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Summary: A single brush with temptation may lead to an act or decision that ruins families, devastates churches and incapacitates our fellowship with God. Prove yourself faithful in the midst of temptation.

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One sagging electrical line near Cleveland, Ohio, connected with a tree branch at 3:32 p.m. on August 14, 2003, beginning a chain of events that led to the largest blackout in American history.

According to a comprehensive study, the failure of this single transmission line caused a utility company in southern Ohio to overload and seal itself off from the now infamous power grid.

To the north, this created a huge need for power, and Cleveland began pulling an unsustainable amount of electricity from Michigan and Ontario…knocking out more transmission lines and generating plants.

When the demand for power reached New York, power plants there sealed themselves from the grid in order to protect their own systems. This, however, created a new problem: New York City (ironically) had too much electricity and overloaded its own system. The result: history's largest shutdown.

Isn’t it amazing? One sagging power line touches a tree branch, and blacks out a coastline over 460 miles away – how is that for a ripple effect? The truth is, seemingly small actions can lead to devastating consequences.

The same is true of sin—a brush with temptation leads to an act or decision that can eventually ruin families, devastate churches and incapacitate our fellowship with God. OYB to Matthew 4.

I. INTRODUCTION

1. We tend to think of temptation as the influence of evil in our lives, and perhaps in some way it is. One must ask, however, how we explain Adam and Eve’s temptation and subsequent sin; after all, they had no evil in their lives when they faced temptation. What about Job? He was tempted beyond imagination—what evil existed in his life?

2. Most importantly, how do we explain the temptation of Jesus? Today we consider his temptation in order to develop a deeper understanding of temptation itself: its source, purpose, and role in our spiritual formation.

3. Lent recalls the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness to prepare for his ministry. Our goal during Lent is to prepare ourselves for the ministry to which God calls us.

II. TEMPTATION DEFINED

1. The OT word for temptation (??????? refers to the testing or proving of armor in 1 Sa. 17:39, and in Gen. 22:2 characterizes God’s command to Abraham to offer Isaac as a burnt offering.

A. A similar use of the term refers to God’s testing of people (Ex. 16:4, 20:20; Dt. 8:2,16; Ps. 26:2) as he did in Egypt, performing terrible and wonderful acts to test the will of the Pharaoh. We must note however, that the OT rarely (if ever) applies this word to Satan’s act of enticing people into sin.

B. Interestingly, the OT makes it clear that man can tempt God, though scripture expressly forbids the practice. In this understanding, man is not enticing God to sin, but rather testing him in order to challenge his will.

2. The NT word for temptation also applies to man’s testing of God. Peter uses it to describe the sin of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:9; yet, in our gospel lesson of the morning, Satan leads Jesus into the wilderness in order to tempt him. With all these possibilities, what should we understand about temptation? Does man tempt God, God tempt man, or does Satan tempt both? Is temptation the work of Satan, or the work of God? Who is in charge here?


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