Living By Faith Blog


Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

How to Resist Temptation


I hung up the phone, furious.

The person on the phone had said some deeply hurtful things, and I wanted to find my wife and tell her all about it.

But then I remembered a verse — “Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends” (Prov 17:9).

Which means that unless absolutely necessary, I should avoid talking about someone’s offenses.

The battle begins

My anger made me want to tell my wife, so I could be comforted, so she could side with me against him, and so I could have the pleasure of criticizing him.

But in this case I knew there was no good reason to tell my wife. I knew that telling her would cause her pain, and I would be slandering and seeking revenge.

But still — I wanted to tell her. Badly.

I was facing temptation

So how can we resist temptation?

Temptations come in all shapes and sizes. We can be tempted to lie to the boss, eat too much, exaggerate a story — the list goes on and on.

But behind every temptation lurks the same lie — that something else will satisfy us more than Jesus Christ.

How to resist temptation

So the way to resist temptation is not by gritting our teeth so we don’t do what we want to do (tell my wife, eat another cookie, click on the porn).

The way to resist temptation is by fighting the fight of faith until we are so satisfied in Jesus Christ that lesser satisfactions have no pull.

Let’s say you are hungry.  Starving.  Joy in Jesus is like baby-back ribs sizzling on the barbecue. Sin is like a moldy peanut-butter sandwich in the gutter.

You will only be tempted to eat the moldy peanut-butter sandwich in the gutter — if you’ve forgotten the ribs on the barbecue.

So the way to resist that temptation is by remembering the ribs, heading to the barbecue, and helping yourself.

That’s what God enabled me to do after I got off the phone.

Here’s what I did –

I turned to Jesus just as I was and looked to Him for help.

I didn’t try to get over my anger first — that can happen only through Jesus’ power. So I turned my heart towards Jesus Christ and trusted Him to help me.

I confessed my sin — that I was trusting something else to satisfy me more than Jesus.

I was not trusting Jesus as my heart-satisfaction. I had turned from Jesus, and was trusting the comfort that would come from talking bad about this person and from my wife’s sympathy.

So I confessed this sin to Jesus. I asked Him to help me see how I had dishonored him by turning from Him. I told Him I was sorry. I asked Him to forgive and cleanse me (1 John 1:9).

And as I trusted Him, I was assured that I was completely forgiven and cleansed, and that God’s goodness and mercy were coming to get me (Psa 23:6).

I prayed earnestly for God to change my heart by the power of the Spirit.

At that point I did not have much desire for Jesus. What I desired was comfort from my wife and the revenge of slandering someone.

So I needed a heart-change — a change that only God can make (Luke 18:27). So I humbled myself before God, admitted that I could not change myself, and asked Him to change my heart.

I set my heart prayerfully on Jesus and His promises.

Jesus promises that meditation on His Word will free us from sin (John 8:31-32). So I brought to mind verses about who Jesus is — like Tit 2:13; I John 3:16; Rev 1:5.

I also pondered verses about what Jesus has promised — that He would satisfy me (John 6:35), and that He would bring about justice (Rom 12:19).

I prayed over these verses, asking God to open my eyes so I could once again feel the surpassing value of knowing Christ (Phil 3:8).

I also prayed over God’s warnings.

Warnings are like strong coffee — they wake us up to the seriousness of continuing in sin. So I pondered warnings like Matt 12:36-37; Matt 18:35; and Rom 8:13.

These strengthened my resolve to keep fighting the fight of faith until my heart was changed.

I continued to pray over God’s Word until the Spirit changed my heart.

Sometimes this takes a while. This time — not so long.

After a few minutes I felt my heart start to change. First there was a deep peace — that God was pleased, that He was going to help me, that He would fully change my heart.

Then the truths of Jesus started to feel rich — life-giving — powerful. My heart was drawn to Jesus. This increased until the temptation was conquered — and I was free.

That’s how to resist temptation.

This is different.

This is not the same as trying hard not to slander. Or resolving not to slander. Or distracting myself so I won’t slander.

This is bringing my tempted heart directly to Jesus. This is fighting the fight of faith with the Word and prayer.

This is continuing to fight until the Spirit makes Jesus so real to me that the desire for slander disappears — like the desire for a moldy peanut butter sandwich disappears when I smell baby-back ribs.

Jesus will do the same for you. He promises — in John 8:31-32.

Before you go …

I’d love to hear how this impacted you.  Leave a comment in the box below — thanks!

Do you know someone who needs to know how to resist temptation?  Email this to them using the “share” button below — or use the buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

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And here’s some related posts you might find helpful —


(Picture from by Jacob Krechowicz.)

Category: Overcoming Sin and Temptation


19 Responses

  1. Cathy Charon says:

    Pastor Steve..Powerful teaching. It is so refreshing to have truthful instruction directly from THE WORD! Teaching from any other point of view has NO value…thank you for giving us meat required to live this walk…bless you.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      It’s always so encouraging to hear from you, Cathy. Thanks for stopping by — and much love to you and Craig.

  2. Bill Schuler says:

    Wow, thank you Steve. I know that it was not your intention that this post would result in praise for you, however I cannot resist a great big thank you for your living example! Keep fighting the fight of faith, for the Saints and for the Lamb!

