05-25-08 am - I Can Overcome Temptation
I CAN OVERCOME ANY TEMPTATION May 25, 2008 am
John Adams was the Second President of the United States. He was also a a signer of the Declaration of Independence. On June 21, 1776 he said:
è “[I]t is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue.”
And on October 11, 1798 he wrote:
è “[W]e have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. . . . Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
(Source: John Adams, October 11, 1798.)
America was founded to be a moral and religious nation; a nation where God was honored right down to our national motto: “In God We Trust.”
But consider the state of righteousness in America today.
· Gay pride parades where every sort of perversion is on public display
· The biggest business on the internet is pornography
· And just in case you thought you’d heard it all, listen to this:
From MSNBC.com 8/17/05 - Just when you thought the greeting card racks had all the bases covered, someone found a remaining untapped market: MISTRESSES.
The Secret Lover Collection is "committed to providing a greeting card collection with empathy and understanding, without judgment, to lovers involved in a secret relationship."
The woman behind the collection, Cathy Gallagher, says she launched it to help the unfaithful "express their emotions" — and to cash in, since "there's a huge, untapped market."
Card messages include slogans like, "I used to look forward to the weekends, but since we met they seem like an eternity."
And (for those special holiday occasions) "As we each celebrate with our families, I will be thinking of you."
Can you believe it? That is just really incredible and appalling.
But unfortunately, it is not all that unusual – just watch TV commercials or listen to radio ads – when you think about it, it’s our temptations that are being marketed to.
And while some of these temptations might be innocent enough, like the temptation to eat a better brand of ice cream, many are temptations to do things that are sinful.
Proverbs 14:34 says “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.”
Any nation founded on Godly principles will thrive! But when that nation forsakes godliness, there is disgrace -- and terrible consequences. That’s why it’s so important that God’s people do two things:
1. Seek the Lord – 2 Chr 7:14 – “If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” That’s job #1.
2. Maintain personal righteousness. James 1:27 – “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” And we do that by resisting the temptations that our culture throws at us every single day.
What we want to talk about today is how God gives us the ability to overcome any temptation that comes into our lives. And I want you to know right up front that I am preaching this message as someone who is on the same road you are: and I have my own stories of success and failure in this area. So, let’s look at the word of God together.
è “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. [No different than what others experience – NLT] And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13
Let’s take this passage and break it down into three sections:
è 1. YOUR PREDICAMENT
I can’t read your mind, so I don’t know what temptations you are struggling with right now. But I do know your basic predicament.
èYou are tempted to do wrong. And often that temptation sneaks up on you.
During the 1982 Falkland Islands conflict, the British Royal Navy felt that its ships were safe from attack because of a sophisticated defense system that identified enemy missiles and shot them down. Attack after attack was repelled with no damage to a British ship.
Then the unexpected happened – The 3,500-ton destroyer HMS Sheffield was sunk by a single missile fired from an Argentine fighter jet.
Later, an investigation revealed that the Sheffield's defenses did pick up the incoming missile, and correctly identified it as a French-made Exocet.
But the computer was programmed to ignore Exocets as friendly – after all, England is an ally of France. But France had sold some of its missiles to Argentina, which at that moment, was at war with England. Adapted from Bill Perkins, Men of Integrity (9-25-05)
So the British ship was sunk by a missile it saw coming and could have destroyed.
A lot of the temptations we face are like that. At first they appear as something innocent, something harmless, something we don’t need to be concerned about.
But the next thing you know, we find ourselves trapped in a cycle of sin that we never thought we would get caught up in.
That attractive girl at the office becomes the object of desire, or the $1.00 Lottery ticket becomes a $500.00 monthly obsession, or that after dinner drink becomes a bottle-a-day habit. And it happens because we didn’t see it coming. Why? We weren’t paying attention to what our Father in heaven says:
è If you think you are standing strong, be careful, for you, too, may fall into the same sin. – 1 Corinthians 10:12
And you know what? We’ve all been there, haven’t we? I HAVE. We’ve all thought we were standing strong for God, and all of a sudden [BOOM] the bottom fell out. Why? We weren’t being careful.
