Imagine there’s an angry, 500-pound grizzly bear scratching at your front door. How would you respond? Wait, don’t answer just yet—we’ll get there. First, let’s talk about how you’re going to fight temptation today.
In a world where instant gratification is readily available, resisting temptation can feel almost impossible. Whether it’s eating unhealthy foods, overspending on unnecessary stuff, or giving in to addictive behaviors, we often find ourselves struggling to make choices that reflect our faith and goals for the future.
So, what are you going through? What brought you to this article today? Whatever it is, know that there’s a way for you to resist temptation, build self-control, and avoid sin.
Let’s Find Fulfillment Together
As followers of Jesus, we have an incredible calling—to help others come to know the love of God. But our calling isn’t easy. We experience daily temptations to quit or compromise our calling.
So, how do we overcome temptation? Together, let’s find out how Jesus responded to temptation so we can follow Him to lasting joy.
Jesus Understands Temptation
For three years, Jesus’ life was uncomfortable. He spoke boldly, endured attacks from critics, and even regularly heard about plots to kill Him. He didn’t have a consistent home and lived off the generosity of others. And He experienced temptation. Early on in the account of His ministry, He was given an offer to avoid hardship and take what at first might have sounded like a smoother path.
The Story of Jesus’ Temptation
Here’s what we know about one of the times Jesus was tempted, from Matthew 4:1-11 NLT.
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry. During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.”
But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’”
Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the LORD your God.’”
Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.”
“Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the LORD your God and serve only him.’” Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.
Temptation Offers Us Easy Options
The devil made Jesus three offers:
- An easy way to meet an immediate need (hunger).
- An easy way to convince people of Jesus’ power.
- An easy way to change the world.
The devil took advantage of Jesus’ hunger and tempted Him with a shortcut to food. In the final chapter of the Bible, there’s a vision of the future where Jesus will rule the world, and everyone will acknowledge His power. The devil was aware of this truth and tried to lure Jesus with an easier way to achieve His goals, even quoting Bible verses to make his proposal sound like spiritual wisdom.
3 Steps to Help You Resist Temptation
So how did Jesus resist temptation? He remembered His purpose, relied on God’s plan, and rested in God’s power. And here’s the great news—we can overcome temptation using the same tools Jesus did.
1. Remember your purpose.
What was Jesus’ purpose? Was it to have a steady income, a nice place to live, and a comfortable retirement? Was it to gain a ton of influence, friends, and followers? Or to live a comfortable, unconcerned, drama-free life?
None of the above, right?
Instead, His purpose was to make others-focused choices to save the world. It’s a meaningful, joy-filled way of life, but it’s also a lifestyle of daily sacrifice—and we’re called to live the same way.
So, when you face temptation, remember your purpose. Don’t let the enemy distract you from your goal. Compromises might make life feel more comfortable for a while, but they won’t lead to fulfillment and victory.
2. Rely on God’s plan.
How do you feel when you see an ad that promises you’ll “get rich quick” or “lose weight fast”? Skeptical, right? That’s because we know that lasting change takes time. But waiting for change can be frustrating, especially if there’s an unsatisfying part of your life.
Temptation strikes in moments of frustration, doubt, or loneliness. It causes us to seek shortcuts to the life we hope for.
Jesus wanted to honor God’s plan so that’s what Satan used to prey on Jesus. He offered Jesus the chance to “honor God” quickly by taking a shortcut to influence and power. This offer was tempting because Jesus knew His future would likely be filled with pain. But Jesus didn’t give in.
Why? Because He shares your skepticism for shortcuts. Satan basically said, “Get spiritually powerful fast so you can have the life you always wanted with no suffering!” And Jesus didn’t buy it. He knew the truth—God the Father would give Jesus power and influence through service and sacrifice.
Waiting on God is worth it.
If you ever feel frustrated waiting on God’s plan, you’re not alone. Sometimes it’s hard to trust God, especially when life is hard. It’s in these moments that we’re called to trust in God’s timing. Jesus had a purpose, but it could only be accomplished on God’s schedule. When we try to take shortcuts, even with the best intentions, we put our own agenda over God’s plan.
Shortcuts rarely lead to lasting change. So the next time we feel tempted, let’s pray and remember God’s plan. It can often feel frustratingly slow, but it leads toward lasting change.
3. Rest in God’s power.
The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. 1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT
Have you ever watched a show or movie where someone is trapped in the pull of a powerful river heading toward a waterfall? Usually, at the last minute, they’re rescued by someone throwing them a rope.
Temptation can be like a raging river. It can feel powerful and irresistible. But God always offers us a rope to rescue us from falling off the cliff.
For you, the rope might look like a moment of clarity before making a poor choice. Or it could look like a timely call or text message from a friend. Every situation is different, but God always offers a way to resist temptation. We just need to take hold of the rope.
God gives us free will, so He rarely forces us out of temptation. Instead, we need to be aware of the opportunities God offers us to escape temptation and choose to accept His gift of freedom.
You can start fresh.
So, does the temptation you face feel overwhelming? Maybe the temptation to sin has turned into an addiction or pattern of unhealthy behavior. If so, God is stronger and provides you with daily opportunities to start fresh.
Some of Jesus’ closest friends gave in to temptation. He didn’t judge them. Instead, He offered a chance for a fresh start. If you’ve given in to temptation or even made a habit of giving in to temptation, today is your opportunity to start again and choose a new path.
So let’s rest in God’s power, instead of our own willpower. Then, we can find the lasting change we’re hoping for.
Seek Help to Resist Temptation
So, let’s get back to the bear.
Early in the Bible, God compares sin and temptation to a wild animal that wants to break into your house. So let’s run with this imagery. Once again, as you imagine an angry, 500-pound grizzly bear scratching at your front door … how would you respond?
Well, we wouldn’t recommend you go outside and challenge it to a one-on-one fistfight. Alone, your odds aren’t ideal. Instead, we’re guessing you’d probably call for help.
If we want to fight temptation, we need help. Where do we find help? First, we pray, calling on God to help us make healthy choices. Then, we seek help from trusted friends and spiritual leaders. One great place to find helpful friends is through a LifeGroup. LifeGroups are small groups of people who encourage one another to pursue their relationships with Jesus. Here’s how you can get connected with a local or online LifeGroup.
Don’t challenge a bear to a fistfight. Instead, seek help from God and others when you feel tempted.
Wisdom for Overcoming Temptation
We need help to fight temptation, but we can also take personal, practical steps to get ready for daily temptations.
One way is by investing in your spiritual growth through regularly reading the Bible and investing in other spiritual habits.
Another way is to evaluate the situations where you’re tempted to sin. Are there patterns you can identify? Maybe a certain person causes you to feel unhealthy desires, so you could choose to limit your time with them. You might struggle with sin if you stay up too late, so you can plan to give yourself a set time to go to sleep each night.
Or you might feel tempted when you’re at a certain location, so you might change your habits to avoid places that tempt you.
You Can Overcome Temptation
Resisting temptation can feel overwhelming, but we’re not alone. We find strength in the words of the Bible. We find power through prayer, and we get to experience God’s presence through the Holy Spirit.
Even when you fall short, you can find grace in Jesus Christ. He’s always ready to forgive and provide you with a fresh opportunity to overcome sin and live a truly meaningful life.
Watch this message from Pastor Craig Groeschel: