A new Christian wrote me regarding his struggle with temptation in his life. Here was my response:
Regarding the issue of temptation, keep in mind, temptation in itself is not sin. We are all tempted as Christians. Even Christ was tempted. Temptation only becomes sin when we give into it. James 1:15 tells us when temptation has conceived, or given into, it becomes sin. In Psalms 119:9 it tells us the way to keep our lives pure and clean is to live according to the Word of God, the Bible. Regular Bible reading each day washes and renews our mind. In this way, we become stronger Christians so that over a period of time we will give into temptations less. As Christians, we now have two natures. We have the old sinful nature, but we also have the new spiritual nature, sometimes called the “new man” or “new self” in scripture. As you feed this new man by reading and meditating on scripture, that new nature becomes stronger just as exercise strengthens our physical muscles. As Christians, we will continue to struggle with the desires of the old nature as long as we are alive. The good news is that we can strengthen that new nature inside of us to become stronger than the old nature. The Christian life is not a static one. You are either going forward or slipping backward. There is no standing still.
If you are struggling with a particular sin that seems to really be entrenched in your life, I suggest you talk to a pastor or Christian counselor. God gave such men to us to help us in these areas. Sometimes just reading the Bible doesn’t help us completely. We need the input of other Christians to help us see our blindside sometimes, in regard to various issues in our lives. Sometimes problems in our lives come from past experiences we have had. This is where a good counselor or pastor who is knowledgeable about such things can be of benefit to us.