Escaping Temptation

healing sobriety temptation Dec 11, 2020

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

There are three things to note here: temptation is common, God is faithful to provide an escape, and you can bear temptation. As with the passage we saw in James, temptation here is presented in a remarkably positive way. I can almost picture it as a challenge or game: Here comes a temptation; let me see how fast I can find the escape.

For me, finding the escape is not the hard part; actually using the escape is where I have the most trouble. It can only take a split second for me to choose the wrong door. I have to act quickly and make the phone call to my sponsor, pray, leave the premises, delete the email, etc.

Avoidance as Escape

There is one type of escape that is usually more beneficial for us as addicts: avoidance. In fact, if you look up the word escape in a dictionary, the word avoid is part of the definition. Here it is spelled out in the Proverbs:

“Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away” (Proverbs 4:14, 15, emphasis added).

While we cannot fault Joseph for being slave in Potiphar’s house and having to flee the temptation of the adulterous wife, he surely would have preferred avoiding her house altogether. She didn’t get his heart, but she got his coat and that was enough to land him in prison.

We addicts can be blind-sided by temptation and the way of escape can seem like a needle in a haystack. The better approach for us is to avoid temptation and escape ahead of time. What are the situations, triggers, and devices that bring on temptation and how can I avoid them? Or at least minimize them?

What are the attitudes that lead to pride, self-sufficiency, and carelessness that are going to make the next temptation a failed test? There is no virtue in walking too close to the line and pulling off an Indiana Jones-style escape at the last minute. Those situations don't work out well for me at all.

If I am a thirsty alcoholic and walk into a tavern for a glass of water, should I moan and woe about being tempted to indulge my addiction? Should I be proud of myself if I resist and walk out without consuming any alcohol?

Or should I make sure I have plenty of water ahead of time and take a route that avoids the tavern altogether? Avoidance is surely as much of an escape as the first scenario. And it is a lot smarter too.

You know what your danger points are. Or, if you don’t, figure them out. Write them down and make a plan of avoidance and escape ahead of time. When you fail, do a "postmortem" and learn and plan for the next time the temptation comes.

You can’t avoid temptation altogether—sometimes you will have to flee. But escaping through avoidance is a wiser strategy, especially early in recovery.

“A prudent man forseeth the evil and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished” (Proverbs 22:3; 27:12).

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