“I just think this is how it was meant to be,” said the young woman as we finished our conversation. She had been telling me about her plans to move into a condo with her non-Christian boyfriend. Her words sounded a lot like another woman who had told me that everything in her life had gone as it was meant to be, including her ongoing extra-marital affair.
The thing is that we don’t get to say “it was meant to be” as we are walking bold-faced, eyes wide open into sin. As if God has left us no other option, but to sin. “No temptation has overtaken you except what is 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 a way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (I Corinthians 10:13) He has provided a way of escape, but it’s not easy or comfortable. It might cost you more financially to not live with your boyfriend, but do you trust God to take care of you when you honor him? It might mean that you are unhappy in a difficult marriage, but will you trust God’s provision for you? Have you tried everything, including going to counseling…alone? Yes, it will cost money; yes it will hurt emotionally, but God says, “I will honor those who honor me, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed.” (I Samuel 2:30) Doesn’t that make discomfort worth it?
I recently attended a seminar on the Trinity given by Dr. Bruce Ware. One of the passages that stuck out to me was Matthew 4:1, which said that “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted.” In light of my recent conversations, my mind was swirling with questions, “Does that mean that God leads us into sin? Is that how it was meant to be?” I stopped one of our pastors and asked him the question. I liked his answer, and it clarified a lot for me. He said that God doesn’t lead us into sin, but he does lead us into the wilderness and times of testing. Remember that the Lord taught us to pray “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6:13)
I think it’s interesting that in Matthew 3 when Jesus is baptized, he set an example for us to follow and did the will of the Father. The heavens opened up and God said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) Then in Chapter 4, the beloved Son was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted for 40 days. Jesus came out of the wilderness and began his public ministry in the last part of Chapter 4.
Even in the wilderness, Jesus was given a way to escape. The Holy Spirit was with him, sustaining him and giving the words to say. Words from Scripture were his simple defense against the lies of Satan. This same Holy Spirit is available to all who believe when we too are tempted. His desire is not that we sin when we are tempted, but that we trust him to deliver us and give us a way of escape.
If you find yourself in a wilderness, it was probably meant to be. If in the wilderness, you are tempted to sin, it was probably meant to be, for nothing comes against you without the Father’s knowledge. However if in the wilderness when you are tempted you choose sin, please do not say “It was meant to be.” Do not use the divine hand of our Holy God to find an excuse for your sin. Rather use the divine provision of the Holy Spirit to find a way of escape. It will probably not be easy; it may hurt; it will probably be uncomfortable; it may cost you money, but it is there. Turn to him to find the way through the wilderness. When you choose to honor God, he will honor you.
The following is a portion of one of my “pet Psalms.” It reminds me of God’s sovereignty and that all I have to do is cry out to him in my trouble and he will save me. Psalm 107:10-22 – “Some sat in darkness and the deepest gloom, prisoners suffering in iron chains, for they had rebelled against the words of God and despised the counsel of the Most High. So he subjected them to bitter labor; they stumbled, and there was no one to help. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains. Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron.
Some became fools through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction because of their iniquities. They loathed all food and drew near the gates of death. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent forth his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men. Let them sacrifice thank offerings and tell of his works with songs of joy.”