1. Prayer with sincerity, candor, and faith. Trust the Holy Spirit’s guidance along with expressing the fruits of the Spirit working inside of us.
Sin is a serious problem in all our lives. Even after we get saved we face a consistent barrage of temptations, trials, and difficulties. The first line of defense against all sins should probably be prayer. Of course it’s probably one of our most difficult times to pray when we are feeling weak in the flesh. We should pray that God would equip us with His full armor (Ephesians 6:10-20), that we would be blessed with the self-control of the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5), and He provide us with a way of escape from sin (1 Corinthians 10:13). These are a few powerful examples of prayers that could help us before, during, and after the temptation strikes. Prayer and God’s Word go hand-in-hand, but often times we forget God’s promises in the midst of our turmoil. Instead we buy into the lies of the devil and his demons. Here are four powerful verses that may help you to combat the wiles of the devil next time you face them:
“4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4
“28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NKJV).
“9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NKJV).
2. Avoiding triggers for specific sins like the plague.
Another practical idea is to find tangible ways to guard ourselves from our weak areas. If you find yourself struggling with something in secret, for instance viewing pornography, then you might do yourself a favor in getting blocking software or planning the majority of your day to be around other people. If your temptation is to overspend and get into debt with credit cards, it may be time to leave them back at home in case of emergencies only. Perhaps even chop them up to shreds depending on how difficult this behavior is for you to eliminate. If it’s over indulging in food, then it might be best to eat home-cooked meals as often as possible rather than fast food or junk food. Even if that wasn’t feasible, you could still moderate quantities of fast food and get rid of soda from your dietary allowance. The key is to brainstorm ways that you’re not setting yourself up to fail by hanging lures in front of your own face.
3. Learning from the experience of others.
Many times, especially when God surrounds us with a multitude of counselors in which we find safety (Proverbs 11:14), we have examples of successes and failures daily before our eyes. Whether it be our parents, our forefathers (grandparents, great grandparents) or other close family or friends, we can observe what has worked and what hasn’t worked. One person may help us see the work ethic and sacrifice needed to succeed in business for instance. Yet another could help us see how we can avoid financial ruin by avoiding haphazard investments. Even another could help us see how we should treat our wives by either showing us what does or doesn’t work. In the end, my point is that it’s extremely powerful for you to avoid heartache, pain, worry, and a ton of trouble to learn from the experience of others.
4. Accountability partners who you can trust.
Accountability partners are another great way to add another layer of protection against iniquity. I would suggest to dialogue at least once a week, but choose the frequency that works for you. Your preference not to give them the bad news that you failed will be an ally in the most unexpected times. On a human level it gives you a tangible view, and those heart to heart conversations can compel us to do better. It’s important to remember not to overly rely on them because we’re all human and we all fail from time to time. Don’t let the basis of your faith be derived from a human who can do good and bad. Let the foundation be a firm identity in Jesus Christ.
With that firmly in mind, knowing you have someone out there in the same or similar battlefield, helps you process that you’re not the only one fighting the good fight of faith. This thought in itself is refreshing, as the Bible echoes in 1 Corinthians 10:13. God’s Word ensures that we will not be tempted beyond what we can bear, and even provides us with a way of escape to endure it properly. Notice of course that there’s still some endurance required, so we need to wait patiently as God lets the temptation fade out.
5. Replacing bad habits with healthier ones.
Often sins become bad habits when we indulge them to the point of becoming habitual sins. These are sins that we can’t seem to get rid of and control significant aspects of our lives. We suspect from a fallen level as a human being that they’re not so bad. We self-medicate with these escapes to escape reality or we find the allure outweighs the risk. Something simply tells us that the momentary, fleeting pleasure outweighs obedience to God. This of course couldn’t be further from the truth, and I have been there before. After sinning, knowing that I grieved the Holy Spirit, sinned against my own body, my soul, and even my future wife when it comes to matters of purity. These are devastating consequences, ones that I realize the reality of scripture: “the wages of sin is death.” Fortunately that’s not how the verse ends, “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23). As you can see breaking these habits is a matter of urgency but how can we?
One effective way, that has not yet been mentioned, is to construct new habits. When we feel weak in the flesh, we need to get away from the area. Evacuate the point of temptation and have a set plan on what you will replace it with. It could be reading a Bible or prayer sure, but maybe it’s a bike ride or a basketball game. Come up with an idea while you’re not feeling tempted, and then follow through with the new activity or hobby immediately when you feel the attack. After some time this transition might feel so natural that victories are more consistent, and that sin is part of your past.