Summary: Lent 3: Part three of a three part sermon series dealing with temptation. In this sermon, we consider Scriptural approaches to overcoming temptation by looking at how to break the chain of events that takes one from temptation to committing sin.
This is the third and final message in our series on temptation. We’ve been dealing with a number of topics over the last couple of weeks that have to do with temptation: Why it’s important to talk about temptation; How the Bible talks about temptation and last week, what the Bible teaches about the sources of temptation. This week the focus will be on breaking the chain of temptation.
There is a chain of events that takes a person from temptation to sin. In order understand this chain of temptation, let’s look at the classic temptation – the devil tempting Eve in the Garden of Eden:
 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”  The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,  but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ”  “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman.  “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Genesis 3.1-6)
The first thing that we see happening is temptation being brought to Eve by the devil. Last week we talked about the sources of temptation (devil, world and our sinful nature). Here we see the devil – in the form of a serpent - coming to Eve to tempt her. Mother Eve faced what often confronts us – the option to engage a temptation or to run from it. This is step 1 in the temptation chain: 1) the temptation is presented.
Now think about this: Eve was near the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This is the tree whose fruit God had prohibited. The entire Garden of Eden was available to Eve. She could have gone any place else. And yet she chose to be in the proximity of the prohibited tree. What took her there? Perhaps the old saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence,” can inform our thinking. The prohibited fruit looked good to Eve. She thought that she could do better than what God had given to her. So step two in the temptation chain is: 2) Being discontented or unhappy with God’s provision.
Alright – we have Eve next to the tree and the devil enticing Eve into a conversation by asking, “Did God really say…?” Eve responded by giving her take on the commandment: we can’t eat that fruit – nor touch it or you will die. Only problem is that God never said not to touch the fruit. The problem with that misquote is that that if the devil could get Eve to touch the fruit and nothing happened, then it would be easy for the devil to get Eve to doubt the rest of what God had said. So step three in the chain of temptation is: 3) Doubt or ignorance about what God has said.
Let’s look at the next link: Verse six from Genesis tells us: “… the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye.” That stuff that we shouldn’t do – it was looking pretty good. The eye deceived the heart. Turning back is getting less and less likely. So the next step in the chain of temptation is: 4) Desire for what God has prohibited.
Then it happened – the text from Genesis says, “She took some [of the fruit] and ate it.” Eve no longer saw the consequences of disobedience. She only saw the pleasure of doing what had been prohibited. The temptation finally resulted in disobedience of God. So step five in the chain of temptation is: 5) Disobey God.
Have you ever noticed how when folks are really engaged in some heavy duty debauchery that there is normally a crowd? Same thing happened with mother Eve. The Genesis text says, “She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” Mother Eve brought Adam into the disobedience. Now I’m not sure what Adam’s story was – but we do see that the final step in the chain of temptation is: 6) Deceive others.