Saturday, August 21, 2010

Resisting Temptation

"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" (1Co 10:13).

Many have struggled with wondering whether this verse is true--myself included. Temptation comes: watch this TV show which I know I shouldn't; get angry and not love someone who has hurt me; be impatient with my spouse or children, etc. Then we cry out to God, "Lord, help me! You have promised that You will not let me be tempted beyond my ability. Show me the way of escape!" Nothing seems to happen, and we fall back into the muck of sin.

What has happened? Is God's Word true? What is wrong with me? These may be some of the questions that we begin to ask. Let me highlight two thoughts from this verse that may help those who have found themselves in this agonizing plight.

1) "With the temptation he will also provide the way of escape."-- This says to me that the temptation and the way of escape come together. Temptation does not strike and then some time later God provides a way of escape. Right with the temptation there is a way out. It is there.

Why can't I see it? There does not seem to be a way of escape, or at least I don't have the ability to use it. This leads to the second point . . .

2) The way of escape is often to call out to another brother or sister for help and prayer-- Remember Paul says that whatever temptation has seized you is "common to man." So often Satan wants us to think that our sin is unique and especially shameful. We don't want others to know about it. A personal and private sin needs to be handled personally and privately. This is a lie. To believe it closes off a primary way that God has provided for us to resist temptation. The way out is to trust Christ in the body of Christ.

So there we are crying out, "God, help me! Save me! Give me the ability to resist!" And God says, "I have given you the way. I have given you brothers and sisters who love you and care for you, but you will not pick up the phone and avail yourself of the obvious way of escape that I have provided. You'd rather sin than humble yourself in asking for help from my flesh and blood body on the earth."

We respond, "Could you perhaps provide another way?"

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