Our evil inclination is most powerful and capable of causing so much harm. So much so that when G-d saw “that the inclination of man is bad from his youth...He regretted that He had created man.” (Breisheet 6:5-6)
The yetzer hara ebbs and flows; at times it seems all-powerful and impossible to resist whereas at other times doing what is right seems so natural and simple.
Yet one never knows when the yetzer hara might strike. But strike it will. “Rabbi Shimon ben Levi said: Man's [evil] desire gathers strength against him daily and seeks to slay him.” (Kiddushin 30b) The yetzer hara tries and tries again to entice us to sin. And if it does not succeed in one area it moves on to another area, seeking a point of weakness where it hones in to attack. With such a determined opponent we need help if we are to have any chance of overcoming this inclination of ours. “Were not the Holy One, blessed be He, to help him [man], he would not be able to prevail against him [the yetzer hara]." We have a Great Partner but as in all partnerships each partner must do their share. To rely on G-d alone to defeat the yetzer hara would be foolhardy and most unsuccessful and would be akin to relying on miracles, something we are forbidden to do.
How exactly we might do our part in our never-ending battle with the yetzer hara appears to be a matter of debate. “It was taught in front of Rabbi Yishmael: if this disgusting thing attacks you pull him to the Beit Midrash. If he is of stone, he will dissolve; if iron, he will shatter.” (Kiddushin 30b) When we are attacked we must counter-attack and our best weapon in this spiritual fight is the Beit Midrash. It is here that Jews gather to study Torah, where we are able to gain strength from a community working together striving to carry out G-d’s will. When the yetzer hara is forced to hear the sounds of the Beit Midrash he is doomed. He will either melt away like stone or scatter in many pieces like iron.
All humans are born with certain inclinations, symbolized by the stone - the most natural of natural resources - which make up our moral (and perhaps even our physical) DNA. Like stone, our inclinations take a long, long time to begin to melt away and may not even be noticeable over the course of a lifetime. Yet the power of the Beit Midrash can soften the edges.
In addition to our innate makeup we are greatly influenced by our surroundings which add new layers to our natural inclinations. Our work environment may be one in which the distinction between the bottom line and the legal one may be blurred. Slowly but surely such an atmosphere takes a toll influencing us in ways which we may fail to recognize. This yetzer hara is represented by the iron extracted from the earth and refined by man. As it does not form part of our natural “DNA” this yetzer hara can more easily defeated, by smashing and scattering it into many pieces. We must, the school of Rabbi Yishmael teaches, fight and try to destroy the yetzer hara.
The Sages take a more nuanced view. “So said the Holy One Blessed be He to the Jewish people: ‘My son I have created an evil inclination and created the Torah as a tavlin, spice, for it. If you are engaged in Torah you will not be given to its clutches.” (Kiddushin 30b)
The yetzer hara is no disgusting thing - it was created by G-d and is a most necessary force in the world. Without it, our Sages teach, man would not procreate, would not build, nor engage in commerce. It is the building block to greatness. “Whoever is greater than his friend his [evil] inclination is greater.” (Sukkah 52a) Trying to destroy the yetzer hara is not only useless but counter-productive. By harnessing its power - a power greater and more natural than the yetzer hatov - we can reach heights we would otherwise be unable to attain. “In a place where repentant sinners, ba’alei teshuva, stand even the totally righteous cannot stand.” (Brachot 34b) The further we fall the further we can rise - what goes down can come up. By redirecting our inclination to do wrong to more appropriate goals we can attain heights we did not realize were within our grasp.
Instead of fighting the yetzer hara we should work with it in ways that will be of benefit.
Raw food has little or no taste. Add some spices and the sweet aromas entice us to try what surely is a delicious dish.
The yetzer hara are the raw ingredients of life. Whether it be pride, greed, jealousy, seeking wealth, even anger, add the right mix of spices and what was once leading us on a most negative path can be transformed. We can channel our inherent anger so that it expresses itself when we see injustice, we can seek wealth and its accompanying status so that we may be honoured for our charitable giving, we may be jealous of those more learned than us or build successful companies to stoke our egos - and provide work and riches for others.
G-d may have regretted creating man “but Noach found favour in the eyes of G-d.” Evil can be transformed.
 It is worth noting that this view of Rabbi Abahu is matter of Talmudic dispute with Rav Yochanan claiming the fully righteous are on a higher level.