4 Excellent Strategies to Really Conquer the Tug of Temptation

When you feel the pull, here's what to do.

Temptation tugs hard at our hearts at times. It’s like pulling a rope tied to an elephant. In this tug-of-war with our hearts, we need a mindset that goes beyond a defensive strategy and takes an active approach to sin and temptation.

4 Excellent Strategies to Really Conquer the Tug of Temptation

(Photo by Photodune)

Here are 4 basic strategies to help you battle the tug of temptation and sin on your heart.

1. Make your time with God the most important part of your day.

It’s easy to cast this aside. Or to tell ourselves, I’ll spend time with God after I do this quick other thing. Many things seem more urgent—and they are. But none are more important.

Spending time with God is the single-most important priority you’ll do each day. That’s why you will find 87 good reasons (including ministry) not to make your relationship with God a priority.

Your time in the Scriptures and prayer should have as its goal a growing love for God.

2. Your mind is the secret to your spiritual life. Feed it truth to transform it.

Here are several great truths to meditate on each day:

Your mind is the secret to your spiritual life

(Photo by Photodune)

3. When you do sin (and you will), confess it immediately—and then move on.

Keep short accounts with God and with others. Don’t allow unconfessed sin to weigh down your life. Grace is there for that very reason (1 John 1:9). Grace allows you to move on.

God’s forgiveness and grace give us the security to learn to obey.

4. Commit to a small group that holds you accountable to basic Christian disciplines.

It helps tremendously to know you’re not the only one who struggles, to have encouragement and prayer from others, and to hear how others have learned to walk with God. (Feel free to download the list my group uses for accountability.)

Resolved: Never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruption, however unsuccessful I may be.—Jonathan Edwards

Along our struggle against temptation and sin we have the joy of knowing that one day, God will bring us into His presence without temptation and sin.

Question: What strategy helps you the most to fight temptation and sin? I would love to know. To leave a comment, just click here.

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  • emily

    Per suggestion from a priest during a Lenten retreat: write down list of sins I struggle with, pick one, read the gospels, write down every commandment Jesus gave regarding that sin, practice obeying, move to next sin…

    • That’s a great suggestion, Emily. Taking our struggles directly to the Scriptures for help is a wonderful strategy. Thanks for sharing that.

  • Monkeyputz

    When in doubt, just read the bible. It is a good thing to meditate on His teachings.

    • Well said. I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for your comment.

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  • Elizabeth Ann Wickstrom

    James 4:7 is my most helpful verse when tempted. “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

    • That’s a great verse, Elizabeth. Thanks so much for including it.

  • Tiffany Heerema

    I pray “Jesus, I can’t deal with this. Will you please take care of this for me?” Sounds simple, but it refocuses my mind on the way out rather than the temptation itself.

    • I like that prayer, Tiffany. I’ve prayed it many times myself. You’re right, often we just need to refocus on minds on God’s promises and on truth rather than on Satan’s lies. Thanks.

  • Michael

    Heb 4:15 for we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses for he was tempted and tried on this earth, but did not fall to sin. So then let us BOLDLY approach the throne of our GRACIOUS god; there we will find grace and mercy in our time of need.

    • That’s a fabulous verse, Michael. So good. Thanks for sharing that with me.

  • nocturnal2048 .

    I rejoice in this information! I have been struggling with this however, what about this scripture…

    Romans 6:16
    Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?

    Matthew Henry commentary:
    (A human being is enslaved either to sin or to righteousness. There is no third alternative. Formerly, you were enslaved to sin. But you became Christians and wholeheartedly obeyed the moral teachings of the Christian life. In the early church there was a standard teaching regarding the Christian life (cf. Ac 2:42). The form of teaching to which you were entrusted (v. 17) refers to this. You were entrusted to that teaching like slaves were transferred from one master to another. By obeying this teaching, you have been set free from sin. This means you have become slaves to righteousness. Freedom from sin and slavery to righteousness are two sides of the same event. Christian freedom is not autonomy but change of lordship. If you commit sin, you offer yourselves to obey sin and will become enslaved to sin again.)

    So if I fall short (and I know I will) do I become re-enslaved to sin? I am trying to understand this scripture in the context of salvation and how it works and I am confused PLEASE HELP!

