Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 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. I Corinthians 10:6-13 ESV
Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
when your fathers put me to the test
and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
For forty years I loathed that generation
and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart,
and they have not known my ways.”
Therefore I swore in my wrath,
“They shall not enter my rest.” Psalm 95:7b-11 ESV
Smoking cigarettes is very bad for your health, and there are many commercials that try to encourage people not to start smoking, or to quit if they have started. A few years ago there were commercials of people who were smokers showing some of the problems smoking caused them. One of the commercials showed a man who had had throat cancer and now had to breathe through a hole in his throat, called a stoma. He had to cover the stoma with his finger to speak, and he had a gravelly voice. He could only eat soft foods, and he had to be very careful to protect the stoma while in the shower or when he was outside. Another commercial showed a mother whose baby was born early and had to be in an incubator. She couldn’t hold her baby, but only talk to it through a hole in the incubator. This made her very sad, and she cried a little in the commercial.
Paul told the Corinthians to look at what had happened to the people of Israel in the past. He listed the ways they had sinned against God, such as by worshiping idols, grumbling, and testing the Lord, and the ways God’s judgment fell on them. Paul reminded them of the fiery serpents and the plague of death. These things were written down as an example for us, Paul said. We should take heed and not fall into sin the way the people of Israel did. We shouldn’t think that we are stronger or smarter or better than they were. It is so easy to fall into sin, and that’s why we need to keep watch over ourselves. But then Paul spoke some words of comfort. He said that God will never tempt us more than we can stand. He will help us and give us a way out, so that we never have to feel that we have no choice but to do something sinful and wrong.
We know how weak we are, and how we sin all the time, but we also know that we always have forgiveness from God because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross. We can not only go to him for forgiveness, but also for help any time we are tempted. Jesus understands what we are going through, because he also was tempted when he was on earth. He overcame sin and the devil for us, and we know that they can never overpower us as long as we trust in Jesus. He sends us his Holy Spirit to help us keep our faith strong, to trust in him for help and forgiveness, and to struggle with temptation.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to win our forgiveness and to overcome temptation for us. Help us to stay close to you always. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.