BY JORDAN MAYER
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
(1 Corinthians 10:13)
This past weekend, my brothers and I helped move a refrigerator for a friend. We slid the old fridge out, tipped it over, and proceeded to lift and carry it out the door, down the walkway, and into the driveway. For reference, the fridge was a couple hundred pounds and difficult to navigate through the tight doorways. By the time we lowered the unit to the ground, my arms and hands were ready for a rest! As taxing as it was and despite any pain or soreness I experienced, this task was still within my ability to perform and manage.
In life, we face a whole host of temptations that, in the moment, feel too difficult to endure. Like an unbearable weight on our shoulders, we can feel like we have little choice but to give in. It is in these moments of deepest despair and hopelessness that we must return to the truth of God’s Word. For the way we may feel about the temptations we face is neither the truth nor the reality.
We are reminded, encouraged, and promised that whatever temptations we may face are always within our ability to endure. God never allows temptations into our lives that we are not equipped to handle. This is not to say that it won’t be hard, it may be the hardest task we’ve faced. But we have also been equipped for the battle. God has both empowered us for the battle and provided the strategy.
Yet, we should notice that the strategy we are to employ is not one of standing and fighting, but turning and fleeing. God always provides a way of escape; that is how we endure temptation. We see a similar theme in James 4:7 where we are called to resist and flee. But there we find an equally important piece of the puzzle. Enduring temptation is not merely about saying no to sin, but saying yes to God. As we turn away from sin and temptation, we must simultaneously turn toward God. We are to submit ourselves to God and draw near to Him. And as we draw near to Him, He promises to draw near to us.
The battle against temptation has often been described as a tug of war. We feel the pull of temptation toward sin like a tug upon the rope. If you look at the marks in the ground, you may see some ground has been given up and some ground has been won. We are all prone to stumble and give in to sin. But there was one man who felt the full weight of temptation and yet never gave an inch. This man was Jesus, fully God and fully man, who was tempted in every way, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15). Not only can He sympathize in our hour of need, but He actively intercedes on our behalf (Romans 8:34). He provided the perfect sacrifice so that even in our failures, we can still stand justified before God. This is supremely good news!
So when you feel the strong pull of temptation, remind yourself that you are not fighting a losing battle. That is precisely what the enemy and our own sinful flesh wants you to think. Rather, remember that we have been given a winning strategy. Turn and flee temptation, submit and draw near to God. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16)