Summary: Temptations common to church members




INTRODUCTION: A. Native hunters in the jungles of Africa have a clever way of trapping monkeys.

They slice a coconut in two, hollow it out, and in one half of the shell cut a hole just

big enough for a monkey’s hand to pass through. Then they place an orange in the

other coconut half before fastening together the two halves of the coconut shell.

Finally, they secure the coconut to a tree with a rope, retreat into the jungle, and wait.

Sooner or later, an unsuspecting monkey swings by, smells the delicious orange,

and discovers its location inside the coconut. The monkey then slips his hand through

the small hole, grasps the orange, and tries to pull it through the hole. Of course, the

orange won’t come out; it’s too big for the hole. To no avail, the persistent monkey

continues to pull and pull, never realizing the danger he is in.

While the monkey struggles with the orange, the hunters simply stroll in and

capture the monkey by throwing a net over him. As long as the monkey keeps his fist

wrapped around the orange, the monkey is trapped. It’s too bad-the poor monkey

could save its own life if it would let go of the orange. It rarely occurs to a monkey,

however, that it can’t have both the orange and its freedom.

B. We’re in our next-to-last installment in our series: “Fatal Temptations”

--Based on James 1:14-15 – “Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is

dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin;

and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

1. We’ve looked at temptations faced by women, by children, and by teenagers

--next Sunday, we conclude on Father’s Day with “Temptations Men Face”

2. Today’s message is, “Temptations Church Members Face”



A. Last Sunday, I mentioned this basic temptation as one faced by senior citizens

--that because we enjoy remembering the past, we become inflexible about the present and fail to prepare

for the future

1. More than just a temptation for older folks

--anyone who grew up in a church with a great past is subject to this temptation

2. They’ve heard all the stories about the large crowds and the tremendous things that were


--and they wish it could be that way again but don’t think it can

3. Rev. 3:1-2 – “To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the

seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but

you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds

complete in the sight of my God.”

a. The church at Sardis was once known as a great congregation but they were now living off their

former reputation.

b. The problem was that at the time Jesus spoke these words to the apostle John, their reputation

wasn’t good. It was bad!

4. Andros Island is in the Bahamas. It’s 2300 square miles in size is and probably the largest

unexplored tract of land in the Western Hemisphere. Most of Andros Island is covered in thick

bushes and pine trees.

The people who live in the bush have a well-developed mythology and the Chickcharnee is the

most famous of the mythological creatures of Andros. He is said to live in the tops of the tallest pine

trees on the island If you cross the Chickcharnee, he will turn your head on backwards

--too many church member have their head turned around backwards

B. It’s easy to glorify a past.

1. We tend to remember things in a better light than they actually were

a. Someone: “The good old days weren’t really all that good. They’re just old.”

b. Eccl. 7:10 – Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such


2. It’s not wise because our memories are faulty

a. We tend to forget all the hard work and sacrifice and tough times that were endured to get to the

point of being an effective church

b. We want the glory of the past without the work of the past

C. Living in the past tends to take away from the present

1. We’re too busy looking back to do what needs to be done now

2. Paul warned the Ephesian Christians that it was important to make use of the present because of the

influence of evil

--Eph. 5:16 – Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of

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