3 Keys to Winning the Battle Against Temptation
Have you ever felt like the fight against your temptations is a losing battle? Do you find yourself falling to your temptations more than winning over them? First off, let me assure you that you’re not alone. It’s especially frustrating when you’re praying and asking God to give you strength to fight temptation, and you still go down the path of that temptation and ultimately follow through and sin.
This article I believe will give you fresh perspective from the Bible on winning this war against sin, but I wanted to say first, that I’m right there with you in the struggle of wanting to do what’s right but not always hitting the mark. Even the great Apostle Paul referenced this human struggle when he said, “The thing I want to do, I don’t, and the thing I don’t want to do, I do.”
Let me get right to the heart of the issue, we often lose to temptation because we’re trying to fight things the Bible tells us to run from.
Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:22)
You may be losing the battle because God didn’t ask you to fight it. There are many things that we do fight, but temptation is to be avoided. If you struggle with lust, you don’t go to strip clubs to fight lust, you avoid that club altogether. 2 Timothy 2:22 is an incredible outline for a better approach that will increase our resistance to temptation and sin. Let’s highlight a few key parts of this verse and see if we can grab onto some keys that will help us grow.
Stop fighting temptations that you should be avoiding.
3 Keys to Winning the Battle Against Temptation:
1. Run From
The Apostle Paul doesn’t play games, he just says, FLEE, or RUN from the temptations that face you. Running from temptation may seem counter intuitive or weak, but it’s really the greater sign of strength and maturity. I’m sure most of you have a desire to not allow any temptation and sin to rule over you or hold you hostage, so we feel the need to prove we’re stronger or able to withstand against it, but the greatest thing we can actually do is to flee or even better avoid the potential for temptation all together. The good news is that God always provides a way “out” of the temptation.
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Distance is one of the best preventions. Often people ask the question, “how close can I get to the “edge” before it’s a sin?” But that question most likely will just send you over the edge! The goal should be how close to God can I walk and how far away from the edge of sin can I get?
I highly recommend that you read through all of Proverbs 7, its packed full of help on this dialog. But I wanted to highlight that the wisest man who lived taught people to take the same approach.
My son, keep my words and store up my commands within you. 2 Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. 3 Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and to insight, “You are my relative.” 5 They will keep you from the adulterous woman, from the wayward woman with her seductive words. 6 At the window of my house I looked down through the lattice. 7 I saw among the simple, I noticed among the young men, a youth who had no sense. 8 He was going down the street near her corner, walking along in the direction of her house 9 at twilight, as the day was fading, as the dark of night set in. (Proverbs 7:1-8)
Solomon notes that God’s word keeps us from temptation. He calls the person simple, and foolish because he put himself in the place for the adulterous woman to tempt him. If we avoid the “street” of our temptation we almost fully eliminate the possibility of being tempted. When you don’t create space for temptation, you’ll eliminate the opportunity for sin. A simple example of this is that I challenge dating couples not to go over to each other’s home if no one else is around. You are setting yourself up for temptation and sin. That may seem extreme, but if you deal softly with sin, sin will deal harshly with you. The leader of our Church’s Celebrate Recover program, Roger Stanton Jr., says it like this, “The price of discipline is way more affordable than the cost of sin.”
If you deal softly with sin, sin will deal harshly with you
2. Run To
If we were just running from temptation that would seem a bit hollow, but Paul teaches Timothy that we don’t just run from, we also pursue and run to. We pursue qualities like, righteousness, faith, love and peace. In Philippians, Paul again gives more of this kind of advice:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)
When distance isn’t possible, internal health is the best way to fight temptation. Jesus fought against temptation by using the word of God that was in him. The more we focus on God’s word and embed the principles of God’s word into our lives the stronger we’ll be against temptation. And the more we’ll plan to avoid the potential for temptation. As a human and specifically a human male, lust and sexual temptation is and always will be a primary area of temptation for me. But, there are seasons where I feel like I’m doing great against these temptations and times when I feel weak and times when I’ve failed miserably. Any season where I’ve failed it’s because I’ve not fed the right things into my mind and spirit. It’s seasons where I’ve allowed wrong thoughts stay around just a little too long. The faster I am at re-focusing my mind on what’s right and keeping a steady intake of God’s word the stronger I am against temptation and sin. *For more on this, I highly recommend my Pastor’s book called, Mind Monsters.
3. Stand With
Paul says, “Along with.” to live this life for Christ and to overcome the temptations in our lives, we’re going to need to stand with the right people. One of the things you notice in that Proverbs 7 story of the simple man walking toward sin, is that he’s alone. He didn’t have anyone to keep him on track and focused on what he really wanted. I love the way it’s worded in Ecclesiastes. Now, it can be good to find others who understand your struggle so they can empathize with you, but you really want to make sure that you find a healthy person who isn’t stuck in the same pit you’re in. It’s nice to have company in the pit, but that doesn’t help anyone get out. Surround yourself with other Christians who are more mature and further down the track of developing healthy discipline and self-control.
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)
No doubt that many reading this blog have given into temptation and followed that all the way to sinning against God. The key here is that if you fall, repent, get back up and keep going. While we should feel a level of sorrow and pain when we sin against God, it needs to lead to forward progress. Feeling bad or being sorry is not where you live, it’s simply the first step to where you are going.
You can go to post on my facebook where I asked for input on the topic to get some helpful ways others are winning over their temptations.