So what happens once you give in to temptation? Permit me to speak from personal experience:
èYou feel like a failure
For the Christian who gives into temptation, it is easy to go on a huge guilt trip.
Not that we shouldn’t feel guilty, but often instead of turning to God and instead seeking God’s face and instead of accepting God’s forgiveness and recovering from our fall, instead we get down on ourselves. We throw ourselves a pity party and begin thinking that God can never use us again, that we might as well give up, and that our faith journey has come to an end. Here’s something else that happens:
èYou think you’re all alone
I cannot tell you how many people have come into my office and shared the temptations they have given into and thought that they were the only ones.
And while I will not give away confidences let me promise you that no matter what sin you are entangled in right now, you are NOT the only one. If only sin were that rare! But God’s word says nothing has happened to you that hasn’t happened to everyone.
That doesn’t make it all right, but it does mean that there are fellow strugglers out there who can identify with you and compassionately help you on your journey to wholeness if you’ll just be transparent enough to admit the struggle in the first place.
So, that’s your predicament. You might say that’s the bad news.
è 2. GOD’S PROMISE TO YOU
I wanted to move through that last part rather quickly so I could get to the good news.
God is on your side, not just when you are thinking good and pure thoughts, but even when you are tempted to do wrong God is on your side.
Remember what we just read:
è God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can't stand up against it. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13b
God is faithful, and then the Apostle Paul tells us the two ways that God demonstrates that faithfulness at the very moment when you are being tempted.
And let’s be clear that he is talking about God’s provision once the temptation has started, but before we have given into it. Temptation itself is not sin, but giving into it is.
So what will God do for you?
èHe will stick with you
God does not desert you because you’ve had a bad thought or because you have a desire to go against His will.
Exactly the opposite is true – God is there to make sure that the temptation you have is never going to be so overwhelming that you can’t resist it. He stays with you to keep you from being overwhelmed.
Now I’ve actually had people tell me that this promise was not true because God did not stop them from doing something they shouldn’t have. But they’ve misunderstood the promise.
The promise is not that temptation won’t come, but that there is no temptation that you and God can’t overcome together.
èHe will provide a way out
God promises that for every temptation that enters into the front door of your mind, He will provide an exit.
Most of the time the way out that God provides is just common sense.
To avoid being tempted by that guy or girl at the office, don’t spend time alone with them, don’t discuss the details of your marriage with them. Keep the safety barriers up at all times. Or else something bad might happen.
Drew Anderson of Tucson, AZ sent this in to Readers Digest: While my wife and I were shopping at a mall, a shapely young woman in a short, form-fitting dress walked by. My eyes followed her. Without looking up from the item she was examining, my wife asked, “Was it worth the trouble you’re in?”
If you feel yourself being drawn to someone you shouldn’t be, say to God, “God, you know I’m being tempted, please help me” and look away, or start walking the other way.
On the TV show “Hee Haw,” Doc Campbell is confronted by a patient who says he broke his arm in two places. The doc replies, “Well then, stay out of them places!” That’s good advice!
And God’s promise is that if you make the right decision to resist the temptation, then God will help you handle it! He will always provide the alternative for you to take.
Sometimes that alternative choice is not an easy one to make, but the opportunity is always there to do the right thing.
I can always look the other way, I can always refuse to take that drink, I can always walk away from that person who inflames my desire. God gives me the alternatives.
And He is not surprised or shocked by your temptation – He isn’t there to shake His finger at you and put you on a guilt trip, He is there to help you through it. That’s God’s promise to you.
è 3. YOUR RESPONSIBILITY
Now here’s where it gets tough for some of us.
We say, “Hey, it’s great that God tells us He’s there for us, and that He’s going to protect us and find a way out for us” but then we want to leave it all up to Him so we can blame Him later on.
We need to understand that God will do what He says He will do, but we’ve got to work with Him on this thing.
