Learning how to resist temptation is not easy, but it is possible.
We are surrounded by temptations. Your temptations and my temptations most likely differ and yet the root remains the same.
Some of what tempts me has tempted me since childhood. And other times, it something new that causes me to stumble.
We live in a broken world and the temptation and desire to sin will remain as long as we walk this world. So let’s look at where it started and how to resist temptation.
Temptation started early in the Garden of Eden.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” -Genesis 3:1
Satan had a plan to skew God’s word and intention. And as Adam and Eve fell to temptation, the world began it’s broken pattern.
All throughout the Old Testament we see godly men and women fall to temptation.
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. -Matthew 4:1
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. -Matthew 4:10-11
Jesus knew how to withstand temptation. He knew exactly what it took to walk the straight and narrow path and he did it.
Temptation is strong, but our God is stronger. He will give us the grace and strength we need to walk upright and pure before Him.
It is so important to be proactive and ready to stand against temptation. But in order to do this, we must be ready to stand against Satan in every way.
Let’s dive into what it takes to resist temptation and walk in the light of Christ.
The first and most important part of resisting temptation is to recognize it for what it is. We cannot stand against something we think is good and right.
But Satan does not make this easy. He deceive and he lies. He wants you to think his ways are good and godly.
And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. -2 Corinthians 11:14
Satan does not often deceive us with a big warning sign. Instead, like with Eve and with Jesus, he takes something so close to the truth and skews it ever so slightly in hopes that we will not recognize it.
In order to resist temptation, we need to be extremely familiar with the Scriptures.
I can’t tell you how often I have heard others quote Scripture to push their own agenda. But when taken out of context, Scripture has the power to lead others astray.
Whether you are trying to decide which path to take or you are faced with another temptation, remember that Satan’s plans are often so close to God’s that unless you are in the Scriptures and listening to the Holy Spirit, you might miss the warning.
Take time to pray, study Scripture and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal temptations for what they are.
Once you recognize them, you can then truly resist them.
I am a professional rationalizer. I think it comes from so many arguments as I grew up, always trying to get my point heard and accepted. It’d be great if I were a lawyer, but in every other area of my life, it brings an unhealthy touch.
When faced with a decision or choice, I find myself searching for any reason to rationalize what I want. Sometimes, it’s a conscious choice to do this, and others it happens so quickly and subconsciously that I don’t notice.
Rationalizing is something that Satan loves! He wants you to avoid the hard truth and convince yourself his ways are good.
When we rationalize, we are doing Satan’s work of deception for him.
When I realized how often I did this, I decided to do everything I could to stop. I had to take every desire or decision to the Lord and surrender daily. I had to ask the Holy Spirit to show me the way and lead my heart.
In order to stop rationalizing, it is so important to align your heart with the Lord’s and to take everything to Him in prayer.
And as you grow more intimate with the Holy Spirit, you will begin to be able to discern the Holy Spirit’s voice from the voice of rationalization.
Develop a Strategy
In order to resist temptation, you need a strategy in place before you even face it.
Without this set strategy to follow, rationalization is so easy.
Some ideas that I have found helpful in a strategy to resist temptation are:
- Write out a specific prayer to pray when you face temptation
- Stop what you are doing and take a set amount of time to reflect and pray
- Leave the area/place that you are and go somewhere different. For example if you are tempted by something in your house, go outside and take time to pray and get away from it. This will give you perspective.
- Find Scriptures that clearly speak against this temptation. Say them aloud.
- Share your goals with someone who can keep you accountable. This is not easy and it takes vulnerability and the willingness to let another see your failure and struggle. But this is one of the most powerful ways to stand against it. We were created for community, so let others help you stand strong.
Scripture promises that when we actively resist Satan, he will flee from us.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. -James 4:7
Jesus was following the Holy Spirit’s promptings, fully submitted to the Lord as he entered the wilderness. And, he shows us exactly how to resist temptation by resisting Satan. He yells, “Away from me, Satan!” and quotes the Word of God.
As you learn how to resist temptation, remember this: the Word of God is your offensive weapon to stand against Satan and all his temptations and schemes.
The next time you face temptation, don’t be afraid to say out loud, “Away from me, Satan!” and rely on Scripture and your specific strategy to stand strong.
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