Look at the picture of this mountain path and I will try and describe this principle to you. Imagine yourself at the bottom of this mountain and you want to reach the top. The path circles around the mountain, rather circuitously and over time, you get to where you know this mountain fairly well. You know that when you get to the east side of the mountain, the drop is shear and the side is craggy and the path is treacherous. Fortunately, for you, the path has rails (like in the picture) that help you stay steady. On the north face of the mountain, the wind is very brisk, you almost feel like you will be blown off the path. On the west side, the path is lush and covered with trees that shield you from the rain and sun. On the south side, it is stark and barren and the sun or the rain beats down upon you miserably.
You know pretty much what's coming ahead because you have been there before. So you continue on your journey in anticipation. You know that you need support when you come to the slippery east side. You know that you need to grab trees and use your walking cane on the windy north side. You know that you can take it easy and enjoy yourself on the west side. You know that you need to apply protection to prevent sunburn on the south side.
Usually, as you traverse up a mountain, it takes less time to go around it because it is usually smaller the further up you go. Just like temptation, the more you prepare for it and the more times you say no to temptation, the easier the path.
Do you have the picture? Do you get what I am saying?
Think of this path as your life. You can pretty much predict what will happen if you go certain places. If you have to go someplace treacherous, get some support. Take someone with you, be accountable when you go there. If you find yourself in a place that can blow you off your feet, look for trees and walking canes that you can grab onto. If you are in the heat and need to apply SONSCREEN, ask God for His protection.
This is the principle to handling temptation: Anticipate, think, plan, pray. Use your brain. Trust the Holy Spirit's guidance.
You can't use the excuse, "I just couldn't help myself, after all I'm only human." God gave you a brain, you're not stupid. You're not an animal that just reacts. You can think and plan ahead...
My thanks to Tom Eisenman for this concept.