Just a brief note about an earlier post:  I  was talking about the”faithfulness” of God and found myself talking about the necessity of faith.  That was a bit of a jump, but I think it’s logical to go from one to the other.  In my opinion, we can only be faithful as He enables us to be.   One of the writers of Scripture stated about God:  “It is Him in whom we move and live and have our being.”  Just as I am dependent upon divine power and mercy for every heartbeat, for every breath I draw, I am also dependent upon Him to direct my paths, and create a right spirit within me. He says “Be thou faithful unto death, and I’ll give you a crown of life.”  I know that. But, in truth, I am only able to be faithful to Him as He makes that possible.  I recognize my limitations.  I’ve failed Him so often.  Have fallen so far even beneath my own expectations and been often unfaithful to Him.  It is His faithfulness that is the constant.  It is His mercy upon which I depend now and forever.  He keeps His promises.  He continues to love and forgive, even when I feel I’ve let Him down.  He keeps His commitments.  He always keeps “His side of the bargain.”  He never falters in His faithfulness to us nor alters it when we provide reason enough for Him to change His mind.  
           So, it is to the concept of “God’s faithfulness to me,” and never my faithfulness to Him, that I look for the “way of escape” from the “temptations that so easily beset me.” How does God do that?  Doesn’t it make sense for us to “look for an exit,” and not wait until the emergency explodes upon me before making any preparation for escape?
          Theatres have EXIT signs ~ lighted and posted prominently.  It’s required by law.  I believe the same thing is required in all public buildings.  If you are on board a cruise, wouldn’t it be a good idea to know what safety provisions are made?  Where are the life jackets?  The lifeboats?  You certainly don’t want to find out when the ship is sinking and bedlam has broken loose and crowds hysterically bent on survival trample all over each other!  Is it a good thing to know where the exits are? Does that make sense? 
           We aren’t just left here and told to scratch our bewildered heads and figure everything out.  There are some principles laid down in Scripture for our use in the hour of trial.  Clear.  Simple. That can be applied when we are confronted with temptation.  May I share with you some of my thoughts on that subject?  I’d also like to know what precautions you take when you go out to “do battle.”
           1.  Don’t ever underestimate the importance of the written Word of God.  One of the Old Testament writers said: “Your Word have I hid in my heart, so that I may not sin against you.”   Jesus (could you find a better authority?) was tempted just as we are, but never succumbed.  About the time He began His public ministry, returning from a six week stay in the desert, He ran smack into a barage of temptations.  Each one designed to abort His ministry and disrupt His journey toward Golgotha.  If you look at those three temptations, you’ll discover that in each instance Jesus quoted Scripture.  The Old Testament, as a matter of fact.  “Thus it is written,” seemed to be a satisfactory response to temptation for Jesus.  I don’t think I can improve on that “way of escape.”
           Everyone who’s served in the military knows the value of preparation.  BEFORE the battle.  They are taught and drilled, and drilled until they automatically react correctly under pressure.  Athletes practice certain plays again, and again until their assignments are almost second nature.  A football player doesn’t think  “what will I do?” when he comes up to the line of scrimmage.  He’s learned the plays and he knows what he’s supposed to do.  Pilots are trained to read and TRUST THEIR INSTRUMENTS.  In a time of confusion, pressure, oe peril, if they resort to their instincts they’re subject to vertigo.  That means they don’t know up from down, or east from west, and the only defense against that is TO TRUST THE INSTRUMENTS.  Do you see my point?  You study Scripture, and you will be amazed at the the way relevant truth will surface at precisely the time you need it most.
           2.  Don’t overlook the importance of avoidance.  In the prayer which Jesus taught us to pray, do you remember the line that says: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil?”  Isn’t it interesting to note the way the prayer proceeds?   He teaches that it’s better to avoid temptation than it is to have to climb out of a pit or a puddle into which we’ve fallen or jumped or been pushed!  It seems that one of the best defenses against temptation then is not to get near it in the first place.  “Avoid the appearance of evil,” has always been good advice.  Until I get something wiser, safer, more effective I think I’ll try that approach.  I don’t plan to “hang out” with rattlesnakes.  The best way I know for me to deal with them is to avoid them.  They’re dangerous.
           3.  Sometimes you’ll have to stand and fight.  But you better be armed!  And you’d better know your Enemy and his motives and methods!  Paul wrote some important instructions to the “First Church of Ephesus” telling them of the nature of the spiritual struggle that’s happening, as well as the equipment you need to prevail.  In certain instances, it is true that if you brace yourself, get tough, and “resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”  Especially if you are right and your stance is in Christ. 
           4.  THERE ARE TIMES WHEN THE WISEST THING YOU CAN DO IS CUT AND RUN!  It depends upon the kind of ‘temptation’ you’re facing.  Think about that.   I’m not just mouthing phrases like: “Run away and live to fight another day.”  Or “Discretion is the better part of valor.”  The truth is there are areas where we are all especially vulnerable, and if we’re caught in a compromising situation, the Bible is consistent in its instruction to; RUN.  GET OUT OF HERE!!  We court disaster in certain areas, and anyone with a grain of sense knows an uncontrolled sexual appetite is one of those zones.  There are some “danger” zones which are very clearly marked.  Not to deprive harm us or spoil our fun, but to keep us on the right track.  When God says: “Thou shalt not” do something, it is for our good.  The God who made us in His own image, designed us as we are~male and female~and He said “That’s good.”  But He also established some moral boundaries, for our own good, and expects his human creation to have higher moral standards than pigs or rabbits or alley cats!  Fire is a good thing.  It can warm your house, or burn it down and destroy you.  Sex is sort of like that.  If the temptation you face is of a sexual nature, and you know it is wrong and the wrong choice can bring disastrous consequences, the only sensible thing to do is look for the nearest exit.  Pronto.  It isn’t like you’re “tiptoeing through the tulips” here.  This is more like a minefield, and we’d be wise to recognize the potential danger.
           When Joseph of Egypt encountered the wife of his owner, she put all kinds of “moves” on him to seduce him.   He was young, handsome, intelligent, and she wanted him.  The seventh commandment had not yet even been engraved in stone.  Nor had Paul’s advice centuries later to “flee youthful lusts” been said or written down on papyrus and read to the early Christian community.  But Joseph knew it was not right.  He also knew that the best way to keep his integrity was to get away from her.  And as he did, she grabbed his coat, hung onto it and later used it to accuse him falsely of attempted rape.  I remember reading an old cleric’s comment on that incident and saying: “It’s better to lose a good coat than to lose a good conscience.”  
That is not a course of action most young, red-blooded men would take.  But it was the right thing to do.  His leaving was not an act of cowardice.  Instead, it was the wise, courageos, and right thing to do.  

