Lesson 8 - Overcoming Trials and Temptation

1 Corinthians 10:13, "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.


A mountain climber expects to encounter challenges on his way to the summit. Falling rocks, sudden storms, wild animals, extreme temperatures, hidden crevices under the snow—all these dangers and more are expected. In addition to these outside challenges, the climber’s determination will be tested by tiredness and hunger. Despite these difficulties, he prepares himself to conquer every obstacle until he reaches the summit. In the same way, Christians expect trials and temptations in life, but depend on God to help us overcome.

Our sinful state

When we become Christian, all our sin is erased by the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus. When Jesus died, He redeemed us, or bought us back, from the power and authority of Satan. However, even though we were given new spiritual life through Christ, we still live in this sinful world. Our sinful nature is still something we have to struggle against. One day, God will bring a new heaven and new earth, and will replace our old bodies with new glorious ones. At that time, God promises there will be no more sickness, death, or suffering of any kind. We will also not have to struggle with sin, because God will deal with sin completely on the Day of Judgment. But until that day, as long as we live here on earth, we will have to overcome trials and temptations.

(For reference: Hebrews 9:15, Romans 7:18-20, 1 Corinthians 15:42-44, Revelation 21:1-4, John 16:33)

Definition of trials and temptations

In the New Testament, the same Greek word (peirazo) is used for trial, test, and temptation. The basic meaning of peirazo is to test something to determine its response, value, or character. When peirazo is used to describe external hardships allowed by God, we use the word “test” or “trial,” but when peirazo is used to describe inner struggles with sin, we use the word “temptation.”

God tested the Israelites in the desert to know what was in their hearts, and tested Abraham’s faith by asking him to sacrifice Isaac. God allows external hardships or difficult situations produce good qualities in us. When we face hardship, we learn to rely on God and to have faith in Him. God wants to strengthen our faith through tests and trials.

Deuteronomy 8:2-5, "Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you."

(For reference: Genesis 22:1-12, Hebrews 12:10-11, James 1:2-4, 1 Peter 1:6-7)

God does not test us to make us fail, but He intends we will “pass the test” and grow spiritually. James 1:13-15 makes it clear that God is not the source of evil desires that come from our own sinful nature—God does not tempt us to do evil.

James 1:13-15, "When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death."

The verses above show temptation is not from God, but comes from our own fleshly desires. Our fleshly desires always lead us into sin and destruction, but the Spirit of God which lives inside Christians always leads us into love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Each time you are tempted, you have a choice: either you can choose to obey your flesh or you can choose to obey the Spirit. One brother in our church describes the situation like this: There are two fighting dogs inside you; the one you feed will grow stronger. We can either feed our flesh or feed our spirit; if one grows strong, the other grows weak. So you could consider temptation a test (peirazo), but one that determines whether we will follow our sinful nature or the Holy Spirit.

(For reference: Galatians 5:16-25, 6:8; 1 Peter 4:1-2)

In addition to coming from our sinful desires, the Bible also says temptation comes from Satan. He is called “the tempter” in Matthew 4:3 and 1 Thessalonians 3:5. Satan uses sin to lure us away from God and eventually destroy us. In every case when Satan tempts people, he offers something that looks good but is actually sin. For example, he offered Eve fruit that gave knowledge and was good to eat. If you read the story of how Satan tempted Jesus, you will see he always used some good reasons why Jesus should sin.

(For reference: Genesis 3:1-6, Matthew 4:1-11, 2 Corinthians 11:14)

The Book of Job offers a great example of how tests and temptations are different. God allows a hardship to come as a test, with the intention that we will overcome and be blessed. But Satan tries to get us to sin against God.

Satan was given permission to do all kinds of harm to Job to see if Job would curse God. Job lost his children, his possessions, and was himself afflicted with painful sores all over his body. Human reasoning would say God had abandoned Job, and surely Job was tempted to blame God. In fact, that is what Job’s wife argued; she played right into the plans of Satan!

Job 2:9-10, "His wife said to him, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said."

Even though Job did not know why God allowed these things to happen to him, he accepted that God was the one who would eventually save him. Job recognized his troubles as a test from God, and also recognized Satan’s scheme. He did not rely on human reasoning but held fast to his faith in a righteous God.

Job 23:10-12, "But he knows the way I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside. I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread."

How to overcome trials and temptation

1. Avoid temptation
Everyone faces temptation. Job was a righteous man, but he still faced trials and temptations. Jesus is God, yet the Bible says He was tempted in every way just as we are (He did not sin, however). We need to realize that trials and temptations happen to everyone, both righteous and unrighteous. Therefore, just like the mountain climber tries to take the safest route, we should also be careful and try to avoid falling into sin.

(For reference: Hebrews 4:15, 1 Corinthians 10:13)

Remember that temptations are traps where we are enticed by our own sinful desires. If we give in to temptation and sin, then we have fallen into the trap. The Bible uses many descriptive words to illustrate how temptation is a trap in Proverbs 5:3-4, Galatians 6:1, 1 Timothy 6:9, 2 Timothy 2:24-26, and James 1:14. A trap is either hidden so we can’t see it or it has some bait to lure us in—it’s something that is both destructive and easy to fall into.

