Practical suggestions for resisting any form of temptation ...

Spiritual warfare is not waged on an expansive battlefield. Because all possible forms of temptation fall into one or more of the eight patterns, there are a surprisingly limited number of spiritual battlegrounds.

Each pattern can assume many forms, which can make them difficult to successfully identify. Fortunately, the Scriptural remedies for the diverse forms within each pattern are remarkably similar. For example, lust can appear in many different guises, but is defeated in essentially the same way every time. This means that every form of lust is vulnerable to a relatively small number of spiritual countermeasures. Implement these basic suggestions and, regardless of the type of lust, victory is more attainable.

While some remedies are particularly effective against specific patterns, certain activities are useful against every pattern. These universal remedies can be easily remembered by using the acronym ASPIRE: Abstain, Study, Pray, Intercede, Reflect, Examine.

There is some overlap among the ASPIRE remedies, which can help you implement multiple remedies at the same time. To determine which one to use first, identify your strengths and weaknesses in these six areas. Supplement your weaknesses with your strengths. For example, if you struggle to pray, but have little difficulty studying, then study about prayer. Any one of these remedies can stimulate and enhance the others.*

 : Abstain be preserved  

  • ... from those things every Christian should avoid. We have no business visiting places, using products, or participating in activities that are ungodly. Some things are "off limits" to every Christian.

  • "Avoid every kind of evil." – 1 Thessalonians 5:22

    "Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way." – Proverbs 4:14-15

  • ... from those things you as an individual should avoid. Consider the weaknesses of yourself and those around you. Do not offend your Christian brothers. Do not put yourself in a situation greater than your ability to endure. Avoid places and things that increase the pressure to sin.

  • "Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak ... When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall." – 1 Corinthians 8:9-13

    "'Everything is permissible' -- but not everything is beneficial. 'Everything is permissible' -- but not everything is constructive ... so whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." – 1 Corinthians 10:23, 31

  • ... voluntarily from something you need and/or enjoy. Fasting both requires and improves self-discipline and endurance. It works particularly well when joined to prayer, but is not an exercise for the weak of heart. For more information on fasting, read thesidebar in the article on gluttony.

  • "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen ... is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter -- when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? ... and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday." – Isaiah 58:6-7, 10

    "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." – Matthew 6:16-18
"Fast as much as you are able before the Lord ... it exults the soul, sanctifies your way of thinking, drives away demons and prepares you to be close to God ... [it] should be a matter of our own free choice and an ascetic labor of the soul." – Evagrius Ponticus, Foundations 10.

"Better a fast with a pure heart than a feast celebrated in impurity of soul." – Evagrius Ponticus, Exhortations to Monks 44.

 : Study be equipped  

  • ... through memorization. Planting God's Word in your heart is a defensive measure. When you are under fire, those seeds of wisdom will come to mind and offer strength, encouragement and comfort.

  • "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." – Psalm 119:11

    "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God." – Colossians 3:16-17

  • ... by topic. See what God has to say about the issue that is tormenting you. It is not easy to "go digging" for truth through in-depth study, but it is immeasurably valuable. Keep a journal to help you remember what you learn.

  • "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth." – 2 Timothy 2:15

    "Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God." – 2 Corinthians 4:2

  • ... by survey. Few portions of Scripture are intended for reading in small pieces. Read large passages of Scripture in one sitting, such as an entire book or several consecutive chapters. This will help you gain perspective and grasp "the big picture" – skills that are effective in defeating the patterns.

  • "Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers." – 1 Timothy 4:16

    "But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." – 2 Timothy 3:14-17
"For a true man it is a bad error not to know the Scriptures." – Evagrius Ponticus, Maxims III.13.

"Wherever evil enters, there is also ignorance; the hearts of the holy will be filled with knowledge." – Evagrius Ponticus, Exhortations to Monks 24.

 : Pray be humbled  

  • .. for your needs. Schedule your prayer time (when to start and when to stop). Be discreet and do not tolerate any distractions. Ask God for help, strength, wisdom, determination, comfort, purity, freedom, etc.

