Some mornings as I sit down to process through my readings, I get sidetracked. This form of sidetracking isn’t by glancing at e-mails or Facebook, texting with a friend, or anything like that (although I confess that does happen far too often). In this particular instance, I’m referring to getting sidetracked by a verse that isn’t really part of the “point” for the day.
Then again, maybe it is. God has a funny way of doing that.
This week, the distraction was a passing devotional reference to a verse in Hebrews. It’s easy for me to get lazy and just ignore passing references like that, so years ago I determined to be intentional about looking up those references every time. Here’s what I read when I looked up this particular verse:
For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. Hebrews 2:18 NASB (emphasis mine)
As I read these verses, I realized that I’ve always had an incomplete foundation when it comes to temptation. Had I ever stopped to process my understanding of how we are to biblically handle temptation, I would have realized that my foundation lacked something. But, until this week, I never gave it a second thought.
Here’s the foundation I’ve always had:
- James 1 teaches that temptation is not of God, and I must flee it.
- 1 Corinthians 10:13 shows me that God will provide a way of escape from temptation.
- I still fall to temptation, but the blood of Jesus covers me, and I can come before Him in repentance and receive forgiveness even when I do not take the way of escape.
But, looking at Hebrews 2, there’s something else I was missing. Another crucial truth: I don’t have to run away on my own strength. I don’t have to find the escape with my own clouded vision. Jesus is able (and therefore willing) to come to my aid!
That is so logical. It’s so clear. It’s nothing really new. Yet, how often do I act on it?
I confess, often when I’m struggling against temptation, I feel too weak to even look for the way of escape. But my precious Savior has not left me to do it on my own. He is ready and able to help. I just have to call on Him.
He is my way of escape.
We cannot fight temptation on our own. We do not have the strength. (If we did, we wouldn’t need Christ’s salvation.) Only with the Spirit living within us can we walk through the escape provided. But in the ugliness of our temptation, we don’t feel able or worthy or permitted to call upon the purity that is Jesus Christ.
But oh how opposite from truth that is!
No, we’re not worthy. But even at our best we lack worth. And able? It only takes a plea for help! Oh, and the most glorious part is that we’re not only permitted, we’re invited. Welcomed. Encouraged. Admonished. Instructed. Commanded, even, to call upon Jesus.
And how do we remember that in the throes of temptation? How do we fight the darkness enough to convince ourselves that we can call upon Jesus for aid? By memorizing this verse now (and maybe a few around it – the whole context is powerful!), putting it in our arsenal so the Spirit can bring it to our minds in the moment of weakness.
He is able to come to my aid. Oh what a glorious truth!