Jesus was tempted in all respects just like we are–but He never committed any sin. He is therefore fully able to understand us and sympathize with our weaknesses when we are tempted. And because Christ suffered by being tempted, He is able to give immediate help to any who are tempted. Or as Peter says, “the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations” (II Pe.2:9, NJKV). *Heb.4:15; 2:18*
Scripture makes it clear that there isn’t any temptation that has come our way that is not common to all humankind. Nor is there any temptation too hard for us to bear. God will not let us be tempted beyond what we can stand. He is faithful and will not fail us. He will make a way out. Jesus’ victory over temptation is available to you and to me. God will show us how to endure it, to escape the temptation without falling so that we come through it victoriously. Is it any wonder the Hebrew writer tells us to come boldly into the throne of grace so that we may receive His mercy and find grace to help us when we need it!? *Heb.4:15-16; I Cor.10:13*
Of course the question arises, what are these “ways of escape” when we are tempted? First of all, dealing with any temptation requires radical means that involve self-denial and sacrifice. For example if your eye lures you into sin, Jesus said you should gouge it out and cast it away from you since it’s better to have one part of your body destroyed than to have your whole body thrown into Hell. Or if our right hand entices us to sin we are to cut it off and throw it away since it’s better to lose one of our limbs than to have our entire body go down to Hell. Though we should not take the plucking out and cutting off literally, it does show that our treatment of temptation must be drastic, and whatever the cost. *Mt.5:29-30*
Secondly, we are to flee: “Flee from sexual immorality” (I Cor.6:18). Flee from the eagerness and determination to be rich (I Tim.6:9-10). The apostle Paul tells the church in Corinth to always flee from idolatry and in that way keep away from the worship of idols. When the Israelites were to enter the Promised Land, Moses told them to burn up the carved images of the people’s gods in the Land. And we must not only run from these things but we should run after integrity, a godly life, faith, love, endurance and gentleness (I Tim.6:11). *II Tim.2:22; I Cor.10:14; Dt.7:25*
Thirdly, sometimes we can simply avoid temptation in the first place. “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals’” (I Cor. 15:33, NASB). In other words I should never set foot on or be walking in the way of evil men or women. I must avoid their path, not go near it, not travel on it. I must turn from it and go on my way as Proverbs advises (Pv.4:14-15). Or, “..if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it” (Mt.24:23-26, ESV). Or, in Solomon’s case, when he grew old his foreign wives led him into sin by enticing him and turning his heart to worship their alien gods (Neh.13:26, I Kgs.11:4). Job understood the need to avoid temptation: “I made an agreement with my eyes. I promised not to look at another woman with sexual longing” (31:1, NIRV). “Drink water from your own cistern, and fresh water from your own well” (Pv.5:15, ISV).
So to begin with, three ways of “escaping” when we are tempted are to be radical, to flee and to avoid the temptation in the first place. Are there any other means God has provided to “make a way out?” That will be Part 2 in the next blog.
By Ed Dudek