Overcoming Temptation

 BLCF: James_4-7

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Overcoming Temptation’ 

© June 29, 2014 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin June 29, 2014 

Originally Published Sunday August 15, 2010

 

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #650 (Trials and Temptations – James 1 and 1 Peter 1); Prayer

Opening Hymn #63: All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name; Choruses  

Tithing & Prayer Requests: Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings 

Today’s Scriptures: Genesis 3:12-13 and Matthew 4:1-11

BLCF: temptation 

 

 

Let us pray…

The Scriptures indicate that as believers in the resurrected Christ, we may anticipate three kinds of trouble or challenges in our walk as Christians.

The first type of challenges to Christians includes: discipline, judgment or rebuke from the Lord. Though it is true that having confessed our sins, accepted salvation through Jesus Christ we are exempt from the judgment of death for our sins that does not mean that we are exempt from conviction by the Holy Spirit for unGodly thoughts, words or deeds we do as believers, however we must confess our sins.

In 1 John 1:8-10 (ESV), we read:

8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

The second type of challenges to Christians includes: tests, trials, persecutions and sufferings. These challenges may cause the believers to experience anything from minor teasing for our faith to extreme suffering, sometimes death, typically at the hands of non-believers, who feel they must attack believers to justify their lack of faith.

It is interesting in researching this message how many web pages and sites were dedicated to attack or persecute the Christian believer, saying: “if you claim to be a follower of Christ, then prove it by demonstrating the power of your God-given gifts by performing a miracle!” This is a very dangerous proposition, for it implies that the gifts of the Spirit may be used like a circus side-show or magician’s trick for the amusement and entertainment of others. A perfect example of this second challenge was the temptation Satan threw at Jesus which is found in today’s bulletin. Here we read Jesus’ reply in Matthew 4:7 (ESV):

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

While such tests do not come from God, they may be used by the Holy Spirit to grow our faith or the faith of others. The testimony of how we should react to these tests and suffering is illustrated in 1 Peter 4:12-13 (ESV):

12Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

In today’s lesson, I will be speaking on the third type of challenge or trouble that Christians face: that of temptations or attacks from the enemy, Satan. Such temptations from Satan are real and are evident next door, at the Paradise Strip Club. It is perfect example of what Martin Luther meant when he said:

 “For where God built a church, there the Devil would also build a chapel.

luther

Martin Luther

Club Paradise exists to promote lust of the flesh and the exploitation of women and the Devil conducts services there every single day of the week.

First let me point out that, as believers in Christ, there is no sin if you experience temptation from Satan. Satan is the enemy, and knows our weaknesses. He knows which of our buttons to push, where we are vulnerable, and edeaveavours to tempt us away from God’s authority in our lives. The potential of sin from a temptation occurs in our response to the temptation: Do we give in to the temptation, and sin?

BLCF: avoid_temptation

 

Christian Author Oswald Chambers describes temptation in this way:

“A man’s disposition on the inside, i.e., what he possesses in his personality, determines what he is tempted by on the outside. The temptation fits the nature of the one tempted, and reveals the possibilities of that nature. Every man has the setting of this own temptation, and the temptation will come along the line of the ruling disposition.”

BLCF: garden-of-eden-first-sin 

 

Adam and Eve were tempted by Satan with the promise of possessing the knowledge of God, in discerning good from evil, demonstration a lust or desire to become like God, an account is given in Genesis 3, starting with verse 1 (ESV):

1Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

BLCF: Genesis 3

 

 8And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”

That was the beginning of the Fall of Mankind from God’s Grace. Like children sometimes do when they have done something wrong, Adam and Eve felt guilty and hid themselves. But they could not hide from God. Seeing themselves naked, Adam and Eve became ashamed and covered themselves which we see starting in Genesis 3:12.

12The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Not only did Adam and Eve feel shame and guilt, they attempted to behave crafty like Satan and place the blame on someone else for their own actions. Adam blamed Eve and even God by saying (in Genesis 3:12):

The woman whom you gave to be with m, she gave me the fruit and I ate”.

