6 Ways to Fight Temptation

6 Ways to Fight Temptation
by Ram Sridharan
If you’re interested in fighting temptation – whether it’s to do drugs, have sex, or something else you think you shouldn’t be doing – then I want to tell you “Congratulations!”

The reason I begin by celebrating with you is that your keen awareness of temptation is a sign that something has changed in you for the better. Having tasted what Jesus has to offer, you’re craving deeper and greater things.

But dealing with temptation can be difficult for Christians, especially new Christians. As you begin your relationship with Jesus, choosing to say “no” to things that seemed natural, comforting, and even pleasurable may seem painful, contrary, and confusing. It may make you question what you’ve signed up for.

The silver lining of temptation is it reminds you of just how much you need Jesus to keep rescuing you from yourself and from the evil around you. So here are six ways to join forces with Jesus to fight the temptations in your life:

1. Nip it in the bud.
Temptation starts out innocently enough. It’s just a small, passing thought at first. Then, the more you attention you give that thought, the more it grows into an obsession. Eventually that thought-turned-obsession gains momentum and lures you into action, which then leads to shame, deceit, and more sin.

Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
James 1:15 (NIV)

It’s a vicious pattern to which even biblical heroes fell prey. King David noticed Bathsheba bathing (thought) and didn’t stop looking (obsession). Next, he invited her over and had sex with her (action). Then it escalated further: David had Bathsheba’s husband killed to cover up her adulterous pregnancy (shame, deceit, and more sin).

What does this mean for your battle against temptation? The best way to fight temptation is in its infancy.

You’re undoubtedly going to have a tempting thought every so often (maybe very often). The key is not to get discouraged, but to choose to squash it while it’s still a thought.

Instead of entertaining a tempting thought, hand it over to Jesus and make the choice to refocus your mind for him. Choose not to look at the trashy magazines on the rack, so you’re less likely to buy one. Choose not to search for provocative videos on YouTube, so you don’t watch one. Choose not to spend time alone with your girlfriend or boyfriend late at night, so you don’t end up under the covers together. Choose not to take a cup at the party, so you don’t drink to excess.

Whatever that seemingly harmless thought may be for you, don’t give it an inch or it will drag you a mile.

2. Arm yourself with Scripture.
Ephesians 6:17 calls the Bible the “sword of the Spirit,” which means you’ve got access to a new kind of weapon! The lifelong process of learning Scripture will continually transform your mind and arm you for the fight against temptation.

Here are three ways to make sure you’re getting a regular supply:

Memorize Bible verses: When you commit verses to memory, you can whip them out any time you need them. A few verses to start with are Psalm 119:11 and 2 Corinthians 10:5. For a book on praying Scripture to overcome common strongholds, try Praying God’s Word by Beth Moore.
Have a regular “quiet time”: Carve out time on most days for studying the Bible by yourself. There are resources listed in the On Your Own tab for the “How do I learn something from the Bible?” session. One particular resource suggested there is to read the article “How do I start reading the Bible?”
Join a small group Bible study: Whether your Launch group has completed all the sessions or not, consider joining another study on your campus or at your local church. Small groups often study a book of the Bible, read a Christian book together, or even gear around topics that interest specific people groups like athletes, artists, business majors or year in school – watch this video to see how San Diego State’s InterVarsity chapter does small groups.
3. Be weak, not strong.
You may think you need to be strong when fighting battles for Christ, but I’d suggest striving for the opposite. You’re always weaker than your weaknesses. You’re weaker than Satan and weaker than the pull of this world. Instead of posturing in strength and making resolutions like, “I will never do that again,” you need to cry out in weakness to the one who can help you. This is the kind of prayer that will help you in temptation. Cry desperately for the one who will do battle on your behalf and deliver you.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

4. Be honest with your community.
Sometimes you’ll hide your temptations, thoughts, and desires because you feel ashamed of them. But hiding makes you vulnerable to increased temptation. My most helpful relationship regarding temptation is with the prayer partner I’ve had for 15 years. I simply pray, make a list of my sins, and then confess it to him clearly and briefly. He prays forgiveness for me and then I do the same for him. I have experienced more change through this relationship than in any other. You need to make 1-2 trustworthy friends with whom you can openly share your struggles and pray for each other.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
James 5:16 (NIV)

5. Pick your battles wisely.
Peer pressure doesn’t ease up after high school. And it gets harder to navigate when you’ve decided to quit certain habits.

On the one hand, you want to show your friends you’re still accessible now that you’re a Christian. On the other hand, they may still want or expect you to participate in areas you now consider temptations.

Don’t go it alone: ask your Christian community for guidance and accountability. Pray for God to help you know when it will be okay to hang out in certain situations versus when it will be too tempting and you’ll need to bow out. Ask God to prepare you for when the lure of your former life is still too strong for you and you need to find other ways to connect with your friends in different contexts.

For more on this topic, go through the “How do I make lifestyle changes and keep my friends?” session with your Launch group.

6. Explore your wounds.
You cannot blame others for the choices you make. However, past wounds, broken relationships, and abuse can make you more vulnerable to temptation. In many cases, Christ will begin to pinpoint these areas and invite you to extend forgiveness to someone who hurt you.

You may want to find a Christian counselor through your church or InterVarsity staff member who can bring the truth and light of Christ to painful areas. Becoming aware of your wounds and how they can lead you to sin is not only helpful against temptation, it will result in deeper freedom for you.

 

 

 

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