Do you remember Flip Wilson? He starred in a comedy TV show back in the early 1970s. On his show, Flip Wilson often played a character named Geraldine Jones who, whenever her wrongs were exposed, would adamantly and vociferously declare, “The devil made me do it!”
To this, I respond with a deep theological truth: Baloney! Yes, I know that one of Satan’s manipulative and evil roles is as tempter. And tempted we will be. Yet, God has given each one of us the freedom to choose whether or not we will give in to temptation. I alone am responsible for my sin. You alone are responsible for your sin. But! We are not alone in our experience of temptation.
God’s Word tells us that the seizing grip of temptation is common to all. Temptation grabs at all of us and rears its ugly and enticing head to every one of us. Still, we can often feel like we are all alone, even desperately so, in our struggle against the power of temptation. This sense of aloneness that can overtake us is a LFTPOH – a Lie From The Pit Of Hell. Not only do others wrestle in their minds, bodies and spirits with similar temptations, but God also promises us that we are never left alone in our struggles. Our God is with us. And He has the power to lead us out of, and away from, the crush of temptation – if we will choose to be led by Him, in His way.
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, God will also provide a way out so that you can endure [stand up under] it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13
Even when we are facing our most fierce, gripping and crushing temptations, we will always have a choice about whether to sin or not to sin. We are not left alone in the battle against temptation. Never. Our God is with us. Always. Our God always provides a way out from giving in to our sinful cravings. God always gives us the choice to say, “No!” to sin by the power of His Love, Word and Spirit.
The way out is to say, “Yes!” to standing up in obedience to God. To say, “Yes!” to standing up in trusting God’s love. To say, “Yes!” to standing up in God’s freedom and power. God Himself provides the way out from our giving in to the gripping, life-crushing influence of temptation. Always. The way out, of all temptation, is for each of us to choose God and His good ways for our lives.
I know that those (all too often) times when I choose my own way – when I choose to give in to temptation and choose to give in to the lure and the selfish-satisfaction of sin – it is not because I have no choice. It is not because someone else or, even, “the devil made me do it.” It is not because I can’t do anything other than sin in that moment. Rather, it is because I won’t do anything other than sin in that moment. I ignore and reject God’s way out.
Standing up in God’s love and power is the way out that God always provides for us to conquer the crush of temptation. This is also the way in to being filled with God’s peace, joy and freedom as we say, “Yes!” to obeying God’s loving and protective ways.