Temptation is a phenomenon to which everyone is subjected. It is not prejudiced, and it is certainly not convenient. Though we all must deal with temptation, we have no need to sorrow because the Scripture tells us,
The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of Judgment (2 Pet. 2:9).
Through a study of God’s Word, we can properly arm ourselves with the tools to help us overcome “the fiery darts of the wicked” (Eph. 6:16). Consider the following practical hints to help us escape temptation and overcome its power.
The first key to escaping temptation is making the decision to do it. We must realize that, through Christ, we can overcome (Phil. 4:13), and we must be determined to do it no matter what! We must emulate the example of Job and say, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I look upon a young woman?” (Job. 31:1). Instead of waiting until the moment of temptation, Job determined that he would not even entertain the thought of lusting after a woman. Doing this surely helped him to minimize the difficulty of dealing with this temptation. If we determine to do what it takes to escape and overcome temptation, half the battle will already have been won.
One of the best ways to escape temptation is to get as far away from it as possible. When Potiphar’s wife tried to commit sexual sin with Joseph, he ran away so quickly that part of his clothing tore off in her hand (Gen. 39:12). Solomon said,
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 (Pro. 4:14-15).
There is no reason for us to handicap ourselves by intentionally providing ample opportunities to sin. If we know that a particular movie or television show will tempt us to use foul language or think evil thoughts, we should choose not to watch it (Matt. 5:8)! If one is struggling to “put to death” a pornography addiction, then he should take drastic measures, even if it means canceling Internet service or having someone monitor online activity (Col. 3:5- 8). If something is tempting to us, we should run away from it and not allow it to become a stumbling block (1 Cor. 6:18; 1 Tim. 6:10-11; 2 Tim. 2:22).
When Jesus found Peter sleeping in the Garden of Gethsemane, He said, “Watch and pray lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38). Prayer is a powerful ally for the Christian during the time of temptation. Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one…” (Matt. 6:13). Perhaps prayer is one of the things that the Holy Spirit had in mind when He inspired Paul to write,
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 (1 Cor. 10:13).
What better way to escape and overcome temptation than to appeal to the very one who is able to give us the victory?
Lean on God’s Word!
When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness He was able to escape and overcome by using three simple words, “It is written” (Matt. 4:1-11). Jesus understood the value of Scripture in escaping temptation, and He was able to lean upon its Truth to expose and overcome Satan’s lies. You and I must also understand the value of the Word of God and use it to help us escape the various temptations that we face. David said, “Your word have I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Ps. 119:11). If I commit Scripture to memory and make it a part of who I am, I can recall the precepts of God when the battle of temptation is at its most crucial hour. God’s Word is able to give us the strength and guidance we need to escape and overcome each and every temptation we face.
Paul said that God “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Eph. 3:20). Through prayer and careful study and application of God’s Word, we can be the victors and we can escape even the most intense temptation.