How to Overcome Temptations
I Need Thee Every Hour- Annie Hawks
I did not understand at first why this hymn had touched the great throbbing heart of humanity. It was not until long after, when the shadow fell over my way, the shadow of a great loss, that I understood something of the comforting power in the words which I had been permitted to give out to others in my hour of sweet serenity and peace.
How to Overcome Temptations
o Story from pastor John MacArthur about how a pastor learned a lesson from a dog
§ He would place a piece of meat in front of the dog and say, “don’t eat it.” The dog would eat the meat and the man would hit him. He would do it again and then hit the dog. Dog got the message- man telling the story noticed something, the dog would never look at the meat just into his master’s face- if he looked at the meat, he would be tempted to disobey and eat the meat- he never took his eyes off the master’s face- temptation never caused a problem
o That right there is the nature of temptation
§ The more we stare at what is being dangled in front of us by satan- the more susceptible we are to it
§ Problem with many of us is that we entertain ourselves with temptations rather than disciplining ourselves to fix our eyes on our master
o The scriptures tell us that in the love of God- He sent his only Son
§ Incarnate God not only to die for us- but to also be the perfect model for us in every way
§ Scripture also tells us that He is able to sympathize with every temptation known to man therefore, being our high priest Heb. 3:15
o So today, we will make our attention in addressing the number one problem by looking at our perfect model
§ Whenever I speak to someone about their future- it amazes me how backward their logic is
· They just don’t know what they want to be
· They are told what they want to be- whatever is hip, the trend- pharmacy
o You go to school, not looking at the strength, emphasis of the school but only on prestige
o You get there only to be discontented, even more lost than ever before
· You should work your way backwards- look to those who have achieved and look at how they achieved it
o Many ways, we are as equally lost in addressing the problem of temptation- just deal with it, it’s just part of life, no one can overcome temptation
o Just put on the Christian face and be holy, be good, try hard and rely on God’s grace and get on with it
§ It all adds up- the guilt overcomes us rather than us overcoming temptations
§ So we are going to look at our model and work our way backwards
· Not only our high priest, Heb. 2:18 “For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.”
· "There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man. But God is faithful who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able but will, with the temptation, also make a way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." - 1 Cor. 10:13
· We are not looking to Christ for sympathy but rather victory
Reading of the Passage
· To overcome temptation is to live the Christian life- what do I mean
o To live the Christian life is to consistently be practicing the conscience presence of Christ
§ That is what I shared with you before in regards to praying- how does one pray without ceasing?
§ It is to always be living in the consciousness of God
The Preparation, vv. 1-3
o We pick up right after His baptism
§ As he is coronated into His ministry, we see His temptation
· After He is anointed by the HS to be recognized and empowered
· He is then blessed, commissioned by God
· Then He faces the temptations of Satan
o Interesting observation
§ When we are endowed for special service- we will face the greatest temptations
· “take heed lest he falls” Satan knows we are the most vulnerable when we are on the pinnacle of accomplishment- when we may try to usurp victory for our own name- pride makes us vulnerable
§ Whenever one makes a committed stance- you are going to experience a heighten spiritual presence and battle
· We had a revival in our church- we just felt a heaviness- spiritually slothful- oppressive spirit- we prayed
§ Maybe some of you are trying to make the turn- commit yourself to true godliness, you are going to be attacked
· Don’t give up and I think today’s sermon will be most beneficial for you
§ When you have experienced spiritual victory, that is not the time to take your eyes off the ball, “I’ve arrived, I made it”
· It is one thing to become a champion, it is another to maintain that championship
· Jesus said, " Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." Matthew 26:41
· It’s the perception that when you graduate- you finish studying- you keep on studying- if you really want to excel
o The reason for His preparation
§ He was lead there by the Holy Spirit
· He was there, a desolate place
The Place: The Wilderness
o The Old Testament calls this area the Devastation
o George Adam Smith described it this way: "It is an area of yellow sand, of crumbling limestone and of scattered shingle. It is an area of contorted strata where the ridges run in all directions as if they were warped and twisted. The hills are like dust heaps. The limestone is blistered and peeling. Rocks are bare and jagged. Often, the ground sounds hollow. It runs right to the Dead Sea, and there comes a drop of 12,000 feet down to the Dead Sea. In that wilderness," says Smith, "Jesus would be alone, more alone than anywhere else in Palestine."
