Strategies to Overcome Temptation


We recommend short and long term strategies outlined below for pornography addicts and others trying to overcome temptation. These strategies should be employed in conjunction with the recovery steps outlined in the Safe Families Recovery Manual.


Prime Directives

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

  • Off the Fence Donít 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 doesnít work if itís not plugged in, these tools wonít work if you donít do them.

  • Stay on Board Recovery is a journey and a process. If you try these things and your life doesnít immediately change, give it time Ė not just a week or two, but even 6 months. Hang in there and apply them seriously and diligently before deciding that they donít 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 donít want to be involved in anymore. As a start, we recommend signing the Media Sobriety Covenant 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 didnít have time for chemotherapy; they would make the time. If youíre 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 donít 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 youíll never do that thing again. But by Monday afternoon, you canít 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 oneís life.

  • Start working on major underlying issues. Other things caused or supported the besetting sin youíre 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 youíre 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 ďPlan BĒ) outside of God.

  • Deliberately connect with God. Intentionally recognize that you are in Godís 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, youíve changed your mind. Donít 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 accountability questions who will check in with you daily, weekly and monthly, monitoring software, recovery groups.

  • 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 ďState of the Addict AddressĒ 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! Ė ďOn Tuesday, Iíll hang out with Bill, Wednesday Iím going to groupĒ, 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 youíre in trouble; donít minimize. Acknowledge when youíre 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. Itís better to sound the alarm and have a false alarm than mess up. Donít be too arrogant to call for help Ė 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. Donít be polite, just get out of whatever bad situation thatís causing temptation. (For example, if youíre in the TV room and itís causing problems, leave.) Remember how Joseph ran away when he was being propositioned by his masterís wife.

  • Raise your Ebenezer; stop and name up to 10 things youíre 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. Whatís really bothering me? For example, did you have a bounced check that youíre 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 youíve fallen, give it to God Ė not just what you did Ė but where the place of decision, compromise, and ambivalence was, where you started to move away from God.

  • Know Godís sorrow, wrath, and love. Have a place of grieving over your sin.

  • Accept forgiveness; forgive yourself. Accept Godís 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: ďWeíre as sick as our secrets.Ē Vulnerability is higher when no one else knows. Donít let sin sit in the grass and take root; the things we donít 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 ďJust in case.Ē If thereís anything you havenít 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 wasnít at the moment of temptation but it may have been several minutes or hours beforehand.

  • Learn from mistakes, and redraw boundaries. Maybe you canít 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. Donít quit. Itís easy to get discouraged, but get right back in the game and try again.

Temptation Strategies List in Word

View Webcast About Overcoming Temptation

Download Safe Families Recovery Manual