The Way Of Escape In Temptation
Let us settle the matter forever — God is faithful. Paul says, “God is faithful . . . also to make a way of escape” (I Cor. 10:13). He is not only able, but He will do it — if we will seek His face, and trust in His blood. While He does permit the enemy to hedge us about occasionally with what seems to be insurmountable walls, yet, He will never allow him to place a roof over our heads.
Thank God, the Christian can always look up for there is help from above. When all other ways are closed, thank God, the upper way is always open! David said, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all” (Psalms 34:19).
While there is no promise of immunity from temptation, yet, there are promises of strength. “Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be” (Deut. 33:25). Paul seems to emphasize the words “a way of escape.” We will never need to endure that which we cannot endure, seeing “God is faithful, who will not suffer us to be tempted above that ye are able.” The way of escape does not always appear before entering into temptation, but it will come in the midst of it. God could have delivered the three Hebrew boys before they were cast into the fiery furnace, but such was not His plan — the deliverance was granted to them in the midst of the fiery flame — so that even a heathen king was compelled to acknowledge the presence of “the form of the fourth is like the Son of God” Who was with them. (Daniel 3:25).
I think that one of the thrills of Heaven will be the privilege to interview Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. If we should ask them about their richest experience while on earth, they would doubtless say it was at “the time when they made it hot for us” — seeing the furnace was made “seven times” hotter “than it was before and God delivered us.” At times the way may seem bleak with darkness, but let us remember that the tunnel is simply the short cut to desired destination. The greater the conflict, the greater will be the victory. And the more intense is the temptation, the more glorious will be the deliverance. Jesus plainly told us that “in the world ye shall have tribulation; Be of good cheer: I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
We are not always shielded from temptation, but “He giveth more grace” (James 4:6). Paul was praying for deliverance from the thorn in the flesh, and Jesus said unto him: “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (II Cor. 12:9). The Apostle Peter says, “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished” (II Peter 2:9). And the mighty Isaiah said, “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him” (Isa. 59:19). What are the weapons that a Christian should use in escaping temptation? While we cannot escape the fact of temptation, yet, we need not despair nor be defeated. Thank God, there is an escape — a marvelous deliverance. How shall we meet temptation in order to escape it? This escape does not mean it is a by-pass to temptation. For Paul says, “Yea, all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (II Tim. 3:12). No, there is no royal road around temptation, but, thank God, there is a marvelous escape, or deliverance. What weapons shall we use to defeat our foe?
1. Watch and pray. Jesus said, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation” (Matt.26:41). To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Be careful to keep off of the devil’s territory. We fear some people actually tempt the devil to tempt them, by trespassing on his territory. They see how near they may walk on the danger line, and by so doing expose themselves to unnecessary temptations. We cannot prevent the enemy from assaulting us, but we can frequently avoid the occasion for temptation by keeping out of the danger zone, and attending strictly to our own business. To play with temptation is to invite defeat. While the Lord delivered Daniel when he was cast into the lion’s den, yet, we do not believe that he would have thus been delivered, if he had deliberately jumped into the lion’s den, as an experiment. We should be as wise as serpents, and as harmless as doves. The weapon of prayer is tremendous in the hour of temptation. Jesus said, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Matt. 7:7, 8). James said, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). It has been said, “Satan trembles when he sees, the weakest saint upon his knees.” By prayer, we receive strength, for the conflicts, and. final deliverance in the hour of temptation. Like the little boy who was being taunted by his schoolmates, and knew that he could not withstand them alone. But having an elder brother in an adjoining room, he would run and call on his big brother for assistance. It is needless to say, that when the big brother appeared on the scene, the tormenting schoolmates would all disappear. We, too, have an “elder brother”, and when we call upon Him in prayer, He always appears on the scene, and the enemy is soon discomfited and put to flight. Here is the reason: “Because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (I John 4:4).
2. Study your Bible. Jesus met temptation, and triumphed over the worst that Satan could hurl at Him. How did He do it? He met Satan with these words: “It is written.” His only weapon of defense was the Word of God which is “the Sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:17). Human arguments and human wisdom are not sufficient. He who is thoroughly equipped and fortified by the Word of God, has the surest way of escape. David said, “Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee” (Psalms 119:11). To meet temptation with a “Thus saith the Lord”, and with an unwavering faith in the promises of God, is the surest way to discomfit the foe, and to bring us to certain victory. Again, the Psalmist says, “His truth shall be thy shield and buckler” (Psalms 91:4). If we will study the Word for soul food, we can be assured of victory over temptation.
3. Have faith in God. Paul says, “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (Eph. 6:16). The fiery darts from Satan, are missiles thrown, as the javelin, spear, arrow, or stone from a sling. The fiery darts perhaps refer to the combustible arrowheads that would set fire to the fortifications, ships, houses, and even the shields of the enemy that was made of wood or leather. To quench these fiery darts, the shields were covered with metal. As applied to the Christian warfare, they refer to evil thoughts, lusts, passions, and temptations of various kinds. This shield of faith is of vast importance to the Christian. We are not only converted and sanctified by faith, but this is the victory that overcometh the world, even your faith (I John 5:4). There has never been any artillery invented in earth or hell, that can penetrate “the shield of faith.” Ever since the Master said, “According to your faith, be it unto you”, this has been the victory that overcometh (Matt. 9:29); (I John 5:4).
All the mighty warriors, whose portraits are hung up in the gallery of fame — the eleventh chapter of Hebrews — obtained their “good report through faith” (Hebrews 11:11-39). Jesus said, “With God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:-26), and “All things are possible to him that believeth” (Mark 9:23). Thus you can see, that faith couples us up with the arms of Omnipotence, and assures the Christian of triumph over the foe. Peter said, “kept by the power of God through faith” (I Peter 1:5). The “shield of faith” makes the Christian invulnerable, invincible, and unconquerable. “By faith we stand” says Paul (II Coin. 1:24).
Since there is a way of victory over temptation — regardless of the circumstances — there can be no reasonable excuse for failure or defeat. Again, let me remind you of what Paul said: “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above ye are able — but will with the temptation also make a way of escape” (I Cor. 10:13). With this assurance, the soul that is buffeted and beaten by Satan, can meet temptation in “quietness and confidence,” knowing that the greater the conflict, the more glorious will be the victory. So then, with Paul, we can say, “Thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ” (II Cor. 2:14). Let us remember that regardless of the severity of the temptation, we can lean on Jesus. The poet expressed this wonderful truth in these beautiful words: In every condition — in sickness, in health; In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth; At home and abroad; on the land, or on the sea–As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be. Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed, For I am thy God, and will give thee aid; I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand, Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand. The soul that on Jesus still leans for repose, I will not, I will not desert to his foes; That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.