How do I avoid temptation in the moment?
How do I avoid temptation in the moment? the Christian life, Jesus is always the example. If we all could learn how to resist temptation in the moment, the Christian landscape could be very different. So look to Jesus to show you how to overcome Satan’s lies.
“For forty days and forty nights [Jesus] fasted and became very hungry. During that time the devil came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.’” (Matthew 4:2-3).
Jesus has fasted for forty days and is very hungry. Satan knows this. The devil did not follow Jesus into the desert and tempt Him on day one. He tempted Jesus on day forty.
The devil sees human weaknesses and he will prey upon them. Even when your individual weakness is hidden or ignored, Satan sees it. Yet, in the midst of this knowledge, always remember that Jesus has already conquered sin. Satan has already been defeated in the fullness of time. It is now, in these small individual moments of temptation, that you must unite yourself to God and continue to choose Him over yourself.
The devil calls Jesus’ authority into question, just as he tried to challenge God’s words to Adam and Eve in the very start. The devil challenges Jesus to prove His divinity by using His power to change rocks into bread. But, unlike Eve, Jesus does not correct Satan. Eve corrected Satan’s faulty quote of God’s command. She entered into a conversation with the devil. Jesus does not even acknowledge that Satan has questioned that He is the Son of God. Jesus could have very easily changed the rocks – He created the rocks! But He never uses His power for His own gain. Even clothed in human nature, Jesus remains so interconnected with His Father that He doesn’t even hesitate. He says,“…No! The Scriptures say People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4).
Notice that Jesus does not engage Satan. All He does is quote Scripture, the Word of God. He relies on the Father’s Will to guide Him in this very difficult moment. He just says, “no.” No conversation. Jesus knows His Father’s Will because He spends so much time in prayer. Consequently, the devil has no ground to gain traction.
The first step to resist temptation in the moment is to recognize your weaknesses. If you do not know what challenges you are working on overcoming, they will never be overcome.
The second step is to assess your “near occasions of sin.” These “near occasions” are things, people, emotions, or series of events that ultimately lead to the moment of temptation. These “occasions” are to be avoided at all costs. If that means, literally, running in the opposite direction – run. If that means declining an invitation – decline it. Whatever it means for you, be sure to avoid these “occasions of sin.”
The third step is to be a person in the habit of prayer. From the Scripture, St. Paul admonishes us to “pray ceaselessly”. Christians are to be people that are in a constant connection with God, just as Jesus was with His Father. When we know God, not just know of Him, we will be prepared to resist Satan’s lies.
The fourth, and final step is to avoid conversations with the devil. It is unlikely that you verbally hear Satan speak to you, but, if you have completed steps 1-3, you will recognize your weaknesses, the things that lead to falling into them, and you will be growing closer to God every day. The devil’s whispers will become like foghorn blows. You will start to recognize them and to obtain the strength, knowledge, and grace essential to resist them. Living the Christian life does not get easier, you just get better at it.