Psalm 125

Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people both now and forevermore.

The scepter of the wicked will not remain over the land allotted to the righteous, for then the righteous might use their hands to do evil.

Do good, O LORD, to those who are good, to those who are upright in heart. But those who turn to crooked ways the LORD will banish with the evildoers. Peace be upon Israel.

This Psalm has its New Testament counterpart in a verse from 1st Corinthians. God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (1 Cor 10:13) Just as He knew that leaving His people under the influence of their wicked neighbors for too long would cause them to fall into wickedness themselves, so He knows the limits of our ability to resist temptation. Accordingly, He will not stand idly by watching us try to endure more than we’re capable of.

There’s an old law that said, “A master who knowingly subjects his slave to temptation that exceeds his ability to resist has no recourse when the slave succumbs.” The Lord derives no pleasure in watching us fall. That’s a lose-lose deal. If the truth be known, He isn’t the author of our temptation at all. When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. (James 1:13-14)

A friend of mine jokingly says, “I can resist anything but temptation.” It’s our own evil desires that cause us to be tempted, and our enemy knows just which strings to pull and just when to pull them to trigger those desires.

When we were little, our earthly fathers often watched closely as we learned lessons about our capabilities, always ready to step in and help to keep us from injuring ourselves, or becoming so discouraged that we’d stop trying. Just so, the Lord watches as we learn the limits of our ability to resist temptation, and will always have an escape ready to prevent us from exceeding those limits.

Some learn that their ability to resist drunkenness is shattered after one drink and learn to depend on Him to help them say no to the first one. Others realize that one throw of the dice, one puff of a cigarette, one hit off a joint, or one look at a pornographic picture is one too many, and trust Him to help them turn away before it’s too late.

But no matter what the level of our tolerance is, the key to resisting temptation is found in one simple verse, masterfully demonstrated for us by its Author in the Wilderness Temptation. Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7) It worked for Him and it’ll work for us.