How To Escape Temptation

How To Escape Temptation

by Bob Burridge ©2010

People love to watch illusionists who seem to escape from locks, chains and ropes. But since it’s just an illusion, they’re not really captives or in need of escape. It’s just entertainment.

There’s a real danger of being taken in by a temptation to where it holds you and hurts you. To escape these temptations, you need to follow God’s advice.

A classic passage is 1 Corinthians 10:13.

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

We could also translate the word temptations as “tests by trial”. They give you a choice either to do right or to do wrong. In a sense everything that comes along is a test. We can respond in ways that either honor God, or in ways that put our own desires above his.

If someone invites you to join them doing something wrong, the right answer is “No.” When you have a chance to do something good, the right answer is “Yes.”

Moral questions put your soul to the test. Your answer will either reveal your obedience to God’s work in you, or the lack of it.

You should be prepared and determined to say “No” when you’re tempted. It may be by some immoral behavior, or to take part in any improper forms of worship. Sometimes it could be to take what’s not rightfully yours, to covet what God gave to someone else, to show disrespect to those God made responsible for you, or to engage in the many other things God says offend him.

Instead, you should make preparations to say “Yes” to the good choices that come along. Don’t pass up a good opportunity to worship, to pray, to keep the Sabbath, to faithfully tithe, to encourage others, to be kind, patient, truthful, and to be a diligent witness for Christ to those who need to hear the gospel.

You can either decide to neglect what God calls you to do, or to obey him. That’s the test.

Thankfully the temptations you face are limited. The words “but such as is common to man” are originally three words: “if not human”. There are no temptations that are not human. They all come from our common fallen nature. The circumstances might differ, but the urges are the same as others have to deal with.

As fallen humans we are weak. If we don’t admit that weaknesses, we will surely fall under the weight of temptation.

God is faithful and provides a way to escape for each temptation that comes along. What we call the means of grace point out the path to overcoming temptation:

1. You need to know what’s right and true by studying Scripture regularly and diligently. His word not only points out what things you shouldn’t be tempted to do. It is also filled with directions that point the way to escape.

For example there are verses like Philippians 4:8 that give practical help.

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

There’s a battle for your mind and affections. That verse tells us that what fills our thoughts shapes our lives and desires. If you think about and expose yourself to things contrary to God’s ways, you will take on those ways and values. If you think about things that honor God regularly, your values will develop properly and help you with self-control and spiritual growth.

The Bible warns that you can’t win the battle with a dead heart. Your efforts and methods will fail unless you have a spiritual birth by trusting in the completed provision made by Jesus Christ. By trusting him for your eternal hope and in nothing else, you become part of the ancient promise and are enabled with spiritual life.

2. You need to pray for God to deliver you from temptation’s grip. Pray whether you feel like it or not. Prayer isn’t just a pious pastime. It’s a means by which God directs his comfort and help into your life.

3. You need to worship faithfully and partake of the Lord’s Supper with expectant confidence. Our Lord established this ordinance promising strength when you rightly engage in it. Be regular in worship where you draw regularly from that source of power.

4. Be encouraged by other believers who share your values and hope in Christ. Have a good network of spiritually mature friends to be there for you when you need them most. When temptation comes along, don’t be among those who will encourage you to sin. Be with those fighting the battle with you to learn to do things God’s way.

By these means there is a sure and sound way of escape.

You need to make sure of these things now so they’re ready when temptations come. Plan just as you would prepare for hurricanes or other storms during threatening seasons. Don’t wait until you’re taken in by lies and dangerous offers. Make your salvation sure now, and start making plans to overcome temptation.

Don’t start looking to God’s word in the time of moral crisis. Start learning it now so you don’t have years of Bible education to squeeze in when a temptation grips you.

Don’t start prayer only when you’re already in deep trouble. Make it your regular habit all through every day to avoid the trouble. Be regular in payer so that your conversation with God doesn’t seem like talk with a stranger.

Don’t wait to go to worship like the hypocrite. They are content to gather with God’s people only when things get rough.

Don’t save making Christian friends for some future time of need. You need to be a brother or sister to them regularly, every day. They will be there for you, and you for them when they need you.

Have an escape plan ready. Have all you need to overcome temptations already active in your life. Have those godly thought habits well established, and good values already guiding you. Have something planned in advance to which you can immediately turn when specific temptations come along. Know exactly what you’ll do or where you’ll go the next time sin’s lure entices you.

If you do, God is faithful to help you to be able to bear up under it.

(Note: The Bible quotations in this article are from the King James Version unless otherwise noted.)

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About Bob Burridge

I've taught Science, Bible, Math, Computer Programming and served 25 years as Pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Pinellas Park, Florida. I'm now Executive Director of the ministry of the Genevan Institute for Reformed Studies

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