As a pastor, church members often ask “How do I resist temptation?” when they are looking to learn how to resist temptation in their own lives. Consider this analogy. I love fishing, especially for largemouth and smallmouth bass. They put up an amazing fight and can grow quite large depending on the season. One of the main principles in bass fishing is to “match the hatch,” meaning, if you use lures that imitate their natural forage, then you’re more likely to catch them.
In our temptations, we’re a lot like those bass. We know and enjoy the good things God gives us. However, as a crafty fisherman, Satan loves to throw enticing imitations that lure us away from what’s true and authentic. The result is that we get hooked on sin and then spend our time trying to overcome Satan’s foothold in our lives.
One prevalent example is sex. God designed sex within the covenant of marriage as a good gift (Genesis 2:24). However, Satan attempts to thwart God’s intentions by twisting this glorious blessing. He seeks to entice us with counterfeit pleasures such as sex outside of marriage, adultery, pornography, homosexuality, etc. And he tailors these temptations to match our weaknesses.
Why We Must Continue to Resist Temptation
Even though the things Satan uses to entice us can be difficult to resist, it’s not impossible for those who are in Christ to prevail. In fact, Christ has won the war against sin and Satan.
On May 8, 1945, the Allied Powers declared victory over the Nazis’ Third Reich and the Axis Powers. This day, known as V-E Day, officially ended World War II in Europe. What many people don’t know is that there were smaller battles that took place even after V-E Day.
Similarly, there are battles taking place between God’s kingdom and Satan’s empire today, even though the ultimate victory was declared for all eternity when Jesus rose from the grave. Satan continues to fight, even in a severely crippled state (Genesis 3:15).
How to Resist Temptation
So, in light of these realities, how do we resist temptation in the midst of this cosmic conflict? How do we move forward faithfully when we face a barrage of attacks from the world, the flesh, and the devil? Based on Ephesians 6:13–18, here are three ways God has given us to resist sin and temptation.
1. Put on God’s Armor
As believers, we put on the armor of God when we aim to resist temptation as Scripture commands (Ephesians 6:13–17). We’re not passive citizens in the war but rather soldiers on active duty. As soldiers who pledge allegiance to the King of kings, we must “put to death what is earthly” in us and “put on love” (Colossians 3:5–17).
We always need to be on high alert because temptation often comes when we least expect it. Thankfully, God doesn’t leave his people defenseless against spiritual enemies. With Christ’s righteousness, the truth of the gospel, the assurance of salvation, a faith that rests on the promises of God, and the sword of the Spirit, we will stand protected against the tactics of the enemy.
When Satan tells you to give in, remember God’s promises. When you face the flaming arrows, rest on what Christ has done for you. Armor up with the holy equipment that is sufficient to help you prevail amid everyday battles and temptations.
2. Fall Before the Throne of Grace
Next, we need to run to God’s throne room in humble prayer and worship. We should be “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” (Ephesians 6:18a). This is especially important in the midst of temptation.
We pray, not to earn any personal merit before God, but rather based on the relationship we already have with God in Christ. God’s power is “made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Therefore, we should pray for strength from the Lord to learn how to resist temptation when it arises.
In a posture of worship and humility, we should set our minds on the things that are above rather than the sinful thoughts and pleasures of the earth (Colossians 3:1–4).
3. Bear One Another’s Burdens
Finally, God calls us to help believers in their struggles with temptations because we are knit together in the body of Christ. Oftentimes, gospel encouragement from fellow believers in tough situations can be as sweet as honey and as soothing as a warm cup of tea. As King Solomon wrote, “To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is” (Proverbs 15:23)!
Likewise, we should be open to others wanting to help us in the midst of our temptations. When we are involved in the lives of those who humbly seek the Lord, we experience the blessing of community in our life. We are not strong enough to resist temptation on our own.