The world is full of temptations that entice Christians at every turn. Many wonder how to overcome temptation, so they can live a righteous life.
An article on the CBN blog says, “Temptation is not sinning. If temptation were indeed sin, then Jesus would not have led a sinless life. But as the Bible says, Jesus was ‘tempted in all things,’ yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).”
Mary Fairchild notes that temptation is something all Christians face no matter how long we have been following Christ.
That there are a few practical things we can do to grow stronger and smarter in our struggle against sin.
Salvation does not make us immune to temptation but offers us a way out through the power of the Holy Spirit. The word of God is full of ways in which we can avoid temptation.
Below is a simple guide on how to overcome temptation.
What Causes Temptation?
Our desires cause us to fall into the temptation to sin. According to James 1:14-15, people are tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.
The evil desire gives birth to sin which in turn leads to death.
1 Timothy 6:9 says that those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap. They also fall into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.
When we have unchecked desires that are not godly, they will lead us down the path of temptation and sin.
The devil has a hand in bringing temptation to us just like he did with Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1). He made Eve eat the fruit that God forbade her and Adam from eating.
Eve gave in to Satan’s temptation, disobeyed God, and suffered the consequences.
Randy Gage says that when you purify your thoughts, things that used to tempt you to become dead and lifeless. That when the desire is removed from your heart, the outside object no longer holds any allure.
The problem many people face is they work on the outward objects but fail to address the inner cause.
Temptation does not come from God because he doesn’t tempt anyone. “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone” (James 1:13).
God tests us for various reasons to make sure our faith and trust are in him.
God tested Abraham when he asked him to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. Abraham obeyed because he trusted in God’s promises to him that he would fulfill through Isaac.
He didn’t waver in his faith in God even though he had an unusual request from him (Hebrews 11:17-18).
Related Article: Top 17 Proven Benefits of Reading the Bible.
What Did Jesus Say About Temptation?
Jesus faced temptation while he was on earth. The devil tempted him when he was in the wilderness after his baptism (Matthew 4:1).
He, therefore, understands what we go through when facing temptation. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
Jesus did not sin and he is the only one who can help us not to sin when we face temptation.
In Mark 14:38 Jesus said, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
He warned his disciples that they may be willing to fight temptation but fall because of the weakness of the flesh. Jesus gave prayer as a solution not to fall into temptation.
When Jesus taught his disciples to pray he included a prayer against temptation. “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13).
He knew the devil would try and tempt them to sin, and prayer was their only way out.
Prayer strengthens the spirit to withstand temptation by being alert and discerning the attacks of the enemy.
In John 17:15, Jesus prayed for his disciples that God would protect them from the evil one as they remained in the world.
The devil is always looking for who to devour and we must not open the door for him to do so (1 Peter 5:8).
An article on Christianity.com says Jesus was tempted but he didn’t have the inward vulnerability to give in to the temptation.
We are the ones who can fall for temptation because of our human nature.
How to Overcome Temptation and Sin
One way we can overcome temptation is by praying because it invokes divine help from God. It’s impossible to resist temptation without God’s help.
Jesus made it clear that the spirit is willing to resist temptation but the flesh is weak.
This is a big hindrance to avoiding temptation because your spirit and soul will be pulling in different directions. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.
The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).
When you set your mind on the things of the Spirit, you will nourish your spirit and have the strength to avoid temptation.
Living according to the flesh means you will gratify its desires and are likely to give in to temptation (Romans 8:5-6).
Another way to avoid temptation is to recognize it when it shows up on your doorstep. God has given us his word so that we can discern the things that tempt us.
According to Leah Baugh, at the moment of temptation, we might not at first recognize that what is before us leads to sin. That we can combat this by learning to recognize temptation when it comes along.
We can prevent it by filling ourselves with the things God tells us in his word are good and fruitful (1 Timothy 6:11).
Jesus showed us the way to avoid sin in our lives. According to him, you are to get rid of anything that makes you sin. “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell” (Matthew 5:29). Many things lead us into sin in the world and we are to avoid them.
What Does the Bible Say About Avoiding Temptation?
Many people are facing temptation the way you are. The devil likes people to believe that no one else is suffering like them. This is a lie. God is faithful and will give you a way out of the temptation. Ask him to help you discern the way of escape he has provided.
1 Corinthians 10:13 – “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
As you help others to learn how to overcome temptation and sin, guard yourself so that you don’t fall into temptation. Many have found themselves in sin after indulging in it when they should have been helping others get out of it.
Galatians 6:1 – “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.”
When you face unbearable temptations, Jesus understands and he is ready to help you avoid them.
When he was on earth, he experienced life as men do and he understands what they go through daily. He will strengthen you to resist temptation.
Hebrews 2:18 – “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
God does not tempt anyone to sin and no one should make this claim. God does test people but he never tempts anyone to sin. He wants people to keep away from sin and doesn’t lead them toward it.
James 1:13 – “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.”
Ways to Resist Temptation
Identify your weak points
According to an article on the Billy Graham blog, all of us are not subject to the same weaknesses and temptations.
To one alcohol may be the temptation, and to another impure thoughts and acts, greed and covetousness, criticism and an unloving attitude.
Regardless of what one’s temptation may be, Satan will tempt you at your weak point, not the strong.
Guard your weak points and don’t leave a door open for the devil to come and tempt you to sin.
Know your weak spots so that you can be extra vigilant and avoid anything that leads you to temptation.
Resist the devil
Leigh McLeroy says that Satan tempts us with those things that are contrary to God.
These include pride, an unforgiving heart, selfishness, fleeting earthly pleasures (as opposed to lasting, eternal ones), impurity, among others.
The only way to defeat the devil is to obey God’s commands and resist him, and he will flee. “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
Study and meditate on God’s word
According to Jared Wilson, if we want to overcome the lures of the enemy we have to stay in the Word. We have to read it studiously, prayerfully, and constantly.
God’s word helps us know what God expects of us in our daily lives. He shows us what he considers sin and how to avoid it.
When we hide God’s word in our hearts, we will know how to overcome temptation as we go about our daily duties.
God’s word helps us remove the vulnerabilities that make us fall into temptation.
Psalm 46:1 tells us that God is our refuge and ever-present help when we need him. Ask God to keep you away from things that tempt you and help you with any temptation you are facing.
Prayer should be your first line of defense against temptation. Jesus told his disciples to pray so that they wouldn’t fall into temptation.
He knew that they could not avoid temptation in their own strength and needed his divine help. To avoid the temptation to sin, pray, and ask for God’s help.
Look for a way of escape
In 1 Corinthians 10:13, God gives us a way out of temptation and ours is to look for this way of escape.
When facing a temptation to sin, ask God to show you the escape route he has provided for you.
God knows that when you remain in a tempting situation you are likely to sin.
When he shows you the way, use it and escape the temptation before it is too late. God is a loving Father who wants you to succeed in overcoming temptation.
Put away your old nature
When we feed the flesh and fulfill its desires, we will struggle with temptation and sin. The flesh does not like to submit to the things of God but wants to have its own way (Romans 8:7).
It is easy to sin against God because the flesh has no mechanisms to overcome temptation. The world offers many temptations that can lead you to sin and you can focus instead on things above.
Worldly things are fleeting and have no eternal value. We are to focus on things that last to eternity.
As long as we live in this world, we will face many temptations. It is only through God’s word and prayer that we how to overcome temptation.
By applying God’s word to every situation in your life, you will know the right action to take to keep away from sin.
We can learn from Jesus how to handle temptation the right way. Learn from his example knowing it is possible to overcome your temptations.