Some sins creep up and appear to just happen. Bang! But in all honesty there is always a moment, an opportunity for choice -“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13, HCSB). The challenge is to maximize the ‘way of escape.’
There are several ways I can suggest (not that I am perfect – I fail far too often).
First, memorize Scripture. I wish I had spent more time at this discipline as a younger adult. As I age it seems to be harder to memorize. It is a discipline that can be learned at any age and at any stage of life. I simply need to make the choices necessary to create a priority for memorizing God’s Word.
Second, accountability. One the triggers that trips me up the most is being alone. I spend much of my days alone – driving to and from meetings and appointments; reading and studying in my office; and so on. Finding a partner with whom I can be 100% open and transparent would eliminate some of the opportunities for sin to trap me.
Third, electronic discipline. My cell phone, my computer, my tablet all are wonderful devices enabling me to be connected to multiple sources all day long. Satellite and cable TV bring endless hours or entertainment and information into my house every day. These wonderful devices, however, can be opportunities for our adversary, the devil, to pounce (see 1 Peter 5:8). Setting time limits, choosing to go ‘off the grid’ for an hour or more each day will not eliminate the opportunity for sin (our grandparents fought the same battles against sin that we fight!), but the more opportunities we can manage and eliminate the more effective I can be in fighting the sin that so eagerly seeks to entrap me.
Finally, cultivating a deeper walk with God through Jesus Christ empowered by the Holy Spirit. I know it’s a cliché but remember the question, Would you invite Jesus to participate in whatever activity you are choosing? As a child I desperately wanted to please my parents and earn their approval. As I grew up other adults (teachers, mentors) became important to me as well. If I am desperate to earn the approval and respect of others, should I not be more desperate to recognize how each activity, each choice reflects on the presence and power of Christ being made real in me?
I write this as one who fails – more often than I want to acknowledge. But I offer this as a reminder that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9, HCSB)