“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.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
The world is full of temptation, and if we’re honest with ourselves, we all struggle with different types of temptation to a varying degree.
To be tempted is not sin itself, but rather sin is conceived when we give into temptation and act on the evil desire.
James 15:13-15 says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But 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.”
Timothy 2:22 says, “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”
Be encouraged because these few passages give us enough wisdom to understand both the source of temptation and how we are to respond to it. Here are a few points I’ve gathered from these verses that help me, and hopefully they’ll help you as well.
- God knows that we will fail. Notice the language in 1 Cor. says that “no temptation HAS overtaken you,” meaning Paul isn’t expressing that you won’t sin, but rather that you already have, and you’ll be tempted to do it again. Yet even so, we can trust in God to help us in times of temptation.
- God knows what you will be tempted by. Whether it’s pride, lust, envy, hatred, greed, idolatry, etc., no temptation you come across is unique only to you. Jesus Himself was tempted, yet did not sin. Take heart in the fact that you do not face this battle alone.
- God will always provide a way out. The key here is that your desire to pursue Christ must be stronger than your desire for the temptation. Only then will you actively choose the escape route rather than giving in to the temptation.
- God does not tempt us. Realize that temptations will always come from our own sinful flesh, or from the devil in hopes that we will sin and distance ourselves from God. God is good and temptation’s source is evil. Anything tempting you into sin is not of God and should not be entertained. Sin ultimately leads to death.
- God calls us to flee. 1 Cor. 10:14 tells us to therefore flee from idolatry, and Timothy 2:22 tells us to flee passions that are not of God. You know what temptations you are likely to give into, and God tells us to run away. “Fleeing” is an active word and requires you to do something; don’t sit around thinking you can sit in the midst of temptation and bear it on your own strength and willpower.
- God offers an exchange. We are exhorted to set aside temptation to take up the fruit of righteousness, faith, love, and peace instead. There is great reward God offers in exchange that goes far beyond the temporary satisfaction we may gain from falling into sin.
- God calls us to rely on Him. When we call on Him from a pure heart, He will help us and even send help. We must constantly be in prayer and in His Word to arm ourselves against darkness.
- God is faithful. God gives us a way out, gives us direction and a model on how to respond, and forgives those who do fall when we trust in Christ for our salvation. He knows that sanctification (being purified) is a life-long process, and for those who have accepted Christ, He has already paid the price for your sin- past, present, and future.
Understanding temptation is half the battle. Here are some practical ways that the Bible gives us to counteract it.
- Plan ahead. If you can help it, don’t even allow yourself to get into situations that you know may tempt you into sin.
- Flee. Literally remove yourself from a situation that’s leading you down the wrong path.
- Prayer and God’s Word. Jesus modeled in the wilderness that we are to pray and have God’s Word planted deep in our heart to battle temptation. Declare His truth and righteousness in times of temptation!
- Accountability. There are many verses in the Bible that talk about confessing our sins to God and each other (in the church), but I would take it even further and confess not only your sins, but your chronic or problematic TEMPTATIONS, to a trusted brother or sister in Christ. Have them keep you accountable by praying for you in that specific area of temptation, checking in on you as you flee it day-by-day, and walking with you in repentance and restoration if and when you fall.
Brother and sister, each of us are subject to temptation. The encouragement and hope we have is that God knows the darkest parts of our heart, and yet STILL loves us more than we’ll ever know or can even imagine!
Take action against temptation, and let the light of Christ flood out the areas of darkness in your life. He wants us to live free from the bondage of sin, and provides the way of escape when we are tempted.