MISCONCEPTIONS REGARDING TEMPTATION
1/22/12 – Garfield
A. The term TEMPTATION brings to mind different connotations for each of us.
For some, the word CONJURES up a delicious HOT FUDGE SUNDAE with whipped cream and nuts dripping off the sides. (SORRY, I ZONED OUT FOR A MOMENT!)
For others, it’s the man or woman who has become the focus of secret FANTASIES at work.
For the BUSINESSMAN who works under relenting pressure, it may be the CORNER BAR.
For the TRAVELING SALESMAN, temptation may mean the ADULT PAY-PER-VIEW so readily available in HOTELS and MOTELS.
For the TEENAGER, the term TEMPTATION may bring to mind a can of BEER or a pack of CIGARETTES or a member of the OPPOSITE SEX who has been declared OFF-LIMITS by parents.
Maybe TEMPTATION has something to do with the MOVIE SELECTIONS at the local VIDEO STORE or a FAVORITE HIT on the INTERNET.
When you hear the word “TEMPTATION,” what FLASHES into your mind? What PICTURES and EMOTIONS does it CONJURE up in your THINKING?
We are TEMPTED by different things. Some are able to overcome TEMPTATION more easily than others. There are some TEMPTATIONS that were more INTENSE in years PAST than they are now. There are things that TEMPT us NOW that were no PROBLEM at all YEARS ago.
B. TEMPTATION is merely the means by which Satan tries to cause us to SIN- James 1:13-16 (READ and COMMENT)
To paraphrase Solomon’s writings regarding temptation, particularly SEXUAL TEMPTATION, in Proverbs 6:27-28- “You can’t play with fire without getting burned.”
1. I think some Christians misunderstand TEMPTATION.
What’s worse these MISUNDERSTANDINGS cause many well-meaning BELIEVERS to LIVE under a BURDEN God never intended them to bear. Their EXPECTATION LEVEL becomes totally UNREALISTIC. Consequently they become DISCOURAGED and UNMOTIVATED. Some leave the FAITH thinking that being TEMPTED means they aren’t truly COMMITTED to Christ—if so, they wouldn’t even THINK about COMMITTING those EVIL things.
2. Satan is the source of these MISCONCEPTIONS, for at the bottom of each is a DISTORTION of God’s Truth.
In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians he pointed out that “IGNORANCE of Satan’s schemes would allow Satan to take ADVANTAGE of them”- 2 Corinthians 2:11.
A MISUNDERSTANDING of TEMPTATION has caused people to be taken ADVANTAGE of by Satan. If we gain a better understanding of Satan’s tactics, we will be better equipped to deal with and overcome TEMPTATION. Let’s take a look at some COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS REGARDING TEMPTATION.
I. TO BE TEMPTED IS TO SIN
A. Often when TEMPTED, the feelings associated with the TEMPTATION are so STRONG that we associate the EVIL FEELINGS with our CHARACTER rather than with the TEMPTATION itself.
1. When that happens, we CONDEMN ourselves for even having such FEELINGS.
Here’s a STORE CASHIER having severe FINANCIAL PROBLEMS. His CREDITORS are HOUNDING him. Every time he gets the MAIL there’s another STACK of BILLS. Collection Agencies call him up THREATENING to take him to COURT. He CRINGES every time the phone rings.
One day while at the CASH REGISTER taking in thousands of dollars, he thinks to himself how easy it is to take some of the MONEY. As he REACHES into the REGISTER to grab a few 20’s he thinks how wrong STEALING is, so he quickly removes his hand. He’s worked for that STORE for years and never even DREAMED of doing anything like that before. The SENSE of GUILT overwhelms him. He can’t EAT or SLEEP. Finally he becomes PHYSICALLY ILL because he feels so GUILTY for even thinking about doing such a thing even though he hadn’t done anything WRONG.
