Author: Michele at ScriptureStudy.Guide
Posted: April 11, 2022. Updated June 27, 2022.
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the Truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).
Jesus taught us to pray this prayer: Heavenly Father, holy is your name. Your kingdom come and your will be done in earth as in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread (Holy Spirit), and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil/sin. For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. Amen. (Matthew 6:9-13)
In this prayer, Jesus is instructing us to regularly petition for only 4 things, and half of those deals with our carnal flesh:
- That God’s will be done.
- Fill us with the Holy Spirit.
- Forgive us.
- Keep us from temptations and sin.
Temptations are the root of all sins and will blaspheme Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit if not dealt with on a consistent basis. This article is going to discuss what temptations are, what causes them, why and how they lead to sin, and what scripture instructs us to do to handle them. We will also discuss uplifting ways to conquer these challenges (and what to do when we fail).
For this topic only, all scriptures in this article will be from the NKJV bible.
What Is Temptation?
Temptation is a desire to do something wrong… to take a course of action that attracts you.
Scripture tells us that we are tempted when we want to live for our body, or live for the world, or live for the self.
Galatians 5:16-17 says:
16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust [desires] of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.
We see that the desires of the body and the world are in direct conflict with the Holy Spirit. This conflict within us is what steers us back onto the narrow path.
We also see in this verse that the adversary of the Spirit is our flesh. And we know our adversary is the devil, that old serpent, the dragon which is Satan. For a word study on how devils reside in our carnal flesh, click on this article and scroll down to the section titled “Identifying the Spiritual Principalities.”
The root of temptation is selfishness and the desire for the things of this world.
It Begins With Our Thoughts
When a thought pops into our mind telling us that we desire something that is outside of God’s will, then a temptation is born. When we see it, or want it, or desire it; then we have a temptation that could quickly lead to sin.
James 1:14-15 says:
14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth [spiritual] death.
This verse tells us that when we start thinking in ways that are outside of God’s will, or we dwell on a want or desire, then we have a situation that could grow to the point of no return if it continues unchecked.
A thought is not sin right away, but only becomes so if your thoughts continue to dwell on the temptation — this is committing the sin in your heart (Matthew 5:21, 22, 27).
The Fight Is Real
The fight that goes on between the Spirit and the world is in our thinking. This war between evil and righteousness is waged in our mind.
Because we have 5 senses that all want things, we have thoughts that come into our minds from out of nowhere. We cannot control the world outside of our homes so it is impossible for us to completely avoid temptations. We are fallible human beings in carnal flesh, but dying to self and taking up our cross daily is how we fight the battle against spiritual principalities (Mark 8:34).
Two Types of Temptations
There are both physical and spiritual temptations.
Physical temptations serve our senses. Examples are:
Spiritual temptations are in choosing your own heart’s desires rather than God’s will for your life. Examples of spiritual temptations are:
- Pride rather than humility
- Focus on earthly things/events/walking the wide path
- Direction for your life
- Choices — serving yourself rather than others and God
- Hope in worldly systems and people rather than in Christ
- Hopelessness — believing your life is awful and meaningless which are lies of the devil
I actually heard a bible teacher say that “once someone is saved, we don’t have devils attacking us all the time.” Christians who believe they do not have devils attacking them sure do show the signs of the physical and spiritual battles they have lost.
The bible clearly tells us that our fallible, carnal flesh (which includes our fallible human thinking) is the adversary of the Holy Spirit which indwells us (Galatians 5:17). 1 Peter 5:8 tells us our adversary is the devil who is the dragon, serpent and Satan (Revelation 12:9, 20:2). Our fallible flesh contains devils that we should be prepared to address when they rear their ugly heads.
[For a study on how devils work within mankind, see this article and scroll down to the section titled “Identifying the Spiritual Principalities.”]
How To Fight The Battle
- Pray unceasingly in the Spirit.
- Decide what you will do before you are tempted.
- Clean up your bad habits.
- Renew your mind with God’s truths.
- State your desired outcome.
- Focus your thoughts on what is good, the desired outcome.
- Call out evil as being evil.
- Rebuke the devils with scripture.
- Do not be discouraged when you fail.
- Pray some more.
- Trust God and do not be anxious.
- Be joyful for having trials.
- There is no condemnation for God’s children. He will finish His work in us.
#1 – Fight Temptation With Prayer
Scripture tells us to be in constant prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:17, Romans 12:12). We do this by walking in the Spirit (Romans 8:26-27). In doing so, we recognize temptations so we can turn from them.