Eve behaving no better, put the blame on Satan (verse 13):

“The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

This is why, in order to receiver God’s Blessing of Salvation, we must confess our sins, and don’t blame our spouse and don’t blame the Devil. For the sin is not the temptation, it is how we react to it. Do we resist the temptation? And if we give in to the temptation, do we accept responsibility for doing so? It is not uncommon to be tempted, as we read in the Bible in 1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV):

13No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

BLCF: Joseph_resists_temptation 

We see this in the story of lust of the flesh. Joseph, who was tempted by the wife of Potiphar’s wife we find in the Bible, Genesis 39, staring with verse 1:

 1Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. 2 The LORD was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. 3His master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. 4So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. 5From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the LORD was on all that he had, in house and field. 6So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate. Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance.

 7And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” 8But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. 9He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except yourself, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” 10And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her.

11But one day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house, 12 she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house.  

Joseph’s resisted his master’s wife by physically removing himself from temptation. Sometimes the best way to handle problems is to walk away from them. Walk away from lust, from a conflict, from a situation that creates strong emotion which may cause us to act on impulse and break God’s commandments.

My son, Johnathan, played hockey for a number of years, as a defenseman. Many times in the game, he would be challenged by a player on the opposing team to respond to an illegal check or hit, where the intention was to get him to retaliate and get a penalty. Johnathan’s response was to skate away from a situation which would hurt him and his team. It gets tougher for some players, when both friends and family encourage a player to take the low road the penalties for a lack of control, when tested.

Which brings us to Job, who was tested and tormented by Satan, where Job’s friends and his wife, both tried to get him to deny God, or at least to blame God, for the circumstances of the death of his children; the loss of his wealth and livestock; and the boils on his body. But Job remained steadfast in his faith, as we see in Job 1:22 (ESV): 

22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.

Unlike some “fair-weather Christians”, Job not only resisted temptation to sin against God, he acknowledged God in bad circumstances as well as  the good, Job 2:10 (ESV): 

10 Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”

BLCF:Job1-21

 

In all  of his trials and tests Job did not sin with his lips. Job refused to renounce God and he refused to blame God for what has happened to him. He kept his faith in the Lord. This should be the path we take when we experience trying times. We are reminded to keep the faith, for God does not tempt us, as we read, again, in 1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV):

3No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

But some non-believers argue: what kind of God allows the faithful to suffer as Job had? The Bible has an answer to this challenger inHebrews 2:18 (ESV):

18For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Often, our suffering tempers us for future challenges and enables us to help others to cope with similar circumstances.

BLCF: ilya-repin-get-behind-me-satan-1895

 

The proof that temptation is common not only to men and women, you may recall that immediately after Jesus, who was sinless, had been baptized by John and had the Holy Spirit come upon him, that Christ was immediately tempted by Satan in the wilderness, as was described in Matthew 4:1-11 (ESV):

1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4But he answered, “It is written, “’Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “’He will command his angels concerning you,’    And “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'” 7Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,”‘You shall worship the Lord your God   and him only shall you serve.'” 11Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

When Satan tempted Jesus, he appealed to three things: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life. First he challenged Jesus, after a 40-day fast, to use his powers to make food and satisfy his fleshly needs. Next, he challenged Jesus to look at the world from a high place and offered him dominion over all he saw. Finally, he tempted Jesus to throw Himself down from a tower, saying that surely, as God’s son, he would be saved – which was an appeal to pride.

Three aspects of the temptation are worth noting. First, that Satan had attempted to beguile or fool Jesus through the use of scripture, which Jesus not only discerned as a trick by putting God to the test. Second, that Jesus responded to Satan’s twisting of the scripture with the correct use of the Word of God. And third, Jesus acknowledged God’s authority over all, including Satan and rebuked the Devil by telling him to leave. Satan did leave, which tells us who really the master of both Heaven and earth is: our Lord Jesus!

