How to overcome temptations

(Image: Photo by Jeremy Perkins on Unsplash)

10 min • November 30, 2021

Evil is light a black hole. The more you stare at it, or the closer you get, the more you are pulled in. There’s only one way to avoid getting sucked into this black hole: cling fast to God.

Do not return evil for evil, but overcome evil with good.

The Holy Spirit says this to show us that we can’t fight evil on its own terms, and in fact we can’t even stand up against it. Like a black hole, it will quickly pull us in. The only way to overcome it is to turn the other way and flee.

Why? Because evil is nothingness. It’s a lack of good, an emptiness. And it’s a viral, consuming emptiness, which corrupts everything in its path, removing all good from it, and leaving only a copy its own nothingness in its place.

Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.

St. James says this to explain that we must flee from the devil, not out of fear of the devil, but because we must turn towards God.

Jesus explains further that we must not fear the devil, but fear to offend God:

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

And again:

But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear him!

Jesus is not saying it’s the devil we should fear, but that we should fear to offend God.

Not that we should fear God in the same way we sometimes fear the devil: because he’s scary and punishing and harsh (spoiler: he’s not).

But rather, what can be capable of offending so good and loveable a God, except us having an evil, unbelieving heart? So that is what we should be afraid of: becoming evil ourselves.

(I’m convinced this is why zombie movies are so popular: because people deep down realize that becoming evil is the worst thing, but being of the senses only, they only perceive this truth on a superficial level, and so they enjoy watching horror movies where it happens in a literal way, not recognizing the spiritual way which is often actually happening to these very people. My children, never watch such movies. Or any horror movies for that matter.)

So the only way we can truly, lastingly offend God is by having evil, unbelieving hearts, which are incompatible with his love and goodness, and thus separate us from him.

But even if we have sinned, we must turn towards Jesus with our whole self, who will be merciful toward our iniquities, and remember our sins no more.

So becoming evil is what we must fear. And that will only happen if we listen to that ancient serpent, the liar and murderer from the beginning, who tempts us with his lies, trying to convince us that sin is not sin (and eventually, the opposite lie also: that what’s good actually is sin).

The Angels and Saints in Heaven are in no danger of the devil, and of seeing him and his evil, because they are already perfectly united with God. They already accepted that he is the Truth, and considered abuse suffered for the Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, and so refused to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. Because of this, they already have his protection.

But here on earth, while we’re still struggling in the middle of our test, the test of this life, to decide our fate—whether we will ultimately choose to be good or be evil—while we’re still working out our salvation through fear and trembling, we must look only to God.

If we turn towards the devil, or his temptations, we may be like Lot’s wife, who turned into a pillar of salt.

Not that something so instant, so permanent, and so miraculous will happen to us.

But it’s meant to show that whatever we look at with our hearts, we will become like it.

And whatever you look at with your eyes, ears, and any other senses, you will look at with your heart, sooner or later.

So if you look often at filthy things, you will become filthy. If you look at pure things, you will become pure.

This is why it’s very important for young men and women today, and especially boys and girls, to avoid looking at any impure images, hearing any impure words, or doing anything impure at all.

But besides that, there are many types of temptations that the devil suggests to our minds, imaginations, memories, and hearts.

In this life, we can’t stop this from happening entirely. It will sometimes have to happen.

But don’t panic! It will go away very quickly. It will be over with, if you follow God’s suggestions: stop looking at it with your bodily senses, stop looking at it with your mind, and do not let it anywhere close to your heart.

And how do we do that? How do we stop ourselves from hearing the robber banging on the door? We know that he can’t get into this house—the house of our souls—by any other way than us letting him in, either through a window or a door. So from that perspective, we are safe.

But if we keep listening to his suggestions, we just might actually do that. It’s not hard to be convinced by the devil, if that’s all we’re listening to!

The solution is to focus on something in the house. Put on the Audio Bible or a holy movie. That’s how to focus your ears to something other than the robber’s voice, convincing you to open up, by all sorts of threats, or promises—all of which are false and lies.

Although that’s just an analogy, it’s actually a good solution to put into literal practice. Fill your mind and heart with good, holy things. Read some book snippets on this site daily. Regularly watch one of the holy movies recommended on this site. Listen to the Audio Bible at least half an hour a day. Put good thoughts into your ears, mind, and heart.

That’s the solution: focus on God. Focus on Him. That’s the best way to overcome temptation. In God is all beauty, all truth, all loveliness, all pleasure, all peace, all comfort, all happiness.

He who gave up his only Son for us, will he not also give us all things with him?

Don’t forget those words of St. Paul! Anything and everything you can ever want, God will give it to you. As long as you are faithful to Him! Because His promises are true.

And even “if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”

Do not be afraid. God wants to save you. Jesus reassures us: “It is not the will of my Father who is in Heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”

And why? For his sake. Not for ours!

I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his sake.

Here St. John emphasizes that God forgave us for his own sake. He wants us to be with him! He wants it! He wants us there in Heaven, like any good parent, He wants to shower us with every good thing, every good blessing!

Now, may the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the Great Shepherd of the Sheep, by the Blood of the Eternal Covenant, equip you with everything good, that you may do his will, working in you that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

We must look to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. If we look at Him always in our hearts, he will never fail us, nor forsake us. Then we will be able to confidently say, along with the Saints: “the Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid—what can anyone to do me?”

Hold fast to Jesus. Look to Jesus. Call on his name in time of tribulation and temptation. And he will not fail to hear your cry.

O my God, I firmly believe that you are one God in three divine Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I believe that your divine Son became man and died for our sins, and that he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the holy Catholic Church teaches, because you have revealed them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived.

Oh God, relying on your Almighty Power and Infinite Mercy and promises, I hope to obtain pardon for my sins, the help of your grace, and Life Everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer. Amen.

My God, I love you above all things, with my whole heart, because you are all-good and deserving of all my love. I love my neighbor as myself for the love of you. I forgive all who have wronged me, and ask forgiveness for all the wrongs I’ve done to others. Amen.

Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on us!

I believe, help my unbelief.

Increase our faith!

Eternal Father, I offer you the Most Precious Blood of your Divine Son Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal Church, those in my own home, and within my family. Amen.

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil, may God rebuke him we humbly pray. And do thou, oh Prince of the Heavenly Hosts, by the power of God, cast into Hell Satan and all the evil spirits that prowl about the world, seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

[All Bible quotes based on RSVCE, specifically the Truth and Life Dramatized Audio New Testament.]

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