God told us "Be still and know that I am God", but being still is an act of passion. We take time for those things we are most passionate about and it is a God-filled heart that will keep temptation as only temptation. It is as we desire God above anything else that our desire for sin fades into the background. Don't think that a mechanical approach to church attendance, Bible reading, and prayer will act like some kind of charm to keep sin from your door. Just think of the Israelites who were rescued from Egypt.
These people had it all. They saw the mighty hand of God move against Egypt just to rescue them. It was right in front of their eyes just how much God loved them. The saw the pillar of fire at night and the cloud during the day. They heard the voice of God speak to them from the mountain and they were afraid. They walked through the divided sea on dry ground. They saw the water gush from the rock to quench their thirst. They were feed directly from the hand of God. They experienced all this yet the still grumbled and complained. They still gave themselves over to sin. They still longed to go back to Egypt to satisfy the desires of their bodies. Why? Because they failed to enter into a relationship with God. When they heard his voice they immediately backed off and begged Moses to represent them. They did not want to have this relationship with God.
Paul tells us that these things were written down and given to us as a warning. I can see that. I can see my own attitude at times reflected in these thankless people who never rose to the challenge of this relationship and ended up dying in the desert because of their disobedience:
Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things 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 got up to indulge in pagan revelry.” We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test the Lord, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel. (1 Corinthians 10:6-10)
Do you see what killed them? Sexual immorality, testing the Lord, grumbling against God and all because they refused to enter into a relationship of trust. The generation that followed, the ones born in the desert, became the strongest generation Israel ever had. This is the generation that came out of the desert to claim the "Promised Land". They became mighty warriors, bringing glory to God. They listened and obeyed because they learned to be dependent on God, to trust what he directed them to do.
Look at your own track record. How dependent have you been? How faithful? How passionate for God? People will tell you that failing in sin is normal because we are not perfect but I am telling you it is not normal for those who are possessed by the Spirit of God. It is not normal because the Word of God says it is not normal. Don't use your lack of a passionate relationship with Jesus as an excuse to fall into sin:
These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (1 Corinthians 10:11-13)
This is a mature understanding of our relationship with Jesus. We may not be capable of avoiding the pitfalls of sin but Jesus is. We live in the fulfillment of the ages. We are possessed by the Holy Spirit. Jesus is always with us and we have a constant guide in our day. The Word promises us that no temptation will overwhelm us because God has made it possible for us to stand up under it. This is not the opinion of man but the Word of God. Read it again for yourself.
We misquote John all the time when we use this verse as an excuse for failing Jesus:
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8)
We use grace as an excuse for sin. We become grace abusers. But John is speaking of the fact that we all need Jesus to save us, that none of us can make it without the cross. As Paul wrote, we were all sinners:
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
If we put John's writing in context this is what we discover:
John is speaking of the moment we accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour, when he purifies us from all sin and all unrighteousness. Paul tells us that all the things written down in God's Word are not to give us an excuse for our sin (I'm not perfect just forgiven) but to warn us away from unfaithfulness to God. That is what our sin is, unfaithfulness in our relationship, when we bow to the idols in our life instead of to the God whom we love and adore.
Sin separates us from God. It puts up a wall between us. If we are at all sensitive to Jesus we feel loss and pain when we sin against him. Sin is not natural to us. It is not common. It should be the most unnatural thing that we face in our lives. Sexual immorality, testing the Lord, grumbling against God leads to death. The result of sin is death. Jesus died to save us from this and to protect us from going there again:
And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
Temptation is common; sin is not. If we are strong in our relationship with Jesus we will be completely dependent on him for all things. We will hear his voice. We will turn away from the pitfalls of sin. We will be strengthened in temptation. Our desire to please him will be far greater than any desire of this weak body. Don't use the Israelites as an excuse for your own failure but instead take warning from their deaths. Sin has no part with us any more. We are a new creation and God is our protector and provider. Our passion is for him alone.