How can I stop my temptations so I can be closer to God?
So, you want to be closer to God, but you believe that your temptations are keeping you at a distance from Him. Well, I am pleased that you want to be closer to God. In fact, if that were not the case, I would be very concerned about your spiritual state and condition. You are in good company when you want to be nearer to God. The Psalmist expresses it well with these words: “But it is good for me to draw near to God” (Psalm 73:28). In the New Testament we are exhorted in the letter to the Hebrews: “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Heb 10:22). James writes so beautifully, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8). Your problem is that you believe temptations are keeping you at a distance from God. However, it is not the temptations themselves that create distance, but what you do with those temptations.
The Bible does not tell us not to be tempted. Jesus, who Himself was tempted, taught us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” The Heidelberg Catechism beautifully and biblically explains what that means: “that is, since we are so weak in ourselves, that we cannot stand a moment; and besides this, since our mortal enemies, the devil, the world, and our own flesh, cease not to assault us, do Thou therefore preserve and strengthen us by the power of Thy Holy Spirit, that we may not be overcome in this spiritual warfare, but constantly and strenuously may resist our foes till at last we obtain a complete victory” (LD 52 Q 177).
Here we learn that temptations are inevitable. Our enemies, including our own sinful flesh, “do not cease to assault us.’ Temptation does not stop! There is a constant battle raging. So, where do we turn? We cry out to the Lord our God, and we plead for specific graces in our fight against temptations. We ask the Lord to preserve and strengthen us by the power of His Holy Spirit. In our battle against temptations, we realize that we are no match for our enemies, and that without the Holy Spirit we will surely be defeated in this spiritual warfare. Plead with Christ for His grace to resist our foes constantly and strenuously.
How long will that battle of spiritual warfare rage, and will we ever be victorious? Yes, at last we will obtain a complete victory. In one sense we already have the victory in Christ, but our spiritual journey is not over yet. On earth, each day we live will require us to fight against our enemies. If we have come to Christ in the way of repentance and faith, we will “learn more and more to know our sinful nature, and thus become the more earnest in seeking the remission of sin, and righteousness in Christ” (LD 43).
The words of the old hymn are so applicable to your question:
Yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin
Each victory will help you or some others to win
Fight manfully onward, dark passions subdue
Look ever to Jesus and He’ll carry you through
Ask the Savior to help you
Comfort, strengthen and keep you
He is willing to aid you
He will carry you through