It's coming and there ain't no stopping it. Temptation is as certain as federal taxes and ocean tides. No amount of maturity can grow us beyond the reach of temptation. And the only thing we can be sure of is that temptation will hit us at our weakest moment and at our deep area of need.
We only need to read Matthew 4 to realize that Jesus was hit with temptation at a time when he was the most susceptible. But scripture is clear that our Savior is able to "sympathize with our weaknesses". But rather than being fatalistic and assuming that we're certain to fail the test, God's word is equally clear that God will "not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide a way of escape".
There are really just three choices we can make when faced with any temptation, and this applies to every temptation that threatens to pull us off the path and into a ditch of sin.
1. Take It: This usually involves hesitating for a bit and then taking the bait. The problem is that the pain soon follows and the shame can linger until we confess it to God (and others if needed). We usually come away from this experience swearing off being so foolish and the wise ones talk it over with someone who can help in the future.
2. Sample It: Sampling temptation is rarely spoken of but can be a common response. We rationalize that we're not taking the deep dive and that we can easily step away. But this can lead to a cycle of defeat and victory, followed by the same crazy cycle all over again– it never seems to end. The net effect is that our trajectory with God stays flat line. We find ourselves managing sin (or sin managing us) rather than growing in grace and wisdom. When we nibble at the edges of temptation it may not outright kill us, but it sure will certainly stunt our growth.
3. Escape It: It's time to take God at his word. If he says he has "provided a way of escape", it's gotta be there somewhere! Whatever the temptation is, bank on it, there's a hatch to escape the heat of temptation. Here's the deal: By faith, the moment a temptation hit us, ask God to illuminate the way of escape and then look for it. We may have to crawl out, jump out, sprint out, move out or shut it out, but take the way that God has made. By the way, don't worry about tomorrow's temptation, deal with the one you get hit with today and you'll have more wisdom for tomorrow.
Hebrews 4:15, I Corinthians 10:13