I used to be able to do 25 real pushups. Can you believe that? Today, I can do maybe 10, and my face is tomato red when I'm done. It's so strange how our body really does operate on the use-it-or-lose-it system.
The way I see it, resisting temptation is just like doing pushups. When we consistently give in to it--telling ourselves silly lies like it's just too difficult to resist; the only way to make it go away is to give in; it's just this one time--that's when we get wimpy and revert back to our knee pushups. On the other hand, when we actively and routinely choose not to give in to temptation, we build our resistance muscles to be stronger and stronger. Each time we push away, it's like adding one more spiritual pushup to our fitness portfolio.
Sometimes I really do convince myself that there's no way to avoid the temptation I'm facing, and then I feel defeated before I've even sinned! But in those times when we feel like we have no escape, it's important to remember that Jesus is a redeemer, and through Him we have victory over sin--over it's bondage, over the darkness it brings us, and over it's power:
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)
There's always that moment when you know you can escape. You know what I'm talking about: that split-second of awareness that you feel when you're heading somewhere you shouldn't but you haven't quite gone the wrong way yet. I think the more we listen for that voice and respond to it, the more natural it will become for us to resist temptation when it comes.
How do you build up strength against temptation in your life?