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Seeking a Way Out

When either man or animal feels trapped, panic sets in.  It is the instinctive fear of injury or death that prompts the panic response.  Loss of liberty and control over circumstances can lead to desperation. Desperation causes unpredictable behavior, and in the case of man, foolish decisions often result.  If the situation seems hopeless, then despondency sets in along with resignation to an inevitable fate.

The situation just described should never apply to a Christian in the event of temptation.  At the point of temptation, a Christian should be calm and controlled rather than panicked and desperate.  The source of a Christian's peace in the midst of such a storm is the assurance of God that he can escape the trap of temptation without sin.  The word of God gives this assurance in 1Corinthians 10:13:

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

The promise of God concerning temptation is filled with absolutes and certainties that every Christian can trust.  There is no vagueness about these guarantees.  Consider them again carefully.

  • No temptation      is unique.  Every category of      temptation has been previously experienced and overcome by someone else.  The Lord Jesus Himself is the certainty      of this guarantee, for He "has been tempted in all things as we are, yet      without sin" (Heb. 4:15).
  • God is      faithful, which means that we can trust Him in every situation.  He has never broken a promise and is      incapable of telling a lie (Tit. 1:2; Heb. 6:18).  We know for certain that His promises      are true.
  • There will      never be a temptation that exceeds our ability to resist.  The power of Christ in us is greater      than the power of the tempter in the world (1John 4:4).  Through Christ, we have the armor of God      for this battle of resistance (Eph. 6:10-17), so we can always win.  Therefore, we can never excuse our sin      by saying, "The devil made me do      it."
  • There will      always be a way of escape from temptation.       Rather than panicking in the midst of temptation or succumbing,      finding the ever-present way of escape must be our calm focus.  The most obvious path of escape is given      in the next verse after this promise, which is simply to flee from the sin      (1Cor. 10:14).
  •  The end result of these guarantees is      success: "You will be able to endure it."       God has put victory over temptation well within our reach so that we      can have great confidence in the moment of trial.

This promise of God stands and is immutable, but what remains to be seen is whether we will seek the way of escape that God provides.  First, we have to believe that this way exists, and then we have to want to find it.  Moreover, we have to be perceptive enough to realize that we have entered temptation and need to find the way out.  These dispositions come with spiritual maturity, which itself comes by study and practice of the word of God (Heb. 5:11-14).

Too often, we wander farther and farther down the path of temptation, ignoring not just a single way of escape but many such ways.  Consider the young man described in Proverbs 7:6-27 who travels the path to adultery.  How many times did he miss the "off ramp" from the highway to sin?  He started on the wrong path by "lacking sense" rather than abiding in God's wisdom.  He ventured out in the dangerous night rather than staying in the safety of his home.  He foolishly took the street by the adulteress' house rather than some other route.  He fell for the adulteress' provocative clothing, words, and behavior rather than rejecting her as a wicked and dangerous woman.  He followed her to her house rather than running away.  The result was that he committed adultery, and his foolish choices cost him his life.  If we likewise fail to seek and find God's ways of escape, then we will also lose our souls in sin.

Are you actively seeking the way of escape from temptation?  No one seeks to be physically trapped and captured, but many people intentionally walk into tempting situations, close their eyes to the way of escape, and become spiritually ensnared in sin.  May this never be true for Christians.  God provides a way of escape, but He will not physically snatch us from the situation or miraculously intervene.  We must seek the way out, or else we will be trapped in a prison of our own device.

Stacey E. Durham



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