Four Steps to Overcoming Temptation
Following Jesus doesn’t mean we won’t face temptation. In fact, we may be tempted even more as we follow him. How do you overcome temptation? What are some practical strategies, scriptures and practices to help you?
James 1:14-15 gives us a look at the anatomy of temptation: 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 (ESV).
What are your desires? What do you want more than anything? If you want to follow Jesus, tell him! Ensure that you desire what he desires! Seek out those things which he desires!
Jesus gave us this simple prayer: “lead us not into temptation.” This prayer is a daily reminder that we don’t want to be tempted. We want our lives to be free of sin.
You need to be very aware of when temptation comes upon you. The tempter generally comes when we are feeling weak or when we are unwary. Here are a few examples:
When you are over tired. The remedy to this condition is to do all you can to get adequate rest.
When you are stressed. Whole books have been written about stress but generally, when we trust in God, when we fully follow Jesus, our stress levels will decrease.
When you are discouraged. Handling discouragement is important to staying strong spiritually and growing – and overcoming temptation. Learn how to handle discouragement.
When you are bored. There is an old proverb: idle hands are the devils workshop. Stay engaged with life and healthy relationships. It doesn’t mean you have to be active all the time, just don’t give in to purposeless idleness.
When you have had a spiritual victory. It is so easy to become a little complacent in the face of spiritual victory. A great example of this is the story of Elijah recorded in 1 Kings 18-19. Elijah wins a powerful spiritual victory on Mount Carmel. Then Jezebel threatens his life just as it seems that national revival is about to break out. He runs and prays that God would just end his life and his misery! We must ask God for extra spiritual strength in the face of good days!
Your Strategy for Victory
You can develop a strong strategy to cope with temptation. Here are some guidelines:
Scripture. Select some scriptures to help you face difficulty. Here are two: 1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV): No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. Philippians 4:8 (ESV): Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Any scripture that glorifies God can help you turn your eyes to him. A favorite of mine is Psalm 8. It is a good practice to find scriptures that encourage and make you stronger. Highlight them in your Bible and read them often to give yourself strength.
Pray. Often, when tempted, I begin to pray for others. I think of friends and family who may be going through difficult times and I begin to intercede for them. That takes my mind off my own desires and places me in a position of an intercessor – standing in the gap between those I pray for and Jesus.
Devotions. This is your regular time of prayer and Bible reading. Spending time with Jesus every day in intimate conversation will strengthen you for the temptation that may come.
Take care of yourself. Rest, exercise, eat well, worship and enjoy fellowship in the church. A regimen of physical and spiritual health will lessen weariness and stress.
Finally, remember that it is good to share the journey with others. Find mentors, find others walking with Jesus, ask questions.
Remember that I am always available to answer your questions. A subscriber asked me to address the issue of overcoming temptation. Sharing your life and struggles helps everyone!
What steps do you need to take today? Establish an action plan to help you grow stronger and face the temptations that will inevitably come your way. Get started overcoming temptation with the suggestions written here.