Temptation is a struggle faced by every child of God. Unpleasant as they are, temptations provide a necessary component to our spiritual development. Were it not for temptation, there would be no particular virtue in doing good. There has never been, nor will there ever be, a human being beyond temptation. Even Jesus was tempted (Mt. 4:1; Hb. 4:15). How can we handle temptation in such a manner as to escape its dangers and secure its blessings?
The fundamental principle for winning over temptation is faith in the power of God. Peter warns us that Satan, our adversary, “prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). But, the firm resistance of faith will defeat our enemy (1 Pet. 5:9; Jas. 4:7). Even the strongest among us face temptation. However, temptation is not sin. It is only when we yield to temptation that we transgress the will of God.
Our resource for help when tempted is beautifully described by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:13 where he writes, “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, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13). In this passage, Paul describes the beautiful two-fold promise of God’s providential aid in times of temptation.
First, there is the promise that we will not be tempted beyond our ability to endure. Peter told his readers that “the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation” (2 Pet. 2:9). God knows your breaking points and will not allow Satan access beyond what you are able to handle. At the same time, we have a God-given responsibility to fortify ourselves against Satan’s attack (Eph. 6:13; Tit. 2:11-12).
Second, there is the promise that, with the temptation, God will provide the way of escape. A successful plan of action varies from circumstance to circumstance. Sometimes we are strengthened against temptation by sharing in the experiences of others who have successfully battled the same temptation. Other times, we must flee from the temptation (2 Tim. 2:22). And, still other situations call for us to stand and fight (Jas. 4:7). But, regardless the circumstance, temptation always requires prayer and reliance on God (Mt. 6:13; 26:41).