“Temptation may even be a blessing to a man when it reveals to him his weakness and drives him to the almighty Savior. Do not be surprised, then, dear child of God, if you are tempted at every step of your earthly journey, and almost beyond endurance; but you will not be tempted beyond what you are able to bear, and with every temptation there will be a way of escape.” – F.B. Meyer
Maybe you have heard it said that opportunity only knocks once, but temptation knocks continually. It never stops trying to find a way into our lives. We all face temptation, the question is how effectively do we deal with it. There are some very simple and effective things we can do to grow stronger and smarter in our struggle against sin.
First, recognize your tendencies in your struggle against temptation. James 1:14 explains that we are tempted when we become enticed by our own natural desires. The first step toward overcoming temptation is to recognize where, when, and how we are most vulnerable. The temptation to sin is a given, so don’t be surprised by it. Expect to be tempted daily, and be prepared for it. The apostle Peter reminds us to stay on the lookout: “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
Secondly, avoid what tempts you. When you come face to face with temptation, look for the way out—the way of escape—that God has promised. Then skedaddle. Avoid it like the plague; flee. Run as fast as you can. Thirdly, resist temptation by leaning on the word of God. Hebrews 4:12 says “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” Jesus overcame the devil’s temptations in the wilderness with the Word of God. While it can be helpful to read God’s Word when you’re being tempted, it is better still to practice reading the Bible daily so you are ready whenever temptation strikes. If you are reading the Bible regularly, you will start to have the mind of Christ.
Finally repent from sin. When we fail to flee temptation, eventually we will give in and fall. Temptation is not a sin in itself, but giving in to it is. We need to acknowledge the sins we committed and repent of them before God so that He will forgive us. We can’t ignore the wrong we did and act as if nothing happened – God won’t forgive them unless we confess them as sin. “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” (1 John 1:9)
- What times in your daily or yearly calendar are you tempted to sin? Who in your life tempts you to sin? What places or practices offer you more temptation?
- Why do you give in to your temptations? What are some things that you could do or strategies you could use to resist temptation?