Links Daily Devotional

The Fight Against Temptation, Part 1

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, NIV)

You can see it so clearly stretched out in front of you. The run of fairway, the lake in front, and the green beyond. It’s just far enough and just dangerous enough to require your best shot. But if you can pull it off, a nice reward awaits. A two-putt birdie. Maybe an eagle.

This is the golfer’s common temptation. Even if you’re not a big hitter going for a par-5 in two, you’ll be faced with those right-on-the-edge decisions. Pull it off and they’ll call you daring. Plunk it in the water and even if they’re kind enough not to say it, you’ll sure think it: dumb.

Life has its temptations, too. We might call them lures of the flesh: shiny golf clubs, sharp new clothes, a sleek car, rich food, drugs, drink, illicit sex, pornography. All come with the potential to distract, some with the threat to destroy.

These temptations aren’t new or unique. Today’s passage calls the temptations we face “common to mankind.” We all face such urges. And sooner or later we all give in—not so much because we can’t resist, but because we don’t really want to.

The trouble is that many temptations, when yielded to, bring harm. Webster’s Dictionary defines temptation not only as a desire to have or do something but “especially something that is bad, wrong, or unwise.” It’s easy to see our enemy, Satan, in that definition. He wants to deceive us, to attract to things that damage our relationship with God.

But the promise is that God is faithful and will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. Even when the enemy truly is “out to get us,” God is there providing a buffer between the desires of our flesh and what is good for our spirit.

One way God prevents us from giving in is through perspective. Pastor Kenton Beshore suggests a great strategy for considering temptation: Before you act on the temptation in front of you, look all the way to the end of that temptation. Who will be impacted by your decision? And how? If you can look ahead and picture the outcome of giving in to this temptation, many times you will be able to say no.

Admittedly, this is easier to do when the temptation is to do something “big”—that is, with great potential for significant damage, to ourselves, to our loved ones, to our relationship with God. “Small” temptations is a matter we will take up tomorrow. But for now, let’s not concern ourselves with dividing out temptations. For there is danger in that, too. By quibbling over how big a temptation really is (and how great the downside), we can lose sight of the truth of today’s passage: God is always big enough. Big enough to call upon. Big enough to hear. Big enough to supply the strength we need to stand in faith even when standing is the last thing we want to do.

In God we can endure. In God we have a way out. Remembering this truth is the essential step in meeting any temptation and outlasting its seduction.

Dereck Wong and Jeff Hopper
October 13, 2014
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