When TEMPTED, many feel as if they are already GUILTY without actually even giving in to the TEMPTATION. This is when Satan steps in and says, “You might as well go ahead and DO it! After all, what kind of person would even come up with such an EVIL idea? You’re already GUILTY!”
2. We are not RESPONSIBLE for what FLASHES through our minds.
a. Our RESPONSIBILITY is to CONTROL the things that DOMINATE our THOUGHTS.
b. 2 Corinthians 10:5- “. . . we take captive every thought and make it obedient for Christ.”
Paul’s INSPIRED admonition implies that we cannot CONTROL what RUSHES into our minds, but only that we take CONTROL of each THOUGHT and DEAL with it. In other words, DWELL on the GOOD and DRIVE out the BAD.
B. Our environment determines to a great EXTENT what comes into our MINDS.
1. Even the most CAUTIOUS people will at some point be exposed VISUALLY and AUDIBLY to things that will produce ungodly THOUGHTS and FEELINGS.
We cannot control what other people WEAR or SAY. We cannot control what we are INVITED to PARTICIPATE in (although obviously we can control what we CHOOSE to participate in). We cannot control what we accidentally OVERHEAR at WORK, at SCHOOL, or in the RESTROOM.
All of these are THRUST upon us without our CONSENT! Many of them produce FEELINGS and EMOTIONS that CONFUSE us at times. We begin to think about things that we KNOW are WRONG. Often these feelings raise serious DOUBTS in our minds about our COMMITMENT, and for some of us, it becomes a question of SALVATION. “If I was really SAVED, would I feel this way?” “Would a REAL Christian want to do that?”
I was at Camp Wabashi one summer, a Christian camp just outside of Terre Haute, IN, when several young people were BAPTIZED. Camp Wabashi doesn’t have a SWIMMING POOL, so a HORSE TANK set outside is used for a BAPTISTERY.
On this particular day—an UNSEASONABLY COOL DAY—a young man about 16 was BAPTIZED, followed by a young lady the same age. The young man, SOAKING WET, was standing there SHIVERING wrapped in a TOWEL. Then when the girl came up out of the WATER, her WET SHIRT clung to her BODY.
I then overheard the young man say to his Youth Minister, “Maybe I should be RE-BAPTIZED . . . I think I just SINNED again.”
2. Satan uses the EMOTIONS, DRIVES, and DESIRES given to us by God to TEMPT us.
These DRIVES aren’t WRONG within themselves. But when Satan TEMPTS us, our FEELINGS are being FOCUSED outside the PARAMETERS God has established for us. Therefore, we think EVIL THOUGHTS. The EVIL THOUGHTS themselves are not SIN.
When Jesus said, “that one COMMITS adultery when he looks upon another woman to LUST after her”- Matthew 5:28, He wasn’t saying that the LOOK is a SIN or even the IMMORAL THOUGHT that FLASHES into one’s MIND is a SIN. It’s when we CHERISH these THOUGHTS and DWELL on them or LOOK for OPPORTUNITY to carry them out, that it becomes SINFUL.
3. Satan is working overtime to flood our EARS, EYES, and MINDS with things that will SIDETRACK our Christian walk.
God will not JUDGE us for those EVIL THOUGHTS that DART through our MINDS. On the contrary, He sent His Son to enable us to successfully deal with the ONSLAUGHT of TEMPTATION.
II. SPIRITUALLY MATURE PEOPLE ARE NOT HARASSED WITH TEMPTATION
A. TEMPTATION is not confined only to the SPIRITUALLY WEAK.
1. Are you ever AMAZED to hear about someone who you consider to be a SPIRITUAL GIANT struggle with TEMPTATION and SIN?
As a boy I used to IDOLIZE our PREACHER. I truly believed he could do no wrong.
Then one Sunday morning after extending the invitation, he called one of the elders to come up. They sat and talked for a few minutes. Afterwards, the elder stood and said that Brother Jackson had CONFESSED sin and wanted the PRAYERS and FORGIVENESS of the congregation.
