How Can We Overcome Temptations?

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but 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 Corinthians 10:13).

In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul goes back to the wilderness migration of the Israelites. God had brought them out of Egyptian slavery with a mighty hand and wanted to lead them to Canaan, the Promised Land. Travelling through the brutal wilderness, they encountered many hardships, struggles, conflicts, and tribulations, and in the midst of unexpected encounters, there were disappointments, discouragements, discontentment, reluctance, and criticism, which was a fertile ground for the tempter to sow his seed. Satan tempted the people to rebel against Moses and Aaron and to be disobedient, resentful, and indignant against God. The cunning enemy used the situation and the external circumstances to his advantage, and they did not fail to have an effect. Instead of resisting the devil, they allowed his influence to flourish until the Israelites had sinned heavily against God. They allowed themselves to be drawn into idolatry and fornication with foreign nations and continually grumbled against God and His laws. Finally, the Lord said: “It is a people who go astray in their hearts, and they do not know My ways” (Psalm 95:10). 

In 1 Corinthians 10:5, the apostle writes: “But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.” At the same time, he explains that this was written as an admonishment for future times and as a warning for us. We are to learn a lesson from this as we will also go through rough and stormy times and be tempted in various ways. The clever tempter knows our predispositions and how to take advantage of good opportunities to invade our lives with his well-thought-out temptations.  

Peter, who himself had been severely tempted, warned his readers, saying: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (1 Peter 5:8-9). In one of the last warnings Jesus relayed to His disciples, He said: “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation!” (Matthew 26:41a)  Satan will use any method to plunge people into sin. He comes with veiled intentions, but purposefully, to get people under his will. Through tempting, harmless whispering, he tries to gain our attention and blind us. Then he tries to numb our conscience and remove the inner inhibitions and all concerns. If successful, he employs every effort to direct our will to the beautifully-disguised and harmlessly-portrayed sin and have us approve it. If approval has been granted, sin has occurred; the tempter has overpowered us and achieved his goal. This is the usual process for every temptation, and those who do not take a stand against it will face accusations, stress, suffering, and pain.

However, we want to be very clear that a temptation in itself is not yet a sin. In any case, it is a perilous, preliminary step to sin! Many people don’t know how to distinguish between a temptation and sin and place them on the same level.  Our Lord Jesus was repeatedly tempted. Nevertheless, the Bible tells us that no sin was found in Him. Peter confirmed it when he said: “Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth” (1 Peter 2:22). Those who equate temptation with sin must also believe that Jesus sinned, which would be a total contradiction to the Word of God.  Jesus had prepared His disciples that temptations would be inevitable, but just as the temptations were not a sin for Him, so they don’t have to be a sin for us! In any case, it can quickly become sin if one does not resist the tempter and gives consent to sin.  

One can compare a temptation to an open door where one is lured to enter into a sinful area. In this case, each of us is faced with a decision. Then it is entirely up to us how we behave and what we will do. Every temptation involves an inner struggle, and on it depends if we have victory or if we lose! The end result of this struggle is important, and it is up to us to decide whether we want to be faithful to the Lord or be subject to the will of Satan. Our temptations can sometimes be severe and difficult, but 1 Corinthians 10:13 gives us the wonderful promise: “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!” You can only be victorious with Christ; therefore, in His name and with firm belief, dare to resist the tempter, and you will keep the victory!

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