           5.  PRAY.  But don’t wait until you’re in the middle  of a “mess,” before you practice the art of praying!

       A WAY OF ESCAPE . . . That’s what we’re discussing.   The Exit.   That’s the sign on the door.  The fire escape.  Before you’re faced with temptation (as you surely will be),  consider the ways of escape which God has provided.  Before disaster strikes, take time to find the “evacuation route.  And don’t forget the Boy Scout motto:  “Be Prepared.”
         God’s servant, your brother, friend, and fellow student                                          ~donkimrey
Post Script:  For some time, I have been considering the book of Job.  My focus, as mentioned before about “God’s Comeback Kids,’ is to answer these questions. (1.) How did it happen that Job wound up in such trouble?   (2.)  How’d he handle his misfortune?  (3.) How did he recover, and what can we learn from his experiences?

3 responses to “A WAY OF ESCAPE

  1. There are consequences when we give way to temptation – and we will reap what we sow to be sure. But when we flee from temptation and do what’s obedient and pleasing to God, we will reap from that field.

    Makes it very important to map-our-escape and spiritually choose the fields we sow!

    A good study, Don. Thank you.

  2. Way of escape for an addict-Hum, think I will… 1) First I have to arise 2) get dressed 3)reach for the door knob 4) reach for the car door handle 5) put the key in the ignition 5) go to the atm 6) call the dope man.!!!! How many ways of escape has my God left open for me without even having made the deal yet!!! Open you eyes and heart and hear and believe!!!!! Love, Layne

  3. Thoughtful and insightful. Thanks for keeping it real! Blessings, Mary http://onewhitetree.wordpress.com

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