Struggling with temptation?
If you answered no, then biblically speaking, you are not being honest (1 John 1:8-9). Battling sin and temptation is a characteristic of all true Christians. We’ve been set free from the power of sin, but that doesn’t mean we live a perfect and sinless life.
We are called to put off the old man and put on the new man (Ephesians 4:22-24), walking in newness of life. As we grow and mature as believers, our struggles may change–but they do not completely go away. One struggle may go away, and God may reveal to us another sin that was there all along, something we didn’t see because we were so fixated on other struggles.
What does the Bible say about resisting temptation and overcoming sin?
Five Powerful Truths to Help You Overcome Sin and Resist Temptation:
1. You have a real enemy that seeks to destroy you.
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. ” 1 Peter 5:8
Humans have a mortal enemy on this earth who wants to destroy our souls and make us unfruitful for Christ. He wants to devour you like a lion devours its prey. We have to be on guard and resist him (1 Peter 5:9). Denying the devil exists or taking this warning lightly will make us prone to attack and easy targets.
When you are tempted, remind yourself of the future consequences of your sin. Even if they don’t seem to hurt any of your earthly relationships, every sin is an offense against God. That’s exactly why the devil wants to cause you to fall–he hates God and us. We are to stand firm in the faith against the schemes of the devil (Ephesians 6:11).
2. You are not alone in your temptation–whatever it is.
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man…” 1 Corinthians 10:13a
The temptations we each face are not unique to us–people all over the world are dealing with the same problems and are fighting. Don’t think that you are alone in struggles that you have. If you feel alone, be honest with a trusted friend or a pastor about your struggles. Scripture promises freedom in confession and help from the body of Christ.
The enemy wants to lie to you by shaming you into thinking you’re alone in your struggle and some sort of freak. Use this truth to fight his lies and push forward.
3. You can resist temptation and obey God. Every time.
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you have passed from death to life, are filled with the Holy Spirit, and are able to stand firm against every temptation. The Bible says this in a few different ways. Let’s look at one positive way and one negative way:
“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness…” 2 Peter 1:3
This verse says that God has equipped us with everything we need for godliness. We already have all of the resources and tools we need to beat every temptation. What makes the differences is if engage in warfare with the resources and tools God has given us.
God has given us spiritual armor that protects us against enemy attacks. He has given us His Word which is able to train us in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16-17), keep us from sin (Psalm 119:11), and be our sword in fighting temptation (see Jesus’ example in Matthew 4:1-11).
God has given us His Holy Spirit to help us fight sin in His power and not just our own. The Spirit gives us life and power to fight sin and submit to God (see Romans 8:5-11 and Galatians 5:16).
All other ways of mortification are vain, all helps leave us helpless; it must be done by the Spirit. John Owen
“[God] 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 Corinthians 10:13
God promises that even though we may face strong temptations, they are not too strong for us to overcome. If we feel that they are too strong, we need to analyze our struggles and the chain of events that lead up to the temptation. And if you find yourself tempted, God will always give you an eject button to escape the situation.
Does constant victory not describe you? Maybe you haven’t been suiting up your spiritual armor that Paul talks about in Ephesians 6:10-20. God has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness. Depend on God and pray that he would help you realize all that he has given you–and use it in His power to stand firm.
4. Do everything you can to analyze your temptations and fight your sinful tendencies.
“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” Romans 13:14
Many Christians stuck in sin are very clever–not clever at something important like reaching people for Christ or even something fun like ping pong or Chinese Checkers–but clever at finding ways to sin and cover up their sin.
If only people spent as much effort repenting of their sin as they do covering it up!
Unfortunately, many people struggle constantly because they only work hard to enter into temptation and not to prevent and avoid it.
Knowing weak areas and anticipating temptation are two vital parts to our game plan for resisting temptation. When you fall into temptation, look back at the series of events that might have slowly pushed you toward disobedience. Maybe listening to a coworker complain about your boss at work makes it harder for you to be content with your job and love your boss. Maybe watching something on TV caused you to lust, and that lust grew into pursuing explicit material.
In each of those cases, notice where the temptation starts and what pours gasoline on the fire of your temptation. During those times, pray to God for help against temptation and remind yourselves of truths of Scripture to prevent lies from lodging themselves in your mind.
I know for me, the more I watch political TV, the more anxious I get, and the harder it is for me to love people and be patient with them. The more I fill my head with things of the world, the more I am tempted to live by the flesh and not the Spirit.
What we fill our minds with and let ourselves dwell on has a huge impact in our lives. We need God’s Word to fill our minds with truth to combat against the lies that are so prevalent. If anything causes you to sin, cut it out, put it to death (Romans 8:13). Cry out to God to help you cast off sin and everything that entangles and run the race God has set before you (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Fight against temptation with every ounce of energy you have–and ask trusted brothers or sisters to help you and keep you accountable. You can’t do it on your own.
5. We need to constantly pray for God’s help.
When Jesus and his disciples went into the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus warned his disciples to:
“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41
Jesus knew that the disciples couldn’t fight temptation on their own and urged them to call out to God in prayer. God is our ultimate resource in fighting temptation and has total control to guide us through every situation.
The disciples should have known this, because earlier in Matthew 6:13 Jesus tells them to pray,
“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
Our battle is not against flesh and blood but against spiritual enemies. Spiritual enemies and our own flesh need to be fought with God’s help because “the flesh is weak.”
Jesus is able to help you when you are tempted.
“For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” Hebrews 2:18
We can call on him because he has already climbed the mountain of righteousness perfectly. He has reached the top and He can reach down and give us a helping hand when we face tough parts in our journey. He is our great High Priest, the One we can call to in confidence (Hebrews 4:15-16). Only He has been through temptation without sin and only He can bring us through temptation without sin.
Call out to Christ–He can and will help you fight against sin.
Temptation in the Bible: Bonus Bible Verses about Resisting Temptation and Overcoming Sin
- Basic instructions against temptation: 1 Corinthians 10:12-14; 1 Peter 5:6-11; Ephesians 6:10-20
- Jesus being tempted in the wilderness by Satan: Matthew 4:1-11
- Adam and Eve being tempted by Satan in the Garden: Genesis 3
- Joseph flees sexual temptation from Potiphar’s wife
- Temptation comes from our hearts, not from God: James 1:13-15
- Don’t let the sin of others tempt you: Galatians 6:1
- Do not enter the path of the wicked: Proverbs 4:14-15