THE WAY OF ESCAPE
No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13
First Corinthians 10:13 is the shining good news in the midst of our fears and concerns about temptation. Where is the escape hatch that Paul is talking about here? In the same place temptation is introduced: in your mind. Every temptation is first a thought introduced to your mind by your own carnality or by the tempter himself. If you ruminate on that thought and consider it an option, you will eventually act on it, and that's sin. The first step for escaping temptation is to apprehend every thought as soon as it steps through the doorway of your mind.
Once you have halted a penetrating thought, the next step is to evaluate it on the basis of Paul's eightfold criterion for what we should think about in Philippians 4:8. Ask yourself, "Does this thought line up with God's truth? Is it suggesting that I do something honourable? Right? Pure? If this thought becomes action, will the outcome be lovely and contribute to excellence in my life? Will other believers approve of my actions? Is it something for which I can praise God?" If the answer to any of those questions is no, dismiss that thought immediately. Don't have anything more to do with it. If it keeps coming back, keep saying no. When you learn to respond to tempting thoughts by stopping them at the door of your mind, evaluating them on the basis of God's Word, and dismissing those which fail the test, you have found the way of escape that God's Word promises.
In contrast, if a thought enters your mind and it passes the Philippians 4:8 test of truth, honour, righteousness, etc, "let your mind dwell on these things" (verse 8) and "practice these things" (verse 9). "And the God of peace shall be with you" (verse 9), which is an infinitely better result than the pain and turmoil which follows when we yield to tempting thoughts and become involved in sinful behaviour.
Thank You, Lord, for providing a way of escape from all my temptations. I am determined to win the battle for my mind.