No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.1 Corinthians 10:13
Do you think Christians struggle in overcoming sinful habits? Learned behavior often develops in child- hood and continues through life, and when we surrender to the Lord we learn this sinful habit, displeasing to the Lord. We continue the cycle of fighting the temptation, yielding to the temptation and sin, and the result is guilt from the sin. How do we overcome this continuous cycle of defeat, coming from a lifelong habit or an extremely strong temptation? Yes, this happens to Christians, because the Spirit tells us we are sinning, driving us to continually fight the sin; but the problem is we often lose the fight.
Before we discuss the battle plan for overcoming the sinful temptation, let’s look how sinful behavior affects the mind. Continued sinful behavior of a pleasurable desire can lead toward an addiction, capturing the mind making it very difficult to overcome. Without going into technical jargon, the brain can very quickly shut down our conviction by the Holy Spirit when we continue thinking about a sinful desire. Continued yielding to the temptation can change our brain and sends out a powerful call for the sinful behavior whenever triggered.
We overcome a sinful thought by capturing the thought when in first occurs. We can even capture it before it becomes a thought because of the Holy Spirit. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. (John 16:13) The Spirit reveals to us when our mind is heading in a sinful direction. This is the best time to capture the thought and change the thought. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5) It is critical that we recognize the triggers for the temptations and learn to avoid anything that will trigger the temptation. This includes people, places, and things. Be careful what you see, what you hear, and where you go. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. (James 1:14-15)
The Lord will not allow a temptation that we cannot overcome, and he will provide an escape. It is our task to find the escape, and this takes planning and prayer. When the temptation comes we will have a fighting chance to overcome if we have developed a plan of escape. The plan may have to be optimized after going through the temptation, but be confident and continue praying for the promised escape. Once you experience victory, rejoice, because the satisfaction of victory is more powerful than the pleasure of the addiction.
Today, seek the power of God to control your thinking and when your mind starts to drift toward sin or any negative thoughts, change your thinking. The mind can only do one thing at a time, so do something that requires your concentration such as talking to someone, reading, or praying. The more victories you have, the more your brain is wiring for victory.
Prayer: Lord, give me your power to overcome Satan’s temptations, and guide me in the Spirit to avoid temptations. Help me to keep my focus and thoughts on you and your Word. Fill my mind with thoughts of victory in Christ and with the peace and joy from the Spirit. In Jesus name, Amen.