Summary: This sermon is part IV in a series on overcoming the power of sin in our lives and deals with strategies to resist temptation.
For the past four weeks we’ve been dealing with this topic of overcoming the power of sin in our lives. We initially came to the conclusion that we are sinners and that we are in need of intervention from an outside source. We reviewed the fact that Christ came and died on our behalf so that we could claim victory over the power of sin and death. We also talked about ways whereby we can begin to claim victory over sin every single day by equipping ourselves with the armor that God has provided for us. Today as we wrap up this series I want us to leave here with practical tools to begin claiming the victory that was won for us on the cross every single day. This week I want you to have the tools you need to WIN!
(Using a cell-phone answer several incoming calls from “telemarketers” in which you are offered a free vacation, a new mortgage, a cheaper telephone service, a lower interest rate, or siding for my house. During each conversation, tell the caller that You’re busy and that You’re not interested in what he or she is selling. Then hang up. On the last call just pick up the phone and then hang it up and move on with the sermon.)
Sales calls. They’re annoying. I mean they always come at the most in convenient times. But many of us have become experts at getting rid of these annoyances. We don’t hesitate to abruptly interrupt their speech and hang up. You know, just as these sales calls kept me from delivering my sermon, so to temptation keeps us from living the lives that God wants us to live. I want to challenge you today to feel as justified in resisting temptation as you do in ignoring unwanted sales pitches. I want to send you away from here with five practical strategies to resist temptation.
Let us pray…
Our story today is again a familiar one. Jesus has been lead into the wilderness and is now being tempted by the Devil. At the end of forty days of fasting he’s very hungry and the devil appears to him and gives him some challenges. He tempts him to use his power to feed himself. He also tempts Jesus to worship him in order to gain power and fame in the world’s eyes, and finally Satan tempts Jesus to test God by putting himself in jeopardy, quoting the scripture that the angels will save him. In every instance Jesus stands firm. In every case Jesus resists the devil and does not succumb to the temptation at hand.
This story, while familiar, is difficult for us to understand. It seems unreal. The devil never appears to us and transports us from place to place. And when we are tempted the temptation isn’t always so clearly recognizable. The choice doesn’t always seem to be between good and bad but rather between bad and worse. It’s not always a matter of black and white but frequently of shades of gray. In the classic westerns the good guys wore white hats and the bad guys wore black hats and ultimately the clash between good and evil is settled on Main Street at high noon. But making the right decision isn’t that easy. It’s just not that simple.
As Christians we have been given victory over sin through Christ’s death on the cross, but we seldom live that victory. We have been given the power to resist temptation and to make the right choices, choices that glorify God, but seldom do we live empowered by Christ to resist temptation, instead we struggle along day after day, find ourselves falling into sin and then expect God to pick us back up, brush off the dirt and accept us again. Praise God, He does! He’s always there when we wonder back. But don’t you get sick of living like that? Are you sick of making those same mistakes over and over again, of never really having victory in your life? If so, then I’ve got good news for you. You don’t have to live like that any longer. The Bible teaches us a lot about resisting temptation. I’ve come up with five strategies which are certainly not inclusive of everything the Bible says on this topic, but which should give us a pretty good plan to resist temptation.
Step #1 in these strategies is to Draw Your Line in the Sand. In other words know your boundaries before you are faced with temptation. The backseat of a car on a dark, dirt road is not the place to fight off temptation. In order to be successful at fighting off temptation you must determine ahead of time where your boundaries will be. The problem the most of us encounter with temptation is we try to fight the battle when we’re in the heat of it. The outcome of the battle must be determined before we enter the battlefield. We must draw our lines in the sand, determine where our boundaries will be, set our standards ahead of time, and not allow ourselves to get near that line.