“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” -James 4:7
Human nature can be an ugly thing. It’s easy to watch the news, scroll through Facebook, or watch people walking around in the store and see that we have some issues as a society. But if we’re honest with ourselves, examining our own thoughts and feelings can be just as disturbing.
Temptation is something we deal with every day and something we must fight consistently if we truly want to be Christ-like in our daily lives. Unfortunately, it can often seem like a hopeless battle and leave us feeling more like failures than fighters.
I want to share a few biblical ways to fight temptation and overcome our own tendencies. These can be addictions, anger issues, lack of self-discipline, or even the language we use.
I know these tips work. They are based on Scripture and I have seen them work in my own life.
I also know that we are all human, and we will not be able to apply them perfectly. Backsliding is to be expected, and you shouldn’t beat yourself up over every losing battle. Try to keep in mind that we’re looking at the long war here—the only way to lose is to lay down our weapons.
Memorize Applicable Bible Verses
One thing I’ve learned in my roller coaster ride of faith is that how well I’m able to act like the man I want to be is directly tied to how much time I spend in God’s Word. Not just short readings (although any kind of reading helps) but pulling verses out and committing them to memory.
These verses can become a mantra in times of temptation, giving you an anchor to keep from slipping over the edge. You would be amazed how often verses that you have memorized will randomly come to mind through the course of an average day.
If I’m feeling lazy and avoiding getting some work done, Colossians 3:23 may pop into my head (“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”). When I’m upset and start to complain about someone I hear that still small voice in the back of my mind saying, “For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases” (Proverbs 26:20).
I tried several ways to focus on Scripture memorization, but nothing really kept my focus until I found a great app for my phone. Since I put Remember Me on my phone, I’ve become much better about adding verses to my spiritual repertoire.
And no, I’m not getting paid for that recommendation, I just truly believe it’s a great product!
Pray, Pray, and Pray Some More
What do you do when someone you don’t want to deal with walks into the room and makes eye contact with you? Do you go sit down alone and hope they’ll just leave?
No, you grab a friend and start a conversation. Typically, the person you’re trying to avoid is too intimidated or otherwise discouraged from approaching you.
We can use the same technique when we feel the ugly side of our humanity creeping up. If you’re talking to God, it becomes very difficult for Satan or the flesh to get pushy with you. Granted, they may still try, especially when you’re just starting this practice. It will take some time to get used to focusing on God and ignoring the problems the world is throwing at you, but I promise it gets easier.
The Bible instructs us to pray incessantly (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and this is a great way to start developing that habit!
Be in Community
I confess, I haven’t been to church in months. I haven’t had a home church since I moved here over a year ago, and I have consistently found excuses to not look for one. On this last tip, I am telling you what I know to be true, from the perspective of one who is failing to follow it.
We are not meant to be alone. God said it about Adam before He made Eve (Genesis 2:18), and Jesus reiterated it in Matthew 18:20. Luke told us the first Christians believed it (Acts 2:46) and Paul confirmed it (Romans 12:16). I could list more, but you get the point.
Being alone all the time is an invitation for temptation to come (1 Peter 5:8). Your mind can spin out of control with no one around to help you rein it in. If you’re prone to depression, anger, or addictions; you know the feeling of being trapped in a whirlpool of your own thoughts pulling you down.
Community is there to help that. Having a few trusted friends, mentors, or sounding boards can go a long way to keeping you on the path you want to be on. These people are also instrumental in getting you back on your feet when you backslide. Encouragement, support, and the occasional reprimand when necessary are all things that only a strong Christian community can provide.
You’re Not Perfect, and That’s Okay
At the end of the day, we’re all human. We will all slip and make mistakes no matter how hard we try to be the new creation that Christ has made us. There is no 100% solution to fighting our sinful nature, at least not short of the final victory!
That’s okay, God understands. The harder thing is for us to accept our own faults and get back up after falling. Don’t let the cycle catch you. Don’t give up your fight.
Follow these three tips consistently and you will see change, I promise you that. There is always a new day on the horizon and a chance for us to get better. With faith and commitment to these ideas, we can all become the people we want to be through Christ!