Ever since the entrance of evil into our world, every person seeking to serve God has felt the battle between two opposing masters—and Satan is always ready to exploit our physical and emotional desires to sever our relationship with God (Isaiah 59:2). But God has called us to holiness—that is, to separate ourselves from sin. “As He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” (1 Peter 1:15). Of course, without supernatural aid, we are powerless to resist the evil desires of the carnal heart, but we do have an active part to play in serving God … so here are 10 practical tips to help you overcome temptation.
#1 Remember the Reward God Has in Store for You
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). It is much easier to resist temptation if you believe you are really saved. But caution—if you mistakenly think you can work your way into being saved, you will actually erode your ability to resist evil.
#2: Believe in the Badness of Sin
“So that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful” (Romans 7:13). Don’t be deceived when the devil portrays sin as something to be desired. Go back about 2,000 years to Calvary and see what sin did to Jesus. You need to come to the place where you love God so much that you would rather die than grieve Him.
#3: Get Ready to Flee
Few speed records are broken when people run from temptation. Sometimes temptation comes through a door deliberately left open. If you accidentally spilled kerosene all over your clothes and somebody lit a match nearby, where would you go? As far away as you could, as fast as possible! That should be our attitude toward temptation. “Flee fornication” and “flee from idolatry” (1 Corinthians 6:18; 10:14).
#4: Don’t Follow the Crowd
“Everybody’s doing it, so it must be okay.” The devil loves “lemming logic.” By letting the crowd dictate our values, we become like the crowd—and the crowd is usually wrong. “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction” (Matthew 7:13). Christians have to think for themselves and resist peer pressure. It’s okay to be different.
#5: Plan to Stay Busy
An idle person tempts the devil to tempt him. When God told Adam, “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread,” it was intended to be a blessing for man to stay out of trouble (Genesis 3:19). Sin begins in the mind. If we stay focused on doing something good, we don’t have time to think about evil. Commit to being involved in serving Jesus through witnessing or serving the poor.
#6: Have a Plan
It’s always good to be prepared. Proverbs 22:3 teaches, “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished.” If you have an area of temptation you know will drag you down, take whatever advance measures of prevention you can to keep from being overcome.
#7: Know Your Limitations
“Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). We must not trust in our own strength—be very cautious when thinking you have a handle on a certain temptation and say, “It won’t bother me anymore. I’m strong enough.” That’s when we are especially in a position to fall.
#8 Overcome Evil with Good
We leave ourselves open to sin when we fail to fill the vacuum left by forsaken bad habits. The secret is to learn to “eat what is good” (Isaiah 55:2). “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). If someone has insulted or cruelly used you, do not retaliate with evil but kindness.
#9 Care for Your Health
Jesus said, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). Temptation often comes not at our strongest moments, but during our weakest. Most marital arguments occur at the end of the day when one or both spouses are tired and hungry. So get enough sleep and exercise and eat good food. Avoid sensitive discussions or demanding tasks during volatile times.
#10: Recognize Your Only Escape
“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 10:13). We don’t have to rely on our power; we can rely on God’s strength! When you are tempted, go to God in prayer for His strength.
By God’s grace, you can resist every temptation. Constant prayer with God will go a long way! But remember that if you do fall, don’t give up. Many people who fall down, stay down, but God can help you recover lost territory, and He will save you from future temptations. The Christian life is often a progressive one. “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). Don’t let past failures be an excuse for future compromise. Instead, give thanks to God, who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57). Ask Him for overcoming power—and take it one day at a time.