Resisting temptation—What is the key?

Being tempted is common to all people. Temptation to sin began in the garden with Adam and Eve, continued through time to when Jesus was tempted, and has dogged all of us ever since.

Temptation is the invitation to sin. Sin is acting contrary to God and His will. We often think of sin as a list of crimes, but sin is much more than that. Sin is thinking, acting, and having motives in opposition to God and His desire.

Though we all are tempted, we can be confident that we are not unique. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man." Jesus also was tempted. After fasting from food and water for 40 days, the Devil tempted Him to turn stone into bread, to jump from a high point on the temple to see angels save Him, and to bow to Satan in exchange for world power (see Matthew 4). Jesus responded by refusing to give into temptation and quoting the Word of God.

These temptations were, in a way, unique to Jesus, but Scripture tells us that Jesus was "tempted in every way, just as we are" (Hebrews 4:15 NIV).

When we are tempted, we can follow the example of Jesus by first and immediately rejecting the idea, and following that denial up with a bulwark of Scripture.

To use Scriptures as a defense and a weapon against temptation, we should know Scriptures. The more we know, the better equipped we will be.

In Psalm 119:11, we are given this example: "I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you." And, in the same Psalm, verses 97–98, we read, "Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me."

We should also call upon the Holy Spirit to help us to deny the temptation and to please Him. In Galatians 5:16, Paul writes that we should "walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh."

Praying and asking God to help us was modeled and taught by Jesus. He told Peter to pray to avoid falling into temptation (Mark 14:38).

In 1 Corinthians 10:13, we are taught that "God is faithful, and he will not let [us] be tempted beyond [our] ability," and that He will provide us with a way out. We must be aware of this promise, find the way out, and finally, obediently take it.

As Christians, we must be aware that we have an enemy who seeks not to simply trip us up or distract us, but to destroy us. "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8). Devour is not nibbling or tasting; it is destroying. Elsewhere, we are told to arm ourselves.

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints" (Ephesians 6:10–18).

Remember too, that Jesus died for you because you could not pay the penalty for your sin—which is death. He loved you that much—that He would take the death penalty for you. In thanksgiving for that suffering love, you can resist temptation as an offering to Jesus.


Related Truth:

How can I have victory in overcoming sin?

What is mortification of the flesh or mortification of sin?

Is entire sanctification possible? Can Christians achieve sinless perfection in this life?

If Jesus forgave all my sins when I became a Christian, why shouldn't I continue to sin?

Why does God test us?


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