I have often asked myself the question, “What do I do when I’m tempted to sin?” It’s an important question considering the fact that we live as sinful people surrounded by other sinful people in a world where the devil is craftily seeking to lead us away from righteousness. In the many moments each day when temptation is bearing down on us, we need to know what to do in order to remain faithful to our gracious King. But this question should not be left alone, we should also ask, “What do I do when I’m not being tempted that will help me when I am being tempted?”
Our battle plan against temptation is far too often reactionary – “What do I do after the enemy strikes?” Any war strategist will tell you this is a perfect way to lose a battle. Any time a battle is fought in war there is a load of planning that comes before a bullet is ever shot. Generals and captains decide where the prime attack positions are and develop a strategy for what the troops that consists of specific orders that will form a well-orchestrated battle design.
Our approach to fighting temptation is similar in that we should be planning for its attack before it strikes and making certain preparations so that we are better equipped for the battle. Randy Alcorn, in his booklet, Sexual Temptation, insists that preparing for the battle means taking time to “cultivate your inner life”. For him, he admits this must include more than a daily quiet time. I agree with him. While I understand many Christians struggle to meet with God in his Word and in prayer just once a day for 20 or 30 minutes, we are actually called to meditate on God’s Word “day and night” (Joshua 1:8) and “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). This does not mean that you have to be thinking about Scripture and praying every minute of the day, but it does mean that you should be returning to God in these ways at different points throughout the day instead of just having a brief chat before you start your day and saying goodbye until the next morning.
A way to help with this is to surround yourself with people, places, and things that will remind you of God and your need for him so that you will be propelled back to the Word and prayer. The apps you use, the music you listen to, the people you engage with on Facebook and Twitter, and where you choose to eat your lunch (i.e. – to get a good view of God’s creation) can all be used to help you cultivate a heart of love and devotion to God that will equip you for the fight against temptation when it occurs. Fighting temptation begins well before the battle ever begins, so pray for God to give you the motivation and discipline to prepare for attack. When this happens your reactions to temptation will only be quicker, more decisive, and more intentional.