Sometimes it feels like we’re playing a game that we’re destined to lose. As humans, we are weak and vulnerable to temptation and sin. The extra slice of cake, the gossip, the flirty co-worker, the anger, and the curses — they are all common evils that walk with us through our day, awaiting the moments when our weakness overtakes us.
Then there is the devil. He’s whispering in our ear that it’s okay, that we deserve it, that no one will know, that they made us do it. He tempts us with emotion and logic, filling our hearts with lust and hate, and our brains with rationalizations and justifications. And they are all lies.
It seems like the deck is stacked against us. Except that it isn’t. Because for all the temptation and all of our weakness, we are never walking alone. God walks right along with us and we have no greater champion, defender, and protector than Him. No matter how many times the devil presents us with what we think of as an overwhelming temptation, it is never more than we can stand and stand against.
Jesus himself was tempted by the devil and withstood it. Admittedly, He is the Son of God. But, at that time, he was a thirsty, hungry man who had wandered the desert for 40 days (kinda puts that chocolate cake into perspective, huh?). This wasn’t just to show the glory of God, but also to show that we will never be tempted beyond our ability to refuse.
And there will always be an escape hatch. The important thing is to always be looking, to not be blinded by our desire and use it as an excuse for sin. So when that co-worker swings by your desk to flirt a little at the same time as your husband calls, consider it God at work. When the ice cream cone you shouldn’t have bought falls on the floor, that’s a sign. When you’re on the phone with your friend, ready to serve up the latest gossip, and your daughter walks in the room, consider her a Godsend (even more than you already do).
Remember, there is no such thing as innocent sin. That is only a rationalization to get you to the place that the devil wants you. No one sets out to commit a horrible act without first being led up to it. It’s those small steps that bring you to a place that you feel you can’t escape, that leave you despairing that you’ve gone too far and it doesn’t matter now.
But it always matters, and it’s never too late. Like the father who answers the 2am call from his teenage daughter, who snuck out to go to a party she was forbidden to attend, with a boy she was too young to see, and was now drunk and scared and needed help. Like that father, God will always answer that call, and will swoop in for the rescue. Because that’s what fathers do.
Like the father of the prodigal son, there is only relief and happiness at welcoming home that lost son who he feared was lost. God cares for each and every one of us, no matter what has transpired, no matter how many mistakes we’ve made. He will be never allow you to carry more than you can bear, or shoulder the burden alone.
The devil has power in this broken world, but we have power, too. Pray for strength and wisdom. God will not forsake you. He will always be there with an escape hatch ready. Just look for it.
Have you struggled with temptation? What kind of escape hatches has God opened for you? Let me know in the comments.