Even after many years of being a Christian I still struggle with temptation. I know what the Bible says. I try to do my best. But still, I am tempted to do wrong.
Maybe that is you as well. You know what is right but you are tempted to do wrong.
Today we will study the subject of temptation. And I want to give you a simple takeaway. If you put Jesus first you will overcome temptation.
Open your Bible to James 1:13. From James, I want you to understand some basics about temptation.
“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”
The first two things I want you to know about temptation can be found in verse 13.
- God is untemptable. That’s probably not a real word, Untemptable. But you get the idea. Why is God untemptable? Because God cannot sin. That is known as the impeccability of God. God cannot sin. So God cannot be tempted
- God does not tempt you. He may test you. But God will never tempt you to sin.
Look back at verse 14. It reads, “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.” Our response to temptation comes from within us. We are drawn away by our own desires. Temptation acts like a lure. Like a fishing lure.
We are like a fish in a pond, and Satan, the old crafty fisherman, casts his line in our direction. On the end of his line is a big fat worm with a hook hidden inside. Our own inner desires cause us to strike and to take that lure into our mouths only to find out that we are now caught.
Finally, verse 15 completes the picture. Think of it this way – temptation leads to desire, desire births sin, and sin leads to death. What kind of death – physical or spiritual? The answer is one, or the other, or all of the above.
Last week examined Lucifer. We studied his creation, his beauty, his wisdom, and his fall. Now we see him again. And what is he doing? He is tempting Eve and Adam to sin.
Look at Genesis 3:1-6.
“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”
2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’”
4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.”
Lucifer – his name now is Satan – Satan is that crafty serpent. He brings his wisdom and his appeal to Eve and tempts her. Notice how he does it.
In verse 4 he suggests that God is a liar. Satan says, “You will not surely die.” God had said in Genesis 2:17 that they would surely die. So Satan calls God a liar. Remember last week when we looked at John 8 we learned that Satan is the father of lies.
Another thing Satan does, is he attacks God’s character. In Genesis 3:5 he says, “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Satan is saying that God is holding something back from Adam and Eve. That God is protecting His place by not giving all knowledge to Adam and Eve.
And the final aspect of Satan’s temptation comes from his own desires. Remember from our last study, Lucifer desired to be God. And now he is tempting Eve with the same thing. He says “your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God…”
And Adam and Eve fall. The temptation is a strong lure. Their inner desires well up and they take the bait. Temptation stirred up desire. Desire gave birth to sin. And sin led to death, both physical and spiritual.
Think about it. All temptation comes to you in this way. You are lured by Satan, or the world, or your own desires. And before you know it, sin has taken hold. And then death arrives. Spiritual death, possibly physical death. Or both.
Here Satan tempts Jesus three times. He tempts in verses 1-4. He tempts Jesus again in verses 5-7. And the last time Satan tempts Jesus in verses 8-11.
In the first temptation, Satan wanted to see if Jesus, the Son of God, would obey His father or follow His own desires. Jesus uses Scripture to tell Satan that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
In the second temptation, Satan wants to see if Jesus is prideful. But Jesus responds with Scripture again and tells Satan, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”
Finally, Satan offers Jesus a shortcut to glory. God that Father had a plan for Jesus, but Satan was saying that Jesus can shortcut that plan if He would just worship Satan.
Jesus responds to this temptation with, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.'”
What is our takeaway? Put Jesus first and you will defeat temptation. I think this summarizes how Jesus responded. Jesus put God and His Word first and defeated this temptation. And if you follow this pattern, you too will defeat temptation.
Temptation is a reality for everyone – believers and unbelievers.
If you are a unbeliever, then it is almost impossible for you not to sin. These sins add up. If you are a good person and only sinned 3 times a day, then in your lifetime you will sin approximately 70,000 times.
Go before the traffic judge with 70,000 speeding tickets and let me know how that goes.
Go before God the judge with 70,000 sins and see what will happen. But 70,000 is not really what is important. One sin is enough to separate you from a holy God.
So we are in a bad way. But God sent His Son Jesus to die for these sins. To take them to the cross and to pay the price for your wicked behavior. Now all you need to do is believe on Jesus. Trust in Him. He died for your sins. Believe that. He rose again for your eternal life – believe that. Accept the salvation He offers.
This Mark Jones and you have been listening to Faith in the Valley. If you are looking for a church that approaches faith simply then please visit. If you are tired of the noise. If you desire to know and relate to the people you worship with, then please visit.
I would define Wakefield as a simple church. Our worship is simple. The faith we practice is simply focused on Jesus. We simply study the Bible and love the Savior.
So if you live near New Windsor Maryland, please drop by. Our morning service begins at 10:45 AM. We would love to have you visit and worship with us.
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