If man could but resist temptation, paradise would have remained our home. All evil that has come into the world is the result of man’s inability–or shall we say unwillingness–to resist temptation. There is, therefore, no more important spiritual exercise than to learn to resist and overcome temptation.
Thomas à Kempis highlights the absolute necessity of this practice when he points out in his Imitation of Christ that, “As long as we live in this world we cannot be without tribulation and temptation.”
Why would God permit us to suffer so? “[T]emptations are often very profitable to a man although they be troublesome and grievous: for in them a man is humbled, purified, and instructed.” Let us not waste these golden opportunities to profit much.
à Kempis offers his suggestion, “By flight alone we cannot overcome; but by patience and true humility we are made stronger than our enemies. He who only declines them outwardly and does not pluck out the root will profit little; nay, temptations will sooner return to him, and he will find himself in a worse condition.” Run from temptations, yes, but fight to weed out the root cause of temptation. We’re told in the Imitation that concupiscence is that root cause, and it can only be weeded out by the practice of consistent self-denial.
Another tip: “[W]e must be watchful, especially in the beginning of temptation, because then the enemy is easier overcome, if he is not suffered to come in at all at the door of the soul, but is kept out and resisted at his first knock.”
And finally, a little encouragment. “We must not, therefore, despair when we are tempted, but pray to God with so much the more fervor, that He may vouchsafe to help us in all tribulations; who, no doubt, according to the saying of St. Paul, will, ‘make such issue with the temptation that we may be able to bear it.'”
God sends us nothing we cannot handle. If only we would ask Him for His help, we could, through Him, accomplish anything.