1 Cor. 10:13 (ESV)
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
I came across this at Justin Taylor’s blog the other day. It’s good. It’s a letter from Martin Luther to his friend who was experiencing despair. Amazing how well a 500 year old man still communicates to us today. That’s because the Gospel he believed and the Lord he served are still the same.
. . Excellent Jerome, You ought to rejoice in this temptation of the devil because it is a certain sign that God is propitious and merciful to you.
You say that the temptation is heavier than you can bear, and that you fear that it will so break and beat you down as to drive you to despair and blasphemy. I know this wile of the devil. If he cannot break a person with his first attack, he tries by persevering to wear him out and weaken him until the person falls and confesses himself beaten.
Whenever this temptation comes to you, avoid entering upon a disputation with the devil and do not allow yourself to dwell on those deadly thoughts, for to do so is nothing short of yielding to the devil and letting him have his way.
Try as hard as you can to despise those thoughts which are induced by the devil. In this sort of temptation and struggle, contempt is the best and easiest method of winning over the devil.
Laugh your adversary to scorn and ask who it is with whom you are talking.
By all means flee solitude, for the devil watches and lies in wait for you most of all when you are alone. This devil is conquered by mocking and despising him, not by resisting and arguing with him. . .
When the devil throws our sins up to us and declares we deserve death and hell, we ought to speak thus:
“I admit that I deserve death and hell.
What of it?
Does this mean that I shall be sentenced to eternal damnation?
By no means.
For I know One who suffered and made a satisfaction in my behalf.
His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Where he is, there I shall be also.”