At first I was STUNNED and DISAPPOINTED. I just couldn’t believe that he actually struggled with SIN. Now, I look back and deeply APPRECIATE his COURAGE for coming before the CONGREGATION confessing WRONG in his life. I ADMIRE him even more.
2. Somewhere we have gotten the ERRONEOUS idea that our ULTIMATE goal as Christians is to come to a place in our lives where we are never TEMPTED.
Ironically the very OPPOSITE is true. The more SPIRITUALLY MATURE we become, the more of a THREAT we are to Satan. Then he WORKS even HARDER to bring us down.
3. Do you think that Satan TEMPTED Jesus only three times in the wilderness and never tried again?
a. Luke 4:13- “When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left Him (Jesus) until an opportune time.”
b. Hebrew 4:15- “. . . Jesus was TEMPTED in every way just as we are . . .”
BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER the WILDERNESS experience, Jesus was TEMPTED. You can’t get anymore SPIRITUAL than Jesus. Yet, He couldn’t escape TEMPTATION.
B. TEMPTATION will always be a part of a BELIEVER’S LIFE, no matter who you are.
MATURITY only causes Satan to INCREASE his ATTEMPTS to bring a BELIEVER DOWN. So if you feel the PRESSURE is on like never before, PRAISE the Lord! That could be an INDICATION that Satan sees you as a THREAT to his WORK in this world! Just don’t allow him to TAKE YOU DOWN.
III. WE FALL INTO TEMPTATION
A. It’s not UNCOMMON for someone to say, “You know, I was going along just great when all of a sudden, I FELL into TEMPTATION.”
1. We don’t FALL into TEMPTATION!
a. Such PHRASEOLOGY portrays sinners as VICTIMS—innocent BYSTANDERS who are SWEPT into SIN against their WILL. (That’s not the CASE at all!)
Some may object, “But, PREACHER, you just don’t know the PRESSURE I was under. It was UNBEARABLE. I couldn’t help what happened.”
Believe me, I’ve been TEMPTED just like that. And I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve GIVEN IN some times. But I didn’t just FALL into TEMPTATION, I chose to SIN.
b. When we GIVE IN to TEMPTATION, we should not SHIFT the BLAME to SOMETHING or SOMEONE else—it’s our DECISION.
2. Now, it is true that we do not CHOOSE to be TEMPTED, and in that respect we might say that we “FALL PREY to TEMPTATION.”
Being SURPRISED by TEMPTATION is never a CAUSE or EXCUSE to SIN. TEMPTATION in no way IMPAIRS our FREEDOM to CHOOSE. Never are we forced KICKING and SCREAMING against our WILL to GIVE IN to TEMPTATION. We cannot PREVENT ourselves from being TEMPTED for the most part, but regardless of the PRESSURE we don’t have to SIN.
3. On the other hand, never should we SET OURSELVES UP to be TEMPTED.
Brian invited his mother over for DINNER. During the course of the meal, Brian’s mother couldn’t help but keep noticing how BEAUTIFUL Brian's roommate, Angie, was. His mom had long been SUSPICIOUS of a RELATIONSHIP between Brian and Angie. Before Angie moved in she WARNED her son about the TEMPTATION of having this GIRL move into his APARTMENT, even though they had separate BEDROOMS.
Over the course of the evening, while WATCHING the two react, Brian's mom started to wonder if there was more between Brian and Angie, than met the eye. Reading his mom’s thoughts, Brian VOLUNTEERED, “I know what you must be thinking Mom, but I assure you Angie and I are just ROOMMATES."
About a week later, Angie came to Brian saying, “Ever since your Mother came to dinner, I've been unable to find my beautiful silver GRAVY LADLE. You don’t suppose she took it, do you?” Brian said, “Well, I doubt it, but I’ll send her an e-mail just to be sure.”
