Every person is tempted to do wrong in some form or fashion. Sometimes he is lead astray by the lusts of his own heart. At other times, he is lead astray by Satan. The Bible calls him “the tempter” (Matt4:3). He is our enemy, who like a roaring lion, goes about seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet 5:8). He is powerful, but we know that first-century saints were able to overcome him: “. . . you have overcome the wicked one” (1 Jn 2:13).
We know for certain that God tempts no man for James wrote, “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (Jam 1:13-15). Man often will tempt himself through his lust of the world and all that is contained therein. “For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world” (1 Jn 2:15,16). Yet, if we do the will of God, we shall overcome the world and the lusts thereof (1 Jn 2:17).
Temptations are all around us and seek to devour us by luring us to partake of the forbidden. How do we prepare for all these temptations? How shall we escape them?
The apostle Paul gives us one clue when writing to the Corinth church. “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it (1 Cor. 10:13). Knowing that we are on a level playing field where no one is tempted more than they can resist gives us the knowledge that all temptations can be defeated. The question is how?
Overcome Temptations By God’s Word
We must have the foundation of God’s Word within us. We must read and study God’s Word and have a good understanding of it in order to overcome temptation. (Heb. 5:14 ff; 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Tim 2:15). We have the perfect example of Jesus Christ as He was tempted in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11). Jesus overcame His temptations with three little, yet powerful words: “It is written” (v. 4, 7, 10). Jesus’ power over three enormous temptations was contained in God’s Holy Word. Jesus is our example to follow and if our Master was able to overcome, so can we. He used the scriptures to fight temptations and so must we.
The Psalmist wrote, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psa 119:11). Christians are instructed, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Col 3:16). Let us never underestimate the “Sword of the Spirit”, the Word of God (Eph 6:17). “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb 4:12).
Overcome Temptations By Prayer
Jesus taught us to pray in order to overcome temptations. “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matt. 6:13). He told the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation” (Matt. 26:41). Never underestimate the power of a Christian’s prayer. “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (Jam 5:16).
Overcome Temptations By Resisting
We must resist Satan. “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (Jam 4:7). How can we resist him? “Resist him, steadfast in the faith” (1 Pet 5:9). What else helps in our resistance? “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph 6:11,12). We must flee from iniquity and spiritual danger. “Do not enter the path of the wicked, And do not walk in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not travel on it; Turn away from it and pass on” (Prov 4:14,15). Paul instructed a young Timothy by saying, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity . . . Flee also youthful lusts” (2 Tim 2:19,22).
We must have a strong desire to overcome evil. Peter wrote, “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you do these things you will never fall” (2 Pet 1:10).