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Conquering Temptation

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There’s no one in here who has ever faced temptation… right?!
(lol)
I didn’t think so....
Let me tell you, you are in good company! We have all faced … and will face… temptations in our lives!
But… We are all in good company, because — even Christ faced temptation....
Matthew 4:1–11 NRSV
1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. 3 The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written, ‘One does 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 placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 saying 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, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’ ” 7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do 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 splendor; 9 and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’ ” 11 Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.
Three of the gospel writers — Matthew, Mark, and Luke — tell us about this event in Christ’s life.
They all felt it was important… But…
Have you ever wondered, Who told them?
Seriously, Luke was a historian, writing down the events “after the fact.” — so… we can assume that he heard it from Matthew, Mark, the other disciples, and maybe even some of the people he spoke to....
But.... Who told Matthew and Mark?
Seriously.... Scripture makes it clear that Jesus was alone.
Matthew 4:1 NRSV
1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
It doesn’t say that the disciples were with Him… In fact, it wasn’t until after this event that he even called them to “follow” Him…
So, Who told them?
The only logical answer is that Jesus Himself told the disciples about the events of His temptation.
So, the question is: “Why?”
Why did He tell them about this event in His life? Why did He feel it was important for them to know about it?
Even if we say the Holy Spirit — God — inspired them, and relayed the narrative, we still have to ask, “Why?”
Because… it was important for them, and it is important for us!
Matthew 4:1–3 NRSV
1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. 3 The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”
If you are the Son of God...”
This is a significant phrase…
“If you are the Son of God...”
Do you hear what satan is saying to Jesus?
“If you are the Son of God...” Why doesn’t your Father feed you? Why does He leave you in this terrible place? Why does He allow you to suffer in these horrible circumstances?
If you ARE the Son of God… Why doesn’t He do something to help you?!
Doesn’t He love you? Doesn’t He care?
“If you are the Son of God...” is significant, because… It questions the very essence of Christ’s being… and God’s…
He wanted Jesus to doubt the relationship between Himself and the Father…
Let me tell you:
We ARE sons and daughters of God!
And satan says those same things to us!
Do we believe him?
I think too often we do… and to often, we believe what comes after the seeds of doubt are planted…
“He doesn’t care… But… you don’t have to wait for Him… you can do it yourself!”
Use your powers… take care of yourself… you don’t need Him… you can provide for your needs… and He knows it!
You don’t have to suffer!
You see… satan was tempting Jesus to act independently of God… because He could!
Does that sound familiar? That is the same way he “tempted” Eve… (explain)
Genesis 3:6 NRSV
6 So 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.
But, look at Jesus’s response:
Matthew 4:4 NRSV
4 But he answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”
“It is written...”
Jesus quotes Deut. 8:3
Deuteronomy 8:3 NRSV
3 He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
Jesus does not deny the importance of food, only its “exclusiveness” to life…
There are many people who believe in the “exclusiveness” of the things of this world… of science… of government… of education…
But, Jesus reminds us, “God is more!”
Notice that Jesus says, every word”...
No part of scripture is unneeded… no part of scripture is unnecessary… no part can be excluded… Every Word is necessary for life!
Do we believe that? Do we live like that is true?!
Because satan… the enemy… the one who comes to “kill, steal, and destroy”… wants us to believe that we do not need God’s Word… that we can discard any part — any scripture — that doesn’t make us “feel” good… that we only need the things of this world!
But Christ says: “Man does not live on the things of this world alone.”
This next part’s kind of funny.... satan attempts to flip the table!
Matthew 4:5–6 NRSV
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 saying 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, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’ ”
It’s like satan says: “Oh yeah! You want to talk scripture! Then how about this: Throw yourself down from this height, because scripture says God will not let you be harmed!”
satan quotes Psalm 91:11-12…, but he intentionally omits part of it…
Can I tell you this? Distorted scripture will always mislead… Twisted, out-of-context scripture cannot save.
look at:
Philippians 4:13 NRSV
13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
This is one of the most misused scriptures in the Bible… Many people take this completely out of context.... using it as an encouragement, or excuse, to start thinking it means that they can do anything — no matter what it is — because Christ is on their side… and when they fail — they blame God…
But, that is not what Paul is talking about… He is referring to finding contentment in life…
Taking scripture out of context can actually cause us to fall unintentionally outside of God’s will, and that is what satan wants… he did it to Adam and Eve… he did it to many of the Israelites (judges)… and he’ll do it to us!
Look at Jesus’s response:
Matthew 4:7 NRSV
7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”
I love it! (it is like Jesus is a little exasperated with satan here… its almost comical!) I can just almost here Jesus laughing silently to Himself here.
“Again… it is written!”
It’s like Jesus is saying:
“Look satan… you idiot! You took this out of context…
You left out part of the scripture! Psalm 91:9,10,14 (all of the scriptures around what you quoted) refer to a faithful life lived “in Him”… but I guess you missed that part!”
Deuteronomy 6:16 NRSV
16 Do not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah.
God protects His children when they live within His Will....
“When the Child of God is in the Will of God, the Father will protect him. He will watch over those who are ‘in His Ways’.” — Warren Weirsbe
God protects and cares for His children, when they remain in His Will… in His presence…
God cannot be manipulated!
And that is what satan was telling Jesus to do.
That is what the world tries to do… the Jews came to Him, testing Him, demanding a sign… proof…
Matthew 12:39 NRSV
39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
We test God when we attempt to force Him to contradict His own word… when we attempt to force His hand to do things our way…
But it didn’t work on Jesus.