  • "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" – Matthew 7:7-12

    "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." – James 1:5

  • ... in adoration of God. He is worthy of praise, worship and reverence. Avoid excessive eloquence and unfocused ramblings to increase your enjoyment and benefit of prayer time. Do not limit yourself solely to prayers of warfare ("Help me!"), but includeprayers of welfare ("Hello, God. How are you? Let me tell you about my day.").

  • "I will sing of the LORD's great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself." – Psalm 89:1-2

    "I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; before the 'gods' I will sing your praise. I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted." – Psalm 138:1-3

  • ... with a heart of thankfulness. God's faithfulness is worthy of our gratitude. Giving thanks reduces distractions to prayer and increases our awareness of His goodness. It also helps you to remember that He will continue to take care of you.

  • "But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." – 1 Corinthians 15:57

    "... for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God." – 1 John 5:4-5
"If you are a theologian, you will pray truly; and if you pray truly, you will be a theologian." – Evagrius Ponticus, Prayer 60.

"Prayer is an activity befitting the dignity of the mind, or, indeed, the superior and pure activity and use of the mind." – Evagrius Ponticus, Prayer 84.

 : Intercede be blessed  

  • ... for others through prayer. By taking your mind of your own trials and praying for someone else, you might discover that your situation is not as bad as it once looked. If you are focused on praying for others, then it will be harder for Satan to get your attention.

  • "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." – Ephesians 6:18

    "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone..." – 1 Timothy 2:1

  • ... for others through service. Prayer without service is hollow. Do not just pray for someone to be comforted, strengthened, etc. Permit God to use you to answer your own prayers of intercession, and do not neglect the single most importance act of intercession: evangelism.

  • "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, 'Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." – James 2:14-17

    "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." – 1 John 3:16-19

  • ... on your own behalf. Think of this as "inverse intercession." Allow others to intercede for you. Submit to spiritual authority. Seek godly counsel. Do not push away those who want to help you. Establish accountability relationships.

  • "Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you." – Hebrews 13:17

    "You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints. I urge you, brothers, to submit to such as these and to everyone who joins in the work, and labors at it." – 1 Corinthians 16:15-16
"A stranger and a poor man [are] God's eye medication. One who welcomes them will quickly recover his sight. It is good to show beneficence to all, but more so to those unable to return the favor." – Evagrius Ponticus, Maxims II.14-16.

"Intercession is an entreaty brought to God by a superior being concerning the salvation of others." – Evagrius Ponticus, Reflections 30.

 : Reflect be grounded  

  • ... on God's majesty. Stand in awe of who He is. Meditate on His goodness, love, holiness, justice, transcendence, etc. If you find yourself thinking about Him and being overwhelmed at the same time, then you are on the right track.

  • "'Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you. Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the LORD your God and have no awe of me,' declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty." – Jeremiah 2:19

    "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe , for our 'God is a consuming fire.'" – Hebrews 12:28-29

  • ... on Christ's ministry. Humbly appreciate what He has accomplished for us through His death and resurrection. Without His sacrifice mankind is utterly without hope.

  • "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." – John 3:16

    "What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all -- how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?" – Romans 8:31-32

  • ... on Scripture's message. After reading and studying it, meditate upon it. Do not selectively ignore portions you find difficult to understand or accept. If it is the Bible, then God said it, and He intends you to embrace it.

  • "Then I thought, 'To this I will appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High.' I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds." – Psalm 77:10-12

    "I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word ... Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long ... My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises." – Psalm 119:15-16, 97, 148
"Revere God in deeds, praise Him in word, and honor Him in thought." – Evagrius Ponticus, Maxims I.8.

"One who hates the knowledge of God and rejects the contemplation of Him is like one who pierces his own heart with a lance." – Evagrius Ponticus, Exhortations to Monks 109.

