The apostle Paul gave the following encouragement. 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” As long as you are in the flesh, it is possible that you will fall into sin. You may think that you are doing well, but if you let your guard down, sin might be just around the corner. James described the sin process in James 1:13-15 “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” It is important to note that being tempted is not sin. All of us are tempted at times. Even Jesus was tempted by the devil when in the wilderness (Matthew chapter 4). We are told in Hebrews 4:15 “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” You sin when you yield to temptation. Jesus, our High Priest, did not yield to temptation, nor should you or I. The apostle Paul said that God will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. Let us look at some strategies for avoiding or overcoming temptation.
Be careful in choosing your friends and others with whom you spend time. 1 Corinthians 15:33 “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.’” The wrong kind of companions will encourage you to follow their evil ways. Without thinking, you may copy their bad habits or bad language. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” If possible, avoid evil companions.
Avoid trouble spots. A former alcoholic would be unwise to go into a bar where everyone is drinking. Proverbs 4:14-15 “Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn away from it and pass on.” Any place or situation where you previously sinned is a place or situation where you might be tempted to sin again.
Resist the devil. James 4:7 “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Tell the devil “No!” You have given your life to Jesus. You are not going to do what he wants. If you are strong enough to resist the devil like Jesus did in Matthew 4, James says that he will flee from you.
Run, if necessary. In Genesis 39, we read about Joseph who was propositioned by Potiphar’s wife. She caught him by his garment; he left his garment in her hand and fled and ran outside. You may have to do the same. 1 Corinthians 6:18 “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.” It might be necessary for you to run or flee from a potential sin.
Put on the armor of God found in Ephesians 6:13-18. The armor includes truth, righteousness, the message of the gospel, faith, salvation, the word of God, and prayer. Each of the articles of the armor are needed to avoid sin.
In Matthew 4, Jesus used scripture to combat the devil. You should memorize scripture that will help you when you are tempted. Then, quote the scripture to yourself. Such a scripture might be Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Or 1 Corinthians 16:14 “Let all that you do be done with love.” Then ask yourself “Am I acting in love?”
Pray for God’s grace and strength. When Jesus was tempted in the Garden of Gethsemane, He prayed and God sent an angel from heaven, strengthening Him. He also told his disciples to pray lest they enter into temptation. Mark 14:38 “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Jesus taught us in the Lord’s Prayer to pray to God about temptation. Matthew 6:13 “And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” Hebrews 4:15-16 “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Prayer is important to receive God’s help in overcoming temptation and avoiding sin.
Remember what God has done for you to redeem you. 1 John 4:19 “We love Him because He first loved us.” When you love Him, you will want to be strong and overcome temptation so that you may please Him. Titus 2:11-12 “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.” Remember God’s grace to you.
God did not promise to take away temptation. Instead he promised to provide the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. God is faithful; you can trust Him. I encourage you to seek the way that he has provided so that you can escape and bear the temptation. James 1:12 “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” Go for the crown of life.