"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. "
~ I Corinthians 10:13 ~
Awhile back we had a super long staff meeting at work. It was our annual meeting scheduled to last all day as we evaluated and discussed the bulk of our programming and events from the summer months. When you work at a Bible camp, there is always a lot going on in the summer and so there is always a lot to discuss. After our lunch break, a co-worker brought in a couple plates of cookies and randomly set one of them down where I was sitting. These weren’t just any cookies. I worked in a bakery for four years. After you bake a few hundred chocolate chip cookies in a single day for days on end, you start to lose your appetite for them. I could have ignored chocolate chip cookies. What was set before me were cranberry white chocolate cookies.
We get the same frozen cookie dough at camp we did at the bakery. I know these cookies. These are not easy cookies to resist. I took one and then pushed the plate purposefully out of my reach. The next day my co-worker commented on how I pushed the plate away. I explained that pushing the plate away was the only way I could resist the temptation to eat the entire plate of cookies before we wrapped up the meeting at the end of the work day.
Everyone faces some temptation which is hard to resist. Maybe, like me, you have a sweet tooth which makes it hard to pass up cookies and candy. Or maybe you can’t resist the urge to add to a collection you have started. Maybe you struggle with gossiping about others. Everyone is tempted by something which isn’t healthy for our mind, body, heart, or soul. You are not alone in facing temptation. I Corinthians 10 reminds us of this fact: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is COMMON TO MANKIND.”
Even Jesus was tempted. During his 40 days in the desert, he was tempted by Satan three very specific times. Satan tempted Jesus to misuse his power as the divine Son of God (to make stones into bread to eat), to misuse the promises of God (that the angels would lift him up if he threw himself off the temple), and to walk away from an eternal purpose for a temporary, earthly reward (worship Satan and be rewarded with all the earthly kingdoms). Each time Jesus rebuked him with Scripture, speaking God’s truth over the temptation he was facing.
It’s a story you are likely familiar with but I want to invite you to take a moment and read the story for yourself (Luke 4:1-13). Did you happen to catch an important, often overlooked detail in verse one? Jesus didn’t face temptation on his own, he faced temptation “full of the Holy Spirit.” Jesus was not alone in the desert. The Holy Spirit was with him.
The Holy Spirit is also with you and me today. When we face temptation, not only is there some other person who is also facing temptation we can look to for support and understanding, but we also have the power of the Holy Spirit to help us resist temptation.
Resisting temptation isn’t something which comes easily for most of us. But if we read on in I Corinthians 10, we can hold onto to the promise that it is possible to resist. God won’t let us get in over our heads. God isn’t going to set us up for failure and allow a temptation which will be impossible to resist come into our lives. God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, will always provide a way for us to say no to what tempts us. But we have to ultimately make the choice to say no.
So how can we make it easier on ourselves to resist temptation? What are some practical tips and tricks which make it easier to say no?
Remove the temptation from your line of sight. There is a lot of truth to the statement “out of sight, out of mind.” It’s a lot harder to resist that delicious candy bar if you don’t have to look at it.
Put an obstacle between you and the temptation. You are less likely hit the snooze alarm and go back to sleep if you have to get completely out of bed to shut off the alarm to start with!
Get a friend to help and encourage you. EVERYONE understands how challenging it can be to resist temptation. If you are having a hard time saying no to something, talk to a trusted friend who can encourage you, support you, and help you try again when you aren’t as successful as you’d like to be.
Celebrate the small steps. Don’t wait until you are cured of a temptation to celebrate overcoming it. Celebrate each time you say no on your journey to overcoming your temptations. Write down those times you said no when it was particularly hard so you remember your victories. The more you experience (and remember) your success in resisting temptation, the more motivated you will be to resist the next time.
Resisting temptation is rarely a fun or easy task but with the power of Holy Spirit, it is possible. So what temptation will you resist today?
Think about a time when you resisted temptation in your life in a significant way. What helped you resist? How can you remind yourself of your past success when it becomes hard to resist again in the future?
Study the story of how Jesus was tempted in the desert. What can you learn by really digging into the story? Try this online resource as starting place for a more in depth study of Jesus’ temptation in the desert.
One of the key things to note about Jesus resisting temptation is that he used truth from scripture to refute what Satan was saying. Take the time to memorize some important truths from scripture which will remind you to turn to God and use the power of the Holy Spirit in resisting temptation. Check out this list as a great place to start.