What is the best way to keep from falling into a trap? Avoid it! If we are serious about following God, we should be wise and keep ourselves far from sin. Remember that temptations always look appealing and that Satan uses human arguments to tempt us. But instead of debating how close to get to sin, we should run in the opposite direction.

Let’s look at some examples of how we can avoid temptation:

  • Sexual sin—For men, temptation to sin sexually often comes through media: magazines, TV, or the Internet. A good way to avoid temptation is to take away access to those media.
  • Drug addiction—The best way to avoid being tempted to drink, smoke, or use other drugs is to stay away from situations where we might be offered those things. Don’t keep those drugs or paraphernalia around—get rid of them!
  • Love of money—Jesus said we cannot love money and love God. He also said wherever our treasure is, there are heart will be also (Matthew 6:21). Each time we faithfully give our tithe and offering to God, we remind ourselves of what Jesus said. Because our heart will be where our treasure is, tithing and giving is a good way to avoid the love of money.

2. Watch and pray

A mountain climber must be aware of his surroundings. Dark clouds warn him to build a shelter, deep snow means an avalanche is possible, and certain types of rock are dangerous to climb. Similarly, because we know trials and temptations will definitely come, we have to pay attention, listen to the Holy Spirit, and ask God to strengthen us and deliver us from evil.

Consider Jesus: He endured the most difficult trial anyone has ever undergone by watching and praying. Before Jesus went to Jerusalem for the Passover, before he was arrested and crucified, He warned His disciples many times they would face a severe trial. But even on the night Jesus was betrayed, the disciples slept as Jesus prayed passionately.

Matthew 26:36-41; 43, "Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. 'Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.'”

…When he came back, he found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy."

When Jesus prayed, God’s will for Him was confirmed, and He received strength to do God’s will. But the disciples did not watch and pray; they did not listen to the Holy Spirit or seek strength from God. As a result, when the trial came, they reacted out of their human nature and not according to the Spirit of God.

This story is a good example of why we need to “watch and pray” in order to overcome trials and temptations in our lives. “Watching” means we always listen to the Holy Spirit so that we don’t react to situations according to our human nature. “Praying” means we ask God for strength to overcome trials and temptations. Jesus prayed to the Father for strength, and Luke’s gospel says an angel came and strengthened Him.

3. Stand firm on God’s word

The most challenging aspects of climbing a mountain are technical climbs, where the climber must use anchors in rock or ice to prevent themselves from falling. God’s promises found in the Bible are the Christian’s anchor during the most difficult trials and temptations. When we are firmly anchored in God’s word, we will overcome trials and temptations.

When Jesus was tempted in the desert, He used scriptures to answer Satan. In the same way, when we face temptations or difficult situations in our lives, we need to take a firm stand on God’s promises in the Bible. For example, if we are in financial difficulty, we should confess God’s promises that the children of the righteous will never beg bread (Psalm 37:25). If we are in need, we should also practice giving, because Jesus promised that those who give to God will receive abundantly more in return (Luke 6:38).

One of the most important Bible promises to remember regarding temptations is in 1 Corinthians 10:13

1 Corinthians 10:13, "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."

Isn’t it wonderful? This verse says that God will always be with us to help us overcome temptation. He really does want us to “pass the test” and is with us, even when it seems we cannot bear any more. God has a purpose to perfect us.

Paul was also tested by temptation (in addition to other trials), but Paul knew God was working even in the most difficult times.

2 Corinthians 11:29-30, 12:9-10, "Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. …Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

These promises and many others are essential tools in helping us get through tough times. We need to study God’s word and use those promises to anchor our faith in the midst of trails and temptations.

4. Don’t give up

If a mountain climber is going to make it to the summit, he needs determination and faith. In the same way, we need to make a firm decision to overcome trials and temptations in our lives and believe it is possible. God promises us enough grace to get through every difficult situation, and He who promised is faithful—it is up to us to hold onto God. We cannot give up in our struggle against sin.

So far in this lesson, we’ve compared overcoming trials and temptations to climbing a mountain. But unlike most mountain climbers who choose their challenge, Christians cannot pick and choose which challenges they face. We have no alternative—we must overcome trials and temptations in our lives. We may fall along the way, but we must determine to get back up and continue climbing the mountain because there is no alternative.

Hebrews 10:19-39 paints a vivid picture of a church that suffered severe persecution, yet the author encourages the readers to continue on in their walk with God. He tells them to not give up meeting together, and to encourage one another as they press on toward the goal. The author also warns the readers in verses 26-31 not to give up in their struggle against sin. Instead, Christians should continue to persevere no matter what temptation or trials come our way. If we do this, we will receive our reward.

Hebrews 10:35-36, "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised."


Every Christian can expect to face trials and temptations. Trials are inevitable difficulties in life that God uses to mature us, while temptations come from our human desires. God wants us to resist temptation and pass the test, but Satan uses temptation to make us fall.

There are four keys to overcoming trials and temptations: avoid temptation, watch and pray, stand firm on God’s word, and don’t to give up.

Discussion Questions

1. Explain how a trial from God is different from a temptation from Satan?
2. Why does God allow us to go through trials?
3. Should we be surprised to face difficulties in our lives?
4. What should we do in response to difficulties?
5. How can you avoid temptation in your life?