Summary: This sermon is a study of temptation and how to overcome it.
[Open Parking Spot]
A man decided it was time to shed some excess pounds. He took his new diet seriously, even changing his driving route to avoid his favorite bakery. One morning, however, he arrived at work carrying a gigantic coffeecake. His friends scolded him, but he kept smiling.
"This is a very special coffeecake," he explained. "I accidentally drove by the bakery this morning and there in the window were a host of goodies. I felt this was no accident, so I prayed, "Lord, if you want me to have one of those delicious coffeecakes, let me have a parking place directly in front of the bakery."
"Sure enough," he continued, "the eighth time around the block, there it was!"
Today our topic is temptation. John read about the very first temptation recorded in Scripture, when Eve was tempted by the serpent. Is temptation the same as sin? NO! Temptation is not wrong. Jesus was tempted and he was perfect.
Listening to the radio yesterday – Pastor Tom Brock was on. Tom was “outed” in the gay and lesbian magazine, Lavender, last summer (rather unethically, I might add). Tom was attending a confidential support group for men struggling with chastity. Is Tom’s struggle with homosexual thoughts sin? No, not if he says no to those thoughts and actions. It’s no different than an engaged couple fighting to remain pure before their wedding day.
Eve was being tempted by the serpent to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, fruit they were commanded NOT to eat.
Genesis 3:1-5 “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, “You must not eat from any tree in the garden”?’ The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, “You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.”’ ‘You will not surely die,’ the serpent said to the woman. ‘For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’"
Has Eve sinned yet? No
Genesis 3:6 “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom…” Has Eve sinned yet? Perhaps in her mind, longing for something that she shouldn’t have longed for.
Genesis 3:6 “…she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” Eve has now definitely moved from temptation to sin.
Not many of us analyze why we sin. We don’t examine how and why we move from temptation to sin.
The Lord gives us insight into this process through his servant James:
James 1:13 “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone…”
First of all, James touches on the origin of temptations and he makes it clear that it is not God who tempts us. So where do these temptations come from?
Ephesians 2:1-4 “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.”
3. Sinful nature
Secondly, this teaching on temptation comes in the midst of his teaching on trials.
God tests; Satan tempts.
1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation (G3986) has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted (G3985) beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted (G3986), he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
Temptations are a kind of test for us. Will I walk in God’s truth or Satan’s lies? Will I follow God’s will or my will? Temptation is me standing at the fork in the road. It’s not wrong to stand at the fork in the road. What is wrong is me stepping off of God’s path – that is sin.
Then James gives us a progression: desire > disobedience > death
James 1:14-15 “…but 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.”