Temptation. It’s something we all face in life as Christians. Whether it’s temptation towards a certain sin, temptation to doubt God, or temptation to give up on our faith altogether, these urges can feel overpowering at times. Yet as believers in Jesus Christ, we know that He has provided us a way to overcome these temptations, if we walk in obedience to Him. In this post, we’ll explore practical strategies, based on God’s Word, that you can apply to stand firm when facing any temptation that comes your way.
The Bible tells us plainly that temptation is inevitable. In James 1:12-13, we’re told:
Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 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. (NKJV)
Notice that verse 12 doesn’t say “if” you face temptation, but “when.” As followers of Christ living in a fallen world, you will face temptation. But as verse 12 also teaches, there is a blessing for those who endure it!
God promises that if you endure temptation and stand firm in your faith, you will receive the “crown of life.” This refers to the reward of eternal life that Jesus promises to those who remain faithful to Him. What wonderful motivation to stand strong!
So how can you stand firm when those urges to sin come? How can you overcome temptation and receive the blessing God wants to give you? Let’s explore some key strategies.
Key Takeaways for Overcoming Temptation
- Identify temptation triggers and plan to avoid them
- Fill your mind with Scripture
- Pray continually
- Put on the full armor of God daily
- Flee from temptation
- Ask God for a way out of temptation
- Surround yourself with strong Christian fellowship
- Keep your eyes on Jesus and eternal rewards
Recognize Your Personal Temptation Triggers
The first key to overcoming temptation is recognizing what situations, places, or thoughts tend to trigger temptation for you personally. Every Christian will have different areas where they are prone to give into temptation.
For example, you may notice that browsing social media often opens the door to envy or pride. Or maybe certain friends or coworkers who aren’t walking with Christ pull you towards compromising activities or conversations. Maybe difficult moments in marriage or parenting leave you vulnerable towards escaping into addiction or unhealthy habits.
Take some time to reflect on when you are most prone to face temptations. Ask God to reveal your personal triggers. As the Lord said to Cain in Genesis 4:7:
If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it. (NKJV)
Once you recognize the situations, relationships, or thought patterns most likely to lead you into temptation, you can be intentional about avoiding or minimizing those triggers. For example, you might install filtering software on your devices, end relationships leading you astray, or fill your heart with Scriptures ready for when troubling thoughts arise.
The better you know your vulnerabilities, the better prepared you’ll be to withstand temptation. So take time to examine your heart and where you tend to falter. Ask the Holy Spirit to make you “watchful and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die” (from Revelation 3:2).
Fill Your Mind with God’s Word
After identifying your personal temptation triggers, one of the best things you can do to prepare yourself to overcome temptation is to fill your mind with God’s Word. The Scriptures have power to fight temptation within us.
Psalm 119:11 says:
Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You. (NKJV)
When facing temptation, a Scripture verse you have memorized and hidden in your heart can make the difference between spiritual victory and defeat.
Try choosing some key verses that speak into the very areas where you struggle most. For example, Proverbs 23:17 offers encouragement if you face temptation towards envy:
Do not let your heart envy sinners, but be zealous for the fear of the LORD all the day. (NKJV)
Or when tempted towards anxiety, Isaiah 26:3 reminds us:
You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. (NKJV)
Take time to read and memorize Scriptures related to your vulnerabilities. Write them down on cards to carry with you. Meditate on them throughout your day. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring them to mind right when you need them most.
Filling your mind with truth is essential to overcoming temptation’s lies in the moment.
Along with saturating your mind with Scripture, prayer is another essential key to overcoming temptation. Jesus told His disciples in Luke 22:40:
Pray that you may not enter into temptation. (NKJV)
First Thessalonians 5:17 instructs us to “pray without ceasing.” This doesn’t mean we have to walk around with our eyes closed and heads bowed continuously! But it does speak to cultivating an ongoing attitude of prayer and dependence on the Lord throughout our day.
This means praying at set times, such as morning quiet times. But it also means spontaneously praying whenever temptation strikes: “Lord, help me! Give me a way out!” Even short sentences cried out to God in moments of temptation allow Him to infuse us with grace and spiritual power beyond ourselves.
Setting reminders to pray throughout your day can help strengthen your dependence on God and readiness to counter temptation. Don’t try to white-knuckle your way through temptation alone. Desperate prayer invites divine power into your struggle.
Put On the Full Armor of God
In Ephesians 6, Paul describes the spiritual armor God has given us to stand firm against the “wiles of the devil” (v.11). This includes:
- The belt of truth (v. 14)
- The breastplate of righteousness (v. 14)
- Shoes of gospel peace (v. 15)
- The shield of faith (v. 16)
- The helmet of salvation (v.17)
- The sword of the Spirit, which is God’s Word (v. 17)
Simply reading through this list quickly can prime our minds for spiritual battle against temptation throughout the day. But even better is to intentionally “put on” each piece of armor through prayer.
