Every Christian faces temptation. Even Jesus was tempted! So how can you resist the urge to give in and stay strong?
Think of it this way: Did you ever play with a couple of magnets when you were a child? If you did, you’ll remember that the closer they got to each other, the harder it was to pull them apart.
Temptation is something like that. The more you dwell on it and the closer you let it get to you, the stronger its attraction will be. In fact, if you don’t look out, the time may come when it will be almost impossible to pull away from it. Don’t let that happen!
The first step you need to take is to flee from whatever is tempting you. Get as far from it as possible. The Apostle Paul told his young friend, Timothy, to “flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace” (2 Timothy 2:22).
Also remember that our thoughts are as important as our actions. In fact, Jesus had strong words for people who were outwardly righteous but inwardly corrupt. One reason is because our actions typically start with our thoughts. The Bible says, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matthew 15:19).
Don’t entertain tempting thoughts. Avoid anything that fills your mind with sinful thoughts and fill it instead with good things by studying God’s Word and praying for His guidance.
Most of all, you need God’s help to fight this battle. If you have never done so, turn to Christ and ask Him to come into your life. Then ask Him to fill your heart with His love and power, and to crowd out whatever is wrong in your life. God has promised that “when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Ask Him to show you the way out—and then take it.
We all need encouragement, especially when temptation to sin is weighing heavily upon us. Thankfully, the Scripture gives us two encouragements to help us fight temptation:
1. Temptation is common to man.
2. In temptation, God is faithful.
If you’re familiar with Scripture, you will recognize that these two encouragements come from 1 Cor 10:13: “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”
So how do these two truths provide encouragement during temptation?
First, because temptation is “common to man,” your temptation is not unique. It’s not that your temptation is exactly the same as another’s, for you have different circumstances and situations. Rather, it’s more like you have different symptoms of the same disease. There are hundreds of thousands of Christians facing similar temptations right now. And this is encouragement to fight temptation.
Second, because temptation is “common to man,” you are not alone. The logic is simple: You are human; temptation is common to humans; therefore, you experience temptation like everyone else—you are not alone. We are all fighting temptations to varying degrees: pastors, lay people, and our spiritual heroes. We are in this together. And this is encouragement to fight temptation.
While the truth that temptation is “common to man” is an encouragement, since temptation is so constant and common, we need something more than the truth that temptation is “common to man.” We need (and have) someone better: God’s faithfulness. That’s why Paul says, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful.” We can depend on God.
So, third, because “God is faithful” during temptation, we can depend on God for a way of escape. Our temptation escape route is built on the unchanging, unwavering, constant faithfulness of God. And this provides abundant encouragement.
Fourth, because “God is faithful” during temptation, we can depend on God for endurance. In other words, God provides escape. Why? “So that you will be able to endure the temptation.” This provides so much encouragement.
No matter the temptation you are facing today—however big or small—find encouragement in the fact that your temptation is “common to man” and “God is faithful!”
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. 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 endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:13