What Does the Bible Mean by 'No Temptation Has Overtaken You'?
Are you human? (Hopefully, the answer is yes.) Well, I need to let you in on something. You will be tempted. Temptation has been part of the human experience since the very beginning and will remain until Jesus comes back. Whether you are saved or unsaved, in the pulpit or the pew, walking with Jesus for 40 years or started walking with him yesterday, it doesn’t matter. Temptation will be part of your life. The issue is how you deal with it. With that, I want to look at a scripture that will hopefully bring you light and encouragement as you deal with this reality of life.
Where Does the Bible Say, 'No Temptation Has Overtaken You'?
In 1 Corinthians, Paul makes this statement about temptation.
“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.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Paul begins this passage by discussing Israel’s history and how many Israelites set their hearts on evil things and paid the price for their sinful choices. The passage reminds us to be mindful of our choices, especially the decisions to sin—because sin comes with consequences, and some consequences cannot be reversed. He also admonishes us not to be overconfident, thinking we are above the fray of falling. No one is. After giving us this warning, Paul states in verse 13 that no temptation has overtaken you. In context, this statement encourages us, by pointing to temptation’s reality and yet to the truth of God’s faithfulness amid temptation.
Where Does Temptation Come From?
We know temptation is tied to our sinful nature. Even after we are saved, desires remain in our flesh that conflict with our spirit’s desires. Here is how Galatians describes the struggle:
“For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want” (Galatians 5:17)
The book of James gives us further context.
“When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:13-14)
If we are honest, evil and sinful desires do dwell within our fleshly nature. When we face temptation, our fleshly, sinful nature is crying out for something to satisfy it. The question surrounding temptation is whether you will indulge in the flesh’s desires. I do want to be clear that temptation alone is not sin. You are not sinning when you are tempted. However, you are not using wisdom when you place yourself in situations where you can be tempted. True wisdom recognizes areas you are more vulnerable to being tempted and works to strengthen those areas while avoiding being in places where you could fall. Everyone has areas of temptation. One of my past articles, “The Top 5 Temptations Men Face,” highlights areas of temptation common to all men.
How Does God Help Us When We Are Tempted?
1 Corinthians 10:13 truly gives us hope. What I love about the verse is Paul acknowledges we will all be tempted when he makes the statement no temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. He then follows it up with the words that should bring you encouragement: “… and God is faithful.”
The hope we have in dealing with temptation and overcoming it is that God is faithful. This means God is present to help when temptation comes knocking at your door. I will share some practical steps in a moment to deal with temptation. Before that, you must know that God desires to help you when tempted.
He desires for you not to succumb to temptation and fall into sin. His desire exceeds your desire—because he knows the damage sin can cause in your life. That’s why you experience a tug of war when you are tempted. That is the battle going on between your flesh and your spirit. The Holy Spirit is trying to move you away from sin, and your flesh is trying to move you towards it. However, because God is faithful, he will always work to keep you from succumbing to temptation. As Paul details in Galatians 5, the Holy Spirit performs the task of working against temptation.
“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16)
When your life is empowered by God the Holy Spirit, you will be able to fight off the desires of your flesh because he will help you do it.
What Should We Do When Experiencing Temptation?
Since we know that temptation will come, how do we respond when it does? I want to give you some practical advice here because even though this is a spiritual battle, you can do some things to help yourself in the process.
Strategy 1: Avoid Temptation
One of the best ways to overcome temptation is to avoid it. One of the reasons people often fall into sin is because they put themselves in places where they can be tempted. A great example of this is Samson. When you read his story in Judges 16, you will see he fell in love with Delilah. Even though her intention to subdue him must have become clear, Samson never separated from her, which led to his downfall. You must be honest; there are people, places, and things in your life that you need to avoid because they are not good for you. Their very presence generates temptation. You must learn to separate yourself from these things.
Strategy 2: Run Away from Temptation
The next strategy to deal with temptation is to run. Joseph practiced this method in Genesis 39. When Potiphar’s wife made her intentions clear, he avoided her. When she confronted him, he ran. Running from temptation is especially necessary if you face sexual temptation. There is a part of Joseph’s story we don’t often think about or talk about: Joseph was a young man, which means he had sexual desires. I am not saying he sought to indulge in them, simply recognizing they were present. Though sexual desire is normal as it is part of human nature, Joseph knew he could not engage in sexual behavior with Potiphar’s wife—doing so would sin against God. To keep himself from this temptation, he avoided her. When she made her advance, he fled. Sometimes the Bible tells us to stand and fight. However, when it comes to temptation, especially sexual temptation, sometimes the best way to handle it is to run. Here is Paul’s advice in 1 Corinthians.
“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18)
When it comes to temptation, you don’t have to be a hero. It is okay to run if that is the only way to prevent yourself from giving in.
Strategy 3: Look for the Exit Ramp to Escape Temptation
When I return to 1 Corinthians 10:13, I remember its promise of God’s faithfulness. God says when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. When you face this temptation, look for the exit God will be faithful to provide. Remember temptation is not sin; it is what you do with it that makes it sin. Because God has no desire for you to sin, there will be an exit ramp, so you don’t have to indulge in sin. The next time you face temptation, look for the exit ramp, because you will find it.
I want to tie this all together for you with one sentence. Temptation is real, but God is faithful. Do your part to avoid temptation. Still, if you find yourself in a situation where you are tempted, know God is faithful to help you get out of it. God is rooting for you.
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Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. He has also just released his new book The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. Do you want to go deeper in your walk with the Lord but can’t seem to overcome the stuff that keeps getting in the way? This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.
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