Victory By Retreat

“Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.”

James 1:13  

Growing up watching cartoons on television I remember scenes where the character was facing some difficult choice when suddenly an angel would appear sitting on one shoulder and just as quick a little devil with horns, red cape and a little pitch fork in hand would be perched on the other shoulder arguing with the angel and the person struggling to do the right thing. I don’t remember how the person responded, I just remember that the television show creators captured the conflict we all face in life between right and wrong and good and evil.

In Romans 7 the apostle writes about the scene the cartoons I watched as a child tried to portray when the apostle penned these words in Romans 7:15-20, “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.”

Don’t think for a second that the apostle Paul threw in the towel and just let the devil (sin) win. No, just the opposite is true. The apostle Paul realized our victory over sin is found in surrender not in dominance. The apostle Paul understood what I hope and pray you and I understand today too. We don’t have the strength to conquer sin on our own. We need Jesus to come to our rescue and to deliver us, which is exactly what He has promised to do! Greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world the Bible teaches us. The devil is not God’s equal but opposite, he is a created being and is no match for our God.

The good news for us is each and every time we find ourselves in a struggle between right and wrong and good and evil, God will always reveal the road to take. Psalm 119:105 reminds us, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” James 4:7 teaches us, “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”  Following Jesus will never involve you committing sin. If you find a voice siting on your shoulder or even one speaking to you from within telling you to do something that is contrary to God’s Word, don’t stand around and argue or get into a debate. Run away, and don’t look back.

Often times in life the path God wants us to take is a way of escape, I like to call it “victory by retreat” as 1 Corinthians 10:13 reminds us, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” The bottom line is this, if God is glorified and you see Jesus doing it in the Word, do it! If doing whatever it is you are about to do involves sin (violating God’s Word or even your own conscience) in any way shape or form, run away from the temptation as fast as you can for no one can say, “God told me to do it or that the devil made me do it!” 1 Corinthians 15 proclaims boldly, “thanks be to God who gives us the victory in Christ Jesus our Lord” and sometimes that will mean victory by retreat!

“You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

1 John 4:4



Michael Osthimer




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