Although some Christians feel like they're hopelessly susceptible to temptation, any vice can be overcome if people allow God to help them, says the Rev. Billy Graham.
In a Q&A published in Monday's edition of The Kansas City Star, Graham was asked: "I just can't resist temptation. I claim to be a Christian (and I am), but I get around my old buddies, and before I know it I'm doing things I know are wrong. I've asked God to help me, but it hasn't done any good. Am I always going to be like this?"
The evangelical leader responded to the questioner by assuring him that God's love is unwavering, but added that Christians must also live a life of accountability. "Remember: God loves you, and he doesn't want you to ruin your life or bring disgrace to the name of Christ by your behavior."
Graham goes on to give several tips on how to deal with temptation, including avoiding situations, especially social ones, where one knows they might be faced with an unholy desire.
For someone who faces temptation when hanging out with a specific group of friends, their response might need to be as extreme as "leaving your old friends behind and asking God to give you new friends who will encourage you to do what's right."
True friends would not pressure you to do immoral things, Graham adds, pointing to 1 Corinthians 15:33 which reads: "Do not be misled: 'Bad company corrupts good character.'"
The other piece of the puzzle in staving off temptation is strengthening your relationship with God, the Baptist minister continues.
"If you haven't already done so, seek out a church where Christ is preached and followed. In addition, begin each day with prayer, asking God to guide you and keep you close to himself," Graham says, concluding his message by referencing Psalm 119:9, which states that the best way to remain pure is to follow God's Word and reading the Bible daily.
The topic of temptation is a popular one for megachurch pastors, with Greg Laurie, senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California, previously saying in a message that although temptation can be difficult to overcome, Christians ultimately strengthen their relationship with Jesus Christ by avoiding unholy behavior.
Laurie points specifically to James 1:12, which reads: "Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him."
The evangelical leader adds in his message that Christians need to recognize that they are responsible for their own temptation, and therefore they don't need to blame their unholy behaviors on God.
Laurie also cites James 1:13 which states, "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am being tempted by God,' for God cannot be tempted with evil, and He Himself tempts no one."
The megachurch pastor concluded his message by warning people to be ever-vigiliant about temptation from the devil: "If you're not a Christian, the devil can offensively have his way with you."