· Why was He there? Preparation
o 40 days spent I prayer and fasting for his earthy ministry, to find refuge, to find solice, to contemplate the overwhelming task that lie before Him
o This was His strength
§ And as the verse I just shared, He was not only watchful of satan, but the key here, communion with God, how “in prayer”
§ He was also accompanied and under the direction of the Holy Spirit
o Jesus knew He was going to be confronted by satan
o And by the time Satan arrived, it was too late, it was hopeless
o Story of young girl who became pregnant and confided in her pastor
§ “how could this happen?” we prayed before every date
§ What did you do after you prayed?
§ Jesus in perfect fellowship with God in prayer and fasting
· The greatest problem is to be spiritually unprepared- unprepared Christian is a defeated Christian
o If we do not put on the full armor of God, if we are not living in constant consciousness of God, not in regular prayer- you can expect to fall to temptation
o Peter is the perfect illustration
§ He was so pious in his accompaniment of Jesus
§ He was warned that he would deny Christ three times
· In his absence, being away from Jesus- he exactly what Jesus said he would do
The Person- Satan
· Satan is a real person
o Notice the roles, the purposes- it is always satan who tempts, never God
o James says, may no one every say he is tempted by God, James 1:13
§ It is satan who tempts, he can only tempt with the permission of God
§ Satan is God’s instrument- he is God’s adversary, he is God’s opponent but he is also used by God
The Plan- strategy, v. 2
· You notice right away we can’t relate with these temptations
· fantastic lesson here: Satan tempts us at the point of our own abilities. Did you get that? Well, that's important. We are tempted through our gifts. The temptation was the problem, for Jesus, the temptation was the problem of what to do with supernatural power. And so it could only come to one who was supernatural. The temptations that come to us are what to do with our gifts and our abilities. We're always tempted according to our gifts and our abilities.
o Some of us have charisma- charm and we will use that to get what we want
o Some of us are great intellects- we will use it to make ourselves masters of men rather than being a servant of men
o Some of us are great speakers and we will talk our way out of anything
§ It is our abilities, our talents that satan will come at and try to entice us to use them for our own glory than for God
§ True fact of temptation- where we are the strongest, there is where we can be the weakest, that is where we need to place the greatest guard
The Temptation, v.3
· He places doubt, “If”
o In other words, prove yourself- if you are going to save the world, if you are the Son of God, if you are the Messiah and going to do all these things… prove yourself
o Is that not the root of many of our temptations?
§ As he casts doubt upon our faith, “does God really love me? Can I really be different as a Christian? If I am saved, what I am I still sinning, maybe I’m not really saved?
o We can be ready for this if we place on the helmet of salvation- to secure our faith, out thoughts in Christ and His salvation
· You have to realize the cleverness of satan in this temptation
o To tempt Jesus to turn stone into bread is not really a temptation is it?
§ Some would say this is a temptation of the flesh, tempting Jesus to carve to satisfy the longing of His flesh
o If satan reworded this temptation it may go like this, “did God just say you are his beloved Son whom he is well pleased? And if he is well pleased, why is He depriving you of food?
o Didn’t He provide manna in the wilderness for those grumpy Israelites? Didn’t he say through Isaiah that he will pour down bread to those who hunger? Didn’t he send a raven to feed poor Elijah?
· The temptations I not hunger but the inconsistency
o If you are the Son of God, why are you hungry?
o If God loves you, why are you suffering? If god really loves you why are you still single, why are you not successful, why are you not rich? Why are you not healthy?
o If you are a child of God why are you sinning?
§ Come on Jesus, the Son of God and this is the best God can do for you? A Carpenter from Nazareth?
§ Isn’t that the temptation he came at Eve in the garden?
· Why would he say you couldn’t eat from that tree? Unless He’s trying to keep something from you?
· Notice Jesus response, v.4
o “it is written”
§ He always response with scripture
· Armor of God- the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God
o That should be our ministry- the Word of God
§ David said, “I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I may not sin against you.” – Psalm 119:11
o Notice the answer by Jesus-
§ That it’s not the bread that will keep a man alive, it is God
· That’s tremendous answer
o That is how we answer the temptation of selfishness, when satan tempts us to doubt God’s goodness
o Our reply is Let Thy will be done. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord
o “Taste and see that the Lord is good” – Psalm 34
o If I am going to be poor, so be it as long as I will praise my God
o Paul he learned to be content- man who was rich, as a Christian
§ You got the short end of the stick, this is Christianity?
