Summary: This sermon is about dealing with temptatoin. It is based on Rick Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Life.
Someone once said, “I wouldn’t be tempted if temptation wasn’t so tempting.” Sam Levenson said, “Lead us not into temptation. Just tell us where it is; we’ll find it.” Flip Wilson said, “The devil made me do it the first time, but ever since then I’ve been doing it on my own.” Oscar Wilde said, “I can resist anything but temptation.” We all deal with temptation. If we don’t face temptation, we should CHECK OUR PULSE.
It seems that temptation seems to find us, often at inopportune times. Temptations come in a variety of forms.
Read Luke 4:1-13.
Jesus, as the Son of God, faced temptation. If he faced it, how can we expect to avoid it? It’s not a matter of avoiding all temptation. It’s a matter of overcoming it and then defeating it.
I. Overcoming temptation.
Unlike Oscar Wilde’s quote, “I can resist anything but temptation,” we can overcome temptation.
A. REFUSE to be intimidated
We don’t have to let the devil push us around. Jesus didn’t back down, when he was tempted.
Martin Luther said, “You cannot keep birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from making a nest in your hair.” Thoughts will come.
Temptation is really a compliment. It means that you are living for God and headed in the right direction. Satan has a contract out on you.
B. RECOGNIZE your pattern of temptation and be prepared for it.
1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
Know where your weakness is, and prepare that area. Figure out the patterns and times in which you are most tempted and brace yourself for those times.
Jesus was tempted to turn the stones into bread because he was hungry.
C. REQUEST God’s help.
Psalm 50:15 says, “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”
This is the most important thing in overcoming temptation. We cannot merely use our willpower or courage. The temptation is stronger than we are, but God is stronger than the temptation.
Jesus used the Word of God to refute his temptation.
“Temptations keep us dependent upon God.”
II. Defeating temptation.
We may feel overpowered by temptation. This is not something we do on our own. This is with the help of God. There are four things we can do to help defeat temptation. Again, with God’s help.
A. REFOCUS your attention on something else.
The Bible doesn’t tell us to resist temptation. It doesn’t tell us to just give in either.
Dwelling on the temptation will only make it more tempting. When we try to think about not thinking about it, we drive it deeper into our mind. It’s like trying to think you’re not hungry.
Diverting your attention is a much more effective way of dealing with temptation than fighting it.
We should occupy ourselves with godly things. Jesus refocused his attention on God by going to scripture.
B. REVEAL your struggle to a godly friend or support group.
You don’t have to tell the whole world. But you should be able to tell someone who you trust. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 say, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!”
It would appear that Jesus shared this episode with someone at some point in time. He was alone in the wilderness.
This is why spiritual friendships and groups are so important.
C. RESIST the devil.
James 4:7 says, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
Don’t just stand there and let the devil punch you. He can’t make you do anything, contrary to Flip Wilson’s assertion. He can only suggest.
Don’t argue with the devil. He’s a better arguer. Jesus didn’t say, “I’m not hungry.” Of course he was hungry. He had been without food for 40 days.
D. REALIZE your vulnerability.
No one is exempt from temptation. We all have vulnerabilities.
We have to watch out what we do and where we go. Recovering alcoholics are often counseled to stay away from places that promote and serve alcoholic beverages.
Jesus’ temptations were to use his God-given power for selfish motives: food, power, and protection. He was tempted to dazzle people.
The devil is not all knowing. He goes back to where we were weak in the past. Shore up those areas.
“Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Are you battling temptation today? Turn it over to God. You can’t do it on your own. You must ask for God’s help. Hebrews 4:15 says that Jesus was “tempted as we are, yet without sin.” We have power.