Summary: This is a look at what temptation is and how to overcome it.
How does an Inuit kill a wolf? I know it’s a question many of you have struggled with for years, so let me tell you the answer.
First, the Inuit coats his knife with animal blood and allows it to freeze. Then he another layer, and another until the blade is completely concealed with blood. Then he takes the knife and fixes it in the ground with the blade up. Wolves have very sensitive smelling, and it doesn’t take long before one will pick up the scent of the blood and follow it.
When the wolf finds the blade, he begins to lick it. He tastes the fresh-frozen blood, and begins to lick faster and faster. Feverishly, he continues licking until all the frozen blood is licked from the blade. But by this time, he has sliced his own tongue. But his craving for the blood is so strong that he doesn’t even notice. So he continues licking, not realizing that the blood he’s licking at is his own. He just craves more and more, until he finally falls over dead. And that’s how an Inuit kills a wolf. At least that’s what I’ve read.
The desire of the wolf gave birth to an act, which eventually gave birth to death. And that’s the way temptation works. It draws us in, captures us, and keeps us until it does us in.
Today we’re beginning a new series called Survivor: Sunrise. And this morning we’re talking about Winning Your Immunity Challenge. Specifically, we’re talking about building up your immunity against temptation. So as we begin, let me ask you:
What is Temptation?
Temptation is the enticement to do what you know is wrong.
Let me give you five things to remember about temptation, and then we’ll look at some ways to increase your immunity.
When Facing Temptation, Remember…
A. Temptation is not a sin.
It may feel like it, you may feel guilty for being tempted, but you don’t need to. Temptation in and of itself is not sin. It’s giving in to the temptation when sin occurs.
We’ve already seen this morning how Jesus was tempted, but he was without sin.
Hebrews 4:15 (NLT)
“…He faced all of the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin.”
Charles Swindoll is a pastor and the author of a number of books, and in one of them he wrote:
“Sin takes place when we agree to the temptation and follow it.”
~ Charles Swindoll
B. Everyone is tempted.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)
But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience.
It’s inevitable. We all face temptations, regardless of who we are, how long we’ve followed Jesus or how mature we’ve become. We can’t outgrow it or become immune to it. It’s something we all have to deal with. The temptations we face here are as real as the temptations faced by soldiers in the Middle East. The temptations business executives face are as real as those faced by farmers in rural areas. The temptations children face are as real as those faced by their grandparents. And the temptations you face are as real as the ones Jesus faced Himself. Everyone is tempted.
I think sometimes we get to thinking that only bad or weak people are tempted. I know there have been times I have thought that way. But that’s not the case.
“We are not tempted because we are evil but because we are human.”
~ Anonymous (F. Sheen?)
So when you start feeling guilty because you’re tempted, remember that even Jesus was tempted. Being tempted is not wrong, giving in is.
C. The temptation won’t be too strong.
Oscar Wilde once said:
“I can resist everything – except temptation.”
~ Oscar Wilde
And Mae west was famous for saying:
“I generally avoid temptation unless I can’t resist it.”
~ Mae West, 1892-1980, American Actress
Well, the truth is that God promised the temptation will never be so strong that we cannot resist it.
1 Corinthians 10:13b (NLT)
He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it.
I’m no Greek scholar. But from what I understand, the terms used in this passage in the original language were nautical terms. They painted a picture of a ship being caught in a storm at sea. There’s no secret escape hatch to get the ship out of the storm, but the ship will weather the storm and come out safely on the other side. God can provide the strength of character and sustain us and help us endure any temptation and enable us to land safely and victoriously on the other side.