Jesus taught us to pray the Lord’s Prayer daily where we ask Father to keep us from temptations and deliver us from evil (Matthew 6:9-13).
Romans 8:26-27 says:
26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
#2 – Have a Game Plan Beforehand
Before temptation comes, make a firm decision not to sin. Decide with your mind and heart that you will not entertain a temptation when it comes into your mind.
Some temptations will continue to resurface regularly in your life. Recognize them as the devil that they are, make a choice to stand against them and just say, “I am not going to do this.” It is a very simple concept, but impossible to do without prayer and intercession from the Holy Spirit.
Daniel 1:8-9 says:
8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. 9 Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and goodwill of the chief of the eunuchs.
#3 – Clean Up Your Bad Habits
Sometimes we may not be able to completely avoid the temptations… we may not be able to move out of our neighborhood, or change jobs, or change our living situation at home. But when you can’t run, then you stay and clean house.
2 Timothy 2:20-22 says:
20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. 21 Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. 22 Flee also youthful lusts [desires]; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
This verse demonstrates that God gives us the choice to cleanse ourselves from dishonor. God will help those who make choices that demonstrate their obedience to Him and His will for their lives.
While we cannot subvert God’s will for our lives, we are not programmed robots either — we have CHOICES.
#4 – Renew Your Mind With God’s Truths
Renew your mind with the truths in God’s word. The more we understand God’s truths, the easier it will be to resist temptation.
Romans 12:1-2 says:
1I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
By transforming our thinking, we will be able to use our bodies to serve God rather than the world or our self’s desires. We do this by reading our bible and checking its words with the Strong’s Concordance to hear God’s true inspired word.
“Heavenly Father, renew me today and every day. Impart more of your likeness into me so I may be ready to participate in New Jerusalem. Amen” (Colossians 3:10, Revelation 21:1-4).
#5 – State Your Desired Outcome
This goes back to Daniel 1:8 when he told himself, “I do not want to defile myself.” His desire was not to defile himself with the king’s food and wine — he desired to eat cleanly and simply and made his desires known to others. What is your desired outcome?
Replace a bad habit with a good one where possible. This could take days, weeks, months or even years, depending on what you are battling. It may even be a lifelong affliction that God refuses to remove from you, just like He did with Paul’s thorn. The important thing is to never give up and never stop working on it. Learning not to surrender to whatever you are battling is how we build strength of faith and character and learn to lean on God.
#6 – Focus Your Mind On What Is Good
When your mind goes toward anger, pride, hopelessness, desires, etc., focusing on the desired outcome, or that which is good, will cause you to turn away from your defeating thoughts. Take your mind off the temptation and say, “I will not think about this!”
The spiritual battle with the mind can only be fought through prayer in the Spirit which you will receive if you seek Truth and righteousness through repentance (Acts 1:5, Matthew 3:11). Focus your mind on God and on His power and know that He has conquered everything in this world through the blood of His Son (John 16:33).
If you put a good bible teaching in your ear, a bible in your hand, and your eyes on the book; it becomes very difficult to do much else — this will overcome the physical temptations of the senses.
Philippians 4:4-9 says:
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
If we keep thinking about the temptations and entertaining them in our minds, we will most likely sin; so change your thoughts immediately.
#7 – Call Evil What It Is… EVIL
Isaiah 5:20 says:
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
In your head, you need to flatly state, “This is wrong… this is bad… this is the devil attacking me… God hates this… this will cause my spiritual death.” Put a label on it — call it for what it is and do not make excuses for it. Eve believed the lie and convinced herself in the garden that she would not surely die — do not be like Eve!
Then tell yourself, “I don’t want to be angry anymore… or hopeless anymore… or outside of God’s plan for me… etc.” “I don’t want to do/be/think ____________ (fill in the blank).” Affirm your decision through prayer and thanksgiving to God.
#8 – Rebuke The Devils With Scripture
When Jesus faced temptations by the devil, He rebuked them with scripture.
Matthew 4:3-4 says:
3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”
4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”
There is a verse in the bible that addresses every sin. If you go to this site and type your specific temptation into the search bar, it will populate with scriptures that you can use to rebuke your devil and focus on your desired outcome.
Please see my word study on how the devil, the serpent, the dragon which are all Satan, works among human kind — scroll down to the section titled “Identifying the Spiritual Principalities.” Mainstream Christianity is hiding Satan from us — you must be able to see and recognize your enemy if you are to fight him.
