When I think of temptation to sin, it’s usually reactions that trip me up. Like when someone says something hurtful and I want to say something hurtful back. Or when life doesn’t go as I planned, so I get angry instead of trusting God always works for my good.
At the core of my sinful nature lies the desire to be my own god. In difficult situations I try to force a solution instead of patiently waiting on God. I even tend to make decisions based on what makes me happy, rather than on what will honor and glorify God.
This should not be surprising, for it is the reason sin entered mankind in the first place:
“Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good from evil.” Genesis 3:4-5 NKJV (emphasis added)
Just like Eve, I want to take control and be the one who determines good from evil, and right from wrong.
Can you relate? I bet you can, because as they say in Narnia, we are all daughters of Eve.
But the good news is we can overcome the temptation to be our own god by following the example of Jesus.
Tips for Overcoming Temptation
*Based on Luke 4:1-13
“Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.” (Luke 4:1-2 NKJV)
1. Recognize the sin behind the temptation
The first temptation we hear about is Satan telling Jesus to turn a stone into bread. For a long time, this temptation confused me; after all, if we are hungry, it is not sinful to eat. But as I studied this passage, I began to see what Jesus recognized immediately.
Satan was not trying to get Jesus to eat, but rather, to make Him demonstrate distrust in God’s goodness and provision. With the temptation of bread, Satan was saying, “How can you serve and love God when He brings you out here to starve? Surely you deserve better than that.”
Recognizing the sin behind the temptation helps us to fight the right battle.
2. Know God’s word.
For each temptation, Jesus responds with scripture. More specifically, He responds with a command from God. He tells Satan: God is my provision, and I rely on Him; God is my Lord, and I won’t worship anyone else; God is almighty and can save, but I won’t tempt Him.
Knowing God’s word not only helps us recognize sinful temptations, but tells how to respond in with right and honorable behavior.
3. Trust in God’s promises.
Many times Satan tempts us with something God already promised. We see this in Luke 4:5-7 when Satan tells Jesus he will give Him rule over all the kingdoms of the world. The Old Testament prophets tell us Jesus will reign over the whole earth one day; so Satan was just offering to make that happen now instead of later.
Only, Satan is not God and cannot fulfill God’s promises. All he can offer is temporary satisfaction, which doesn’t even come close to what God wants to give us.
When we trust in God’s promises, knowing they are worth waiting for, we won’t be as tempted to speed up the process.
4. Don’t accept inaccurate interpretations of scripture.
In his final temptation, Satan tries out Jesus’ tactic and quotes scripture. I think this is a favorite scheme of our enemy because scripture taken out of context and used to justify sin is very dangerous.
To recognize this ploy, we must study our Bible in its entirety, seeking to know God and understand His ways. We can also ask God for a discerning heart when we are confronted with scripture based arguments.
5. Remain steadfast.
Did you notice Luke 4:2 says Jesus was tempted for 40 days? The three temptations recorded for us only give a small glimpse into what Jesus endured. Luke also tells us when Satan finally did leave, it was only for a period of time:
“Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.” Luke 4:13 NKJV
Overcoming temptation requires steadfastness. We should be prepared for multiple attacks which can came at any time.
You may have noticed preparation is the common thread connecting these 5 tips. Being firmly rooted in God’s word and walking with the Spirit quells our desires to be our own god, and equips us to resist temptation to sin.
Today I want you to ask yourself, what can I do to be better prepared to overcome temptation? Share your thoughts in the comments, I’d love to hear from you.