You might pray through the armor of God like this:
“Lord, I put on the belt of truth. Secure me from deception and lies with Your truth. I put on the breastplate of righteousness. May I walk in holiness, blameless before You. I put on the shoes of gospel peace. Ground me in Your good news. I take up the shield of faith to quench the enemy’s fiery arrows. I wear the helmet of salvation to protect my mind – I am saved and secured by You! Finally, I take up the sword of the Spirit, Your very Word. May it empower me to defeat the enemy. Thank You for this armor. Help me stand firm today.”
Praying through the armor of God like this equips you for victory in those moments temptation hits hardest.
Flee from Temptation
Sometimes one of the best things you can do when facing temptation is to simply flee from it entirely. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:18,
Flee sexual immorality. (NKJV)
While this verse addresses sexual sin in particular, the principle applies to all temptation. When we linger in proximity to temptation, it grows harder to resist. So when possible, flee the situation immediately.
Of course, we can’t always physically remove ourselves from tempting situations. But we can mentally flee through prayer and fixation on God’s truth. The moment you sense temptation arising, cry out to God and bring Scripture passages to mind until the storm passes.
Learn to recognize those initial impulses towards sin and run from them as fast as you can. Don’t flirt with temptation and presume you’ll stand strong. As Jesus said in Matthew 26:41,
Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. (NKJV)
Don’t wait for the temptation to grow strong. At the first sign, flee through prayer, Scripture, and avoidance of the situation whenever possible.
Ask God for a Way Out
When fleeing temptation fails and you find yourself in the thick of it, remember God promises to provide a way out:
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 NKJV)
Cry out to the Lord asking Him to show you the way of escape He has prepared for this particular temptation. Fully believe that He will make a way, even when you can’t see it. Ask Him to reveal it to you, then walk in obedience to what He shows you.
This promise can give you hope and confidence even in the strongest temptations. The power at work within you is greater than any tempting forces. God knows your limits and will create a path through the trial if you rely fully on Him. Keep praying and believing until He moves you out of harm’s way.
Surround Yourself with Christian Fellowship
You’ve probably heard the phrase “it takes a village” – overcoming temptation is no different. We all need support on this journey. That’s why Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us:
Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. (NKJV)
Surrounding yourself with strong Christian community provides encouragement, accountability, wisdom, and strength to endure. When you’re alone is when you’re most vulnerable to enemy attacks. But in the company of devoted believers, you have prayer support and people who will exhort you toward faithfulness.
Prioritize weekly church attendance and involvement in small groups for Bible study, fellowship, and prayer. Be transparent about your struggles and temptations with mature Christians you trust. Their godly counsel and prayers will fortify you in adversity. And you’ll draw strength knowing you’re not alone in your walk with Christ.
Keep Your Eyes on Jesus
Ultimately, overcoming temptation requires keeping your focus on Jesus consistently. The author of Hebrews writes:
Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. (Hebrews 12:2-3 NKJV)
Jesus endured unimaginable temptation on His path to the cross. When we feel overwhelmed by temptation, looking to Him provides us endurance. Jesus understands your struggle and is ready to sustain you.
Setting your mind on Christ fills you with eternal perspective. The temptation before you loses its power in light of your future hope and reward for remaining faithful:
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (2 Corinthians 4:17 NKJV)
As this verse promises, the trials we face on earth – including temptations – are “light” and temporary compared to the “eternal weight of glory” awaiting us. Keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus and the home in heaven He is preparing for us helps earthly temptations diminish in light of what lies ahead. The joy set before you in eternity can empower you to deny fleeting sinful pleasures now.
Walk in God’s Grace and Power
Overcoming temptation isn’t about trying harder in your own strength. It’s about humbly depending on and walking in God’s grace and power as you follow Jesus one day at a time.
Stay close to God through studying His Word, continual conversation with Him in prayer, loving Christian community, and rejected Satan’s lies with God’s truth. Jesus overcame every temptation, and His Spirit in you will empower you to walk in His footsteps.
The next time you face temptation, remember you have access to the power that raised Jesus from grave. You can reject sin’s brief fleeting pleasure for the “eternal weight of glory” Jesus has waiting for you (2 Corinthians 4:17). Fix your eyes on Christ. God is faithful; He will show you the way out.
You can overcome temptation – one moment at a time. May you experience the joy and reward God promises to those who stand firm in their faith!