    • Your question is a good one and does need a bit of explanation. Romans 6 is in the context of a believer’s life and has no bearing at all on one who doesn’t believe in Jesus Christ. The point of Romans 6 is that you have a choice whether or not you’ll choose to serve sin; nobody makes you do it. It’s not about salvation but about your walk of faithfulness to God. Even Paul said of himself: “So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin” (Romans 7:25). You may find some additional insights in this post I wrote based on Romans 6.

  • Ty Crandall

    No real strategy just a couple of points.

    Want to keep focused and that is ‘The Fear of the Lord’. Don’t hear much teaching on that, but I do hear lots love casts out all fear a lot. But if one studies the Word there is all fear bar one, ‘The Fear of the Lord’. Genesis through Revelation we are instructed and warned to ‘Fear the Lord’. Will take a life time I am told by the Boss to learn this, but it’s worth the investment in class 101 and never graduate out of this class. Why, because class 101 has 100% dependency of the Teacher, the Holy Spirit. Without checking in with the Teacher, the free gift of ‘free will’ has a tendency to do what the mind body connection sees as right in the natural as influenced by the prince of the air and his influence in the teaching, learning, development world we live in. If the mind checks in with the Heart, Holy of Holies, than the mind spirit connection comes into play, and my spiritual eyes sees what the Father is doing and then it becomes a choice. Just like it was for Lucifer and Adam and Eve. That was called a choice which we have as an inherited gene of bias towards me. Funny, why God chose the most deceitful thing to live in for His gift of deposit (Holy Spirit) in us, the heart. Pretty real life example of Jesus being born in a stables. God likes messes I guess and does His best work there.

    Another thing is commandment #1. If one does love the Lord our God with all of one’s heart, mind, soul and strength, then what’s left of me to carry out the other commandments? Answer, nothing, so either the Holy Spirit leads with the mind heart connection or I lead and try to put Jesus’ name on it or worst yet I put my name on it and that doesn’t work. God doesn’t share His glory with anyone. If I am dead to self and alive in Christ then the Holy Spirit is doing the leading as I am yoked with Jesus. Also does one good if they run an audit on yourself and see how many times one uses the noun ‘I’. In Genesis ‘I’ or ‘I am’ is used as reference to God’s name. So when I use the term ‘I’ is it for my glory or His? Wonder how often we take the name of God, ‘I’ in vain by using it for our benefit/purposes?

    Does put the Fear of God in me to pay attention and put things right when I stumble and fall, more times than I like.

    Only ministry we will be viewed on by The Father, Son and Holy Spirit is our ministry to be yoked to Jesus Christ. So His church is in service 24 hours a day 365 days a year. People are His church, the living stones built upon the Corner Stone, Jesus Christ. So it’s His church at home, at work, at school, at play and whatever or traditionally, in a church building.

    Blessings,
    Ty

    • You have some great points there, Ty. Yes, it’s essential that we fear (worship and respect) the Lord more than fear people. A great book on this is When People are Big and God is Small, by Ed Welch. Thanks for your thoughts.

  • Jacob Fuller

    I’ve been living as a Christian for around 8 months, I had always believed and claimed to be Christian but never lived like it. For maybe a month now I’ve been slipping, hard. It started off as small trip ups and I’d get back on track quickly but it’s become more and more and to the point where I’m not reading or praying without rarely forcing myself. I really love God, so much, with all I know how or feel. Im listening to rap again (not clean), I’m slowly starting to cuss more I’ve noticed, I’ve smoked a cigarette twice in the last few weeks and I’ve been quit for 8 months after 6 years of smoking, I smoked weed again for the first time in 7 months (I don’t have a bad opinion of weed but I personally become consumed by it), I’ve told a few lies which I hate doing, and all I can manage to do is beat myself up. I’ve heard all the answers and scriptures I feel like but I still can’t manage to read surround my life around God even though I want to so bad, I guess not bad enough but I feel all the want I can. He’s been so good to me and I’ve been a rebellious ungrateful mess that doesn’t even make a good attempt at deserving him as my father. The only thing I can relate to as a problem is that I’ve never heard god like I wanted and I’ve continuously tried to just accept his answer of silence or even tried living better to hear him, but nothing. I don’t want to sound like I’m not blessed beyond belief but it hasn’t given me the strength I need, no amount of reading or praying has either. I assume this 3rd shift job I started is the main factor (not trying to avoid blame) because I’m to want to do anything even with sleep, when I’m rarely not sleepy I’m excited to go do normal stuff again like see friends and family. Sorry for the LONG comment but I’m desperate for help

    • You’re not alone, Jacob, in your struggle. I think we can all feel like God is distant when we choose to sidestep His commands. I urge you to get involved in a good local church and especially get involved with a good accountability group with other men. My group does a great job of reminding me I’m not alone in the struggle. You’re not alone either!

