July 23 I Monday
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” —1 Corinthians 10:13
Choosing in advance not to sin helps us resist temptation, but what do we do when we find ourselves deeply mired by full-grown sin? When feeling totally powerless to face certain temptations, the opening verse can be difficult to accept. Perhaps this is because we want the verse to mean something other than what it says—that God will give us the strength to say “No!” But what this verse says is that God will provide a way out, and it is often in failing to look for it that we fall to temptation.
James gives us a way out when he says, “He [God] chose to give us birth through the word of truth…” (1:18) This is another analogy of birth and conception, and the conception here is the word of truth. Scripture plays an indispensable role in inoculating us against sin. When the devil tempted Jesus in the wilderness, His answer to every temptation was, “It is written….” He also quoted Scripture when facing the tests and condemnation of the Jewish leaders. Jesus did not have to wonder what was right or wrong because He knew the Word of God. If we are not spending time in Scripture, we will backtrack, because that is the most important weapon we have—knowing Scripture, digesting it and meditating on it. David writes, “I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11).
Sometimes the way out requires help from others. Paul instructs, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently” (Galatians 6:1). Accountability—confessing to and supporting our dear friends—is one of the biggest motives we have for staying on track. But when a person is overcome by sin, to simply say, “Well, make up your mind,” is not enough because the problem is usually addictive. We have to understand this is a real battle and a real trap. We must come alongside them gently, not judging or criticizing, but supporting and encouraging them in overcoming their sin.
Many sins are rooted in self-indulgence and one of the more practical antidotes is participating in opposite activities involving generosity and selflessness. Paul gives the example, “Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need” (Ephesians 4:28). This is not trying to balance bad with good. It is taking the ways out God has given us, allowing Him to equip and renew our minds so we can more confidently face our ongoing war with sin.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You that I do not have to face temptation alone. Thank You for the ways out You provide and for giving me the courage and character necessary to take them.