Summary: Sermon on Matthew 4:1-11 - Lusting after the 3 Ps
The gods we serve
Today we are embarking on a new series called "The gods that we serve". We will looking at the temptations of Jesus in Matthew 4:1-11 as our primary passage of Scripture. This series will cover the 3 temptations, namely the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
Let us pray before we begin.
Let’s try a little experiment. I’m going to ask you to follow my instructions. Number 1, do not think of chocolate. Number 2, do not think of a handphone. Number 3, do not think of getting As for your exams.
How many of you were able not to think of any of those things? Hard isn’t it? Especially with all the distractions around us. This is how it is with temptation, and I hate to tell you this, but everyone faces temptations, even Christians, even Jesus. But Jesus was able to overcome those temptations and so can we.
Let us examine this a bit more by looking at the temptations of Jesus. Turn with me to Matthew chapter 4, reading from verse 1 to 11.
To paint a quick background of this passage, Jesus was just been baptized by John the Baptist, and was preparing himself for ministry by fasting and praying for 40 days. Notice that He was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness, and Satan was the one that tempted Him.
Today we will be looking at the "Lust of the Eyes". Let us look carefully at verses 8-10. Notice that again it was Satan who brought Jesus to a high place, and showed him the kingdoms of the world and their glory. Satan promised Jesus the world if He worshipped him. Jesus used the Scripture from Deut, that "You should worship God and serve Him only".
Now you must be asking what has this passage got to do with me? Firstly I’m not Jesus, and I haven’t met Satan, he’s not going to promise me the world, and I’m not going to worship him. But is this really the case? Let’s think a little further.
We call ourselves Christians, that means followers of Christ. Christ Himself went through temptations, so here’s the first clue, we will face temptations too. True, Satan might not pop up in front of you, but we are reminded by Paul that all of us are in a constant spiritual battle, and that we need to stand firm and put on the full armour of God to stand against the devil’s wiles.
The lust of the eyes basically means idolatry = shifting the object of our worship. This is so important in the Christian life that if you remember, God gives this as the 1st of the 10 commandments, Thou shall not worship idols.
If you look into your outlines, we have what I call "Lusting after the 3 Ps". These are areas in our lives that are of this world and often subtly take the place of God in our lives. So even though we might not be thinking about world domination (as Satan offered to Jesus), these are areas that can be tempting to dominate our lives.
1. The first P is Pocket Money. and for most of us, Packet money as well, at Chinese New Year. Broadly, this is the area of finance or money.
How many of you feel that you have enough money to spend currently? As Jack Neo’s movie suggest, "Money No Enough". So let me ask you a 2nd question, how much is enough? There’s always a human tendency for more, we want more, we need more... it’s actually very hard to content with what we have. You might be saying, but who can survive without money? I’m not saying that we don’t care about money, but we need to have a balanced perspective towards money. The Bible says you cannot serve 2 masters, either you serve God or you serve Mammon (or money).
Pop quiz: What is the root of all evil? Not money, but the love of money. Again, money in itself is not bad, but beware that we begin to love money more than we love God.
2. The second P is Possessions. Your Nokias, your Nikes, your Sonys, your Pradas, your Deuters, you get what I mean. Most of us have lots of stuff, if I did a random search of your bags today, what would be some of the things we would find that most of you have? I must confess that I’m quite a techie person myself, phones, laptops and PDAs, I can give you their config, capabilities, prices, etc, etc. We know grow up in the MTV generation, what does MTV actually stand for? Music Television? in actual fact, it’s more like Money Television. The latest brands, the latest gadgets, the latest CDs, the latest fashion trends are all embedded in those 2-3 minute music videos. That’s how media advertising works. You don’t have this, you got to get it. Everyone has one, you need one. Last day, sale, limited edition, while stocks last. Some advertisers even go to the extent of subliminal messages. You guys learn science so you know what sublime means right? Subtle. A survey was done of people watching a movie, they inserted a frame of a Pepsi bottle several times between frames of each scene, and found that this correlated with people feeling the urge to buy a Pepsi after the movie.