Why doesn't God remove the temptation?

Question:

Mr. Hamilton,

I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior in my early twenties. Through a re-commitment of my life, I started studying the Bible when I was in my late twenties and have continued to do so for nearly forty years. I have many Christian friends who are pastors , Bible teachers, friends, etc., and I look to them as a resource when I have questions. I have one that no one, in my opinion, has been able to answer.

When I pray, my prayer starts out asking for God's will and not my will to be done. I have been struggling with a problem that I know is not the will of God, and there is no doubt that it hurts my relationship with Him. I have prayed, begged, meditated on the word of God, and sought counseling; yet, still I struggle. If I am God's child and I ask my Father to remove a problem from my life, why doesn't He remove it? Many like to tell me about the thorn in Paul's side, and how it was not removed even after he prayed three times. Or about Job and how God allowed Satan to do what he wished with Job as long as he did not kill him. And finally, how God created Satan with free will and he led a rebellion in Heaven and was cast out to of all places, the garden of Eden - where God had created the tree of knowledge of good and evil and told Adam and Eve not to eat of it - well, we know what happened. And that act of disobedience caused sin to enter the world through man and everything changed. Now we are born into sin and we keep on sinning and are only forgiven by the death and resurrection of Christ. I get it!

But then Paul writes, "I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner -- not even to eat with such a person" (I Corinthians 5:9-11). And "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God" (I Corinthians 6:9-10).

I feel trapped and hopeless and l need God to help me. Why doesn't God either remove it or give the power to overcome it? I am desperate! Blessings to you and your ministry.


Answer:

Forgive me if I guess wrongly, but given the intersection of the two verses you cited, I'm assuming your problem is dealing with a sexual sin or drinking.

You ended up mixing situations. The thorn in Paul's flesh was not there because of Paul's choice. Job did not lose so much because of his choice. However, sin has always been a choice taken by the sinner. "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it" (I Corinthians 10:13). No one has to sin. There is always a way out. Yes, we live in a sinful world and there are strong incentives to sin, but none that cannot be turned down by a person determined to serve God. "Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7). Sure, we all fail at times (I John 1:8,10), but the righteous are determined to keep returning to God.

It sounds to me that you are asking God to cause you not to be tempted. But that is not according to God's will. We all must face temptations -- even the Son of God was tempted while here on earth. The trials and temptations we face are opportunities to grow stronger (James 1:2-4). The choice to overcome those temptations by leaning on God's teachings is up to each individual. Why doesn't God give the power to overcome temptation? He does -- by limiting the temptation to what you can handle, by making sure you have a choice, and by teaching you what is sinful, why it is wrong, and how to live righteously (II Timothy 3:16-17). Don't blame God for your repeated decisions to put personal pleasure over righteousness.

Also don't make the mistake of equating being tempted to sin as being the same as committing sin. Again, Jesus was tempted yet without sin. Being tempted is not a sin.