Updated: Oct 18, 2020
Every Christian must learn how to overcome temptation because no one is above temptation. Temptation is not of itself sinful, it is when you give in to the desires of temptation that it becomes sinful. Satan likes to condemn children of God even when they have not sinned. He likes to make them feel guilty, but it is not a sin to be tempted. Our Lord Jesus was tempted, and we know that He did not sin. The Bible says that He was "in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."
Temptation becomes sinful when we it become an action, even in our minds. Lust, for example, is a sin even though it may never be acted upon (Matthew 5:28). Covetousness, pride, greed, and envy are all sins of the heart; even though they may not be apparent to anyone else, they are still sin (Romans 1:29). Whenever we entertain temptation, it takes root in our hearts and then defiles us (Matthew 15:18-19).
The Bible speaks of some sins which are outward sins, and it speaks of other sins which are inward sins. By outward sins, we mean sins such as cursing, lying, stealing, immorality, drunkenness, murder etc. By inward sins we mean sins such as pride, jealousy, envy, selfishness, un-forgiveness, hatred, lust. These are the secret sins which the eye of man cannot see. But God sees them, and they are hateful in His sight. Satan knows your weakest point, and this is where he tempts you the most. In order to live a victorious life, you must learn how to overcome temptation.
How to overcome temptation
Recognise that no one is above temptation.
The Bible say, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
This clearly proves that temptation is common to man. Jesus himself was tempted and so were the people we read about in the Bible.
Do not be ignorant of the devices of the enemy; “be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Resist Temptation with the Word of God
Our main weapon against temptation is the word of God. Jesus overcame Satan in the wilderness with God’s word. He repeatedly quoted the scriptures that directly answered the devil’s lies and temptations. When we are tempted, we can follow the same example of Jesus by rejecting the lies of the devil.
To use the word of God as a defence and a weapon against temptation, we must meditate upon it day and night. The more we know, the better equipped we would be when faced with temptation. "I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you"(Psalm 119:11).
When temptation comes knocking on your door, all you have to do is draw your weapon, aim and fire!
Flee from temptation
We naturally flee from danger like When the building is on fire, we flee to a safer place. Unfortunately, when many people see temptation coming, they do not flee. Rather than flee temptation, they dabble in it, deflect it, postpone it, or analyse it; some embrace it. We seem to be more concerned with physical dangers that threatens the body than we are with spiritual dangers that threaten the soul. Fleeing from temptation means we recognize it as an enemy; we simply go the other way, with no hesitation and no compromise
Joseph was a good example of someone who fled from temptation was targeted by his master’s wife for an adulterous affair. She tempted him day after day and one day, “She caught him by his cloak and said, ‘Come to bed with me!’ But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house” (Genesis 39:12). That is an excellent example of fleeing from temptation. Joseph did not stand around to argue or give himself time to reconsider, he fled. One way to resist the devil is to flee at the first hint of temptation.
Make prayer a vital part of your life.
The hour of prayer is probably the most neglected discipline of our spiritual walk. Jesus asked His disciples to tarry with him in prayer for one hour. Are we willing to give Him one hour a day? God is calling for His church to awake, to arise to righteousness; this includes a life dedicated to prayer. Prayer is not a "spare wheel" that you pull out when in trouble, but it is a "steering wheel" that directs the right path throughout life. The Bible asks us to, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Jesus prayed at all time and so should we. We are to pray regardless of our circumstances; even during our temptations.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the perfect example of how to deal with temptation. Our `Lord Jesus was tempted 3 times and he responded 3 times with the word of God. The Scriptures can do the same for us. Read the word of God and meditate on it daily so that when Temptation comes your ways, you have a weapon at hand to overcome the enemy.