Last Monday night, the Baylor Bears did what no one thought could be done: they beat the Gonzaga Bulldogs to claim the NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship and become only the second team in Texas history to win that title. In a matter of minutes, the Bears went from being an unlikely challenger to being the undisputed victor.
But what took only 40 minutes of game time was actually 18 years in the making. In 2003, when Scott Drew became the head coach at Baylor, the program was in shambles. Thanks to his dedication, perseverance, and attitude — along with a very talented and passionate group of young men — he not only achieved his goal of winning tournament games but also won the big game.
When it comes to winning the battle over sin and temptation, Scott Drew’s team might have a few things to teach us:
First and foremost, Baylor had the attitude that they could win. Had they not shared that belief, they wouldn’t have played with the same passion, heart, and fervor that they displayed on Monday night, and they would never have won. Believing that we can be victorious over temptation is a critical part of that victory.
The victorious Baylor team played all year long with the attitude of JOY: Jesus, Others, and You. As a result, they did not focus on what they could get out of being on the team but rather what they could put into it. Likewise, when we start to value Jesus and others more than ourselves (Philippians 2:4), our thoughts and actions will become less self-serving, and temptation will begin to lose its power.
The Baylor Bears refused to give up — or to let up — even when COVID–19 interrupted their momentum and led to their first loss midway through the season. Could they bounce back? Would they bounce back? Monday night answered that with a resounding yes. We, too, must persevere in the battle against sin and temptation. Battles are not won in a day or in a moment, but in a series of moments in which we consistently say no to sin and yes to the life that God has called us to. We will not always be victorious, but that is exactly why perseverance is so critical. If we allow our defeats to discourage and demotivate us, we are even more likely to surrender to temptation the next time. Perseverance means resisting temptation even after we’ve surrendered to it — and especially then.
But as important as all these factors are, we would still lose the battle without the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised His disciples that they would receive power “when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8). We see this power displayed in the lives of those disciples throughout the book of Acts and beyond … but it wasn’t given only to them. Paul reiterates this when he writes, “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7). We, too, have the power of the Holy Spirit within us, and He gives us the ability to overcome temptation in our lives when we surrender to Him.
This surrendering to the Spirit is the most important step in overcoming temptation. All of the best intentions in the world will fail if not undergirded by His power. For this reason, the apostle Paul tells us to “walk by the Spirit” so that we “will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). In verse 25, he tells us to “keep in step with the Spirit.” Both of these verses picture the Spirit as guiding us through the trials and temptations of life. If we humble ourselves and yield to His leading, we will find ourselves able to stand against temptation and come out on top.
Would you like to overcome temptation in your life? Those who have tasted this victory know that it is even sweeter than a national championship. The salvation we have in Jesus promises us that one day we will cut down the nets and experience ultimate victory over temptation. Until then, take a page from the Baylor Bears’ playbook — and from The Book — and follow the game plan for overcoming temptation. Your personal championship awaits.