More Than Conquerors :: Conquering Temptation

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In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”  Romans 8:37 NIV

God wants us to live as MORE than conquerors. Today’s post is on Conquering Temptation. There are times when we end up doing things we don’t want to do. We want to do what’s right, but end up doing what’s wrong.

We all have persistent temptations that cause us to stumble over and over. Maybe it’s anger you can’t control or fear that sends you into a panic. Maybe your temptation is resentment you can’t let go or lust and sexual thoughts. It could be greed, envy, gossip or gluttony. What persistent habits are messing up your life?

“I don’t understand myself. For I really want to do what’s right but I don’t do it. Instead I do the very thing I hate.”  Romans 7:15 NLT

There has to be a way to break your bad habits, because the guy who wrote Romans 7:15 is the same guy who wrote Romans 8:37. So how do you get from Romans 7 to Romans 8. Here are seven ways to conquer your temptation.

1.  Determine your pattern of temptation.

Everyone has unique patterns in their lives. You have a unique fingerprint, unique thumbprint, unique eye print, unique voice print and even your heart beats in a unique pattern. Your physical patterns are unique. Your emotional and spiritual patterns are unique as well. We all have temptations, but they come at us in different ways.

There are some things you will never be tempted to do and things that seriously tempt us to the point that we fail. You need to know your pattern of temptation, because the devil knows it. If you don’t know what trips you up, you’re going into a battle with a blindfold on.

The immoral person does not care about the path of life.  She staggers down a crooked trail and doesn’t even realize where it leads.”  Proverbs 5:6 NLT

Let’s take a good look at the way we’re living and reorder our lives under God.”  Lamentations 3:40 MSG

Identify the patterns that tempt you so you can avoid those situations and conquer your temptation. Here are some questions to ask yourself in order to pin-point the patterns around your temptation. 

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2.  Plan to avoid it.

Once you know your temptation triggers, you can set some boundaries to stay away from those situations. 

Plan carefully what you do. Avoid evil and walk straight ahead. Don’t go one step off the right way.”  Proverbs 4:26-27 GN

Too many of us spend time planning how we can get away with sin, rather than spend time planning how we can avoid sin. The goal is not to see how close you can get to temptation and resist it. The goal is how far away from temptation can you get?

Plan your day ahead of time. Quit falling for the same old traps and anticipate the new ones. Put a porn filter on your computer and on your phone. Don’t walk down the liquor aisle in the grocery store. Prepare a shopping list and only buy what’s on the list. If you’re going to stop falling for the same old temptations, you have to have a plan to avoid them.

3.  Protect the condition of your heart.

Above all else, guard your heart, For it effects everything you do.”  Proverbs 4:23 NLT

Take a look at this little heart exam. Here are ten different areas of your life to assess yourself on.

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  • 30 – 40 = Good Shape
  • 20 – 30 = Be Careful!
  • 10 – 20 = Extreme Danger!
  • 0 – 10 = Crisis!

If you scored between 0 and 10, you need to call a counselor immediately. You need professional help right away. Don’t put it off any longer. The longer you stay at a lower level the more vulnerable you become. Make that call and go to the appointment.

Do not give the devil a foothold.”  Ephesians 4:27 NIV

The devil doesn’t try to take over your whole life all at once. He starts by getting one little area. Satan is not going to be satisfied with only one small area of your life.

Jealousy can give Satan a foothold in your life. Greed, fear, resentment, lust, anger, boredom or gluttony can be footholds. When you mix several of these heart conditions together they’re very potent. If you’re tired, frustrated, hurt and lonely, that sets you up for temptation. The more of those things that get in your life the more vulnerable you become.

4. Pray for God’s help.

Keep alert and pray. Otherwise temptation will overpower you.”  Matthew 26:41 NLT

Call to Me when trouble comes; I will save you.”  Psalm 50:15 GN

Pray or temptation will over power you. When trouble comes, immediately call out to God. It can be a one word prayer: Help! And when you do, God answers.

If there is a turning point in this process, this is it. When you fall into temptation and sin, God says to confess your sin and He is faithful and just to forgive your sin and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. It doesn’t matter how many times you sin, if you confess it God will forgive it. Every time. God doesn’t want you to stop there. God doesn’t want you to spend your life falling into sin and confessing it.

God wants you to move on so you can stop confessing your sin and instead, conquer your temptation.

This is a tremendous benefit of being a believer. Unbelievers don’t have that benefit. They have to live with the guilt of their sin. It’s important for you as a believer to move beyond confession, because while God forgives your sins, you still suffer the wounds and bear the scars. The pattern of falling into sin, confessing it and being forgiven, is a far more brutal way to live than conquering your temptation.

When you get to the point that you no longer wait till after you have sinned to cry out to God, but you cry out to God before you sin, you are at a turning point.

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.”  Romans 8:26 NLT

We think God wants us to learn to stand on our own two feet and be stronger. No, God wants us to fall on our knees and call on Him even when we don’t know what pray.

