Each one of us have certain sins that are particularly troubling to us. Every Christian faces temptation, and the devil is very good at finding our weakest points and seducing us with them, whether that be sexual sin, sins of anger, jealousy, covetousness, laziness, pride, insecurity, worry, or any others. It’s important to make a distinction between temptation and sin. Temptation can lead to sin. However, Jesus never sinned and yet experienced every temptation we do (Heb. 4:15). Therefore one of the ways to battle sin is to know how to resist temptation.
1. Pray as Jesus taught, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matt. 6:13).
When the disciples kept succumbing to sleep while Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus told them to “watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation” (Matt. 26:41). Apart from God, we have no hope of resisting temptation. This is why humble prayer must be our constant companion. Praying as Jesus taught us in the Lord’s prayer that God would “lead us not into temptation” is praying for our deliverance from even facing temptation. Praying with others is also a great way to help you keep in the practice of prayer. Another way is to ask trusted friends and counselors for prayer for protection from specific besetting sins.
2. Know yourself well.
As the phrase from The Art of War goes, “Know your enemy.” Knowing the enemy is a crucial aspect of any battle. In the Christian life, we have many enemies, one of which is our old corrupt nature that lingers within us (Rom. 7:21-23; Eph. 4:22).
It may seem odd, but we must make a study of ourselves. Personality, circumstances, disposition, and life experiences are all factors that can make us more susceptible to certain kinds of temptations. How can we be on guard for something unless we know what we are looking for?
3. Learn to recognize temptation.
Temptation is, well, tempting. It presents something to us as pleasant, true, or both. We want to give in because it presents something to us that pulls on our desires and presents us with something that seems good.
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. (James 1:14-16)
The problem is that in the moment of temptation, we might not at first recognize that what is before us leads to sin. We can combat this by learning to recognize temptation when it comes along. We can also prevent it by filling ourselves with the things God tells us in his Word are good and fruitful things (1 Tim. 6:11). We need to faithfully sit under the teaching of the Word so we can get better and better at discerning when we are being tempted.
4. Take preventative action.
If you know certain situations will bring you into temptation (going to a bar, going online by yourself, watching certain movies, being around certain people, etc) take preventative action and avoid those things. Like Joseph who fled from Potiphar’s wife when she tried to seduce him, we must sometimes simply run away or avoid the things that tempt us.
5. Quote Scripture to yourself.
When Jesus was tempted by the devil, the devil quoted the Bible to Jesus hoping to trick him by sounding good and pious. Jesus’ response was to quote Scripture right back at the devil, showing the devil’s twisted and wrongful use of God’s own words (Matt. 4:5-7). The Word is also called the “sword of the Spirit” by Paul (Eph. 6:17), and we can use it to battle those things that tempt us.
We are more susceptible to temptation when we are exhausted. When we are tired we are weakened and so more vulnerable to the deceptions of the devil. Rest is very important for our spirituality, and we must be extra vigilant when are tired, asking the Lord for extra strength to resist temptation.
7. Remember there is always a way of escape.
God never allows us to be tempted beyond what we can take but always provides us with a way out.
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. (1 Cor. 10:13)
He also gives us himself without limit to call upon his strength for resistance and endurance. “God has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Josh. 1:5; Heb. 13:5). He also gives us his church, a community of fellow fighters, to help us in our battles. We need to take full advantage of these resources God provides so that we can effectively turn away from sin and be filled more and more with the goodness and grace of God.