Every person has two inclinations, one good and one bad. It is apparent in the words of Chazal that when a righteous person has accustomed himself to a certain good deed, then in that particular aspect the good inclination will rule over him to the extent that he will no longer have any desire to do bad. Wicked men, on the other hand, once they become accustomed to committing bad deeds, those deeds become for them like permitted actions to the extent that they will no longer make an effort to do good, and to withdraw their hands from evil, and they will no longer have any desire so to do.
The average people, however, are ruled by both inclinations. They find it hard to commit bad deeds, but their evil inclinations force them so to do, until they end up transgressing their own will and the will of their Creator. About such people Chazal said, “One should always make the good inclination angry with the evil inclination!”. This means to say that through pure thoughts, when a living person will think about satisfactory arguments that it is correct for a person to run towards a Mitzvah and flee from an Aveirah one can drive away the evil inclination. If by using this tactic he was unsuccessful in diverting the evil inclination, he should immerse himself in Torah by learning books of ethics. When a person studies these things with the intention of learning and listening in order to act to change himself, words of Mussar (ethics) pierce the heart. If even this method has not succeeded in defeating the evil inclination, one should read the Shema, and by so doing reflect on the fact that a person is obligated to give away his life for the holiness of Hashem and the honor of Hashem. Once he realizes that he considers it easy to give away his life, he will definitely accept the burden of forcing his inclination to give in. According to the magnitude of the pain (difficulty), so too is the reward. If even with all these weapons he has not managed to defeat the evil inclination, and he thinks that he can sin and afterwards he will be able to repent, he should remind himself of the day of death, for death has no fixed time, and maybe his death will occur before he has had time to repent. He should remember that he who says “I will sin and afterwards I will repent”, is not given the opportunity to repent. By remembering this, he will be able to save himself from his inclination.
All the effort must be at the beginning, for beginnings are always difficult, until he reaches the status of being a righteous man regarding that action, at which stage his good inclination will rule over him, and he will have no desire to do bad.
All of these pieces of advice help only for the average person. For a wicked person, however, even if he is considered wicked only regarding one particular thing which he has become accustomed to sinning, as we see in many sins which people trample on to the extent that they become permitted in their minds, and their hearts do not even feel bad when they commit them-for example looking at women, listening to forbidden utterances, making people feel bad, not praying with a quorum, saying bad things about others, derision, coarseness of the mouth, and many other types of sins and misdemeanors and transgressions and above all wasting time which could have been used to learn Torah,-for these things a person must try with all his strength and energy to change his bad habits and go in good ways. This is the way of a man who has pity for the honor of his Creator and for his own spirit and soul. If a man really wants, he can achieve anything. Nothing is too difficult for him and he who comes to purify himself, will be helped.