It’s late in the evening, the house is quiet, you’re minding your own business, and then it starts. At first it’s subtle, just a little whisper in your ear, and you pretend not to notice. You try to distract yourself with a hobby or the TV.
You promised yourself that you would not give in tonight! Tonight will be different! Tonight you will resist. Tonight you will have victory. Tonight you will say, “No!” And mean it!
But, you know it’s there. You can’t stop thinking about it. The craving starts to take over your thoughts and your body. You want it. You turn and look in its direction.
“No!” you tell yourself. “Don’t give in! Think of something else!”
But nothing else comes to mind and you start to bargain with yourself. “Stand firm.” “Just a little.” “No.” “Just enough to satisfy the craving tonight; tomorrow, I’m through.” “Don’t go there.” “Tomorrow will be different.”
What do you crave? What is it that calls your name in your weakest moments? Why can’t it be broccoli, or exercise, or a good friend? Why can’t it be something helpful, not harmful? Why can’t it be something that will make you feel better about yourself tomorrow? Why can’t it be something that will help you move forward in your goals?
Why do I so viciously want that which is so viciously bad for me?
The temptation is not as much the problem as the giving in to it is. Why is it so hard to resist the desire, the craving, the temptation? Why is it that self-control seems to vanish when temptation moves in?
God tells us that we don’t have to give in. He tells us that we are not unique in our fight — that temptation is not unique to you or to me.
“If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show a way out so that you can endure.” – 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 NLT
What!?! Well, clearly this doesn’t apply to me; this is for the super-spiritual Christians – you know the one’s who have their entire lives put together. The ones who live on a holier plane than I do. The ones who lead the Bible studies and the Sunday School classes. The preachers, teachers, elders, and deacons.
Or does it?
God says my temptation will not be more than I can stand. Really? Then why am I not able to withstand? In all honesty, perhaps I don’t know how long I can stand. Perhaps I’m afraid to find out. Perhaps I want what I crave more than I want to hold out. Perhaps I’m so afraid of holding out a bit longer, and then failing, that I simply give in while the territory is familiar.
I wonder what is beyond how far I’ve held out in the past. I wonder if that will change me. I wonder if I resist the temptation this time, will it be easier to resist it in the future. I wonder if I will stop craving what I’m craving. I wonder if I’ll crave it more.
God says he will show me a way out so that I can endure. What does that look like? Is it an accountability partner that I can call? Is it adding something new (and good) to fill the void that opens up when I resist the old (and not so good)?
The promise of a way out is preceded by a warning to anyone who thinks he/she is able to stand firm on his/her own. You can’t and I can’t. Only when we realize that we can’t stand firm on our own do we flee to God. God will show us the way out. He will enable us to fight. We will stand firm.
“Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” – Ephesians 6:13-15 NLT
“So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you.” – James 4:7 NLT
The battle is not easy, but it is winnable. Will you arm yourself for battle tonight?
Will you fight with the weapons God provides? Will you stand firm?