Home > Discipleship > 7 Ways to Overcome Sin & Temptation

7 Ways to Overcome Sin & Temptation

It seems like every other day someone in our church seeks counsel for overcoming habitual sin.  Sexual temptation, drunkenness, lust, anger, the list is endless.  Each conversation is the same.  The individuals usually understand that Jesus has both forgiven their sin and set them free from it, but they don’t know how to practically live in that freedom and they almost always feel defeated.

The last day of World War I, known as Armistice Day, was November 11, 1918.  Many troops, however, continued fighting for hours, even days or weeks after the war had ended.  Victory had been won, but troops didn’t get the message until some time later.

The same is true for the Christian life.  The victory has been won, but the battle isn’t over.  Satan and his workers have ignored the memo.  As a result, we must continue to fight the good fight (1 Timothy 6:12) with the power God supplies, knowing with confidence that Christ’s victory will soon be fully realized. Here are 7 ways you can fight well against sin.

image via biodiv.tw

image via biodiv.tw

Putting Sin to Death

1. Know where victory comes from. In our battle against sin, we must always remember that victory comes from Jesus.  He faced sin head on at the cross and he rose triumphantly from the grave to strip sin of its power.  We don’t overcome temptation by doing better or trying harder.  We overcome by trusting in Jesus, our Victor. (1 Corinthians 15:56-57; 2 Corinthians 2:14)

2. Rely on the Holy Spirit. Jesus may have won victory over sin by the power of his resurrection, but that power does us little good if we don’t tap into it.  Thankfully, when Jesus took his place on the throne he didn’t leave us to our own devices.  He sent the Holy Spirit to be our Helper.  We have increased victory over sin and temptation when we develop a conscious awareness that Christ’s resurrection power is available to us through the Holy Spirit. (Romans 8:1-13; Galatians 5:16-25)

3. Be proactive. Most people don’t seem to spend much time asking God to help them overcome temptation until they’re already facing it.  This is a mistake.  Don’t wait until you’re in the middle of war to prepare for battle.  Confess your struggles and temptations to the Lord as you spend time with him daily.  Ask him to help you overcome the temptation before you face it, not after you’ve already given into it. (Ephesians 6:10-20; 1 Peter 1:13-16)

4. Kill sin at its roots. Too often we try to overcome sin by dealing with the symptom rather than the cause.  We try to avoid the internet so that we won’t be tempted to look at pornography, we avoid all you can eat buffets so as not to give into gluttony.  While this is helpful, it won’t remedy the problem.  Sin comes from the heart. If we want to overcome it, we have to ask God to change our hearts so that our desires will be directed toward and eternally satisfied in Jesus rather than temporarily gratified in sin.¹ (Jeremiah 17:9; Mark 7:21; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Romans 2:29)

5. Aim for progress, not perfection. Overcoming sin is like hiking a mountain trail.  Most of the time you have to move forward half a mile in order to move up 20 feet.  If you aim for perfection, you’ll always be disappointed because you’ll never get there. If you aim for progress you can look  back every so often and see that, with the help of the Spirit, you’re more free than you were two months ago.  Remember, Jesus is your perfection and with the Holy Spirit you can make progress. (2 Corinthians 4:7-18; 1 Peter 1:2)

6. Press in, don’t give in. The temptation in our battle against sin is to give in and then get overwhelmed with guilt, shame and condemnation.  When we falter it’s easy to get down on ourselves, but don’t give in.  You don’t have to beat yourself up for that which Jesus already took a beating for.

Press in to Jesus.  Receive grace.  Remember, God doesn’t love you any less on your worst days then he does on your best days.  Through Jesus you’re God’s child and he loves you with an everlasting love that can never be taken away because no one can undo what Jesus has done. The moment you feel too ashamed to turn to the Lord is the moment you need to most.  He’s not going to shame or condemn you, he’s going to love you and heal you. (Romans 8:1-2; Romans 8:31-39)

7. Be practical. Let’s be honest.  A lot of times we give in to temptation simply because we put ourselves into a tempting situation. Think reasonably about your most constant struggles.  If you struggle with drunkenness, then stay out of the bars.  If you have a hard time keeping your hands to yourself after 9:00 PM, then don’t spend time with your girlfriend after 9:00 PM.  At the end of the day, if you don’t want to have to fight, then stay off the battlefield. (1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Corinthians 2:22)

¹This concept comes from my good friend David Qaoud.  You can find his blog here.

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  1. March 29, 2014 at 8:11 AM

    Very practical and insightful, especially like point 3, Be Proactive. Makes me think of “putting on the whole armor.” Something we should start our day with, not wait till a battle is joined.

  2. March 31, 2014 at 6:36 AM

    I agree. Thanks for your thoughts!

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