§ “To live is Christ, to die is gain”
· So many of us are tempted to run ahead of God
o I know you want me happy, so I’ll take it
o Premarital sex- we are getting married anyway, God wants me to love right?
Second Temptation, v.5
· Satan is really clever- he is now adding on to the first temptation
o If you don’t take matters into your hands, okay, you will totally trust in God’s will
o Here is another one and it will eliminate the first temptation
§ Get God to do, if you won’t perform a miracle to prove your Messiah-ship, get God to perform the miracle
§ Sure you trust God, that’s touching, but let’s see if God loves you?
o This is worse than the first sin- why because you are putting God to the test
§ Okay God if girl I like is wearing a red blouse, my favorite color today- then I know it is your will
· If the phone rings when I’m watching this video- then I know it is your will
§ You might say, well didn’t Gideon do that with that whole fleece thing
· But that was a special miracle, special revelation
· Not for you- to put the Lord your God to the test- who do you think you are?
o That is exactly what satan wanted Jesus to do
o We get in a tight situation and okay god get me out of this
o This is presuming on God’s good character
o This usually happens during tragedies in life
§ We get really disappointed when a loved one may die or get sick
· Why God? Why didn’t you answer my prayers? Why didn’t you heal my mother or father? Don’t you love me? You are pushing God into a corner…. Are we never suppose to die? Is that what we are to presume about God’s love for us?
§ It’s like you requesting something from someone who really cares about you- oh if you really love me then you would _______________.
§ When someone loves someone else they never have to prove anything
· They demonstrate the love everyday by being with
· God demonstrated his love for us while yet we were sinners, Christ died for us
o Christ died, did that mean god didn’t love Him? He suffered for a purpose so must we- in our suffering are we to presume we are greater than Christ?
o That is a gross sin to ever presume God’s good character
Third Temptation, v.8
· Satan is down to his last card- if you bow down to me, you can have it all
o Doesn’t Christ have everything anyway? It is just a matter of time
§ Every knee will bow, every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord
§ First He must be obedient to the Father’s will
o It is the right ends but the wrong means- if ever there was a passage that spoke against compromise
§ The ends doesn’t justify the means
o Satan wants us to compromise don’t he?
§ Have one foot in the church and the other in the world, you can have your cake and eat it too- sure you’re a Christian but hwy have such high standards- God saved you, sure Jesus died for your sins, but you don’t have to be perfect, everyone is doing it
§ He really doesn’t want us to have convictions, absolute truth, what’s that? No black and white just a lot of grey- no surrender, no sacrifice, no Lordship
o Those are the temptations
§ He will try to get us to doubt God’s providence- so that we will provide for ourselves, no dependence on God
§ Secondly to presume upon God, make God prove his love for you
§ Thirdly, by tempting you to compromise, to get what you really want outside of the boundaries of God’s will
· Who do we trust when we face such temptations? Jesus Christ of course- remember He is our model
The victory, v.10
· Be gone!
o He has the power to brush away the temptations of satan
o Submit therefore to God Resist the devil and he will flee from you. – James 4:7
§ Trust Him, rely upon Him, Peter says, casting all your cares upon Him for He loves you
o Christ and satan cannot occupy the same place at the same time
§ Meaning if you have Jesus on your mind in your thoughts you cannot have satan there too
· Therefore flood you thoughts with Christ
· Fix your eyes upon Jesus Christ the author and perfecter of your faith
o Does that mean you have to constantly be thinking of Jesus- that’s impossible
§ Not always, one moment at a time
· When my wife asks me, “do you love me?” let me think about that
· Do you promise to love her til death do you part, “I promise someday”
· Daily love, it is a love for the moment, right here and right now
· You must practice to totally consume your thoughts with Christ
· Constant consciousness of Christ
· If you are stead fast, v. 11
o He got all He wanted- God will not cheap you, you stay faithful to Him and there is definitely a reward for you
o Can we leave today saying what a great God He is