5 Ways to Overcome Temptation
By Kristen Moore
As youth pastors who have counselled young people who fall into sin, my husband and I realize that most young people know right from wrong but their struggle is saying “no” to temptation in the heat of the moment. They know that it is wrong to lie, cheat, and commit fornication; yet, these same young people will fall into some of these very sins despite knowing they shouldn’t.
The fact is, we are ALL tempted to sin. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 10:13 Paul states that there is no temptation that isn’t common to man. He then goes on to say that God is faithful and won’t allow us to be tempted above what we can withstand.
The good news is that you CAN…yes YOU can overcome temptation with his help.
Below are 5 things that we can do to overcome temptations that we face every day.
1. Read, Study, Memorize and Meditate on the Word of God.
David said “Thy word have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin against thee.” (Psalm 119:11) You and I must have a personal knowledge of scripture. Taking time daily to read the Bible, making a habit of looking up things you don’t understand, memorizing scriptures on a regular basis (daily or weekly)…all of these things will help you to hide His word in your heart. When temptation surfaces, you’ll be amazed when a scripture or Bible story pops into your mind and you’re able to think clearly enough to say “no.”
2. Maintain a daily prayer life.
It is much easier to give in to a temptation when you think of it as “an opportunity to do something fun” rather than “an act that would hurt someone I love.” That kind of thinking about sin comes with a relationship with Jesus that is nurtured by daily prayer. My friend tells a story of when he was a newer Christian. Some friends had invited him to a party. He felt that he should not go, but he went, rationalizing that he wouldn’t drink while he was there. As he placed his hand on the doorknob ready to enter he felt as though the Lord said to him “I’ll wait outside.” He left immediately. His relationship with Jesus kept him from doing what he already knew was wrong.
3. Fast Regularly.
The main purpose of fasting is simply to deny your flesh so that it does not rule your actions. Missing a meal per week or abstaining from food one day per week will help you keep your flesh in check. During the times that you would spend eating, feed your spirit by spending extra time in prayer or reading the Bible. It becomes easier to tell your flesh “no” when temptation comes if you are already in the habit.
4. Make the decision ahead of time to remove yourself from compromising situations.
Sometimes we put ourselves in situations knowing that they will lead us to nothing good. If you want to avoid being tempted to fornicate do not put yourself in a room alone with the opposite sex. If there is a “friend” who is constantly inviting you to participate in sinful activities, cut off that friendship. Jesus said in Matthew 5:29 to pluck out your eye if it offends you (causes you to sin). What He means is do whatever you must do to not sin. If you need to get rid of your smart phone or laptop to keep from looking at pornography, if you need to cut off certain friendships to keep from drinking – whatever you must do, do it! Nothing is worth your soul.
5. Find your purpose and work toward it.
What kept Jesus from calling 10,000 angels to come to His rescue as He carried that heavy, rough wooden cross on His raw, bloodied back? He could have so easily decided that the pain was too great. However, He had a specific purpose that only He could fulfill; that purpose was us. Hebrews 12:2 says” for the joy that was set before Him He endured the cross.” We were Christ’s sole passion & purpose. Our salvation was His one desire and it determined His direction. What is your purpose? Do you live life aimlessly, or do you live with the end game in sight? Do you live day by day, or do you live with eternity in view? If your ultimate goal is to spend eternity with Christ, this should be your sole passion and purpose. Let Him become your one consuming desire & He will direct you away from temptation and towards Him. When you enter your high school or college campus as a child of God on a mission from him, it’s easier to say “no” to temptation. Sin becomes a distraction that will sidetrack you from accomplishing God’s will for your life. Keep the joy of your God given calling always before you & make every decision as if eternity depends on it.
The constant battle against temptation can drain us, but John 16:33 says
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
Christ overcame every temptation the world threw his way. Because He overcame, we too can have the power to overcome temptation. There’s no magic formula that will make you a good Christian. It takes determination, self-denial and dependence upon Jesus. If you commit to doing His will and seek Him diligently, He will help you to overcome the temptations in your life that would destroy you; and, He will work in and through you to change your world for Him.