Everybody experiences temptation toward sin. It is one of the few things in life that is common to everyone on earth.
Of course, people who don’t know God really don’t know they are being tempted. They are simply doing what actually seems right and normal to them. They are defenseless against temptation; they do not have the Holy Spirit to help them overcome their struggles with sin.
You, however, are not defenseless against temptation. God has prepared us to be able to reject sin in our lives.
Here are seven steps to overcome temptation . Most of these are found in the Book of Proverbs.
1. Seek the wisdom of God about what pleases or displeases Him. The Proverbs tell us that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). We must know what pleases or displeases God. We must seek His wisdom and His knowledge.
2. Seek the advice of godly people about subtle temptations. We need help in the gray areas of life. Those people who are in tune with God can help you see the right and wrong of a particular plan. We need, as the writer of Proverbs says, “to hear our fathers instruction.” Godly people can help us to make right decisions.
3. Do not give yourself permission to succumb to temptation. I’ve learned that anything I give myself an excuse for I will do. Overcoming temptation means that you fight against it from the very beginning.
4. Consider the likelihood of temptation before it comes. This means being prepared and being ready for what you will have to face.
5. Pray through how to handle temptation. This is an integral part of the process because we need God’s help and because we need to be prepared. When Sarah convinced Abraham to take Hagar as his concubine, Abraham faced the most difficult temptation possible–the temptations which come from those who are closest to us.
6. Play the movie. This step doesn’t come from Proverbs, but it does come from practical experience. We need to see forward so that we can understand the consequences of what we are being tempted to do. It’s vital to play the movie.
7. Ask God to keep you from the evil one. I often pray the Lord’s prayer, and I often recite the last verse: “and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one (Matthew 6:13).”
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