These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 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 10:11-13
“Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is.”
- C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
These two quotes seem to be opposites and yet they both describe the Christian condition. God has provided a way out. We can bear the temptation. We can resist and with practice we can endure it, but only through God’s strength.
People think they are minimizing the strength of Satan by saying, “The only thing that Satan can do is tempt.” I have said that before, but C. S. Lewis’ quote is oh, so true. You never know how strong temptation is until you attempt to resist it.
The guy who eats two much chocolate says he can quit any time he likes. Then between having his hand in the box of chocolates and having his hand in the box the next time (forget counting first, second, third – he has no idea), and after saying what he did, his hand stops, but only for a few seconds. It took him that long to decide that NOW was not the time when he likes the idea of quitting.
I knew a young man who finally, after more than a decade of trying every remedy in the book, he finally quit smoking. He was clean for about 5-6 years. Then some medical issues, job stresses, and financial woes happened. To cope with this new set of attacks from Satan, he started vaping. When he had little money in which to put food on the table, buying the tools for vaping was more important. He could have turned to God. He has a marvelous testimony, but had he grown in the faith since his conversion, at least enough to handle such temptations during the hard times? Some think that Satan only attacks the ones who eat-drink-and-sleep Jesus, but since they do not do that, they don’t even realize when Satan has attacked them, and in some cases, defeated them. While some think vaping is not as bad as smoking, there is less known about lifelong use. Regardless, it is a worldly coping mechanism to cope with the result of giving in to temptation as opposed to gaining strength from God to resist and fight temptation.
And I am like most in the crowd. Fighting is just that, fighting. I have been military trained at fighting. Fighting is hard work. I have probably never been closer to total mental, physical, and emotional collapse than when I have spent an entire day, and maybe all night, fighting, Army style. Who wants a steady diet of fighting? You know Satan is not going to stop.
But maybe then the question should be, do you want to live the rest of your life defeated?
God will indeed give us the strength and the tools to resist temptation.
I think one of my favorite “methods” of resisting temptation is my casual prayer style, just talking to God, rather than leaving God out of things until I have a formal setting for prayer. When the temptation arrives, I get a voice saying something like, “Really?!? You cannot remember from yesterday (or last week or last month) how much of a problem that caused?”
I get that a lot when I walk past the bag of chocolate mini eggs each day. No. I usually get, “Those are for a sugar kick after a hearty breakfast. It is no longer breakfast time.” And the bag remains unopened for the rest of the day after breakfast.
Do I fail? Oh, yes, at more things than simply eating too many sweets. Like C. S. Lewis said, you only know how strong temptation is when you try to resist – especially when you lose that one-on-one conversation with Jesus, just for a few seconds.
But remember that God fulfills His promises. There is a way to resist the temptation, and those “muscles” grow stronger as you exercise them more. You must be willing to be disciplined.
Hmmm. A disciplined disciple. That makes sense.
Oh! And Happy Valentine’s Day.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.