    • Steve Fuller says:

      You are so welcome, Bill. It helps to hear that these posts are helping others. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

  3. Jeff Hinman says:

    Thanks for the step by step description. You said that this time it didn’t take much time to go through the process. How long did it take from the phone call to when the temptation was conquered?
    After a hurtful conversation, I usually can resist the temptation to “spew”, but I realized after reading this post that I have missed the opportunity to involve Jesus in the process and receive the peace that He brings. In other situations that are more difficult for me, I go right for the sandwich in the gutter and most times don’t even see what I have done, or if I do, how to go back and taste the ribs.
    I will print this post and keep it handy to review as often as I need to.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      So good to hear from you, Jeff. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

      The span of time between the temptation and the victory was maybe 10 minutes — but I find that temptations will counter-attack numerous times after the initial victory. So the battle continued on and off over the next few hours.

      I love how you describe our need to include Jesus in the process. So true. Too often, for me, resisting temptation is just willing myself to not do something bad. But that strikes me as moralism more than Christianity. How crucial to bring it to Him, and fight the fight of faith, until we experience the Spirit changing our hearts.

      Much love, brother. You are missed.

  4. Brittany Alexander says:

    Mr. Fuller,
    Thank you so much for sharing such practical insights. They are always such a blessing and encouragement. I really appreciated this statement: “Behind every temptation lurks the same lie — that something else will satisfy us more than Jesus Christ.” The Lord really seems to be trying to teach me this right now. He wants to be my full satisfaction, my first love, my motivation, my joy, my peace. When I am not seeking Him, I feel so empty and know that it is because He wants to be all these things for me. This makes me think about the verse in Psalms that talks about the wicked “seeking refuge in their own destruction”. That is what I do when I seek something other than Him. I am continually amazed at how when Christ is first in my heart, I am so filled with joy and satisfaction. Thank you again for your timely words of encouragement.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      I am so glad you found this helpful, Brittany. Thank you for letting me know.

      I love how you summed it all up — “He wants to be my full satisfaction, my first love, my motivation, my joy, my peace.” Perfect.

      May the Father richly bless you, and thanks again for sharing your thoughts here.


  5. Rodney says:

    Thank you so much for this site! It has made me realize God’s Love in such a different way! I can truly says that I am changed because even through my wrongs He has never left and has always been with me and because of this Love, I can overcome evil desires or anything that comes my way because God cares enough to fix me when I’m wrong and still loves me if I fall! His unconditional Love makes me want to please Him! He died on the cross for our sins and realizing that He laid down His life for me and sent His Word to correct me when I’m wrong- Lord I thank You and love you for doing this! I can run to You in times of trouble because Your Grace, Mercy, and Love has given me the strength that I need to overcome! THANK YOU LORD!

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Rodney,

      I’m so glad to hear that you are finding this site helpful. Thanks for taking the time to let me know — and let’s press on in fighting the fight of faith!

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  6. jess says:

    ah this is so good. i just overcame the temptation to go on facebook (trying to go on only one night per uni term)- VERY hard. After much battling with my thoughts about it, praying to resist, I finally got this deep peace and was wondering if that was God! 🙂 such a good feeling, btw love your blog!

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Jess,

      Thanks for letting me know that this encouraged you — I am so glad! What a kindness of God that He does not leave us to battle temptation on our own.

      Onward, brother!

      Steve Fuller

  7. Nisbert mbedzi says:

    Thank you for your powerful teaching. After I lost the battle, after I gave in to the temptation, i felt so guilty that I was so ashamed of myself, I decided to reach out about temptation and there I found you. May God’s word that spoke to me through you help me to overcome temptation. Thank you.

  8. Mary says:

    THANK you so much for your post about fighting temptation and your mountain biking loss(the only ones I’ve had a chance to read since just discovering your site a few minutes ago). They reminded me about how Jesus was my greatest pleasure(that I had discovered 4 months ago), and He should always stay as my greatest pleasure. I very much needed to hear/be reminded of that. All of what I’m going through has to do with me trying sooooo hard to fight off this temptation which has been haunting me for over a month now. I kept googling for answers on how to get back to where I was with Jesus, and knew in my heart that all I needed was to hear, see, read SOMEthing, even the “littlest” thing. Your words woke me up. THANK you! Now I just need to keep HOLDING on to your words and the remembrance that God’s pleasure for us IS greater, than ANYthing. 🙂 I’m not out of the woods yet, but your words actually grabbed me, so I HOPE they STICK with me. Please pray for me. Thank you.
    Have a good day. 🙂

  9. Mary says:

    Also, I’m not very good at websites and technology, so just in case my “checking off” the two choices: to be emailed about responses, and future post summaries, didn’t take, please do so, otherwise, I may not be able to find it/your site again. Thank you.

  10. Michael says:

    I thought in general it is great word very helpful and gives helpful articulate instruction on what to do in a temptation. I didnt like the part where you mentioned grabbing a cooking and click on porn. That was unclear and even the mention of porn is something that has such associations that it can cause someone to think evil or stumble and it is unclear what is meant by that side note. That ruined it for me. I will take away all the good in it and leave that but it prevents me from sharing this post and your blog.

  11. Jev says:

    Great advice! I needed it now than ever.

  12. Cherry says:

    Thank you for writing this! It helped me to see things full circle . Focusing on the bigger picture not just my temptation here and now.

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