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SpecialistMichael, MS, CSCS
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How can one resist and overcome temptation?

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How can one resist and overcome temptation?

Hi, could you please clarify what kind of answer you're looking for? There are several ways to approach this question. For instance, are you interested in a faith-based reply? If so, what is your religious background and belief? If not, what other approach might you interested in? Psychological? Philosophical? Something else? Thanks!

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I usually prefer faith-based. But it's more important to find an answer that will work. I am a Christian. I believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven. I believe Jesus Christ lived in Earth as a human man, but still had His Divine Nature on the inside of Him because He is also God. I believe Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on Earth, and because He lived a sinless life on Earth, He was eligible to willingly die on a cross out of love in order to save mankind from their sins for anyone that believes in Him and accepts Him as Lord and Savior. I believe Jesus Christ defeated death by resurrecting from the grave 3 days after He died, and that He is alive today in Heaven and seated to the right of God The Father. Thank you.

Hi Jaime,


Thank you for your reply. I too am a Christian, a committed disciple of Jesus Christ, and happy to answer from a Christian faith-based perspective.


In fact, the Bible does provide quite a bit of help in tackling this question, which is of great importance to all Christians. If you prefer, you can skip to the end for a simplified list of steps to take. However, I encourage you to read all the answer as you have time. All scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB). If you'd like to compare with other translations, a site that can be very helpful is an online parallel Bible that also provides commentaries and other aids.


First of all, it's helpful to keep in mind that temptation is something all Christians struggle with, a struggle that doesn't end as long as we live on this earth. Even Paul faced temptation, as he made clear in Romans 7:18-20 where he wrote, "For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it."


Nevertheless, there are some concrete, practical steps that can be taken to resist and overcome temptation as it arises, bearing in mind that it will arise again. It's also wise to remember that temptation in and of itself is not sin, and also that the more times temptation is resisted, the stronger the Christian will become to resist the next time.


Jesus Himself has given us the main blueprint for resisting temptation. Matthew states (4:1) that "Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil." He then gives specific details of the three final temptations Jesus endured when he was at the end of his forty-day fast, and hungry. It's worth noting that in the second temptation, Satan even used scripture, or rather twisted scripture, to tempt Jesus. However, to this, as well as to the first and third, Jesus resisted Satan by appropriately using scripture in turn to refute him. Jesus said, repeatedly, "It is written" and then quoted the scripture. After the third time, "the devil left Him." (Matt.4:11) Jesus defeated Satan with the Word of God.


Christians may emulate Jesus in this. James said in 4:7, "Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you." And Paul said, "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it." (1 Cor.10:13) Temptation comes by Satan and his demons, but also arises out of our sinful nature, as James said (1:14), "each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust."


Regardless of the source, the primary means of resisting temptation is to have a personal relationship with God. That is first, foremost and absolutely necessary. And of course, Jesus made it possible for us to have exactly that. But we must put God first in everything, and strive daily to know Him better, to pray, to spend time in His presence. Remember His promise in Jeremiah 29:13, "‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. ‘I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD." Also remember the admonishment in Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight."


I once came across an acronym that can be used as a reminder of how to format your daily prayer. It is ACTS, so:


A = Adoration, praise, worship. Psalm 22:3 says that God is "enthroned upon the praises of Israel." When we praise Him we literally call Him to us.

C = Confession. Confess to God any known sins, as unconfessed sin can be a hindrance to prayer and to spiritual growth. Claim the promise in 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

T = Thanksgiving. Give God thanks for all his blessings. Remember, Paul said 1 Thess.5:18, "in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."

S = Supplication. Finally, after having prepared your own heart to come near to God, give him your requests, and ask for His aid in resisting and overcoming whatever temptation(s) you are struggling with. You know this is His will, and "This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him" (1 John 5:14-15).


Also arm yourself daily against temptation. It helps to read, out loud, Ephesians 6:10-17 first thing every morning, read (or recite) it as a prayer, where Paul says to "be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Literally, get dressed in this armor each day. Just as you dress your physical body in clothes, so dress your spiritual self in God's armor.


When the enemy then comes against your armored self with temptation, come against it with scripture. It may sound obvious, but this requires actually knowing scripture, which means one must read, and memorize the words of the Bible so as to be prepared to fight temptation with its powerful words. Reading, hearing and memorizing scripture has the added benefit of strengthening faith. Paul says in Romans 10:17, "faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." One effective way to study scripture is to do it with the aid of some online websites, such as Bible Gateway , which has audio Bibles that allow you to hear as well as to see/read scripture.


Pray more. As you read, listen to, and memorize God's word, take note of the many passages that you can use as prayers. Praying scripture is very powerful, and a strong aid to overcoming temptation. God says in Isaiah 55:11, "So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it." When you pray God's own word back to Him as a prayer, reminding Him of His promises, you may be very sure that He will grant your requests. Pray out loud, even in a whisper, whenever possible. But always pray. This is your most powerful weapon. Remember, Jesus taught His disciples to pray, "do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil" (Matt.6:13).


If you are facing a particularly troublesome temptation, consider fasting, as Jesus did when the Spirit led Him into the wilderness. Fasting is not required, Jesus never commanded His disciples to fast, but it is a discipline of the spiritual life that can be a very powerful aid in learning to walk closer with God. You might try fasting one meal, or one day, or a few, as the Spirit leads.


