HOW TO RESIST TEMPTATION
1. This morning, I am going to present a lesson on the subject of temptation.
2. The Bible teaches that we are all tempted to sin. No one is immune from temptation.
In 1986, Gordon MacDonald, who at that time was the president of Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship, was asked the question: “If Satan were to blow you out of the water how do you think he would do it?"
Mr. MacDonald said, “I’m not sure I know, all sorts of ways, I suppose; but I know there’s one way he wouldn’t get me. “He’d never get me in the area of my personal relationships with my family. That’s one place where I have no doubt I’m strong as you can get.”
Within two years of making that statement, this admirable and respectable Christian leader was a broken man. He had committed adultery against his wife and nearly lost everything he had.
3. Satan, who is called the tempter (Mt. 4:3; 1 Thess. 3:5), is out to get us. He doesn’t care how spiritual we are, or how secure we are in our Christian homes; he is going to tempt us to sin hoping to lead us away from God and our families.
BRETHREN, SINCE WE KNOW SATAN IS OUT TO GET US, WE BETTER BE PREPARED FOR HIS ATTACKS. WE MUST LEARN HOW TO OVERCOME TEMPTATION.
THIS MORNING, I AM GOING TO OFFER THREE POINTS ON HOW WE CAN RESIST TEMPTATION.
I. FIRST, TO RESIST TEMPTATION, WE MUST UNDERSTAND WHAT TEMPTATION IS.
1. What is temptation? Temptation is an enticement or an allurement to sin against the will of God.
2. James explains temptation this way:
3. These verses teach several things about temptation.
a. First, God does not tempt us to sin, in fact, (1 Cor. 10:13) explains that God provides us with a way out of temptation. God allows us to be tempted in order to refine our faith and to help us grow in our dependence upon Him.
b. Second, temptation in of itself is not sin. Jesus was tempted, however, He was without sin. Temptation only becomes sin when we give into the temptation.
4. Let me try to explain the process of temptation with a personal illustration.
When I was in 5th grade, I rode in a bicycle competition. The rules were very simple. If you complete five miles, you won a lot of prizes.
About 2 miles into the race, I realized that I didn’t want to complete the race (I was tired), however, I wanted the prizes. Then I heard a little voice in my head say, "Keith, turn around, take a short cut, go to the finish line and pretend that you rode all 5 miles."
At that point the temptation to lie was planted. James called it the evil desire. If I would have said no to that temptation it would not have been a sin.
Next, I heard a little voice say, "Keith you deserve those prizes. No one will ever know that you cheated." At that point I was being, as James put it, dragged away and enticed.
Then, I rode to the finished line, received applause from the crowd, and picked up my prizes and went home. At that point I gave birth to sin.
5. Temptation is a process.
a. Temptation starts with a harmless thought or desire that entices us to do something that we are not supposed to do.
b. Next the initial thought is then entertained and explored. We contemplate committing the sin.
c. And then after entertaining the thought, we commit the act of sin to fulfill our cravings and desires.
6. Here is another example of how temptation works:
a. In the early chapters of Genesis, Eve was given the desire to eat the fruit, which God had forbidden her to do.
(1) We, likewise, are constantly bombarded with desires to commit sin.
(a) We are tempted to lie on our income taxes.
(b) We are tempted to get angry and seek revenge upon our enemies.
(c) We are tempted to lust after other human beings.
(d) All of us are flooded with desires to commit sin.
b. Next Eve entertained the thought--if I eat the fruit I will gain wisdom and be like God. She justified the sin.
(1) We also entertain tempting thoughts so that we can justify or rationalize committing the sinful act. We say things like:
(a) Everybody’s doing it.
(b) No one’s perfect.
(c) God will forgive me, so I might as well do it.
(d) God wants me to have a little fun.
(e) I didn’t know it was wrong.
(f) When we are tempted to sin, we entertain the desire and think of the benefits of the sin.
c. Then after spending some time thinking about it, Eve committed the sin. Right after committing the sin, both Adam and Eve hid from God.
(1) After we commit sin, Satan wants us to feel so guilty that we alienate ourselves from God. And when we alienate ourselves from God, it will produce spiritual death--the type of spiritual death James talked about.
7. Brethren, if we are going to conquer temptation we must stop the temptation from going past the first stage. We are all going to have tempting thoughts and desires, however, we must not entertain those thoughts. If we do, then chances are we will commit the sin.
8. So far, we have noticed to resist temptation, we must first know what temptation is.
II. SECOND, TO RESIST TEMPTATION, WE MUST PREDETERMINE IN OUR MINDS THAT WE WILL NOT GIVE IN TO THE TEMPTATION AND SIN AGAINST GOD.
1. No matter how desirable, alluring, appealing, tantalizing, or inviting the sin may be, we must not commit it. We cannot get suckered into Satan’s web of deceit. Nothing in this world is worth our souls, or our godly reputations.
2. We must say "no" to the temptation; we must say “no” to sin!
In (Gen. 39), Potiphar’s wife wanted Joseph to go to bed with her.
How did this young and handsome man resist should a temptation?
Joseph predetermined in his mind that he would not commit such a sin against God.
3. To resist temptation, we must predetermine in our minds not to sin against God.
III. THIRD, TO RESIST TEMPTATION, WE MUST RELY UPON THE STRENGTH OF GOD.
1. In the Scriptures, we are told time and time again to rely upon God’s strength to fight off temptation.
Sometime back, the Denver Post reported this story: Like many sheep ranchers in the West, Lexy Lowler has tried just about everything to stop crafty coyotes from killing her sheep. She has used odor sprays, electric fences, and scare-coyotes. She has slept with her lambs during the summer and has placed battery-operated radios near them. She has corralled them at night, herded them at day. But the southern Montana rancher has lost scores of lambs—fifty last year alone.
Then she discovered the llama—the aggressive, funny-looking, afraid-of-nothing llama…. “Llamas don’t appear to be afraid of anything,” she said. “When they see something, they put their head up and walk straight toward it. That is aggressive behavior as far as the coyote is concerned, and they won’t have anything to do with that…Coyotes are opportunists, and llamas take that opportunity away.”
2. When Satan attacks us with his devilish schemes, we must not fight him alone. We to send the llama to help. We must send God to get rid of him.
3. When we are tempted, we need to go immediately to God in prayer and ask Him to help us resist the urge to commit the sin.
1. Brethren, everyday we battle temptation, and at times we lose the battle. But we must keep fighting and fighting to defeat it.
2. The Bible tells us that we can resist temptation.
4. To resist temptation…
a. We must understand what temptation is.
b. We must predetermine in our minds that we will not give into the temptation and sin against God.
c. We must rely upon the strength of God to help us overcome temptation.
5. This morning, if you have been losing the battle with temptation, come forward and ask God to help you. With the Lord's help, you can conquer Satan and the temptations that he throws at you. If you are subject to the Lord's invitation, please come now as we stand and sing.