temptations do you find most difficult? Alcohol? Temper? Immoral
thoughts? Laziness? The Bible challenges us to control and
direct our desires towards doing good rather than evil. Everyone
is responsible for their own thoughts and must learn to control
James wrote about the path that leads to sin. He discusses
enduring trials and concentrating on doing the things that
God commands and excluding the things that he forbids. Part
of this process is to overcome temptation. The person who
aims to please God will think and act in right ways even when
initially faced with an opportunity to do wrong.
1. James describes the path that leads to sin.
Temptation → Sin → Death
What is the alternative path we should follow instead when
faced with a desire to sin?
2. How can we avoid the path of desire leading on to sin
3. James describes a person as “dragged away and
enticed” by their own desire. What does this mean?
A correct view of the “battle between good and evil”
helps us to learn about temptation. The Bible states that
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond
cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
and “For from within, out of men’s hearts, come
. . . All these evils come from inside and make a man
‘unclea n’.” (Mark 7:21–23)
The source of evil
|Jeremiah 17:9; Mark 7:14–23; James 1:14.
Help with temptation
|Matthew 26:41; 1 Corinthians 10:12–14; Philippians 2:13;
Hebrews 2:14–18; 4:14–16; James 1:5; Jude 24–25.
|Genesis 39:10; 2 Timothy 2:22.
Instructions to godly thinking
|Psalm 1:2; Matthew 5:27–30; 2 Corinthians 10:5; Philippians 4:8–9.
evil thoughts belong to you; they are not put in your mind
by someone or something else. Recognizing the source of sinful
thinking is a good start towards overcoming it.
The Bible teaches that we are responsible for our own thoughts.
The things we see can influence our thoughts, but the Christian
is instructed to control those thoughts and to desire to do
The Lord’s Prayer contains the plea “lead us not
into temptation”. That is, we are asking God to keep us away
influences and environments that we find tempting. Of course,
what may lead to temptation for one person may not have the
same effect on others.
This prayer also shows how we should expect to fight sin. We
should ask for God’s help to overcome temptation and
to be led
away from circumstances that will cause us difficulty in serving
God allows us to be tempted because it tests our faith and
desire to serve him. But he prevents the temptations becoming
too much for us. So whatever you are fighting against, you
know you can overcome it with God’s help.
[He] is able to keep you from falling and to present you
before his glorious presence without fault and with great
joy. (Jude 24–25) See also 1 Corinthians
The book of Psalms begins
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the
wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of
mockers. (Psalm 1:1)
Again, this shows we need to avoid ungodly environments
where we will be confronted with temptations. Psalm 1 goes
on to say
But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law
meditates day and night. (Psalm 1:2)
other words, we are to replace ungodly thinking with godly
thinking. The key to overcoming temptation is to fill our minds
with things of God. Paul said “we take captive every
thought to 2 Corinthians 10:5 make it obedient to Christ”.
If we are to master temptation, we must learn to control our
minds, and think about good things.
Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right,
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is
admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think
about such things. . . And the God of peace will be with you.
Temptations come from within—our own thoughts. Our surroundings
can and do influence our thoughts, therefore we should be very
careful. Believers are instructed to follow the example of
Jesus and overcome temptations. One way to do this is to replace
the temptation to sin with a desire to do what is right and
with godly thoughts. Remember that God wants people to pray
for help, and he is willing to provide help.
1. What Bible passages can you find that refer to good desires?
2. Job suffered the loss of all his children, all his livestock,
and was afflicted with painful sores all over his body.
What temptations do you think he experienced as a result
of these terrible experiences?
3. Read Job 2:9–10. Job’s wife urged him to curse
what ways can our friends lead us into temptation? How
can we best overcome the temptations in these situations?
4. Read Genesis 39:1–12. How did Joseph cope with temptation?
What does this teach us about how we should cope
with our temptations?
5. Read Matthew 5:27–30. What does this passage teach
about temptation? Think of some examples of temptations
you face where this passage can be applied.
1. Think of some examples of things that evoke a strong
reaction from you but which have no impact on someone you
know. How can you use this to help win your personal battles
2. Can you think of an incident where God has led you away
from circumstances that may have resulted in temptation for
3. When faced with temptation in the wilderness, Jesus
quoted Bible passages to strengthen his resolve not to sin.
List some Bible verses that will be helpful in overcoming
4. Consider the steps towards overcoming temptation listed
in the box below.
|Step 1. Watch: identify your major weaknesses in temptation
Step 2. Run: get right away from whatever it is that is causing your temptation
Step 3. Pray: ask God’s help in overcoming your temptation problem.
(a) Write down the two or three sins that you find most difficult
(b) Think of a strategy to help you ‘run’ from
these temptations. For example, if it is alcohol, don’t
go anywhere where you will be tempted and don’t mix
with people who will lead you into temptation. If it is laziness,
change your daily schedule so that you are less likely to
fall for the same problem.
(c) Ask God to help you overcome your temptations.
• Letters to George and Jenny by Harry Whittaker (published by Biblia,
1988). Chapter 38, 3 pages. A short letter with advice on
14. Holiness and obedience
24. The Devil and Satan: Old Testament
25. The Devil and Satan: New Testament