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Summary: Each time you defeat temptation another block is laid in God’s kingdom and another nail is hammered into evil’s coffin.

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Temptation is the enticement to do evil. For the most part our culture dismisses the subject because fewer and fewer acts are considered sin anymore. I did run across an interesting article from the Jackson Citizen Patriot that describes a peculiar temptation increasing numbers of Americans are falling into:

At $4 a gallon, the price of gasoline is making people do odd things. A Jackson man was jailed in North Dakota last week after failing to pay for gas, according to the Associated Press. The man tried to outrun police by driving through fields in Mapleton, N.D. – in a U-Haul truck. He pleaded guilty to three misdemeanors and received a 90-day jail term. The choice of getaway vehicle was unfortunate, but the item he stole is common these days. Gasoline is a prized commodity for thieves.

In Hampton Falls, N.H., last week, police said ne’er-do-wells siphoned gas from cars at night. In one county in Washington state, as much as $100,000 in fuel reportedly has been purchased with gas cards stolen from trucking companies.

Trips to the pump do sting this summer, and the temptation to steal, sadly, is in our nature. It also is immoral, not to mention illegal. Here’s a thought for all those would-be criminals, instead: Ride a bike.

“Gas prices fuel crime, making sting worse” posted by Jackson Citizen Patriot June 30, 2008

I can appreciate the author’s assessment of the human condition. He correctly identified temptation to do evil a part of our nature. He even used the term “immoral” to describe gasoline theft. The article was right on target until the last sentence. What’s the solution to the temptation to steal gas? Ride a bike!? Sorry, an alternate means of transportation will not shut down the temptation to steal. The temptation will only change forms because people will then be tempted to steal bike tires when they blow or the bikes themselves if they don’t have one. That is the human condition.

There are no quick and easy solutions to temptation. You know from first-hand experience that some temptations plague you for a lifetime. You can’t overcome them by simply finding something else to do.

This morning we are going to examine temptation by focusing on the first enticement to evil, as found in the book of Genesis. The good news is that temptation to sin can be overcome. It’s not simple or easy, but it is possible. God has set us up for success over temptation. If we’ll make the appropriate choices, empowered by His Spirit, we can prevail.

This message is for those of you who are sick and tired of giving in. If you despise what certain habits are doing to your witness as a Christian, then get ready. If you’re worn-out from hiding areas of your life from other people because they’re humiliating, listen up. If you are weary of the shame you feel before a holy and righteous God, pay careful attention. Resisting temptation isn’t easy, but it is possible because the God who is on your side wants you to overcome.

There is also a big picture reason to conquer temptation. Every time you do, whether you overcome a so-called small sin like little, white lies on up to notorious sins like adultery, you are taking back occupied territory for Christ. Your successful resistance to temptation trains you to take on more responsibility for God and fulfills His original command that we rule in His place, in His way over the earth. Here’s a simpler way of saying it: Each time you defeat temptation another block is laid in God’s kingdom and another nail is hammered into evil’s coffin.

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