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A closer look at the cross: Understanding Temptations  

25 Apr

Message: “Understanding Temptation” from Steve Adamson – Faith AG

1 John 2:15-17 (ESV)  Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16  For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17  And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

  Temptation of Eve (Genesis 3:4-6)

 

Temptation of Christ (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13) Temptation of Christians Today
Lust of the flesh
The desire to fulfill pleasures, physical desires.
The fruit looked delicious and would be good to eat. Turn the stones into bread. Take what is easier or more pleasurable rather than God’s best.
Lust of the eyes
The constant craving for more.
The fruit was a pleasure to look at. Gain all the kingdoms of the world, as far as the eye can see. Respond impulsively, without restraint or self-control.
The pride of life
The desire for power or possessions
The fruit was desirable for gaining wisdom; Eve wanted to “be like God.” Throw yourself down and the angels will come and rescue you for God will not allow you to be hurt. Build a power base rather than seek to serve others

LET IT GOWhen the desire for possessions and sinful pleasures feels so intense, we probably doubt that these objects of desire will all one day pass away. It may be even more difficult to believe that the person who does the will of God will live forever.

But this was John’s conviction based on the facts of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and promises. Knowing that this evil world will end can give you the courage to deny yourself temporary pleasures in this world in order to enjoy what God has promised us for eternity.

 James 1:13-15 (ESV) Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14  But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15  Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

1:13 We must have a correct view of God in order to persevere during times of trial. Specifically, we need to understand God’s view of our temptations.

Trials and temptations always present us with choices. God wants us to make good choices, not evil ones. Hardships can produce spiritual maturity and lead to eternal benefits if endured in faith.

But tests can also be failed. We can give in to temptation. And when we fail, we often use all kinds of excuses and reasons for our actions. The most dangerous of these is to blame God for tempting us. James turns his attention to this problem.

When tempted. As used here, the Greek word for temptation stands for a direct evil impulse. It can be used to indicate a trial (1:12), a temptation from within (1:14), or a temptation from without, usually relating to Satan’s work (Matthew 4:1).

In Jesus’ best-known prayer, he told his disciples to ask God, “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13 nkjv). It is crucial for us to remember always that God tests people for good; he does not tempt people for evil. Even during temptation we can see God’s sovereignty in permitting Satan to tempt us in order to refine our faith and help us grow in our dependence on Christ.

No one should say, “God is tempting me.”NIV Instead of persevering, we may give in or give up in the face of trial. We might even rationalize that God is at fault for sending such a trying experience, and thus blame God for our failure. From the beginning it has been a natural human response to make excuses and blame others for sin. Excuses include:

“It’s the other person’s fault.”  “I couldn’t help it.”   “Everybody’s doing it.”      “It was just a mistake.”

“Nobody’s perfect.”    “I didn’t know it was wrong.”  “The devil made me do it.”     “I was pressured into it.”

A person who makes excuses is trying to shift blame from himself or herself to something or someone else. A Christian, on the other hand, accepts responsibility for his or her wrongs, confesses them, and asks God for forgiveness.

For God cannot be tempted by evil. Because God cannot be tempted by evil, he cannot be the author of temptation.

Nor does he himself tempt anyone.NKJV God does not wish evil on people; he does not cause evil; he does not try to trip people up. Our failures are not God’s fault.

God may test believers in order to strengthen their faith, but he never tries to induce sin or destroy faith. God does not want us to fail, but to succeed.

At this point, the question may be rightly asked: “If God really loves us, why doesn’t he protect us from temptation?”

A God who kept us from temptation would be a God unwilling to allow us to grow. In order for a test to be an effective tool for growth, it must be capable of being failed. God actually proves his love by protecting us in temptation instead of protecting us from temptation.

He provides a way to resist: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

GOD’S WAY OUT OF TEMPTATION. God gives us these resources during temptation:

  • His presence. “He will not leave you nor forsake you” Deuteronomy 31:6 (ESV) “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 (ESV) Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
  • His model—Jesus. “For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:17-18 niv).
  • His guidance. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105 nrsv).
  • His mission for our life that keeps us directed. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1 niv).
  • His other people with whom we share encouragement. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25 niv).
  • His forgiveness when we fall and fail. “If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 nrsv).

1:14 Some believers thought that since God allowed trials, he must also be the source of temptation. These people could excuse their sin by saying that God was at fault. James corrects this. Temptations come from within. Here James highlights individual responsibility for sin.

But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire.NIV Behind the idea of the evil desire is the Jewish doctrine of the two yetzers. This has to do with the Jewish belief that all people have two yetzers or impulses—an impulse to good and an impulse to evil—and that these impulses war within them. It is possible, perhaps even likely, that James is building upon this Jewish idea.

