Overcoming Temptation by Looking Past It—and Looking Up
Temptations always look good—otherwise they wouldn't be temptations. Resisting temptation is a gutsy, courageous, stubborn refusal to violate God's law. It’s recognizing and avoiding the devastating consequences when we choose sin. And it's repeatedly calling upon the indwelling Christ and Holy Spirit for the strength to say "no" to the world, the flesh, and the devil—to say "yes" to God instead. We do this in pursuit of the ultimate joy only found in knowing God.
When my thirst for joy is satisfied by Christ, sin becomes unattractive. I say no to the passing pleasures of immorality, not because I do not want pleasure, but because I want true pleasure, a greater and lasting pleasure that can only be found in Christ.
John Piper says,
The fire of lust’s pleasures must be fought with the fire of God’s pleasures. If we try to fight the fire of lust with prohibitions and threats alone—even the terrible warnings of Jesus—we will fail. We must fight it with a massive promise of superior happiness. We must swallow up the little flicker of lust’s pleasure in the conflagration of holy satisfaction.
Those who drink of immorality—or any kind of sin—are never satisfied (John 4:13). Those who drink of Jesus are fully satisfied (John 6:35). I can either have my thirst quenched in Jesus, or I can plunge deeper into sin in search of what’s not to be found there.
In this video from Desiring God, Ben Stuart offers advice for overcoming temptation: looking down stream to anticipate where the temptation leads, and looking upstream to God.
"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it" (1 Cor. 10:13).