“So when the devil had completed every temptation, he departed from him until a more opportune time.”
1 Corinthians 10:13
“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.”
“The devil made me do it”. “I couldn’t help myself”. “I wanted to do it”. Ever said similar things? Mankind’s tendency is to rationalize why we do the things we do. Paul understands. He battled with the flesh, too, and left us excellent advice on the subject in the book of Romans.
The key is in the word, “battle”. Many times we do not recognize that we are indeed in a battle, whether we want to be or not. Doing nothing is doing something. Resisting temptation is not enough when the forces of evil are seeking to plummet our walk with God. Having a good offense and storing God’s Word as well as praising God in the midst are excellent tools to have in our arsenal, but we also must exercise our will by the grace of God in the midst of our moments of temptation.
I find it ironic that “Truthful Tuesday” was on my heart today, when my youngest child was writing the verse from Psalm 34:13 for me 100 times – “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies”. Convincing my son that lying is not the solution to his problem with sin is a challenge. Yet, just like his forefathers, he attempts to cover up his iniquity with excuses or falsehood. We could never cover up all our transgressions nor face the temptations that come our way if it were not for the grace of God and the His covering of our sins by His own blood.
So who is to blame? Certainly the enemy’s hand is ready to make us stumble. Our own flesh,too, fully corrupt in its desires, is prone to influence us toward it’s will. As humbling as it is to admit, we ourselves are deceived if we think we have triumphed over temptation. It is not a once and done deal. Hence the need for our dependence on God in relationship with Him.
When I was reading again of Christ’s victory over satan’s temptations, the words, “he departed from him until a more opportune time” stood out to me. Christ approached his temptation with fasting and prayer and overcame. Yet his time of dealing with the evil one was not over. He would undergo temptation to the point of sweating blood and deny self in every way, providing salvation for the entire world. He was fully God and fully man and it was not easy.
In our culture, our goal can often be to take the easy route, to pursue comfort. Such an endeavor is fertile ground for temptation to woo its victims. Catering to the flesh fosters growth of that same flesh and will make it much more difficult to quiet its demands when tempation seizes its next opportunity. We must never take the stance that we are done with temptation. God’s salvation opened the door to our heart to discern sin, but we must be watchful and in prayer, so that we might continually be overcomers in Christ.
Lord, give us a holy fear to stay ever close to you. Help us to recognize when we are being tempted and to flee all temptation, running to Your perfect arms.