“The devil made me do it.”
“I can’t help it; this is just who I am.”
“I inherited this trait from my parents; I can’t change.”
These are some of the excuses we use when we feel unable to resist temptation. These statements are not true. They are lies that lead to defeat. The Bible teaches that we can resist temptation and refuse to sin. It provides the strategy we need to be victorious over temptation.
“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it”
1 Corinthians 10:12-13 (NKJV).
Steps to Overcome Temptation
The first step in overcoming temptation is humility. We must realize we are susceptible to all temptation. If we think we cannot be tempted in a certain area, we are deceived and overestimate our ability to resist. Pride lulls us into relying on ourselves, but we are never strong enough on our own. Humility reminds us we must depend on God. The Holy Spirit strengthens us and enables us to resist every temptation. We must “take heed lest we fall.”
Understand the limits of temptation
Next, we need to understand that no temptation will “overtake” us without God’s permission. While God may allow the temptation, He never orchestrates it. “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). God does not want us to sin and will never encourage us to do so.
Satan is the one who wants us to sin. He creates situations in our lives to tempt us to disobey God. Matthew 4:1-2 tells us that Satan had the audacity to tempt Jesus. He will also tempt us, but he cannot make us sin. First John 4:4 reminds us that “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” The Holy Spirit lives in us to empower us. As we obey Him, sin’s power over us is destroyed.
Although Satan is the instigator of much temptation in our lives, he is not the primary source. Our own sin nature produces most of our temptations. “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed” (James 1:14). Our own selfish desires entice us and tempt us to sin. To resist temptation, we must submit our desires to God by asking Him to help us want only what He wants. As we learn to desire His will above all, temptation’s pull becomes easier to resist.
Acknowledge you are not alone
Additionally, we need to acknowledge that “all temptation is common to man.” Believing we face temptations that are unique to us or more intense than others causes us to doubt our ability to resist. However, 1 Corinthians 10:13 assures us that others have faced what we face. Even Jesus faced temptation. Hebrews 4:15 says He “was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” He is our perfect example of victory over temptation. Other believers have also faced and resisted temptations similar to those we face. Their victory encourages us to remain strong and act righteously regardless of how intense the temptation becomes.
Rely on God’s faithfulness
Finally, we need to rely on God’s faithfulness. Temptation often seems so powerful that we expect to fail. First Corinthians 10:13 teaches that God “will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able.” He knows our limits and will not allow the temptation to exceed our ability to resist. For every temptation, He faithfully provides a “way of escape.” In fact, He makes the way of escape perfectly fit the temptation, our personality, and anything else that affects our ability to resist. When we look for and take this way of escape, we will overcome the temptation without sinning.
Relying on God’s faithfulness though prayer, provides us with a “shield of faith” to protect us from the fiery darts of Satan (Ephesians 6:16). When he assaults us with temptation, prayer is our best defense. Praying acknowledges that it is His power that enables us to defeat temptation. It opens our eyes to see the way of escape and gives us strength to resist.
God has also been faithful by providing His Word. This “sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17) is our offensive weapon to fight temptation. Memorizing Scripture prepares us to battle temptation. Psalm 119:11, says “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” Memorizing the Word of God sharpens our blade and prepares us for combat. As we speak the Word, we wield the sword of the Spirit that is able to defeat the evil one. The more verses we know and use, the more victory we will experience over temptation.
When we learn to quit giving excuses and expecting to fail, we will fight temptation effectively. We can humbly ask God to help us and He will. He will provide us with a way of escape and train us to use our shield of faith and our sword of the Spirit. As we learn to submit to Him and obey the Spirit, we will “be able to bear” any temptation that we face.
Whom do you blame when you face temptation?
In what area(s) of temptation do you need to be more humble?
What selfish desires in your life cause temptation?
How can you train yourself to rely on God’s faithfulness?
In what area(s) are you tempted most?
What Scriptures will you memorize to combat these temptations?
Dear Heavenly Father, please help me to humbly realize that I am vulnerable to all forms of temptation. Help me to realize that You do not cause the temptation, but You do allow it. I believe You will only allow temptation that I am able to withstand. Help me to immediately turn to You and look for the way of escape. Train me to use the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit to effectively defeat all temptation. I can be victorious through Your strength. In the mighty name of Jesus I pray. Amen.
© Copyright 2019 by Karen Griffin
All Scripture is quote from NKJV
This article was inspired by Chapter 6, “The Truth About Temptation,” of Set Apart: Discovering Personal Victory Through Holiness by Bruce Wilkinson.
Bruce Wilkinson, “The Truth About Temptation,” in Set Apart Discovering Personal Victory Through Holiness (Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, 2003), 199-113.
I highly recommend this book for the study of becoming more Christ-like. It teaches personal holiness by presenting practical steps for sanctification.