Lesson 19: Overcoming Temptation

Aaronic Priesthood Manual 1, (2002), 66–68


Each young man will understand that he can overcome temptation.


Materials needed:

  1. 1.

    Scriptures for each young man.

  2. 2.

    Pencils for marking scriptures.

Suggested Lesson Development

Recognizing and Resisting Temptation

Story and discussion

Explain that a man was interviewing new drivers for his transportation company. The route was very dangerous and went along several steep cliffs through a mountain pass. The interviewer asked each man how close he could safely drive near the edge of the cliff. The first man responded, “I could drive within six inches of the edge.” The second man responded, “I could drive within two inches of the edge.” The third man responded, “I would stay as far away from the edge of the cliff as I possibly could.”

  • Who do you think was given the job? (The third man.)

  • Although the first two men may have had great driving skills, why do you suppose the third man was given the job? (He realized that he should stay as far away from trouble as possible.)

Explain that this lesson is about temptation and the reason Heavenly Father allows us to experience it in this earth life.

Scripture, chalkboard, and discussion

Have a young man read James 1:12–14.

  • What do we learn from this scripture?

List the following three points on the chalkboard:

  1. 1.

    We are blessed when we endure temptation.

  2. 2.

    God does not tempt us.

  3. 3.

    Every person is tempted.

Draw a vertical line down the middle of the chalkboard. Label one side Good, and the other side Evil. Place two dots, both on the good side of the dividing line—one very close to the line, and the other quite far away.

  • Suppose these two dots represent two different individuals. Which one is more likely to remain “good”? (The one farthest away from the line.)

  • Why? (Just as the driver who was hired was wise to stay far from the edge of the cliffs, the further we stay away from temptation, the less likely we are to give in to it.)


Have a young man read the following statement by President George Albert Smith about avoiding temptation.

“My grandfather used to say to his family, ‘There is a line of demarcation, well defined, between the Lord’s territory and the devil’s. If you will stay on the Lord’s side of the line, you will be under his influence and will have no desire to do wrong; but if you cross to the devil’s side of the line one inch, you are in the tempter’s power, and if he is successful, you will not be able to think or even reason properly, because you will have lost the Spirit of the Lord.’

“When I have been tempted sometimes to do a certain thing, I have asked myself, ‘Which side of the line am I on?’ If I determined to be on the safe side, the Lord’s side, I would do the right thing every time. So when temptation comes, think prayerfully about your problem, and the influence of the Spirit of the Lord will enable you to decide wisely. There is safety for us only on the Lord’s side of the line” (in Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969], p. 232).

Scripture and discussion

  • Why do you think the Lord allows us to be tempted? (We would not be able to use our agency to make choices and grow if we did not have temptation.)

Have a young man read Doctrine and Covenants 29:39.

  • Is it possible for Satan to tempt us so greatly that we cannot resist?

Have the young men discuss this question.

Have someone read 1 Corinthians 10:13, which explains that we will not be tempted beyond our power to resist and that the Lord will always provide a way out if we are looking for it. Suggest that the young men mark this verse.

Explain that this scripture does not mean that the Lord will help us resist any situation we may create for ourselves. We must do our part to avoid temptation. Share the following example: suppose a group of friends wants you to go to a movie that will cause you to think unclean thoughts.

  • Can you go to such a movie and still expect to have the Lord help you keep your thoughts clean?

  • How should you handle this situation with your friends?

Avoiding and Overcoming Temptation

Chalkboard and discussion

  • What are some different kinds of temptations that young men face?

List the young men’s responses on the chalkboard. The list may include some of the following ideas:

  1. 1.

    Unclean thoughts

  2. 2.

    Dishonesty or cheating

  3. 3.

    Swearing and vulgar language

  4. 4.

    Drugs, smoking, or drinking

  5. 5.

    Suggestive movies and videos

  • How can you overcome temptation?

Quotation, scriptures, and discussion

Encourage the young men to give their ideas about overcoming temptation. Discuss each idea, giving specific suggestions for overcoming or preventing temptation. You may want to use some of the following ideas, but you should encourage the young men to give their ideas first.

  1. 1.

    Unclean thoughts: Elder Boyd K. Packer suggested that if we will memorize a hymn or song and review the words in our mind when unclean thoughts creep into our minds, those thoughts will slip away.

  2. 2.

    Dishonesty or cheating: Elder James E. Talmage told how he resisted temptation to be dishonest as a deacon as follows: “The effect of my ordination (as a deacon) entered into all the affairs of my boyish life. … When at play on the school grounds, and perhaps tempted to take unfair advantage in the game, … I would remember, … ‘I am a deacon; and it is not right that a deacon should act this way.’ On examination days, when it seemed easy for me to copy some other boy’s work, … I would say in my mind ‘It would be more wicked for me to do that than it is for them, because I am a deacon’” (Incidents from the Lives of Our Church Leaders [deacons manual, 1914], p. 136).

  3. 3.

    Swearing or vulgarity: The following example may help us understand what swearing or vulgar language can do to one’s conversation. Suppose you were at a piano concert. The musician had played beautifully for nearly ten minutes and then suddenly played incorrect notes for several minutes, then reverted back to his original beautiful music. Although the majority of the concert was beautiful, which part would you remember the most? Our speech can be beautiful and clean. Don’t spoil it by swearing!

  4. 4.

    Drugs, smoking, and drinking: The Lord has given us the Word of Wisdom (see D&C 89) to help us be strong and healthy. Have a young man read 1 Corinthians 3:16–17 aloud. Emphasize that our bodies are temples, and we should not defile them.

  5. 5.

    Unclean movies: When a movie or TV program seems questionable, think about whether you would feel comfortable having your bishop or priesthood leader see you enter the theater. If you would not feel comfortable, then you probably should not go.

  6. 6.

    Let your conscience and the Holy Ghost help you make decisions (see Moroni 7:16–19).

  7. 7.

    Avoid the appearance of evil. Don’t see how close you can get to sin. Nephi prayed that he would shake at the very appearance of sin (see 2 Nephi 4:31).

  8. 8.

    When you are making a decision, ask yourself, “What would Jesus do?”

  9. 9.

    Make decisions before a situation arises so that you will not have to make the decision under pressure.

  10. 10.

    Pray for strength to resist temptation and remember that with the Lord’s help, you can overcome all temptation.


Explain that President Spencer W. Kimball counseled us to beware of Satan’s great influence. He said: “Satan tells us that black is white. He lies to us; therefore, we must be prepared to make a bold stand before Satan. … We need the whole armor of God that we may withstand” (“The Blessings and Responsibilities of Womanhood,” Ensign, Mar. 1976, p. 71).


Bear testimony of the joy and spiritual growth that come from resisting temptation.


Have each young man think of two temptations he needs to work on. Then have each think of ways he can overcome these particular temptations. Challenge the young men to be especially aware of resisting these two temptations during the coming week.