James 1:14-15 clearly outlines the process of temptation, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”
In this passage, we find six stages of the process of dealing with temptation and sin. They are:
- Being carried away
- Being enticed by your own lust
- Lust conceives
- Sin is born
- Sin becomes accomplished
- Sin brings forth death
Temptation occurs in the first two stages of being carried away and enticed by our own lust. If we do not deal with the temptation and our own lusts, sin will conceive. This happens the moment you decide you are going to do what your lusts want you to do. Once we make the mental decision that we are going to sin, it will most likely happen.
So here are ten things you should do if you really want to fight temptation.
1. Have a serious consequence.
Do what Jesus says to do which is gouge out your right eye and cut off your left hand. Yikes, I am buying stock in eyepatches and mechanical hands. Obviously, Jesus was using hyperbole. However, do not miss His point. Lust is going to take some drastic measures to keep it under control. So, the first thing you need to do is to set up a serious consequence if you fall to temptation.
If your boundary is to not look at porn, what is the consequence if you do look at porn? Make it a strong consequence and that will help. For example, I struggle more when I have been drinking. So, I told the 16 leaders in my 180 Recovery Ministry that if I have one drink I will pay each of them $20. That beer becomes a $320 beer. I have not crossed that boundary once unless my leaders give me the okay, like at my daughter’s wedding.
2. Find someone you trust to whom you will be accountable.
If you are living with your sin in isolation, you will not be able to stop and recover. Ask two of three close friends who are all struggling with this same issue to meet weekly and be accountable. Tell them your boundary and the consequence and give them a weekly report.
3. Force yourself to be completely honest.
It is no good to have accountability if you are going to lie to them. That’s like going to the doctor when you have a scratch and a broken leg and telling the doctor, “I need a Band-Aid for this scratch.” If you ignore the broken leg, then why did you go there in the first place?
4. Pay the time if you do the crime.
If you have crossed the boundary, then pay the consequence. Don’t beg for forgiveness. Don’t try to weasel your way out of the fine. Just be honest, pay up, and do what you said you were going to do so that you experience the real consequence.
5. Be prepared for the next temptation.
If you stop and think about it, I am guessing you could think about the week ahead and realistically figure out when the times of temptation may come. A lot of temptation can be resisted and defused if we think about the situation where we will be tempted and then have a plan to avoid it.
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For example, if you struggle most when everyone has gone to bed, then plan something that will solve that issue. Things like:
- Go to bed when your wife goes to bed.
- Create a barrier that you will not use any electronics if you stay up.
- Plan things you could do with that time that would be valuable to you like reading or praying.
6. Avoid situations where you will be “carried away.”
These words mean that something happens and you are “drawn away” or “lured away.” The idea is that you are in a safe place but notice something that catches your eye or gets your attention. It’s like when a fly fisherman casts a fly into the river upstream from the fish, knowing the fly will float by the fish and look yummy. Drawn to the fly because of its desire to eat, the fish swims from its safe place at the bottom of the river toward the fly to get a taste.
Perhaps you drive by an adult bookstore on your way to work . Or you check your email when you are alone in the house. Or your friends are going out for a drink at a bar where you can find a hook-up. You have moved from a safe place and are being drawn or carried to a place where you will be tempted. If you can stop yourself from going there, you will cut off the temptation in its earliest stage when stopping is more manageable.
7. Leave the moment you realize you’re being enticed.
There is an interesting change that happens between the being carried away and then being enticed by your own lust. Being enticed is something from outside of you being presented to you to get you to become tempted.
It may have more to do with curiosity like “I wonder if that new show on Netflix will be something I want to watch.” That happens when you read the title and see the image for the show. You are drawn to it and then you see that the rating is MA for mature audience. That gets your attention and your lusts wake up and say, “Yes, I want to watch that show that may have some nudity in it.
If you click to watch the show, you have decided you want to see the nudity and sin conceives in your mind. If you don’t click and choose to do something else, the temptation is defeated, at least for the moment.
8. Reach up to God.
Temptation is like a boomerang. Have you ever noticed times when you feel tempted, so you grab it and throw it away, but then it turns around and comes back at you?
God is right there with you. The Holy Spirit is inside of your body. Ask Him for help. 1 Corinthians 10 teaches us that with every temptation God provides a way of escape: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.”
There are two very critical things you need to do if or when you’re tempted.
9. Reach out to your accountability team.
After asking for the Spirit’s help to find the escape, take out your cell phone and reach out to your accountability team members.
If you do not have anyone, then are you serious about finding freedom? If you are alone in your struggle and not part of some community, like our 180 Online Support Teams, then I have one thought for you: a lone sheep is a dead sheep.
10. Use Covenant Eyes on all your devices.
In addition to all these things, I recommend you use Covenant Eyes on all your devices. This will record every website you visit and give a report to your friends to keep you accountable. I have used it for over 10 years and still have it on all my devices.
You can fight temptation and overcome sin.