Summary: This is a message about overcoming struggles, not the struggles that we face from without, but the struggles that we face from within, and winning the battle over temptation.
This morning we are going to be talking about overcoming struggles, not the struggles that we face from without, but the struggles that we face from within – today we want to talk about winning the battle over temptation.
A mother told her son that he was not allowed to go swimming that day. However, when he returned home that afternoon his mother noticed that his hair was wet and that he carried under his arm a wet bathing suit.
“Johnny!” his mother scolded, “I told you not to go swimming today.” “I couldn’t help it, Mom. I walked by the lake and it looked so clear and inviting. I was just going to stick my feet in it for a minute, and the water was so warm and felt so good on my legs. I just couldn’t resist!” he said with a big wide smile.
Mom looked at Johnny and said, “One question son, why did you take your bathing suit with you when I had told you that you couldn’t swim today?” “I didn’t trust myself Mom, so I took it with me just in case I was tempted.”
Webster’s Dictionary tells us that temptation is “the act of enticement to do wrong by the promise of pleasure or gain.” Now isn’t that just like the Devil, getting us to do something wrong by promising us something good?
There isn’t a day that goes by in any of our lives where we aren’t tempted in some way. Temptation comes packaged in a variety of ways; we are tempted to lie, cheat, gossip, over eat, to hold grudges, to steal, and yes, to not give the Lord the first fruits of our treasure, time and talent.
The Bible tells us that we should give 1/10th of all we have to the Lord. That means that if we earn $100 that $10 of it should go to the Lord. After all, He has given you 90% of all you earn!
Besides money, we should also give the Lord at least 10% of all our time. There are 24 hours a day. When we divide that up we find that we should be devoting 2 hours and 24 minutes of every day to doing His work, reading the Bible and praying for our friends, church, country and families.
So many times we cheat the Lord out of what is rightfully His.
A 4-year old girl was caught by her Mom standing on a stool in the kitchen eating cookies. Her Mom had told her that she was not to be eating those cookies until after dinner. When caught red-handed and confronted by her Mom, she said “Mom, it’s not my fault, honest! I climbed up on that stool because I just wanted to smell them, and my tooth got caught!”
This morning we’ll look at four undeniable facts about temptation. Fact number #1 is that temptation is Inevitable.
You can count on it! You can depend on it! It’s going to happen. Notice what James said in the first line of verse 13 – “Let no man say when he is tempted….” – notice James didn’t say “if” he is tempted, he said “when he is tempted.
Now it would be wonderful if we could live life without facing temptations, but the simple fact is that we cannot. Just as sure as hardships are an unfortunate reality of life that we all must face at one time or another, so too is temptation.
Now if you think you’ve found some wonderful, peaceful place or location where there is no chance that you will be tempted there, my advice to you is that you don’t go there, because when you do you’re going to spoil it!
You see, the problem is that when you go there you will take with you your mind and your thoughts – and these are the vehicles of temptation. We will never be in a place on earth where there is no temptation. As long as we live within these fleshly bodies and on this world we will face temptation.
It doesn’t matter if you are the monk that lives in the monastery in the Swiss Alps, the businessman in Atlanta, the housewife in New York City, the student in Richmond, the Professor in Bible College, or even the pastor that stands in this pulpit today – we all face temptation.
And sometimes when God allows us to suffer, we have a tendency to use our trials as an excuse for sinning. Hard times can often lead to temptation. When we are suffering the evil one is quick to come to our aid and offer us one of his solutions.
Sometimes he whispers in our ear that we need some pleasure in our life that will numb the pain. So what if it’s illegal! The Devil will tell us that we should be angry with God – that a loving God would never make us suffer such an overwhelming loss in our life, such a tragedy. Sometimes he tells us to be bitter and that we should resent God!