So he sat down and wrote:
I’m not saying that you “DID” take Angie’s GRAVY LADLE from the house, and I’m not saying that you “DID NOT” take the GRAVY LADLE. But the fact remains that it has been missing ever since you were here for dinner.
The next day, Brian received a reply:
I’m not saying that you “DO” share your BED with Angie, and I’m not saying that you “DO NOT” share your BED with Angie. But the fact remains that if she was SLEEPING in her OWN bed, she would have found the GRAVY LADLE by now.
TEMPTATION IS MUCH TOO POWERFUL A FORCE TO PLAY AROUND WITH.
B. The GOOD NEWS is, God does not LEAVE US to FACE TEMPTATION alone.
1.1 Corinthians 10:13 (READ and COMMENT) (same word used in James 1:13, 14)
(Two things Paul reveals about temptation:)
a. First, our TEMPTATION is not UNIQUE. (Whatever temptation you face on a daily basis,rest assured you are not the only one dealing with it.)
b. Second, God has set a LIMIT on the INTENSITY of every TEMPTATION.
God knows us perfectly inside and out. He knows our WEAKNESSES as well as our STRENGTHS. He knows how much TEMPTATION we can BEAR, and He knows our
Therefore, God FILTERS the TEMPTATIONS that come our way and allows only those to get through that He knows we can HANDLE. And with those TEMPTATIONS God ALWAYS provides a WAY OUT if we only LOOK for it.
When we SIN, it’s only because we didn’t take advantage of the built-in ESCAPE HATCH provided with every TEMPTATION.
2. Hebrews 2:14-18 (READ and COMMENT)
With every TEMPTATION, Jesus is right there giving us the STRENGTH to either ENDURE temptation or RECOVER from GIVING IN to it.
When telling Peter that he would DENY Him three times Jesus said, “Satan has demanded permission to SIFT you as wheat. But I have PRAYED for you that your FAITH may not FAIL. And when you have TURNED BACK, strengthen your brother”- Luke 22:31-32.
I believe every time Satan TEMPTS us, Jesus is PRAYING that our FAITH does not FAIL and for our RETURN if we GIVE IN.
A. God does not want us to be IGNORANT about TEMPTATION.
1. Satan is out to get us, that’s why we must always be on our GUARD against his TACTICS.
Peter describes “Satan as a ROARING LION looking for someone to DEVOUR”- I Peter 5:8. He will do everything he can to BRING US DOWN.
A Preacher and Bible Professor, tells the story about a WELL-PAID, RECENTLY-PROMOTED young EXECUTIVE who dreamed he DIED and stood at the Pearly Gates. Peter asks: “Do you want to go to HEAVEN or to HELL?”
“Let me know my OPTIONS,” he says. “Show me HELL.” Up pops a GIANT SCREEN with a video playing. Girls in BIKINIS and well-built guys are playing volleyball on the BEACH. Coolers are iced down with BEER. Everybody is WEARING brand-name clothes and DRIVING a BMW.
Then he asks for a glimpse of HEAVEN, only to notice that the VIDEO is still running. It pans upward and shows a PARK filled with OLD PEOPLE sitting on BENCHES feeding the BIRDS and playing CHECKERS — with ANGELS singing in the background.
“Uh, that’s NICE,” the guy mutters, “but I think I prefer HELL.” Immediately he is plunged into MOLTEN LAVA! In AGONIZING pain, he YELLS at Peter. “Hey, where's the BEACH and the BABES? What about the BEER and CARS?” “Sorry,” Peter said. “What you saw was the PROMOTIONAL TAPE sent up by Satan.”
2. Satan is a MASTER of DECEPTION, and TEMPTATION is the WAY he DECEIVES us.
a. Although Satan is POWERFUL, the Bible teaches us that someone greater is on our side.
b. “The One who is in you (GOD) is GREATER than the one who is in the WORLD (SATAN)”-
1 John 4:4.