How to Overcome Sin and Temptation

Mouse Trap

Christians are tempted and struggle with sin. Although Jesus saved us, we must still put to death our evil desires and break our sinful habits. This is the hard task of discipleship. Jesus set us free from the penalty and power of sin, but we must use our freedom to resist temptation and stop sinning.

Christians usually react to temptation in the wrong way. We try to resist but still give in often enough to feel embarrassed and ashamed. At this point, most of us keep our sins secret because we feel like nobody would understand and are afraid of being judged. But fighting against them in our own strength only leads to further defeat. Sin and temptation are twin struggles in the life of every Christian, and the only way to overcome them is to stop hiding them.

God helps us overcome sin and temptation. He has bought us back from sin and empowered us to conquer temptation. It is only by relying on His help that we will be victorious.

God Helps Us
God helps us by delivering us from sin through Jesus’ death on the cross. Paul says, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). God regarded Jesus as a sinner and placed upon Him all the guilt of our wrongdoing. He poured out His wrath upon Jesus so that He might show us grace and mercy. He accepts Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf and grants us right-standing with Him.

God also helps us by putting every resource at our disposal in our fight against temptation. Peter says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness,” and now we can “participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (2 Peter 1:3-4). And He helps us by providing a way out of tempting situations. Paul says, “God will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out ” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Jesus Helps Us
Jesus was tempted during His earthly life. It may seem unfair that He was the Son of God, but He was also the Son of Man. This means He had a human body with all its sinful cravings and desires. After His baptism, He even spent forty days in the desert being tempted by Satan himself (Matthew 4, Mark 1, Luke 4)! He knows what it’s like because He’s been through it already. Hebrews 4:15 says he can “sympathize with our weaknesses” because He was “tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.”

Jesus helps us when we are tempted. Hebrews 2:18 says, “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” He also helps us by defending us if we sin. John says, “If anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (1 John 2:1).

The Holy Spirit Helps Us
The Holy Spirit came upon Jesus at His baptism and strengthened Him against temptation. Jesus has given that same Spirit to us to strengthen us against temptation. By the power of the Holy Spirit we can “put to death whatever belongs to our earthly nature”, “rid ourselves” of all the sin that remains, and “put on the new self” which is our new identity in Jesus (Colossians 3:5, 8, 10).

The Holy Spirit helps us by enlightening us to receive the message of salvation. Paul says, “We have received the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us” (1 Corinthians 2:12). He also helps us by replacing our sinful desires with godly desires. Paul says, “Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Galatians 5:16).

Relying on God’s Help
We can only overcome sin and temptation by relying on God’s help. Here are a few habits that will remind you to humbly rely on Him:

  • Memorize Scripture. Psalm 119:11 says, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Memorize verses that pertain to your struggles and quote them when you are tempted.
  • Confession. James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” 1 John 1:9 promises, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Tell other Christians about your struggles and ask them for help when you are tempted.
  • Focus on Jesus. Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Let us throw off the sin that so easily entangles…let us fix our eyes on Jesus.” Instead of focusing on your sins, focus on your Savior. Instead of telling yourself not to fail, tell yourself to be like Jesus.

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