As Christians we often face temptations that challenge our faith. This is why we are given the admonition in Matthew 26:41 to “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak.” Standing up to temptation and overcoming it is a daily struggle. Even if we say “no” to temptation today, new temptations will confront us tomorrow. The battle against temptation is, in reality, a battle against our own sinful human nature.
Doug struggled with temptation for a whole semester before finally overcoming it. While taking graduate classes at night to earn an MBA degree, he found himself attracted to a fellow student named Susan. Susan was attractive, friendly, and intelligent. Doug liked meeting with Susan before class to discuss their assignments and prepare for tests. Before long, he found himself making excuses to spend more and more time with her. Susan was equally attracted to Doug. They shared a mutual attraction, but there was a problem: both were married.
One night before class, Susan suggested they take their relationship to the “next level.” When Doug asked about Susan’s husband, she claimed they were headed for a divorce, and soon. In fact, he had already moved out and was living with his brother. Susan invited Doug to her home to study and, although troubled by a guilty conscience, he accepted. They began meeting one night a week in her home. It was after a month of these so-called study sessions things came to a head.
One night, Susan pushed their books aside, took Doug by the hand, and pulled him toward her on the couch. In a fit of panic, Doug grabbed his books and dashed out the front door. He drove away in haste, but was too shook up to drive. Doug pulled into the parking lot of a convenience store where he sat for more than an hour overcome with guilt. His hands shook and his breathing was labored. When he had finally calmed his nerves sufficiently to drive, a deeply chastened Doug went home to face the music. Doug made a complete confession to his wife, dropped the class he and Susan were enrolled in, and sat out a semester to get his feet back under him emotionally.
Temptation is a constant threat to our faith. Therefore, as Christians, we must to learn to confront it head-on and overcome it. By ourselves, we cannot possibly do this, but with Christ at our side we can meet the challenge. Christ knows what it is like to be tempted; he understands what you are going through. Matthew 4: 1-11 tells the story of Christ being tempted by Satan. Rather than give in to Satan’s temptations, Christ steadfastly rejected the evil one’s schemes. This is the example we, as Christians, should follow when we struggle with temptation.
We live in a fallen world. Thus, temptation will always be with us. Satan is always lurking in the shadows looking for opportunities to ensnare you in his evil web. This is the message in 1 Peter 5:8 where we are admonished to be vigilant because the devil is always prowling around like a lion in search of prey. But unlike the lion’s prey, you are neither helpless nor defenseless. You have the armor of God for protection.
Consequently, when you feel yourself weakening in the face of temptation, put on the armor of God and you will be able to withstand the scheming temptations of Satan. This is the message in Ephesians 6: 10-11: “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.” This message should be inscribed on the heart of every Christian. Although it will never be easy, you can stand up to temptation and overcome it. Four helpful strategies are: read Scripture, pray, seek wise counsel, and learn by observing the successes and failures of others.
READ SCRIPTURE UNTIL THE TEMPTATION PASSES
The armor of God is your best defense against temptation. Even the devil’s sharpest arrows cannot penetrate it. When the devil entices you with temptation, find a quiet place and open your Bible or call up the Bible on your smart phone. Read any of the many verses that deal with temptation. Ephesians 6:11 is a good place to start. This verse makes clear the armor of God will protect you from the devil’s nefarious schemes.
BOLSTER YOUR RESOLVE WITH PRAYER
Few things will stop Satan in his tracks more effectively than the prayers of a believer. If you feel pulled in the wrong direction by temptation, fortify your heart with prayer and Satan will flee from you. This is the message in James 4:7: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” You submit yourself to God every time you pray. By asking for God’s help, you acknowledge your helplessness and his power. Ask the Lord to take you by the hand and turn you from the temptations in question.
SEEK WISE COUNSEL
Trying to fight temptation alone is unwise. Scripture advises believers who are struggling to seek wise counsel. This is the message in Proverbs 12:15: “The way of the fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.” There is a similar message in Proverbs 11:14: Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” When temptation tugs at you, seek the wise counsel of a pastor, Christian counselor, or a fellow believer.
LEARN BY OBSERVING OTHER PEOPLE
You have probably heard the adage that smart people learn from their mistakes, but wise people learn from the mistakes of others. It is smart to learn from our mistakes so we don’t repeat them. But when it comes to standing firm against temptation, an even better approach is to learn from the mistakes of others. This is the message in 1 Corinthians 10:6: “Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.” Observe the mistakes of others and learn from them.
Dr. Goetsch is the author of Christian Women on the Job: Excelling at Work without Compromising Your Faith, Fidelis Books, an imprint of Post Hill Press and Christians on the Job: Winning at Work Without Compromising Your Faith, Salem Books, an imprint of Regnery Publishing, 2019: www.david-goetsch.com