BLCF: God's_Word_like_a_Lion

 

Just as Jesus responded, when tempted in the wilderness, we must be prepared to resist temptation by being prepared by studying and knowing the Bible, so as to discern when Satan is attempting to fool us. On the topic of Biblical Discernment, in his book, “The Best of the Christian Research Journal, Whose Ethics? Whose Morals?,author Hank Hanegraaff writes(Page90):

“Often it is difficult to determine what is true and what is false in a world that offers a puzzling array of solutions across abroad spectrum of belief systems, most of which contradict each other and, as such, underscore the critical need for Christians to develop godly discernment. Discernment is a word that appears fairly often in the Bible (1Sam:32-33, 1Kings 3:10-11 and 4:29; Psalm 119:66; Proverbs 2:3; Daniel 2:14; Philippians 1:9).

Colossians 2:8, similarly, reads:

“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principals of the world, rather than according to Christ”

Because so many facts, claims and opinions are being tossed about, Christians need to develop discernment to avoid being taken captive by false ideas. These distortions of the truth, often appear in the form of fallacies. A fallacy, by definition, is a mistaken idea, an error, or a flaw in reasoning. Examples are:

  • The fallacy of “Equivocation”: the use of vague terms, as used by cults. Cults will twist a truth to make it suit their purposes.
  • The fallacy of “Card Stacking”, that is the selective use of evidence. There may be more facts to an argument than are stated.
  • The fallacy of the “Red Herring”, use of a tangent to distract an opponent from the issue in question.

 

Satan is well-versed in the use of faulty reasoning to attempt to trick us into rationalizing actions which are contrary to God’s laws. And rationalizing such behavior gives Satan control of our lives.

BLCF: cs-lewis-quote

 

Christian Author C.S. Lewis once said:“No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is…You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because he was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means–the only complete realist.”

 

As you can see C.S. Lewis draws an interesting conclusion, that only believers are tempted, as non-believers readily surrender readily to temptation. In a sense, temptation is not being dealt with by non-believers. It just does not exist in their reality. Non-believers do not have a faith in God, from which they may be tempted.

 

BLCF: Ary_Scheffer_-_The_Temptation_of_Christ_(1854)

 

So no test, trial or temptation comes from God which we read in James 1:13-15 (ESV):

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Again, we are reminded that God does help us through difficult times in our lives, as we are again reminded by 1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV):

 3No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

 

 BLCF: be_careful_sin

 

In conclusion, how we overcome temptation from Satan goes hand-in-hand with the strength of our faith and trust in the Lord. It is our trust in the Lord or our belief that he will eventually deliver us from the challenges or stumbling blocks that Satan places in our path. The graphic on the back out today’s bulletin reminds us that:

Satan knows your name, but calls you by your sin; while God knows your sin, but calls you by your name.

 

BLCF: Satan_knows_But_God_knows

 

The fact that we, as believers, will suffer temptations is a given. If we prepare ourselves by reading on scripture, avoiding conflicts and snares that Satan uses to draw us away from God’s path, we may resist the Devil. Our faith and trust in God allows us to have confidence that we will not suffer more than we can endure. Our reliance on the power of both prayer and the Holy Spirit, carries us through life’s challenges. This helps us to grow our confidence and faith in God. As the Apostle Paul put in Romans 8:36-39 (ESV):

36As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

BLCF: dead2sin

 

 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #40: To God Be the Glory

BLCF: praying_hands_albrecht_durer

 

Benediction (Luke 11:2-4):

2Our Father which art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.

3Give us day by day our daily bread.

 4And forgive us our sins;

For we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.

And lead us not into temptation;  

 But deliver us from evil .                                                                                                        

– Amen  

 BLCF: enforce-victory

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 comments on “Overcoming Temptation

  1. Honey says:

    Really enjoyed reading this excellent article… beautiful pictures that speak volumes. Be blessed! I love that you share a good spiritual feast, all supported with Scriptures.

    Liked by 1 person

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