Temptation Demands the Right Response

By Alistair Begg

God's Word promises us that we will never face a temptation for which he does not provide an exit, an escape route, "so that (we) can stand up under it" (1Corinthians 10:13).

Now this is not a promise we can apply passively. It's a promise of power to escape and overcome any temptation, but we still have to look for the exit. We need to deal decisively with temptation. I find it helpful to have five words in mind as I think about tackling temptation.

1. Deal with temptation immediately. Don't wait until the little stream becomes a raging river that will sweep you away. The moment we become conscious of any sinful thought or desire, we need to ask God to help us reject the suggestion and dismiss it.
2. Deal with temptation realistically. God told Cain, "Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you" (Genesis 4:7). If there is a lion on the other side of the door waiting to pounce on you, you'd better get realistic about the situation before you blithely open the door. Jesus said to His disciples, "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation" (Matthew 26:41).
3. Deal with temptation ruthlessly. I would remind you here of Jesus' graphic metaphors for dealing with sin (Mark 9:43-48). In the Falkland's War, Margaret Thatcher ordered the bombing of the British runway in Port Stanley so as to prevent enemy aircraft from landing. That serves as a useful analogy.
4. Deal with temptation consistently. Establish patterns of resistance.

A sailor on the south coast of England told his chaplain, "Chaplain, you don't understand. You're telling us to walk the straight and narrow path. But you don't realize the temptation we face, the way we're blown and tossed about. We can't really be blamed for what happens to us."

The chaplain drew the sailor's attention to the water, where two sailboats were moving along with their sails flapping in the wind. One was heading west, the other east. The chaplain said, "One boat goes east, one boat goes west. By the self-same winds that blow. It's the set of their sails and not the gales, that determine which way they go."

Do we have our sails set in the direction of obedience to God? If so, we can go the right way, even if the whole world is blown off course. Joseph had set his sails long before Potiphar's wife tried to steer his life onto the rocks.

5. Deal with temptation confidently. The promise of 1 Corinthians 10:13 gives us an unshakable confidence in facing temptation because its terms are absolute.

Remember those old movie Westerns? The cowboys would be trapped in a canyon with the Indians all around them, and it looked like curtains. But then some guy with a cigar stump in his mouth and stubble on his face would say, "Follow me. I have found a way to safety." And off they would go.

Be honest. Did you ever give in to temptation because there was no way of escape? You never did, and neither did I. God always has a way out. The problem comes when we close our eyes to the escape route because we have allowed our desires to overwhelm our reason.

Alistair Begg, The Hand of God (Moody Press) pg. 72-74