#9 – Do Not Be Discouraged When You Fail
Sometimes we seek God’s help, we remain in prayer, we seek His word on the matter in scripture and yet…. we can still fail.
Matthew 26:41, Jesus tells us “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
All human beings fail on the regular… it’s just a part of being human. We extend mercy and forgiveness to others when they hurt us, so we should extend the same to ourselves when we are disappointed from a failure.
Your failure is a positive thing. Your failure means you have tried. Your failure means you cared. The fact that you are disappointed in yourself for having lost a battle with a temptation means you are in the Spirit and He is working in you. We bounce back and try again!
You are stronger for having experienced the failure and can be thankful that God is continuing to refine you for an eternal life in His new heaven and new earth.
#10 – Pray Again
And what if the temptation doesn’t leave you? Pray again… and often, for as long as it takes. Giving up will secure your place in the lake of fire. Your eternity will be spent in the spirit, not in your carnal flesh, so keep that as your focus for the short 80-ish years that you spend on this earth.
To escape the lake of fire, then this earth has to be our hell fire — through MUCH TRIBULATION do we enter into the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22). Every human being is born accursed and must be refined by fire.
Please see the articles “God Created Evil” and “Hell is not Eternal” for a study on the lake of fire, and on “eternal” versus “forever.”
#11 – Do Not Be Anxious
We covered Philippians 4:6 above where it says, “Do not be anxious for anything but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”
God loves you and He will heal you on His time, whether that be in this life or the next. He left Paul with a thorn in his side that Paul called Satan’s messenger — this was a devil that God allowed to remain with him. Paul said this persecution remained with him so he would not become prideful and puffed up from knowing all of the knowledge of God’s Truth.
Your own works cannot save you because all good works of our hands are done by God:
Isaiah 66:1a-2 says,
“Where is the house that you will build Me?
And where is the place of My rest?
2 For all those [physical] things My hand has made,
And all those [physical] things exist,”
Says the Lord.
“But on this one will I look:
On him who is of a poor and contrite spirit,
And who trembles at My word.”
God pays attention to the person who is poor in Spirit, the one who fails and falls down at everything he attempts. God looks on those who have a contrite spirit which is a deep remorse for their past transgressions — they have a penitent heart and a healthy fear of the Lord.
Our willpower is not going to accomplish anything. Every work in us and every work done by our hands is done by God in His time, so we must not compare ourselves with others. We must abide in His ways and trust Him so that we will be “anxious for nothing.”
For more about what the true works of the Spirit are, and on Paul’s thorn, see the article “Are You Producing Good Fruit?”
For a word study on the poor in spirit, see my article “Jesus’ Instructions for Us” and the section titled Step 1: Humility.
#12 – Be Joyful For Having Trials!
James 1:2-4 tells us:
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
The more you face temptations, the stronger you are going to become. Like with physical exercise, if we workout once a month, we do not receive any benefit. But working consistently brings us strength and health.
Thank God for giving you the opportunity to overcome sin. Practice makes perfect and produces perseverance. God will reward you for your effort based on the strength He has given you. To whom MUCH strength is given, much will be expected (Luke 12:48). You will win in the end because God is with you and you serve Him with your whole heart.
#13 – There Is No Condemnation For Us
1 John 3:1 says, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” Think about how much God loves you. You are His child and He teaches you how to be more like Jesus. You are in His school of life and are His work in progress. He is training you to be righteous. He provides you with what you need. ALL is of Him. He is the perfect Father… just think about how amazing that is!
Romans 8:31-33 says:
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
God prepared beforehand that we would be created to believe in His Son and walk in His ways. Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (see this article for an explanation of the good works).
God Will Complete His Work
“I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return]” (Philippians 1:6 AMP).
We are God’s house and are under construction. The Holy Spirit is the general contractor. We are being renewed daily by the Potter who shapes our clay vessels. “But now, O Lord, thou art our Father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand” (Isaiah 64:8).
God is the perfect Father and teacher who loves us. Our responsibility is to be obedient children, willing students, and to love Him back. His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30).
We are to fight temptation, think good thoughts, learn the bible (obey God), die to self and take up our cross daily, and never succumb to defeat. The more practice we get, the more run time we will be able to spend relaxing on auto-pilot.
Never forget that you are a child of the living and most high God who gave His Son — God Himself in the flesh — to redeem us (John 3:16). All praise and glory to our heavenly Father!
Source: This article was based on a teaching titled “What does the bible say about temptation?” by the iConnectFX channel “The Filter” and can be found here.
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