You can escape temptation. Knowing this brings hope, doesn’t it?
If someone offered you houseboat a few yards above Niagara Falls, would you buy it? Of course not.
Would you let your teen attend a Prom with a known drug user? No again.
These are obvious risks. You wouldn’t feel tempted to “give in.” Temptation is an enticement to make an ungodly choice because you think that you will gain something. At times you have succumbed to temptation, haven’t you? We all have.
In this article, you’ll discover three ways to overcome temptation.
- Understand how temptation works.
- Know true change is possible.
- Draw near to God.
1. Understand How Temptation Works
Why do Christians sometimes lose the temptation battle and–
- cheat on their income taxes or
- have ongoing private online chats with a married person or
- gossip or
- hold onto a grudge for years?
The short answer: You have an enemy who wants to snooker you into believing the lie that giving in means more happiness for you. It doesn’t. Maybe for a very short while you experience fleeting happiness. Soon guilt weighs you down and you feel shame, fear, even depression.
A beautiful angel named Lucifer desired exaltation above God (Isaiah 14:12-14). God kicked him out of heaven along with angels who sided with him. Now called Satan, he “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). He is strategic and intelligent but not all-powerful. He is a defeated foe with two basic plans.
Plan A: Interfere with you following Christ in the first place.
Plan B: Tempt you to be an ineffective Christian by doubting God’s goodness and power.
Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’: for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he himself tempt anyone (James 1:13).
2. Know True Change Is Possible
You can hope to overcome temptation. Hope isn’t wishful thinking. It is the confident expectation of good.
This confidence depends on God’s nature and his Word, not circumstances. It assures you that sin no longer rules (Romans 6:14). It guarantees that God has the ultimate victory over sin and death (Romans 8:35-39). 14). It strengthens you in the midst of difficulties.
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.
God knows when you’re tempted and he promises to provide a way of escape. Isn’t this comforting? You aren’t the first one to face trials like yours. Others have–successfully. You can choose a new, godly response. You need not fall back on old sinful responses.
As a well-known biblical counselor has said, “Paul makes it clear that to say ‘I can’t’ is not an option when God says one can.”
3. Draw Near to God
A while back, while loading groceries in my car, I noticed sunglasses in the corner of my cart. I had failed to place the item on the check-out counter and didn’t pay for it.
My teenage son said, “Mom, let’s go back in and pay.” I was already running behind schedule and was tempted to zip away, rationalizing that the cashier should have seen the sunglasses so it was her fault, not mine. What would you have done? I returned to the store and paid.
Temptation itself is not sin. Jesus was tempted by Satan in the desert and didn’t give in to temptation (Matthew 4:1-11). When temptation is resisted there is no sin.
Jesus told the devil, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,
‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”
Jesus’ words remind me of this verse in James:
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7)
What a comforting promise! Satan’s Plan B — to tempt you to be an ineffective Christian by doubting God’s goodness and power — doesn’t stand a chance against the Lord. You can be victorious in Christ when tempted to gossip, right? Or yell at your kids. Or get drunk. Or give in to fear.
This escape plan sounds to easy to work, doesn’t it? I challenge you to keep track of the times you’re tempted, what you did to resist the devil (or failed to do), and what was the result. God is able to keep you from stumbling.
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 24-25)