When this didn’t work, satan tries one last time…
Matthew 4:8–9 NRSV
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; 9 and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”
satan knew Christ’s mission… he knew who Jesus was… and what He would have to go through… so he focused on that…
“I know what you want… What you came to do… Take the easy way… Ask me, and I’ll give it to you…”
satan was tempting Jesus to create — on His own — the “perfect” empire… To trade the Father’s Word — the Father’s Plan — for His own power and control…
Many Christians do this — they trade scriptural truth for power, control, comfort, popularity, …
But the price is high!
The price is trading God for submission to satan…
“Serve the devil and rule the world. In modern terms, be practical, realistic, ready to compromise; ‘the end justifies the means’. To help people you must get position and power.” — F.V. Filson
I have heard pastors… church board members… Sunday School teachers… even evangelists say — “We need to own nice houses and nice cars… those “better” things in life… so that we have an opportunity to speak into the lives of people. They need to see us as prosperous (“wealthy”) people in order to see us as relevant to their lives.”
Church — THAT IS NOT TRUTH!!!!
When we do that — in any way — we give God’s place in our lives to satan.
How often do we see that in the Church… in our world today?
“Worshiping the creature instead of the Creator is the lie that rules our world today.” — Weirsbe
Romans 1:24–25 NRSV
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
We see that all over our world today, don’t we?
Even within the Church, we see people seeking “shortcuts” … looking for that quick and easy way to build the “numbers” of their churches… and compromising the truth of God.
Let me tell you — There are no “shortcuts” to the Will of God!
If we want to share in the glory, then we must also share in the suffering…
1 Peter 5:10 NRSV
10 And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you.
satan offered Christ the “kingdoms of this world,”… he offered Him an “easy” way out… but let me tell you — Christ did not need him to give them to Him!
You see — satan was tempting Christ with something He already had!
Look at Jesus’s response:
Matthew 4:10 NRSV
10 Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’ ”
“Go away!”
Jesus rejects satan decisively!
Do we?
When satan tempts us… do we command him away?
Or, do we listen to him? Unsure of God… unsure of ourselves…
Christ commanded him, “Go away! Be gone!”
“For it is written…”
Again, scripture…
Deuteronomy 6:13 NRSV
13 The Lord your God you shall fear; him you shall serve, and by his name alone you shall swear.
Do we CHOOSE to live in accordance with ALL of scripture?
Let me tell you — satan will tempt us in the same way as Christ. he will offer us the world — a large church… plenty of financing… a huge house… fancy cars… that new fully loaded CVO road glide… with 130 hp, 16” apes, awesome sound system, that turns every head when you ride by… — But here’s the truth:
We already have it!
We are Children of God!
As Children of God, we already have the Kingdom!!!
Romans 8:16–17 NRSV
16 it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
Church — WE ARE CHILDREN OF GOD… not of this world!
So, What does the temptation mean for us?
Why did Christ see fit to tell the disciples about it?
Why is it important to our lives?
Many scholars have said that the “temptation” narrative is about God “testing” Jesus’s “worthiness” of the ministry He would have…
But, that is not true!
The Father did not need to learn anything about Jesus, He had already given Him His divine approval.
Matthew 3:16–17 NRSV
16 And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
Matthew and Mark tell us that “immediately” after His baptism, Christ was led into the wilderness to be tempted…
That means that immediately after being declared the “Son of God,” Christ was confronted by the enemy.... immediately, satan came to try and deflect Jesus from His mission!
Let me tell you — The devil — satan — will try to deflect the believer away from God — and away from God’s purposes for their lives!
And, he will not wait until you are mature… satan knows the most vulnerable are “new believers”… fresh in their faith…
he knows that when you are the MOST vulnerable is when God moves in your life… when you are reeling from how the Father just moved… while you are attempting to understand what He just did…
That’s my little “side lesson,” but here’s the truth about the Temptation… Here’s what the Temptation teaches us:
The Temptation reveals that we — the Children of God — are not supposed to yield to the temptations of the world, but to cling to the Word of God as citizens of His Kingdom.
James 4:7 NRSV
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
How often do we do this?
How often do we see people do this?!
It seems that most often people — even Christians — give in to the temptation of the world, if it solves our immediate needs.
But… that is not how we are supposed to be, as Children of God.
Revelation 18:2–3 NRSV
2 He called out with a mighty voice, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! It has become a dwelling place of demons, a haunt of every foul spirit, a haunt of every foul bird, a haunt of every foul and hateful beast. 3 For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxury.”
Babylon is fallen… satan is fallen.... the ways of this world are fallen… the power, might, and beauty of the world are fallen… they mean nothing… they can give us nothing… the rulers of this world are fallen…
Revelation 18 — makes it clear that the things of this world… the power, the wealth, the prestige and honor… are completely worthless! They are lost… they fail… they are NOTHING compared to what we have in Christ!
When we realize that… when we believe that… when we accept that truth… then we are left with only one thing — Faith!
But that’s all we need!
There is nothing that this world — or the enemy — can tempt us with that God has not already given us!
There is absolutely nothing that this world can gives us that will improve our lives!
There is nothing that this world can offer us that will bring us strength in our moments of weakness… of pain… of sorrow…
But God Can!
When we realize that, we find strength!
What is it that you are being tempted with?
— perhaps… doubt
— perhaps… patience
— … insecurity
— … fear
often, we are tempted to trade those things for the “comforts” of this world…
What is it for you?
There is no better place to deal with it, then the altar…
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