Overcoming Temptation

The truth of the matter is, all Christians face temptation. But as believers, we’re called to live in a Christ-like manner. Therefore, we must learn to resist temptation no matter how hard it may be!

It’s critical to recognize we’re dealing with an internal battle when we’re tempted. Yes, it’s a battle! Take a look at what Paul says in Ephesians:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Ephesians 6:12-13
Satan would like nothing more than for believers to fall into sin. While we’re by no means perfect, Christians are called to live righteously. In Scripture, this is described as dying to self. After we’ve accepted Christ, we’re called to live as a new person. No more of the old ways! Anything that isn’t Christ-like needs to be surrendered to the Lord.

Defining Temptation

Since we all face temptation, it’s necessary to make sure we know what we’re talking about. In his 1828 Dictionary, Noah Webster defines temptation in the following ways:

TEMPTA’TION, noun

1. The act of tempting; enticement to evil by arguments, by flattery, or by the offer of some real or apparent good.

2. Solicitation of the passions; enticements to evil proceeding from the prospect of pleasure or advantage.

3. The state of being tempted or enticed to evil. When by human weakness you are led into temptation resort to prayer for relief.

4. Trial.

From this definition, we’re reminded of a few key concepts:

  1. Temptation makes sin seem appealing or beneficial.
  2. As humans with a sinful nature, we’re susceptible to temptation.
  3. Believers must resist temptation.

Preparing for Victory

 

Identify Areas of Struggle

In order to overcome temptation, we must begin by identifying the specific struggles we face. Remember: we’re all unique. And because we’re unique, we’ll all face our own unique set of challenges.

For illustration, let’s consider a fictional character named Sally. This young lady recently realized that she struggles in her thought life. No matter how hard she tries, she feels like she can’t control what goes through her head. Now that she has acknowledged this, Sally can go to the next step.

Recognize Triggers for Temptation

The second thing for us to consider is the when, where, and why behind temptation. It’s important to recognize that what goes in eventually comes out. So if we’re surrounding ourselves with sinful influences, it should be no surprise when our character takes a turn for the worse!

When considering our area of weakness, we should ask if we’re more vulnerable to temptation because of:

  • What we hear (e.g. music, films, conversations with certain people, etc.)
  • Things we see (e.g. films, ads, magazines, photos, social media, videos, etc.)
  • Material we read (e.g. books, articles, social media posts, etc.)
  • People we hang out with (e.g. friends, coworkers, etc.)
  • Places we go (e.g. stores, events, etc.)

Going back to our example, Sally takes time to think about what has a strong influence in her life. After some reflection, Sally realizes that she has been greatly influenced by her selection of movies and music. Additionally, it dawns on her that she hasn’t been careful about what she has been seeing on Instagram.

Eliminate Things that Foster Temptation

In order to overcome areas of weakness, we must actively avoid things that lure us away from godly choices. In Sally’s case, she decides to stop listening to music that encourages her to think in sinful ways. She also determines to be more selective about what films she watches and who she follows on Instagram.

Memorize Scripture

Another important step to overcoming temptation is to memorize God’s Word. Specifically, I’d encourage you to search Scripture for Bible verses that address your areas of struggle. Having God’s Word hidden in our hearts can help us conquer sinful desires. In Psalm 119:11 states, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”

Find an Accountability Partner

It’s incredibly helpful to have someone who can encourage you to be faithful in living a godly life! Of course, this does require you to be honest about your struggles. I highly recommend that you ask a trusted family member or friend to check in with you periodically to see how you are doing.

Fighting the Battle

No matter how much we try to avoid temptation, we will still face moments of struggle! When we’re in these moments, there are a few key things that can help.

Pray

Scripture makes it clear that there’s great power in prayer! In Matthew 26:41, Jesus told His disciples to “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Prayer reminds us to rely on the Lord for strength.

Ask for Help

If you find that you’re struggling to resist temptation, reach out to your accountability partner. Let them know what’s going on and ask for prayer and help.

Recite Scripture

Remember all those verses you memorized about your area of struggle? Here’s when you can put them to use! God’s Word is a powerful weapon against the schemes of Satan. When you’re facing temptation, recite (or read through) the verses you collected!

Ways of Escape

Finally, remember that God will help you to resist temptation. In 1 Corinthians 10:13, Paul 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.

God will sustain each of us through temptation! And God will provide us with a way of escape.

Conclusion

As Christians, we are called to put off the “old man” and to live as “new creatures” in Christ. The process of dying to self can be extremely challenging! And there will be times when we stumble and fall. But as believers, we can be assured that God is on our side and will help us through our struggles. And when we fall short, we can be assured of His mercy and forgiveness. By His grace, we can grow and mature as believers.

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

James 1:12 NKJV

Fight on, dear sisters in Christ! The Lord is on your side.

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