5.  Point your attention elsewhere

Change the direction of your thoughts and refocus on something else. 

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” Romans 8:5 NIV 

Temptation always starts with a thought in your mind. Whatever captures your attention captures you. The more you think about something the stronger the hold it gets on you.

Temptation starts with attention, something tempting grabs your mind. Next, it moves to arousal, your emotions kick in when you think about that temptation. That leads to action, you do what you don’t want to do…again.

The secret is to catch it at the attention stage and divert your attention. Divert your attention to something else, specifically to Christ.

We capture every thought and make it obey Christ.”  2 Corinthians 10:5 NCV

You cannot control all your circumstances. You certainly cannot control the people in your life. But you can control what you choose to think about. You will never feel better about yourself by focusing on yourself. It’s when you divert your attention to God that things change. Learning new patterns of thinking is not easy and it does not come quickly, but by God’s strength it is possible.

6.  Pick an accountability partner.

The reason most people never conquer their temptations is they’re unwilling to pick an accountability partner. There are some temptations in life that you have to team tackle. You can’t break free on your own.

Two are better than one, because together…if one falls down, the other can help him up. But if someone is alone and falls…there’s no one to help him.”  Ecclesiastes 4:10-11 GN

Admit your faults to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”  James 5:16 LB

You don’t have to tell everybody, but you have to tell somebody. At least one other person. Everybody needs one friend like that. When you’re honest with one other person about your struggles, three amazing benefits take place in your life. 

It’s Liberating

The moment you share your secret sin with somebody else all of a sudden that guilt that’s got you by the jugular, is broken. It’s liberating. It sets you free. Hiding a hurt only intensifies it. 

It’s Empowering

God gives His power to us when we humble ourselves. He gives grace to the humble. If I can’t talk about it because it’s too painful or too embarrassing, it’s out of control. In fact, if you can’t talk about it, it’s controlling you. When you talk about a problem, that’s how you gain control of it.

It’s Endearing

When you’re honest with somebody about your weakness, it draws that person closer to you instead of pushing them away. We think people will like us if we pretend we’ve got it all together, but actually we gravitate toward people who are open about their faults. We gravitate toward people who are humble. Authenticity causes people to be closer to you not further away.

As a believer, we have two significant advantages. One, we have been saved by grace because we’ve put our trust in Christ. We all have the same sins as everybody else, but believers don’t walk around with a guilt complex because we can confess our sins and be forgiven. The second thing is your church family. This is where you can find other people who support and help you. 

The church is not a hotel for saints who dress up for a parade. It’s a hospital for sinners who want to conquer temptation.

7.  Persist in believing you can change.

You don’t have to stay the same. You may have dealt with this temptation for 15 or 20 years. But change is possible, you can conquer it. 

No temptation that comes your way is beyond what others have had to face.  All you need to remember is that God will never let you down. He’ll never let you be pushed past your limit. He’ll always be there to help you come through it.”  1 Corinthians 10:13 MSG

We are continually put in situations we can’t handle, we can’t help ourselves. That’s why we need to call out to God for help. That’s why we need Jesus Christ, because we don’t have enough power.

Declare this today:

I decide to move from repeatedly confessing my sins, to conquering my temptations.

“Call to me when trouble comes; I will save you.”  Psalm 50:15 GN

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word + Application

1. Determine your pattern of temptation.

  • When am I most tempted? Which day(s) of the week and what time of day?
  • Where am I most tempted? At home or at work or somewhere else?
  • Who is with me when I’m most tempted? Am I alone or with friends or family
  • What temporary benefit do I get if I give in? What is the payoff?
  • How do I feel right before I’m tempted? Know your emotional triggers.

2. Plan to avoid it.

  • According to Proverbs 4:26–27, how are we to deal with evil?
  • In our spiritual battles, if we have no plan, we will certainly lose. What steps can you take to avoid the temptation that you face?
  • What back up plan can you have in case things don’t go as you expect?

3. Protect the condition of your heart

  • What does Proverbs 4:23 say we should guard above all else?
  • What is the condition of your heart right now?
  • What consistent steps will you commit to take for lasting change?

4. Pray for God’s help.

  • What does Matthew 26:41 say we should do?
  • What will happen if we ignore the command?
  • Can you think of and share any examples when God saved you from trouble after praying?

5. Point your attention elsewhere.

  • How can obedience to 2 Corinthians 10:5 help us break the attention, arousal, action pattern of sin?
  • A decision to serve in ministry is a practical choice to conquer evil with good. If you are currently active in ministry, share how this choice keeps your attention focused on God. If you are not yet involved in ministry, ask the group to pray for you to find a place to serve.

6. Pick an accountability partner.

  • What does James 5:16 say will happen if we admit our faults to each other and pray?
  • Once we do admit our faults, how do we feel?

7. Persist in believing you can change.

  • What does 1 Corinthians 10:13 say God will never let happen to us?
  • Why is it reassuring to know that others have faced the same temptations we do?
  • When you are pushed to your limit, how does this verse give you strength?

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