Summary: This sermon deals with the tragic results when we allow temptations to take control.

"AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION IS WORTH A POUND OF CURE!"

MATTHEW 26:36-41 New King James

[36] Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, "Sit here while I go and pray over there."

[37] And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed.

[38] Then He said to them, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me."

[39] He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will."

[40] Then He came to the disciples and found them asleep, and said to Peter, "What? Could you not watch with Me one hour?

[41] Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."

We often learn things the hard way.

Preventative maintenance on our vehicles

is cheaper and easier in the long run

than letting them break down and paying for repairs.

There was a TV commercial for oil filters.

The mechanic says: You can pay me now...or pay me later.

We know paying for oil changes is cheaper than engine repair.

Cancer researchers are coming to the conclusion

that while research to find a cure for cancer is needed,

even more needed is research into ways to prevent cancer.

If causes can be identified and eliminated,

then much suffering, worry and death can be avoided.

The same holds true for our lives.

If we would prevent some of our difficulties in the first place,

we wouldn't have to cure them in the second place.

Transition:

A teenage boy, Andy Witt, learned that lesson.

His parents had been invited by friends to a party.

They told Andy to stay home to finish his history paper.

But Andy had just gotten his driver's license.

So he asked, "Can I use the car for just a little while?

I need to borrow a book from Todd -- I'll only be gone awhile."

His Dad refused: "Absolutely not!

You stay home and work on that paper."

Just then their friends arrived and Andy's parents left.

It didn't seem fair!

They weren't using the car.

He would only be gone for just a few minutes or maybe an hour!

There would still be time to work on the stupid paper.

Just then the phone rang.

It was Todd, "Come on over! All the guys are here!"

Now...Andy was even more tempted to take the car.

He thought about it for a moment.

He could go to Todd's and be back before his folks got home.

If he was careful to put just enough gas in,

they'd never know that he used the car.

Andy was about to set himself up for a major mess.

He'd have been a happier and wiser young man

to have prevented trouble he couldn't cure.

Transition:

In the text, Jesus identifies 2 factors

in preventing spiritual troubles.

Jesus prefers that we deal with temptation and conquer it

Rather than to give in to it and need to be restored.

Jesus knows that an ounce of prevention

is worth a pound of cure.

What did Jesus say that can prevent spiritual disaster

before it happens?

POINT #1.

JESUS SAID, "KEEP WATCHING!"

Verse [41] Watch...

The Greek word used here means:

To be on your guard, on the alert.

To be cautious, wary, observant.

1 Peter 5:8. says:"be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."

Be awake and alert.

Colossians 4:2. says: "devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving;"

The key word here is "keep!"

"Keep watching!"

Watch at all times and in all circumstances!

Stay continually alert!

So, how does this apply in life?

Keep watching: don't let the world lull you to sleep.

Keep watching: don't let sports or pleasure or money

or anything else become your central focus.

Keep watching: don't let the world trick you

into its ethics and values.

Keep watching: don't embrace what God hates.

Keep watching: don't watch T.V. programs

which tempt you

and pollute your mind with x-rated garbage.

Keep watching: don't imagine that just a little,

just this once won't hurt.

Jesus told His Disciples to "watch"

and we would be wise to take Him seriously.

Transition:

Andy Witt should have watched his step.

He understood very well

that he should not take the car.

But he tried to persuade himself, "nobody will ever know."

Andy should have watched.

But there is more than just being alert;

POINT #2

JESUS SAID, "KEEP WATCHING

AND PRAYING!"

Verse [41] Watch and pray...

The Greek word used here for prayer means

to beg, plead, or ask sincerely for something.

This is no trite little prayer like:

"Now I lay me down to sleep,"

"God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food."

NO! This is:

"and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."

Matthew 6:13.

This is wrestling in prayer.

Prayer with a awareness that your very soul,

your very eternal destiny is at stake.

When we encounter temptation to sin...

it is necessary to cry out to our father in prayer

so that:

We walk in the spirit and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. Galatians 5:16.

We put on the lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. Romans 13:14.

Transition:

Instead of merely talking to himself about the car,

Andy Witt would have been wise

to talk to God in prayer about it.

But after convincing himself there would be no harm done...

he decided to take the car for awhile.

Andy blew it.

He got in the car and took off.

Andy Witt had been tempted.

And he could have resisted.

He could have done what his Dad told him to do.

He could have obeyed.

But not Andy.

Andy entered into temptation.

That is precisely what Jesus Christ does not want any of us to do.

He tells us to keep watching and praying.

Point #3. JESUS SAID,

"KEEP WATCHING AND PRAYING THAT YOU MAY NOT ENTER INTO TEMPTATION!":

[41] Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."

Temptations to sin are sure to come.

We have no control over that.

But we do have control over our responses!

We don't have to enter into temptations.

Let me illustrate in two ways:

"You can't stop the birds from flying over your head,

but you can stop them from building nests in your hair!"

If someone comes to you with a bag of rotten garbage

and says, "here, this is yours!"

You don't have to accept it!

It isn't yours...unless you choose to take it.

There is a big difference between being tempted...

and entering into temptation.

Proverbs 1:10 "my son, if sinners entice you, do not consent."

The enticement is temptation!

Consent is entering into it!

Hebrews 4:15 "for we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin."

Jesus was tempted!

But He did not sin.

Being tempted is seeing an attractive woman.

Sinning is meeting her somewhere for an affair.

Being tempted is a desire to miss church Sunday morning..

Sin is actually doing something other than going to church!.

Just because we hear the door bell of temptation ring,

does not mean that we have to open the door to sin!

Here's an Illustration:

A man who had a drinking problem decided to give up his friends.

Why? Because they all were big beer drinkers!

Transition:

Andy Witt entered into temptation.

He took the family car without permission.

And disaster struck.

When he got to his friend's house...

Andy discovered that they were having a party.

While he was there...Andy was given a beer to drink.

He knew he shouldn't drink it.

But he didn't want his friends to make fun of him.

SO...Andy Witt chugged the beer down.

After enjoying the fun at the party...

Andy decided it was time he left...

So he could get home before his parents did.

He stopped at a gas station and bought enough gasoline...

To put the gas gauge back where it had been.

Andy looked at his watch as he drove out of the gas station.

In doing so, he didn't see the bicycle until it was too late.

The car struck the bicycle...

And the body of a little girl came rolling up on the hood.

Andy jumped out of the car

and hollered for the gas station attendant to call an ambulance..

The ambulance arrived quickly.

But...it was too late.

The little girl was dead.

She died from a broken neck.

Andy Witt had blown it.

CLOSING

What if you've already blown it?

What if you've lost your integrity,

your character?

What if you have not only entered into temptation

but you are also living in sin?

It doesn't matter what mess you are in,

how you have messed up your life,

or what you have done!

Jesus has the power, grace and authority to save you.

He is able to change you.

He is able to deliver you.

Jesus says,

"Watch and pray that you do not enter into temptation".