èYou have to rely on God promises
This can’t be a once in awhile kind of a thing. You and I need to live every moment of every day recognizing that God is with us, that He sees everything that we see, and that He knows everything going on in our hearts.
And each day we need to say to God, “I need your help. I know that I am going to be tempted in some areas today, and I accept the promise and provision You’ve made.”
èYou have to act on God’s provision
Jim Corbett, "Core Matter," USAToday.com (8-10-05):
After Minnesota Viking offensive lineman Korey Stringer died from a heatstroke during football conditioning drills in 108 degree heat, three NFL teams are offering their players a "radio pill."
Teams pay between $30 and $40 apiece for the pills, which last 24 to 36 hours. Each pill has a crystal sensor that emits a radio frequency geared to the player's body temperature. When the player's body temperature rises, so does the radio frequency.
A trainer punches in a player's jersey number and waves a digital device in front of him to determine if the player is "getting too hot" and needs medical intervention.
Neat idea! It took a tragedy for them to act, but they have found a solution to their problem and they’re doing something about it!
We Christians are given all kinds of wonderful promises from God, but until we act on them, they are just words on paper.
I have to listen for God’s voice – I have to look for that opportunity to avoid giving into temptation – I have to decide I’m going to be willing to see the exit route God gives me. Sometimes it means cutting myself off completely from the source of temptation. Sometimes it means running away. Sometimes it means bucking up and toughing it out making the right choice.
God is doing His part, but I have to accept His plan by following His instructions.
If I’m tempted to lust after someone, and God shows me how to avoid it, then I need to avoid it.
I can’t keep putting myself into the same dangerous situation over and over again and again, then fall into temptation and say, “God, where were You?”
Instead I have to act on God’s promise when He makes the way out known to me, which is usually immediately.
èYou have to do this over and over again
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, book 3, chapter 11:
“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. After all, you find out the strength of [an] army by fighting it, not by giving in. 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.”
He’s right. The moment we become a Christians – that’s when the real battle begins!
The bad news is that there is never going to come a time in your life when you are not tempted – and I don’t care how old you are, temptation never stops.
The good news is that God will never leave us nor forsake us. He is going to be with us for every temptation that comes, no matter how often, or how strong it happens to be.
And over and over and over again we have to fight with God’s help to overcome.
The more we fight, the better we get at letting God do His thing in our lives.
And the more we let God take control, the easier it gets to fight to the finish.
CONCLUSION: The question today is not if you will be tempted, but what you are going to do when you are tempted?
Will you place your trust in God and walk away from it, or will you turn from God and embrace the temptation?
I want you to know that it is in your power to accept God’s promise and overcome.
My prayer is that you will do exactly that every time temptation comes.
You can and will overcome, if you’ll simply agree to work with God.
INVITATION: God has provided us with the ultimate remedy in His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus breaks the power of sin over us and cancels the guilt we deserve. If you are ready to accept Him as your Savior and be baptized in His name, we invite you come forward during the time of personal decision.
I CAN OVERCOME ANY TEMPTATION May 25, 2008 am
Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people. – Prov 14:34
Today, most advertising deliberately targets our weakest areas of temptation: food, sex, status, and money. It sells! And yet, Jesus has called His people to a different life. Today, let’s remember the battle we are all fighting this Memorial Day.
1. YOUR ___________________
A. You are tempted to do ______________
B. You feel like a _______________
C. You think you’re ________ ______________
2. GOD’S _________________ TO YOU
Remember, God is on your side! 1 Cor. 10:13
A. He will stick __________ you
B. He will provide a _________ _____________
3. YOUR ___________________
A. You have to __________ on God promises
B. You have to _________ on God’s provision
C. You have to do this _______ and _______ again
INVITATION: There is never going to come a time in your life when you are not tempted. The good news is that God will never leave us or forsake us. The question today is not if you will be tempted, but what you are going to do when you are tempted. God has provided us with the ultimate remedy in His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus breaks the power of sin over us and cancels the guilt we deserve. If you are ready to accept Him as your Savior and be baptized in His name, we invite you come forward during the time of personal decision.