 : Examine be changed  

  • ... your past. Learn from your mistakes. Evaluate your behavior to determine where you erred and take steps to prevent the same type of failure from happening again. Do not wistfully reflect upon the pleasurableness of sin, but remind yourself of it's innate repugnance. Draw encouragement from prior spiritual victories. Look back at how He has used you in the past, and do not despair of being used again.

  • "So we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?'" – Hebrews 13:6

    "Unless the LORD had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death. When I said, 'My foot is slipping,' your love, O LORD, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul." – Psalm 94:17-19

  • ... your present. Do not forget you are a sinner who has offended a holy God (even redeemed sinners are still sinners). Do not ignore the wonderful opportunity you have to approach Him for forgiveness. Search your heart, confess your sinfulness, and repent of your ungodly actions and thoughts.

  • "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." – 1 John 1:8-9

    "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin." – Psalm 51:1-2

  • ... your future. Are you being called to do something (or to stop doing something)? If so, then swiftly acknowledge Him and act accordingly. You must respond whenever the Holy Spirit moves and convicts you.

  • "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." – Proverbs 3:5-6

    "When he [the Holy Spirit] comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned." – John 16:8-11
"Judge the thoughts in the tribunal of your heart so that, when the thieves are done away with, the chief thief may take fright; for one who is a rigorous examiner of his thoughts will also truly be a lover of the commandments." – Evagrius Ponticus, Eulogios 12.

"For it is not possible to receive knowledge of more numerous things if one is neglectful of those already known, lest having committed many transgressions one be answerable for more sins. And a blessed thing it is to serve the knowledge of God, for it is truly perilous not to do what it prescribes, and it is blessed to do all that it teaches." – Evagrius Ponticus, Thoughts 26.


The effectiveness of ASPIRE can be limited to varying degrees by the following factors:

ASPIRE works because there is a family relationship with God. His promises are to His children. Through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, He empowers and enriches these experiences. Without Him, ASPIRE is simply a series of hollow gestures.

"This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment: 'For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?' But we have the mind of Christ." – 1 Corinthians 2:13-16

If you are not a born-again child of God, then you are in a very precarious position. To learn more about becoming a child of God, please visit

Your success depends more upon God than yourself. He started something wonderful when He purchased your salvation, and He will continue to invest in your life as you permit Him to do so. 

"In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." – Philippians 1:4-6

Look forward to something good. Anticipate success. If you believe that you are a lost cause, and that victory over temptation is unattainable, then you will fulfill your own prophecy of doom.

ASPIRE activities are not “one and done” acts. Reading three verses of Scripture or spending two minutes in prayer rarely accomplishes anything. When God tells us to pray, we are supposed to “pray without ceasing.” The same rings true when it comes to the other remedies: persistence is expected and rewarded.

"Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." – Galatians 6:7-10

Whenever you feel that you are not making significant progress, stick with it anyway. Spiritual growth is rarely a smooth, gradual ever-upward process. More often than not, great leaps of progress are preceded by long periods of apparent fruitlessness.

Nobody consistently does the right thing by accident. Victory is intentional. As you learn more about your spiritual condition, prayerfully and carefully determine a suitable course of action.

"I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws. ... May your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts." – Psalm 119:30, 173

Address your greatest weakness first. Pound away at it until it is no longer your greatest weakness. The old cliché about a chain being as strong as its weakest link is also true of your spiritual defenses. 

God did not design us to function apart from other believers. Within the body of Christ, we can find comfort, encouragement, strength, and so much more.

"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." – Galatians 6:2

One important benefit of community is personal accountability, a helpful tool that complements all ASPIRE activities. For example, your accountability partners can help you keep your "withdrawal commitments” when fasting, or they can help you see things more accurately when you practice self-examination. And don't neglect the ultimate accountability partner: God Himself.

Other Activities
These things should never take the place of ASPIRE, but they can be helpful:

Enjoy good music.
Read good books.
Listen to good sermons.
Attend good concerts, seminars, workshops, and retreats.

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