Habits to Resist Temptation

A couple of years ago I was reading the book called “Atomic Habits” by James Clear, and I was caught by this phrase: “Your habits shape your identity, and your identity shapes your habits“.   

Our identity is of course in Christ, as His children, but how we live out that identity, can be transformed by the habits (disciplines) that we exercise, and these habits can help us walk the godly life that we are called to and to resist temptation.   

I remember when I first arrived in Canada, I loved drinking soda. In Mexico, my family would drink it every day, with every meal, it was a part of my life. I realized that the litre + daily of sugary soda would bring with it health risks and problems as time went by. I understood that my poor health might cut my race short here on earth, and I was determined to get better. I was able to change that habit and am much healthier now because of it. Another habit I have developed over the years is to read more often. Reading has opened many horizons and has been a blessing as I study for my Master’s degree.   

This principle of shaping our habits and disciplines can be applied to all areas of life; if we want to achieve a goal, we have to take a hard look at what we are currently doing and the way we think, because these things will define if we can reach the goal and become the person that we want to become. Much like I had to find a love for carbonated water instead of soda, or schedule time in my day to read, we must make conscious changes and adjustments as we go, it’s a good idea to have a premeditated strategy to resist temptation and not fall short of our goals.    

There are many worthwhile goals that can shape our lives, but I think the most important goal of all for the believer is living a life that pleases God.  In our walk to seek out such a life, we must be aware that we live in a fallen world, and without question, we will face temptations and trials. Through this all, I am glad to know that Jesus left us his Holy Spirit to accompany us in the midst of trials and he will always give us a way out, and a strategy to resist temptation.

“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”  – 1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT    

Here Paul reminds us that Jesus, in His faithfulness, has given us the “way out” for all types of temptation through the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says the Holy Spirit is an Advocate, Counselor and Comforter, and in Him it is possible to walk in freedom, no matter what the struggle you are experiencing.    

The more we rest in the power of the Holy Spirit, the lighter our burden becomes. Resting in His presence, He reminds us of our identity as children of God, that we have died to sin and we are a new creation through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. (See Romans 8:2)

The apostle Paul also writes in the book of Romans about giving our bodies as living sacrifices and not conforming ourselves to the customs of this world, but to be transformed by the renewal of our thoughts.  In this same way, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can develop healthy habits to resist temptation in our own lives, “safeguards” that can be there to help us even before we find ourselves in the moment of temptation. Here are a few of those habits that we can develop that will help us along the way:       

HABIT #1 – We resist temptation when we pray in the Spirit. 

“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” – Romans 8:26 NLT    

When we pray in the Spirit and invite Him in to direct our prayers and our steps, He may lead us in a different direction than where our human logic would have chosen.  It may be that the Spirit invites us to start changing relationships that are not beneficial to our walk of faith. It may be that the Spirit speaks to us to start developing habits that we had not thought of before and that leads us to walk in purity and God-honouring way. When we pray in the Spirit, we can be delightfully and unexpectedly surprised by His wisdom.     

Another benefit of praying in the Spirit is that He will strengthen, refresh, and guide us. Something supernatural happens when we pray in the Spirit.    

HABIT #2 – We resist temptation when we put our focus on His Word.    

“Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.” – Romans 8:5 NLT     

A practical way to resist temptation is to concentrate our mind on the Word of God: it is a lamp to our feet, lighting our path, exposing all things that might hinder or be an obstacle on the way. God’s word renews our mind with the truth, constantly reminding us of our identity in Christ. When we walk in that identity it changes how we think and behave, it is refreshing and nourishing for our soul.

When we meditate on His word, guarding it in our hearts and renewing our minds, we are more easily led by the things of heaven and not by the things of the earth.    

HABIT 3.-We resist temptation when we share our burdens with other believers.    

“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2 NLT   
Jesus has given us his church as a family to help shoulder our burdens. Many times we may be tempted not to say anything when we are struggling. That kind of isolation can open the door to the enemy getting a stronghold in our life and risk being carried away by temptation. Other times we might be tempted to unload our burdens in the wrong places, with people who would give advice that goes against God’s word. There is power when we can come alongside other believers who can pray for us and with us, encourage us on our journey and strengthen us. The church isn’t just found within the walls of a church building, there is beauty found in Small groups, whether in Alpha, Life Groups, or Freedom Session when we walk with others. God did not design us to do life alone. We resist temptation when we walk with others and confess our burdens with one another.    
Is there a temptation that you need to ask the Holy Spirit to give you a strategy to resist? Are there habits that need to be developed in your life to stay strong in your faith?   
Even if you feel like you have fallen short in resisting temptation, take heart! You can ask the Holy Spirit today for the power, strategy, and habits to walk in victory. He is available to you.   
“Ask and keep on asking and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking and you will find; knock and keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who keeps on asking receives, and he who keeps on seeking finds, and to him who keeps on knocking, it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8 AMP)