So, taking into account all the above, when temptation comes, first pray for God's help. Then you may say, out loud, "It is written,'Resist the devil and he will flee from you.' I resist you by the power of the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus Christ." Then also quote whatever scripture is applicable to the specific temptation you are facing at that moment. For example, if you should be tempted to steal, then say, again out loud, "I resist this temptation to steal, for it is written, "You shall not steal" (Ex.20:15) and "my God will supply all [my] needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus" (Phil.4:19). I do not need to steal because I trust in my God. Get away from me in the name of Jesus Christ."


Another very important step to take is to gather together with other Christians. The walk of faith is greatly helped and enhanced by walking in company with others. And that doesn't mean just sitting on a pew on Sunday morning, but fostering relationships with other Christians so that you can "encourage one another and build up one another" (1 Thess.5:11). If you already belong to a church, make an effort (with prayer) to find others with whom you can develop a closer relationship, perhaps meeting privately one or more times a week to share and pray. If you don't belong to a church, ask God to guide you to a place where other believers gather so you can get to know them. Don't limit God - it may not be where you expect.


Finally, remember the ChristXXXXX XXXXXfe is a journey. There may be stumbles along the way, and every Christian at times falls into temptation which results in sin. Should that happen, immediately confess it to God, claim His promised forgiveness, then trust that He has given it. The psalmist wrote, "As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us" (Ps.103:12). So don't wallow in shame, but put it behind, and begin again, "forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead ... press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil 3:13).


To sum up, the practical steps to take in resisting and overcoming temptation are:


1) Develop and maintain a close relationship with God/Jesus, spending time with Him every day.

2) Read, study, listen to and memorize scripture.

3) Pray daily, using such helps as the acronym ACTS, and putting on the armor of God as in Ephesians 6. Pray scripture. Pray out loud. Consider fasting.

4) When temptation comes, resist it, out loud, using scripture, claiming the power of Jesus name. Pray for God's help.

5) Gather together with other believers, confess your struggles, pray for and with one another.

6) If temptation should end in sin, confess it to God, claim His promised forgiveness and begin again.


Here are some additional resources that may provide more insight and aid:


Bible verses About Temptation


Nine Thoughts About Temptation


How to Resist Sin and Temptation


Praying Scriptures


Scriptural References to Fasting


10 Fasting Tips: A Christian Guide


I truly hope you will find this answer helpful. If you have any further questions or concerns, please ask before closing out the question and I'll be glad to respond. When you're satisfied, I'd appreciate it if you'd provide a positive rating so I might receive credit for helping you. Thank you for this opportunity.


Warmest regards,


CRogers, Internet Researcher
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Hi Jamie it's Mike, if you would also like my take on resisting temptations from a non-faith based perspective(as I know many people follow different paths) I am happy to take some time and give you my take as well.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hello Mike. Sure, if you know any Psychological approaches, Philosophical approaches, or anything else, I will be glad to hear them as well. I feel the chances increase for finding a solution that will work for me if I receive as much information as I possibly can. Thank you.

Gladly this is a struggle I think many people at some "level(of temptation)" deal with on a daily basis. I know this is something in various arenas and levels I battle.

I added to your Ethiopian door and window question and will now continue with this one.

So there are quite a few ways to look at things as far as temptations.

In my mind, I tend to approach things not so much from a "being judged" standpoint but from a consequence and after effect standpoint. For example I tend to think "what will I have to do as a result of my action" and I think for a lot of people who may not have discovered a faith this should be their primary way of considering their own actions. I do not think a lot of people weigh the action-reaction.

I think if a lot of people took a step back and actually objectively evaluated the "reaction" portion that their choice could lead to, a lot of the temptation both emotional and physical would be halted and those people who were considering doing something detrimental would more than likely not. However we live in a world of temptation, even down to the simplest of things like a nightly dinner. For example we know how bad some fast food is for us. While everything for the most part is fine in moderation we know that living a life of bad habits, even down to what we eat and drink can have a very serious effect on health and well being, for those who have a family history of disease brought by this it is often too late once a lifestyle has been started. Too many people in my very humble opinion would rather deal with the consequence when it comes, selfishly, as opposed to doing something a bit wiser and completely avoid a negative consequence. Too few people realize the effects their actions have not only on themselves but on those close to them.

For example I tend to not eat to much fast food, maybe a meal every couple of weeks if I crave something - usually the consequence is an upset stomach because I am used to eating "clean" foods. To stretch this out, I know that if I ate it regularly one consequence would be I wouldn't have as much money in my wallet, I would have lower energy, I would eventually start to gain weight and degrade my health. On a much larger scale I know that poor habits like this would eventually have effects on my family as I got sick, potentially developed metabolic disease or even just had to go on medications because of a destabilized blood lipid profile.

I think for a person to completely use this method of temptation avoidance a thorough objective consideration of all people involved, the "depth" of the consequence and the severity of the consequence would be needed. I think most people in retrospect would not have picked such a nasty action had they known in advance, and more importantly took the time to SEE the effects of their temptation based actions and how it affects not just them.

In this case, acting selflessly and considering others before partaking in a temptation would likely halt a poor choice.

Consider how everyone is affected, how you are affected and ultimately how much more "negativity" you would have to deal with following your choice.

SpecialistMichael, MS, CSCS
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 508
Experience: Senior Information Specialist
SpecialistMichael and 37 other General Specialists are ready to help you