“If you want to win over temptation, you must burn the ships.”

In 1519, Hernan Cortez landed at Tabasco off the coast of Mexico. He landed there to conquer the Aztec Empire and claim Mexico for Spain. He accomplished that goal two years later.

After landing, in order to thwart the temptation of any attempt by his men to return without accomplishing the mission, he ordered the burning of the ships. Regardless of where you are in life, temptations abound. For Christians there is a lot of misunderstanding and misconception about temptation.

The first one is, once you are a Christian, temptation is going to go away or at least diminish greatly. The Apostle Paul makes it very clear in Ephesians that the Christian life from start to finish is a battle. In verse 12, he says we will “wrestle against principalities, powers, rulers of darkness in this world and against wickedness in the heavenlies.” If you want to live the promised life of victory, you must conquer temptation. You must burn any boat that will allow you to return to the former life.

The second misconception is that temptation is sinful. Satan wants you to blame yourself and others for being tempted. If you believe that your enemy is the source of all temptation, you are halfway to victory. However, if you don’t recognize that truth, it won’t be long before you will have feelings of discouragement and self-pity and the enemy says, “Go ahead, yield. You are already guilty.”

In that moment you will begin to feel spiritually deficient, distant from God and other Christians because of guilt. Hebrews 4:15 says that Jesus was tempted in all ways like we are but did not sin. That is why, as our High Priest, He will help us conquer every temptation—if we stay submitted to Him in every way.

How do you conquer temptation? It starts with recognizing that all temptation is from Satan. Once you assign blame to your mortal enemy, he loses his advantage. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 2:11, “We are not ignorant of the enemy’s devices. You will never conquer temptation until you understand God’s purpose for allowing it to come your way.
James 1:2-4 says, “Many temptations come to test our faith and develop patience. If we let temptation do its work, we will mature and lack nothing.”

Temptation takes many forms. Anything that distracts you from God and His purpose for your life is a form of temptation. Distractions drain your energy, cloud, and blur your vision and hinder your momentum for growth and maturity.

That is how relationships fail, marriages are destroyed, resources are depleted and destinies are lost. Many have arrived at the end of their lives only to discover they have forfeited things that really mattered for things that added no value to their lives, much less eternity.

When you are facing relentless temptation, you have two choices. You can reach deep within your soul and discover the God-given guarantees He promised would be there during those days and seasons of great temptation and testing. Or you can give in and let the enemy win.
If you want to win consistently over temptation, you must “burn the ships” before temptation comes. It’s much harder when it’s staring you in the face.