in the wilderness season by yourself, that's the problem. You need to go down to the waters. You need to go down to the waters, where you can worship God and be filled with His presence. This is a ministry moment for somebody who needs water for your soul. The Bible says that the spiritual rock in the desert is the same rock that we stand on today. It is Christ. "On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand. Every other thing will pass away, but he who does the will of God lives forever".