Not even Jesus was exempt from temptation. He was in the wilderness forty days during which time Satan tempted him in several ways. All temptation boils down to three methods: lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and pride of life. Look back at the times that you sinned, and you will see that you succumbed to one or more of these three. But how can we deal with temptation, so it does not become a sin?
Let us remind ourselves that temptation is not sin! It is succumbing to temptation that becomes sin. When we succumb, we ignore the natural consequences that will happen after we have sinned. In some cases, it could be the breakup of your marriage, the loss of a job, or financial ruin. Even though these seem drastic, the greatest and worst thing that could happen is that you have marred your witness as a Christian. It can have a dynamic affect, especially on weaker Christians. Likewise, it can be a reason that some people never accept Christ as their Savior.
Now let us get down to business. Everybody has a favorite sin. Everybody is weak at certain points. Everybody is vulnerable to some kind of a temptation that makes them more likely to fall. Examine your spiritual life. Look back at the times you sinned to find what was your susceptibility. Be honest with yourself. This is a discussion between you and you. If you want to invite someone to help you with this, that is very good. However, you may benefit the most by keeping this personal.
Watch out for those people that are in your circle of relationships. Some of them might carry with them a temptation just like a virus. They may know how you are vulnerable. If they do not, they still could be an instrument of temptation. Perhaps another person has the same weakness as you.
Your sin could be something like anger out of control. You say how is anger one of those three things I previously mentioned. In fact, it could be any of the three ways to be tempted. You might become angry because you did not get what you saw and wanted. You might become angry because you were neglected the opportunity to enjoy lust. Or anger out of control could be that your high esteem of yourself has been insulted.
Not only can people be the vehicle of temptation, but circumstances and surroundings could lead to one’s sinful downfall. For instance, if a person is subject to pornography, he or she should stay away from wherever that could be available. Females as well as males can have this issue. It could be on the Internet. It could be a strip joint. It could also be a coworker or someone with whom you have routine contact that is flirtatious.
Build an emotional fence around yourself. Quote Scriptures to yourself. Ask yourself the old-time question, “What would Jesus do?” It is important to keep in mind that temptation could have various degrees. It could be the initial, “Hello, you would like this.” Further, it could be, “You have enjoyed this before, why not now?” It could be giving yourself permission for one more look or one more peek or one more touch or one more deviation from your driving route. The best thing to do is to follow Jesus’ example. As soon as the temptation was presented to him, he turned away from it and relied on the Bible to set the standard. The Bible says to rebuke Satan, and he will flee from you.
To have that kind of spiritual strength of denying Satan an opportunity to get at you, requires that you first have strength in your mind and heart before the temptation. You cannot resist temptation if your spiritual life is in the tank. You cannot resist temptation if you walk the fence. You cannot resist temptation if you are willing to consider that grass may be greener in another backyard. Many times, the Bible says that we should be strong and courageous. The athlete does not go to the competition without first preparing himself with exercise and training. The strong Christian has a greater ability to resist temptation by investing time in the Word of God so that he can have the Holy Spirit speak to him should temptation first raises its ugly head.
If you have fallen into temptation, you must first ask God’s forgiveness. It is also important to ask forgiveness for those that you have harmed. Then remember to ask yourself to forgive yourself. Too many people routinely beat themselves up for sins they have committed in the past for which God has already forgiven them. This is not to ignore what you have done in the past. It is to learn from the past for your vulnerabilities and weaknesses. It is to learn that we could never be so self-confident that we have spiritually grown to the point that we are immune from temptation.
If your temptation has become a public matter, especially within the church environment, it might be a good idea to confess your sins publicly before other believers. However, be careful that those who call themselves believers might also be weak so that they could turn your confession into gossip.
Be guaranteed that temptations are coming your way. Guarantee yourself a higher likelihood of resisting temptations by staying close to Christ and his Word. You are not perfect. You could always do a better job seeking to be more Christlike and his perfection.