Strategies against Temptation

Prime Directives

Memorize these four prime directives and keep them in mind at all times.

  • Off the Fence

Don’t be ambivalent. Decide in your mind between right and wrong (sin), and decide exactly what you do or do not want to do.

  • Shut the Door

If you are struggling with a particular temptation, close off the entry points for temptation. (For example, if you have problems with TV-watching, you might need to cut off your cable. If you have problems with the internet, you may have to set strong boundaries to define what you can and cannot do.)

  • Plug it In

The practical tips on this sheet only work if you actually do them. Just like a TV that doesn’t work if it’s not plugged in, these tools won’t work if you don’t do them.

  • Stay on Board

Recovery is a journey and a process. If you try these things and your life doesn’t immediately change, give it time – not just a week or two, but even 6 months. Hang in there and apply them seriously and diligently before deciding that they don’t work for you.

Resistance Academy

The following points will help you put structures in place and lay the groundwork and direction for your recovery.

  • Identify exactly what you want to change; settle it. This goes along with getting OFF THE FENCE. Precisely name what you want to do, what is out of bounds, and what you don’t want to be involved in anymore. As a start, we recommend signing the Media Sobriety Covenant in this manual and sharing it with an accountability partner.
  • Clear the decks, make time and space. It takes a lot of effort and work to recover and heal from an addiction. Being in serious recovery will make you tired. If you are especially busy or involved in ministry, make time by releasing responsibility, etc. No one with life-threatening cancer would say s/he didn’t have time for chemotherapy; they would make the time. If you’re busy and trying to heal from a besetting addiction, you need to make priority shifts. Sobriety, right standing with God, and deliverance from oppressive addiction are more important than any ministry.
  • Get support (mentors and a "study group"). Get back-up - people to stand with you and walk with you through the recovery process.
  • Document the benefits of not yielding to temptation; memorize. Write down all the reasons why giving in to addiction is a bad idea for yourself and others and why you don’t want to do it. Carry the list around to counteract the built-in-forgetter that most people have. (For example, you might find yourself doing something horrible on a Friday, then swearing to yourself in guilt, shame, and all sincerity that you’ll never do that thing again. But by Monday afternoon, you can’t remember why it was so bad after all.) Carry your list with you and read it when tempted.
  • Study your vulnerability; learn from others. Learn about the struggles of recovery and the impact addiction and recovery can have on one’s life.
  • Start working on major underlying issues. Other things caused or supported the besetting sin you’re struggling with and allowed it to become a place of vulnerability. Think about what set you up to use the addiction as a way of escape. Are there things you’re trying to avoid?

Routine Maintenance:

These are the ongoing habits necessary to maintain a new lifestyle.

  • Acknowledge powerlessness and dependence daily. Admit every day that you need God; there is no help (or “Plan B”) outside of God.
  • Deliberately connect with God. Intentionally recognize that you are in God’s presence and watch-care.
  • Make a decision daily, verbally. Decide specifically on the thing(s) that you are not going to do, and make up your mind. If you do that thing, you’ve changed your mind. Don’t wait until the moment of temptation comes; start your day with those decisions.
  • Practice ongoing routines of accountability. Do these regularly, whether you feel you need to or not. Consider accountability partners and structures. Have people willing to ask you hard questions who will check in with you daily, weekly and monthly, monitoring software, recovery groups. See the Recovery pages in this manual or for sample accountability questions, Daily Renewal questions and worksheet, group listings, and accountability software suggestions.
  • Disown ambivalence or gray areas. There are no fudge factors or conditions on what you can and cannot do.
  • Set boundaries and safeguards; frequently review. Set boundaries and annually and informally have a “State of the Addict Address” to review what boundaries work and which ones need to be more stringent or adjusted. (For example: If going into a bookstore may become an area of temptation, never go in to a bookstore just to browse; if you must go at all, bring someone in with you, go in for your purchase and leave immediately.)
  • Be aware of times of internal vulnerability, when you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired (H.A.L.T.). Be aware of yourself at these times, as increased vulnerability can make it difficult to resist temptation.
  • Anticipate challenging, dangerous external situations. For example, if your spouse is going out of town and this can become a place of temptation or acting out, plan ahead! – “On Tuesday, I’ll hang out with Bill, Wednesday I’m going to group”, etc. Anticipate challenging situations in advance and proactively find solutions.
  • Stay mindful and grateful for past victories. Remember what God has done for you. This is an essential part of healing.

Code Red:

When temptation is strong or things are very stressful, do something to resist! Be ready! Have a plan! Pull out all the stops!

  • Know when you’re in trouble; don’t minimize. Acknowledge when you’re in trouble or stressed, or when temptation is very strong.
  • Cry out to God for help, feel the feelings. Tell God you need Him and are in trouble. Look at the Psalms.
  • Call for help; sound the alarm. Email, call, etc. others for advice prayer, etc. Have others backing you up. It’s better to sound the alarm and have a false alarm than mess up. Don’t be too arrogant to call for help – even late at night; a friend would want the gifts of being used by God, just as you would.
  • Do something positive; anything. Help someone else. For example, pick up trash on your street.
  • Choose to stop at all levels; if possible run. Don’t be polite, just get out of whatever bad situation that’s causing temptation. (For example, if you’re in the TV room and it’s causing problems, leave.) Remember how Joseph ran away when he was being propositioned by his master’s wife.
  • Raise your Ebenezer; stop and name up to 10 things you’re grateful for. Tagline: Stop, drop and give me 10. Recognize and remember what God has done in the past and be grateful; thank God out loud. This can ruin your desire to sin and ability to enjoy sinning, as it is difficult to thank Jesus and then turn your back on Him.
  • Look for underlying cause; address it. What’s really bothering me? For example, did you have a bounced check that you’re concerned about?
  • Check for loose connections (relational breakdowns) that might be bothering you. Review the status of your relationships with your children, etc. Broken relationships can be related to vulnerability to temptation. 

Damage Control:

This is the assessment that comes after any battle or difficult time, whether it was handled successfully or not.

  • Full confession to God, including setup. If you’ve fallen, give it to God – not just what you did – but where the place of decision, compromise, and ambivalence was, where you started to move away from God.
  • Know God’s sorrow, wrath, and love. Have a place of grieving over your sin.
  • Accept forgiveness; forgive yourself. Accept God’s forgiveness and give yourself the same grace that God has given. Believe God and know that He gives it. Allow yourself to be forgiven.
  • Disclose to another person immediately. Tagline: “We’re as sick as our secrets.” Vulnerability is higher when no one else knows. Don’t let sin sit in the grass and take root; the things we don’t tell can hurt us the most.
  • Seek underlying needs. What was going on? What was really needed?
  • Empty hidden bottles; what am I still trying to get away with? This in reference to those struggling with alcohol addiction who might keep a bottle of alcohol around “Just in case.” If there’s anything you haven’t fully surrendered, put it in the light and give it up.
  • Trace back to the decision/non-decision point. Ask yourself where you stopped walking in real honesty, transparency, and wholeness. You may find that it wasn’t at the moment of temptation but it may have been several minutes or hours beforehand.
  • Learn from mistakes, and redraw boundaries. Maybe you can’t watch certain kinds of movies, be alone with a certain person late at night, or talk to a certain person. Look at your mistakes and learn from them by redrawing your boundaries.
  • Get back in the game. Don’t quit. It’s easy to get discouraged, but get right back in the game and try again.
Faith (for Content):