17 Feb How to Overcome Temptation
Temptation is all around us. Everyone faces temptation. Even Jesus was tempted the same way that we are, yet He remained without sin. This is because temptation itself is not a sin, it only becomes a sin when you give in to it.
So how do we overcome temptation?
‘One who is wise is cautious in everything, when sin is all around, one guards from wrongdoing.’ (Sirach 18:27) Temptation is inevitable but if we are prepared for it, we can resist it more easily.
How did Jesus prepare for temptation? ‘He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards He was famished. The tempter came and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But He answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”’ (Matthew 4:2-4) During His 40 days in the wilderness, He grew closer to God through fasting and was filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. And when Satan tried to tempt Him, Jesus used scripture to overcome it.
Fasting, praying, and memorising the Word of God are the best ways to prepare for temptation. Jesus has set the perfect example for us, but it’s up to us whether we follow it or not. We have the freedom to do whatever we want, so whether we prepare for temptation or give in to it is a choice that we make. ‘If you choose, you can keep the commandments; to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice.’ (Sirach 15:15)
‘Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and He Himself tempts no one.’ (James 1:13)
From the temptation of Jesus, we can see that Satan works very strategically. He knows our weaknesses, and just like he used bread to tempt Jesus when He was hungry, Satan will use our weaknesses against us. So, in order to anticipate temptation, we need to understand our weaknesses and expect them to be used against us. ‘One is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it; then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death.’ (James 1:14-15)
Once you know what you will be tempted by, you can remove it from your life and avoid it. If you find yourself in a tempting situation, leave. ‘Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.’ (2 Timothy 2:22)
Temptation should not take us by surprise, we need to be on our guard and expecting it. ‘Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.’ (Matthew 26:41)
Consider the consequences
When faced with temptation we have 2 options: give in or resist. If we give in to temptation, we reap destruction, but if we resist it, we reap eternal life. ‘For the one who sows to his own flesh will reap destruction from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.’ (Galatians 6:8)
‘Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.’ (James 1:12)
‘But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge.’ (Psalm 73:28) In a world where temptation is everywhere, have we made God our refuge? When we feel tempted, what is the first thing we do? Do we turn to God for help or do we let ourselves give in to the temptation? In order to resist evil, we need to be close to God always; reading the Word of God, singing or listening to worship songs, going to Mass, spending time with the Lord in prayer.
‘Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.’ (James 4:7-8)
5 simple ways to overcome temptation
- Repent and make a good confession
- Attend Mass regularly and receive the Eucharist
- Pray the Rosary
- Read the Word of God
Remember, the same Spirit who led Jesus into the wilderness and empowered Him to overcome the evil one is now within us. We are not alone; the Spirit will guide us and help us overcome whatever temptation comes our way, all we have to do is ask.
‘No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.’ (1 Corinthians 10:13)