How to Overcome Temptation

Temptation is a daily reality for every Christian. For some, it is an overwhelming lure back into sinful habits we seem unable to escape; for others, it is a nagging invitation to participate in “acceptable sins” that subtly and slowly erode one’s integrity and intimacy with God.

Much more can be said than these four simple helps, but these are offered as ways for you to be strengthened in the midst of temptation. You can read another post I’ve written that cover some of this, but mostly focuses on how temptation workschess

1. Spend time in the spiritual disciplines.

Reading your Bible and Prayer are the foundation of the Christian life. If you aren’t spending regular time in Scripture and prayer then why should you expect to overcome temptation? (Joshua 1:8; 2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Know how to grow your spiritual health. There are other helpful spiritual disciplines that might help you… fasting, meditation, silence, journaling, etc.

2. Do something else

Are you tempted to gossip with your friend?
Do something else.

Are you tempted to look at something you shouldn’t see?
Do something else.

Are you tempted to cheat or lie or be dishonest?
Do something else.

No one overcomes temptation by doing nothing. When tempted, God will provide a way of escape… and you can’t escape by doing nothing (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Don’t try to fight temptation where you are. Instead, get up and move. Go into another room. Pick up the phone and call someone. Read a book.

3. Don’t fight alone

Invite a friend to pray with you about the thing or things you’re regularly tempted by. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

Be careful, however, that this doesn’t become the foundation of your friendship with that person. If most of your conversations revolved around resisting temptation then you’ll only end up giving more of your attention to that temptation than is healthy. You’ll be “righteously” focusing on sin rather than focusing on godliness.

Don’t be a mercenary Christian. Choose someone who will tell you when you’re being stupid even while they invite you to draw from the everlasting well of the Grace of God.

4. Preach the Gospel to Yourself.

Let your sin and your ongoing battle against temptation remind you how desperately you need Jesus.

If you’re like me and you literally cannot remember NOT being a Christian, then let your temptations warn you by considering who you’d be without Christ.

Remember that Jesus didn’t save you because you were so great. God saves sinners, and you met that standard. God will complete the good work he began in you (Philippians 1:6).

When you sin, you shouldn’t like it. Let your guilt and shame lead you back to the cross, and then remember that your guilt and shame have already been paid for.

When you get knocked down, don’t stay there. If you are in Christ, your sin has been paid for, you’ve been forgiven already.

Stand through temptation because your heart has been captured by a desire greater than anything Satan has to offer – life as a beloved child of God. You have been loved by God, and you love him. Therefore, you stand and eagerly await the crown of life.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
(James 1:12-15 ESV)

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