Summary: Overcoming temptations. Getting a better view of how satan works. Using Scipture to defeat satan.
Have you ever wondered how to get past sin? Have you ever wondered what makes sin so easy to fall into? What about that one thing makes it so desirable? If you have ever wanted to know a way of breaking through a sinful habit in your life, you might do well to listen today. Satan has his ways of working and attacking so as to draw us in and once he has us, he let’s our own pride and desire keep us tied up in the sin we have chosen. Satan uses what we call temptation. The ever widening root of sin comes from the evil desires we have in our own hearts. You must get to the root of the problem. Fighting symptoms can go on endlessly. Only destroying the root of the problem such as the virus itself can actually eliminate the problem. Americans take millions of drugs to alleviate symptoms, especially those of the flu, and never seem to let their bodies rest enough to actually get well. Listen to the words of James: “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” We aren’t tempted when something comes along our way for which we have no desire. Case and point, I have no desire and never will for pornography. Why? Because before I became a Christian I was totally addicted to it and Christ took that away. He helped me destroy my desire for it. Since I have no desire, I very rarely feel tempted if ever at all.
I think children may be able to say this easier than myself. A preacher tells a true story about a children’s church camp discussion. “I am reminded of the story of the discussion at church camp for children where one of the counselors was leading a discussion on the purpose God has for all of his creation. They began to find good reasons for the clouds and trees and rocks and rivers and animals and just about everything else in nature. Finally, one of the children asked, “If God has a good purpose for everything, then why did He create poison ivy?” This made the discussion leader gulp and, as he struggled with the question, one of the other children piped up, “The reason God made poison ivy is that He wanted us to know that there are certain things we should keep our cotton-pickin’ hands off of!”” (Jim Kane – www.sermoncentral.com)
I think that child had exactly the right idea. There are many things we should keep our hands off of but many times that isn’t enough to stop us anyway. What gives temptation its power? John Piper says that sin (lust for example) "gets its power by persuading me to believe that I will be happier if I follow it. The power of all temptation is the prospect that it will make me happier." Your desire to see that dirty picture, drink that alcoholic beverage when you know very well you shouldn’t, stare at that pretty woman walking down the street, lie so you don’t get caught, etc. for whatever sin and for whatever reason creates the thought that for some reason you will be happier after you have seen or done it. One man tells a story of shopping with his wife in a mall. They were standing by a kiosk while she was looking at something and a very beautiful young woman walked by in a mini-skirt. His eyes followed her as she walked by and before he could turn around he heard his wife say, “Was it worth the trouble you’re in?” Sin is so easy to fall into because it plays on our desires. Never mind the fact that sin is a death trap. We wouldn’t intentionally shove our leg in a bear trap and yet we will stick our spiritual neck under a guillotine of sin for a single moment of pleasure.
There is hope! One man overcame his desires and obediently followed God to death. Matthew 4 records the temptation of Jesus before his ministry started. Before he ever came to preach and teach us, he himself had to go through the barrage of sins we face each day. Today we will learn from the Master. If you ever truly want to become the best you can in any field known to man, it takes hard work and a good example to follow. We have the best example in the world right here in front of us. Let’s look at the story and temptation of Jesus. Jesus seems so distant sometimes when we read about Him. He is always so perfect. I wonder how this story looked from His eyes. Maybe this letter from Him can help us understand. Let me tell you what it says.