With the holy, with the innocent, with the chosen, with the meek; God delivers from temptation. In God, these people “shall go over the wall.” Their lanterns shall brighten and God shall make them safe. He shall deliver them from temptation, and light up their darknesses. So says David, the psalmist:
25 With the holy, thou shalt be holy; and with an innocent man, thou shalt be innocent. (With the holy, O Lord, thou shalt be holy; and with the innocent, thou shalt be innocent.)
26 And with a chosen man, thou shalt be chosen; and with a wayward man, thou shalt be wayward. (And with the chosen, thou shalt be chosen; but to the wicked, thou shalt be vengeful, or punishing.)
27 For thou shalt make safe a meek people; and thou shalt make meek the eyes of proud men. (And thou shalt save, or help, the poor; but thou shalt humble those who be high in their own eyes/but thou shalt look with contempt upon the proud.)
28 For thou, Lord, lightenest my lantern; my God, lighten thou my darknesses. (For thou, Lord, brightenest my lantern; my God, thou lightest up my darknesses.)
29 For by thee I shall be delivered from temptation; and in my God I shall go over the wall. (For I shall be rescued, or saved, from temptation by thee; and by my God/and with God’s help, I shall go over the wall.)
Here on earth, we are all in the lifeboat together. The ship is going down, and we huddle in one dingy. Nothing happens to one of us that is particularly unique; suffering is spread universally. At one time, all of us are in danger of drowning. Some of us seem to suffer more than others, but nothing new is under the sun. Paul writes:
“Temptation take not you, but man’s temptationfor God is true, which shall not suffer you to be tempted above that that ye be able; but he shall make with temptation also purveyance, that ye be able to suffer [that ye may sustain].”
Being able to foresee the way out of temptation helps us sustain hope; helps us overcome our situation. Just knowing our lifeboat isn’t sinking uplifts our hearts. Those who stay on the sinking ship or who refuse to climb or be pulled into the lifeboat drown. Those who are in the dingy but think they are in the water, up over their heads, live in despair and fear.
We who know we are secure in the lifeboat are able to live in peace and joy. The way out is a given.
Paul calls those “who are spiritual” to “restore” “anyone caught in any transgression” “in a spirit of gentleness.” Some are caught in transgression as one caught in a trap. Others who are free of that trap should assist in that person’s rescue from sin. Yet, Paul warns that the one who is “spiritual” must “keep watch on [himself], lest [he] too be tempted.”
Everyone is subject to temptation; and temptation is not temptation if there is no chance of failure. If the Christian life is as easy as saying, “I am free of sin;” then why is there so much sin in our churches, in our homes, in our children, in our marriages, in our work places? Why do we struggle against the flesh if it has been totally crucified?
Paul writes of this, “I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” (Romans 7: 21 – 25)
Paul writes, “For whatever does not proceed form faith is sin.” (Romans 14: 22)
And, “do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14: 16 – 17)
The struggle is to maintain faith, to keep trust in God’s ultimate goodness, to believe that everything works together toward His perfection.
We are without excuse. When we sin, we miss — by ignoring or outright refusing — the way out provided by God. We are not able to say, when we are tempted, that it is God. Rather, “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1: 14 – 15)
When tempted by desire, we ought to expect the way out we know is provided by our loving Father. As we anticipate our desire, we also should anticipate the sin blossoming within it, and ready ourselves for the path of escape.
I don’t think God means for the way of escape to be difficult to find. God also does “not let [us] be tempted beyond [our] ability.”
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4: 15 – 16)
Taste that the Lord is good. Know that His Word stands forever. Know that you, like all flesh, will fade away. Know that whatever worldly glory you have will end as a flower withers and falls from the stem. The only difference is that now, in Christ, you are born again of an imperishable seed. The seed is the Holy Spirit. He is both the Father of Jesus and of us. “For He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why [Jesus] is not ashamed to call [us] brothers.” (Hebrews 2: 11) Jesus “helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore He had to be made like His brothers in every respect, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because He Himself has suffered when tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Hebrews 2: 16 – 18) Jesus was born a baby, grew through a childhood into an adolescence and then into manhood. Along the way, He was tempted just as we are, except without sin. Therefore, Jesus knows firsthand what it is to face temptations, what it is to resist them, what it is to conquer them. On the Mount of Olives, Jesus prays, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me. Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.” (Luke 22: 42) “Now may the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.” (Hebrews 13: 20 – 21)