The ancient Israelites experienced many of the same temptations we face ourselves today. Very often we think of temptations as those things that tempt us to some pleasure that isn’t good for us (like stealing, lying, foods for some of us, substances like alcohol and drugs for others of us, illicit sex, and more). These are temptations.
But here are some temptations that they faced that we also may face in ways that we don’t even realize. Just like the temptations mentioned above…these are also not good for us but are intertwined. The first is THE TEMPTATION TO DETHRONE GOD, to look to other things as the answer to our problems or the answer to our fulfillment in life.
In truth, many of the those other temptations that I just mentioned (stealing, lying, foods for some of us, substances like alcohol and drugs for others of us, illicit sex) are a part of our additional temptation dethrone God.
When we create idols in our hearts, the pursuit of wealth as an end of it’s own, the pursuit of pleasure as an end of it’s own, the pursuit of status or power as an end of it’s own, we perceive that somehow we will find truth and life fulfillment. We put our trust in them rather than God. In doing this we create an idol in that temptation and dethrone God by putting these acts on the throne in our hearts.
1 Corinthians 10:7(TNIV)
7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.”
How often do we put our trust in the world? How often do we put our trust in worldly things for our fulfillment and happiness–rather than God? We look to the great “party in life” for happiness and fulfillment. (Now I gotta say–I PARTY–every Sunday and many other times….I just party in a healthy way! A party is simply having fun with friends and family!)
We often look to money, power, prestige or objects and worldly pleasures for the great fulfillment in our lives. These things all have their place, but none bring ultimate fulfillment. LOVING GOD and LOVING THOSE AROUND US does bring that great fulfillment, not these others things.
Just like us, the ancient Israelites experienced and were tempted with sexual immorality, or lust. Just like them, there is often a temptation to give in.
The Greek word translated here as “immorality” is “porneuomen” [porn-yoo-o-men]. It is interesting that in the Old Testament as well as in Revelation, lust and sexual immorality are often used as a metaphor for giving in or permitting one’s self to be drawn away by another into idolatry. Specifically in the use of temple prostitutes among pagan religions.
How often do we look to pleasures in our life, the pleasure of illicit sex, of substances (alcohol and drugs), or anything that we idolize or look to for the great fulfillment in our lives? Anything that causes addiction leads to a path of destruction–but we are tricked into somehow thinking that these pleasures will solve our problems or create some sort of fulfillment in life when in fact…….that fulfillment is short-lived, damaging and fleeting in the grand scheme of things. Loving God, indeed, Jesus, and loving others leads to the true great fulfillment of who we are, not these things.
1 Corinthians 10:8(TNIV)
8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did–and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. Satan is the great deceiver! Why do you think certain things are immoral? Because in the end they destroy us and our relationships. Inside marriage, this pleasure is a compliment to the relationship, as God designed….outside marriage…it creates pain, and builds a false sense of closeness, and hurts relationships. Satan is indeed the great deceiver!
My prayer is that each day, we will learn to put our trust in God by loving Him and loving others. My prayer is that we will ask for strength daily to resist the temptation to put so much faith in other things for our ultimate fulfillment. My prayer is that in these two things we will experience the ultimate fulfillment. You pray too!