One of my favorite verses in dealing with temptation is 1 Corinthians 10:13:
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. (NKJV)
The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. (NLT)
All temptations we face are common to all mankind. Our temptations may seem different than most others, even unique, but the bottom line is they’re the same, they’re common.
And the blessing is that GOD IS FAITHFUL in the midst of our temptations as well as when things are fine. He is faithfully present always with us (I’ll never leave you or forsake you. Hebrews 13:5, Deuteronomy 31:6) (God is a very present help in time of need. Psalm 46:1).
He is there with us to strengthen us with His grace. Jesus knows what we are going through. He went through it Himself, yet without sin (Hebrews 2:18, Hebrews 4:15-16). Hebrews 4:16 tells us to boldly come before the throne of grace that we might obtain mercy and find help in time of need. God wants us to call on Him so that He can release His mercy and grace to help. It’s there but we have to take advantage of it and receive it.
He is faithful in that we won’t be tempted above our ability to resist it (“more than we can stand” as the NLT says). How is that possible? In my past, I gave in almost instantly, it seemed, and now I hear that I can resist it? Overcome it.?
Yes, you can learn to resist temptation. You will learn that “in Christ” you have died to sin (Romans 6:2, 11; 1 Peter 2:24). Sin has lost its power. You don’t have to do it.
When we come to realize that we are caught in a sinful habit we learn we have no power within ourselves to overcome it. But as we grow in Christ and learn what He has done for us on the cross, we find that we can say no to temptation and sin. But it is a learning process. Just as a baby learns to walk, we, too, need to learn to walk in newness of life concerning our new life in Christ and God’s purposes for us.
When we are “in Christ” we’re new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17), we’re born again (John 3:7, 1 Peter 1:23). We were dead in our trespasses and sin BUT GOD made us alive in Christ, saving us by His grace and forgiving us all of our sins (Ephesians 2:4-5, Colossians 2:13).
In the beginning we are babes in Christ (1 Corinthians 3:1). But we can grow. We will grow as we are in Bible reading and studying, prayer, church attendance, small group involvement, etc. It doesn’t happen overnight, BUT GOD IS FAITHFUL! It is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure (Phil 2:16). And the good work He has begun He is faithful to continue until it is complete (Phil 1:9).
And He faithfully provides a way of escape. Sometimes that means fleeing lust (2 Tim 2:22) (turn & run the other way towards God).
Another way is to renew our minds. Roman 12:2 tells us to not be conformed any longer to this world but be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Our natural mind, the old nature, is wired for lustful pleasure, sin & rebellion. But we can renew our mind (retrain it) through the power of God’s Word, His grace and Holy Spirit.
Renewing our minds can involve memorizing Bible verses (Your word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against You. Ps 119:11). Also knowing “who we are in Christ.” That is, to know what God says about us.
Another way is to know the love us God for us and to know Jesus’ love for us. (God so loved the world that He gave us His Son Jesus. John 3:16) (Jesus loved us and gave Himself for us (Galatians 1:3-4, 2:20-21; Ephesians 5:1-2, among others).
One of the first lessons I learned in facing my habitual sin was that there is nothing I can do that will change the love of God for me. I can’t get Him to love me anymore, or cause Him to love me any less. He proved His eternal, unchanging love for me in Jesus Christ
The more we grow in the knowledge and grace of God the more we’ll trust Him. And when temptation comes we will more and more choose to honor God and His love, rather than to give into sin.
Another way is to humble ourselves before God. James 4:7-8 says:
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he’ll flee from you. Draw near to God and He’ll draw near to you.
1 Peter 5:6-7 says:
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
Hebrews 4:17 says:
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (NKJV)
So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. (NLT)
But if (and when) we sin, GOD IS FAITHFULLY there with His mercy and grace to pick us up and let us continue in our walk with Him as we confess and repent of our sin. In John’s first epistle we find:
My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2)
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
Remember this promise of God – that He is faithful in the midst of temptation. Memorize it. Mull it over in your mind. Believe God, trust Him. Greater is He who is in you than He who is in the world (1 John 4:4). Christ in us is our hope of glory (Colossians 1:28).
May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. (2 Peter 1:2 NLT)
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.
NKJV = the New King James version of the Bible.
NLT = the New Living Translation version of the Bible