Q: #551. How can I overcome temptation?
A: Being tempted means, basically, being enticed to sin. Satan is the main force behind our being tempted, playing on our lusts and sinful desires. It is a time when our faith is tried and tested, but we CAN overcome!
Following are some keys to overcoming temptation:
(1) Knowing that it is Satan who is doing the tempting (1 Cor 7:5)(1 Th 3:5). Jesus was tempted directly by Satan while in the wilderness for 40 days (Mt 4:1-11)(Mk 1:12-13)(Lk 4:1-13).
*** Note this about Satan:
(1 Pet 5:8-9) He goes about seeking whom he may devour.
(2 Cor 11:14-15) He can appear as an angel of light (i.e. make what is bad and evil appear good).
For more on who Satan is, see: Q: #208.
(2) God does not tempt anyone (James 1:13-14), but He does allow it, as in the case of Job. We are told to rejoice in it because the testing of our faith works patience in us (James 1:2-4) and is used to prove that our faith is genuine for the time when Jesus is revealed (1 Pet 1:6-7). We are also told to not harden our hearts during the times of testing (Heb 3:8).
(3) God will not allow more temptation than we can handle (1 Cor 10:13). God does not promise there will be no temptation, but rather that we should pray not to be led into it.
(Mt 6:13)(The Lord’s Prayer) And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:…
(Mk 14:38) Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.
(4) Jesus, when tempted in the wilderness, used the word of God to overcome Satan each time saying, “It is written.” (Verses above) (Also see: Eph 6:10-18 about putting on the armor of God)
(5) We must realize that being tempted is not a sin; the sin comes when we act on, or give into the temptation. Jesus, while on the earth, was tempted in all ways just like we are (Heb 2:18)(Heb 4:15-16) but did not give into the temptations and was without sin. He knows what we are going through, and we can ask Him to help and intercede for us through our prayers.
(6) We need to get away from the people who will lead us into sin, or from the places or things that cause us to sin. (Note: Satan sometimes uses others to tempt us (Prov 1:10)(Prov 7:21)
(7) Do not tempt God (Deut 6:16)(Mt 4:7)(Lk 4:12)! For example, if you have a problem with alcohol, and you go into a bar, order a drink, set it before you, and then say, “God, help me not to drink this,” it is quite unlikely you will get the help you seek. Trying to ask for God’s help, after disobeying what you should have done in the first place to avoid that situation, is tempting God.
(8) Do not become PROUD, thinking that you would never commit a certain sin, or that you are better than someone else (see: Lk 18:9-14). Pride goeth before a fall (Prov 16:18). God hates pride, and pride is an invitation for Satan to knock you down. It is only by God’s grace that any of us stand.
(1 Cor 10:12) Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
(9) Be careful not to fall away when temptation comes (Lk 8:13).
I would also point you to this study to see what some of God’s prophets faced, and yet persevered.
Let us ALL remember to help our brothers who are giving into temptation (Gal 6:1)(James 5:19-20)(1 Jn 5:16)
Related: What does “lead us not into temptation” mean in the Lord’s Prayer (Mt 6:13)?