United Church of God

Resisting Temptation Is Not Enough—We Must Overcome

You are here

Resisting Temptation Is Not Enough—We Must Overcome

Login or Create an Account

With a UCG.org account you will be able to save items to read and study later!

Sign In | Sign Up


We all know the feeling … it gets so discouraging to give in, give in, to the same old sin. The good news is the Bible provides the complete process for how to not only resist temptation but also how to be victorious over it.

Diligent Faithful Daily Mindset

Our daily mindset must be to desire to bring “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”
(2 Corinthians 10:5). Yet we’re often inclined to say: “Lead us not into temptation. I can find the way myself!”

The reality is we cannot resist and overcome temptation on our own power. We need to be renewed daily by God the Father and Jesus Christ living in us through Their Spirit of self-control (Galatians 5:23) so that we are so occupied with doing God’s ways that we don’t have time to be tempted to flout them.

Consider the Consequences

Sin adds grief, subtracts faith, multiplies trouble, divides brethren and separates us from God! To have victory over temptation, we need to consider sin’s negative consequences. Yes, but far more powerful is dwelling on the wonderful results of doing right.

We do not want to provoke, grieve, tempt or limit the Holy One of Israel (Psalm 78:40-41). But we won’t have to worry so much about defending from and intercepting “the passing pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25) if we’re moving steadily downfield toward the goal line. The joy of child-like faith desiring to please our Father is powerful!

When I was leaving for college, my mother was worried about me drinking, even though she knew it would be in moderation. I promised her I would wait until age 21. Doing that to make my mother happy was such a strong incentive that it motivated me long past the deadline.

In one class the professor asked for reasons to avoid pre-marital sex, and the class dutifully contributed the usual penalties for messing up. I was barely staying awake; the professor jolted me to attention when he turned the age-old temptation problem in a completely positive direction.

He said the reason to avoid pre-marital sex is so you can have a wonderful wedding day and night! You would never know what you denied yourself if you didn’t make it to that glorious day.

Our mindset must be not only to avoid bad consequences, but also to pursue good results that make God, mate, family and others happy.

Don’t Go Near Her House!

Proverbs says that whatever sin might be the issue, don’t go down her path (Proverbs 4:14-15).

Humor author Erma Bombeck confessed, “If I had it to do over, I’d eat more ice cream!” But if you can’t resist gluttony with ice cream, for example, don’t keep Haagen Dazs in your fridge. In spite of all attempts to keep a lid on it, suddenly temptation is in front of you, and starting to melt if you don’t lick it!

The Most Important Step I Keep Overlooking

God’s not tempting us (James 1:13-15). We are tempted by the three hissing S’s: Satan, Self and Society. We absolutely need God’s help to conquer these three sources.

In Matthew 26:41 Jesus advises us to keep watching and praying that we enter not into temptation, and He set the example. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus kept on praying—He had His will in total submission to His Father’s.

Remember the popular TV show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” At the moment of highest tension, Regis Philbin would ask: “Is that your final answer?” Jesus’ answer to His final test must be our answer in temptation: “Your will be done, not mine!”

On the show, a contestant could call on a lifeline. Jesus is our lifeline, and we must call on Him at the moment of temptation.

What makes us think we can resist on our own power? When we’re in our diligent, faithful mindset, we want to smash down the idols. But it is also true that we have moments of weakness.

It’s sad to admit but sometimes we say “Yes, I should cry out to God for His help! Wait!—not yet. Let me just stick my toes in the water. I’ll stop when I see the line in the shifting sand. What riptide?”

At the first hint of being tempted, immediately cry out to God!

What Christ Did to Resist Temptation

In Matthew 4, when being tempted by Satan, in every case Jesus did not hesitate, reason or listen to Satan! Jesus decisively answered Satan’s lures with “It is written …” Jesus knew His Bible! He inspired every word of it (2 Timothy 3:16), He lived it, and He wielded it (Hebrews 4:12)!

Psalm 119:11 instructs, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”

The Bible notes Satan’s three best shots at Christ. Luke 4:2 says Jesus was tempted 40 days.

Jesus’ victory over Satan’s temptations should fire up our resolve. “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses but was in all points tempted [tested] as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16).

Paul assures us, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).


In verse 14 above Paul added “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” What tempts you regularly … is an idol for you. Anything that comes between you and God. Anything you put before God in time, money, priority or desire.

The classic story about fleeing temptation is in Genesis 39:9. Joseph did what he could to stay far from Mrs. Potiphar and told her that what she had in mind would be sin. When she grabbed him by his tunic, Joseph wriggled out like Houdini and fled!

If we follow these clear biblical instructions, we can resist and conquer any temptation! We can … but when we fail (1 John 1:8), God is ready to forgive (Psalm 86:5). So, there is one more step in the process the Bible gives for resisting and overcoming temptation.

Repent and Yield to God’s Forgiveness

Temptation exposes our real selves. C.S. Lewis observed, “No man knows how bad he is until he has tried very hard to be good.”

To each of the seven Churches of Revelation, Jesus Christ promised a great reward “to him who overcomes” (Revelation 2:7, 11,17, 26; 3:12, 21). We can take heart as we look “to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy” (Jude 24, New International Version).