      • Jacob Fuller

        Thanks guys, I’m in a church and I go 3 times a week like I should. There are great Bible following “leaders” there, I’m just to embarrassed to continuously go saying I’m failing cause I know it’s my fault even though I feel like I fight it so hard

        • That makes sense, Jacob. You just need one or two men to hold you accountable— not a lot. The adversary would do anything to keep you from pressing on. Don’t allow him that! Just keep going.

    • teagustavsson

      Isolation and lack of sleep are both things that increase our inner itchiness and cravings. Ask God for help to find a way to mest friends and get a healthy amount of sleep despite the challenges your work hours give you. Pray for that every day when you brush your teeth or do something else you do everyday. It´s better to pray for 5 seconds a day than nothing in times when praying is hard. God will help even if it takes a while!

    • Lynn

      Reading your words are like I wrote them myself. My heart goes out to you. I want you to know that I’m praying for you. God knows the mess you are Jacob, He knows the rebellious heart I have too, but there is nothing that can remove God’s love from you. You need to remember he loved you before you loved him, His love for you isn’t based upon your behavior, if it was we would never obtain it. Grace is so much more than we understand, and flows so much deeper than we deserve. God’s grace is something we could never earn that’s why it’s a gift. I’m in the same spot as you and as hard as it is I get on my knees every time I fall and I pray back the Truths I know regardless of how I feel. Emotions are easily manipulated, you have to stand on the truth. God started a good work in you and He will bring through to completion. You’re a work in progress and the work isn’t finished until we see Jesus. We are all at different places in our journey with Jesus I’m in a back slide spanning almost a month and a half. I take one step forward and five steps back. You’re not alone my friend.

      C. S. Lewis said it best “…the great thing to remember is that, though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not. It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference; and, therefore, it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to Him.”

  • ARM BAR

    I’m still struggle a lot to fight temptation and sin,and for me it is very very hard Wayne because every time i’m tempted at the same time i have to choose between God and this world,this is where the difficult part comes to force me and that’s because we are living here on earth in flesh and we also have a something need to be fulfilled,and as we all know that in order to fulfill that earthly things we are tempted and often must sin regardless whether we realize or not,so we are not only to have a time with God really often,but we also must love God personally,by doing so we are remember when we face the temptation,and God is the only one who can teach us about love,He is the one who loves us first,yes personal love i mean,like God loves to you,me and others personally Wayne ,that will help us fight the temptation,thanks.

    • The very fact that you choose to struggle speaks well of you. Even Paul did! (Romans 7). Never give up.

  • Michelle thick

    A long time ago after bible study. A gentlemen gave me deuterotomy 28. He told me to be careful and always remember what it means to stay with God or sin. It has stuck with me all these years. Prob 20 years ago. Always love reading your reads.
    Thanks
    God Bless

  • Butch Fomby

    WHEN GOD SAID HE WOULD GIVE ME EVERLASTING LIFE IN JOHN 3:16 I BELIEVED HIM……NEVER A DOUBT ABOUT BEING SAVED SINCE THAT TIME….

  • Christopher Otis

    Meditating on this verse “Sin shall not be your master because you are NOT UNDER LAW, but UNDER GRACE. What then, shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!

    • I also love that verse, Christopher. Romans 6 is a powerful chapter that helps us remember who our real master is—and why we don’t have to be like an elephant. 🙂 Thanks.

  • Darryl Burrows

    Two things: Declaring God’s promises and active worship. Both come from scripture reading and one involves meditation while the other involves active participation and walking out the commands and truths of the Bible. Both involve prayer. Proactively getting ahead of the enemy is the best way to defend yourself from sin and temptation.

    • That’s a great strategy, Darryl. Anticipating the enemy’s moves helps us respond rather than react. I’ve found it helpful to anticipate the types of temptation by evaluating what has been my weak points in the past. I love your double-edged sword of clinging to God’s Word and worshipping God. Thanks.

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