Desires can be either fed or starved. If the desire itself is evil, we must deny its wish. It is up to us, with God’s help. If we encourage our desires, they will soon become actions.

The blame for sin is ours alone. The kind of desire James is describing here is desire out of control. It is selfish and seductive.

When he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.NKJV The enticement of evil is expressed in two ways—being dragged away or being lured like a fish to bait, and being enticed.

Temptation comes from evil desires within us, not from God. We can both build and bait our own trap. It begins with an evil thought and becomes sin when we dwell on the thought and allow it to become an action.

Like a snowball rolling downhill, sin grows more destructive the more we let it have its way. The best time to stop a temptation is before it is too great or moving too fast to control.

So we meet the enemy called temptation and discover it is in us. How can we withstand the attacks we know will come?

  • We must continually place ourselves under God’s protection.
  • We must reject the enticement, or temptation by recognizing it as a false promise.
  • We must bring into our life those activities that we know God has provided for our benefit—knowledge of Scripture, fellowship with Christ and other believers, good music, appreciation of all God has made—activities that expand our awareness in life.

     THE DEVIL AND OUR DESIRES. How does the devil make our desires serve his purposes?

He offers suggestions from within our environment and experience. What seems at first glance to be harmless may lead to evil. The person who takes Satan’s suggestions into his mind is fighting on dangerous ground. But the devil can’t entice our mind against our will.

He deceives with false advertising. Fame, sex, wealth, and power are presented to us as though they satisfy. But we don’t have to take his suggestions.

He singles us out through fear, making us feel as though we are struggling alone. But we are warned to “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8 niv).

Knowing that we have these potential weaknesses in our defenses should motivate us to be careful to control our desires.

   1:15 Then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin.NRSV James traces the result of temptation when a person yields to it. Desire in itself is not sin, but assenting to its enticement eventually gives birth to sin.

Desire, Deception, Disobedience, and Death. It takes spiritual growth and consistent dependence on God to know when a desire can be calmly evaluated and when a desire can easily become lustful and controlling.

Desires that present themselves to us in expressions that begin with “I have to have,” “I can’t do without,” or even “I would do anything if only I could” are all ripe for conception and birth into sin. It is helpful to ask ourselves occasionally, “What reasoning do I use that tends to lead me into sin?”

And sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.NIV Life is given to those who persevere in trials (1:12); death comes to those who allow their desire to run its course. Sin is full-grown when it becomes a fixed habit. Death is referring to spiritual separation from God that comes as the result of sin (see also Romans 6:23; 7:7-12; 1 John 2:16-17; 3:14).

When we yield to temptation, our sin sets deadly events into motion. There is more to stopping sin than just stopping sinning. Damage has been done. Deciding to “sin no more” may take care of the future, but it does not heal the past. That healing must come through repentance and forgiveness. Sometimes restitution must be made. As serious as the remedy sounds, we can be deeply grateful that there is a remedy at all. God loves us. It is his gracious love that breaks the cycle of desire-sin-death. Wherever we find ourselves in the process, we can turn to God in repentance for help. His way leads to life.

1:16 Do not be deceived. The Greek expression means “stop being deceived”—deceived about God’s goodness and about the source of temptation. Simply claiming that God is not the author of evil doesn’t automatically mean that he will help us fight it.

If life was fully defined by 1:13-15, our situation would be desperate. We might be faced with struggling against sin while God watched, uninvolved either way. James hurries on to spell out our hope. Not only does God not tempt us, he is also actively providing everything good that we find in life.

We are not to attribute evil intent to God—God is the source of good gifts, especially the new birth (1:18). He is the author of salvation, not temptation. Paragraph 1:16-18 is the positive side of the picture painted in 1:13-15.

The danger behind James’s warning to us not to be deceived is the temptation to believe that God does not care, or won’t help us, or may even be working against us. The picture is not pretty. If we come to believe we are alone, we have been deceived. If we distrust God, we have been deceived. And if we dare to accuse God of being the tempter, we have been thoroughly deceived.

What more devastating example of deception could there be than seeing the source of all good as the source of evil? Is it any wonder that Jesus leveled this charge at those who had a twisted view of God? “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

Believing in God is important, but it also matters how we believe in him. As James will illustrate later (2:19), we are capable of believing in God—the wrong way. It is this very deception that James is attacking by his entire letter.

I can’t do without,” or even “I would do anything if only I could” are all ripe for conception and birth into sin. It is helpful to ask ourselves occasionally, “What reasoning do I use that tends to lead me into sin?”

And sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.NIV Life is given to those who persevere in trials (1:12); death comes to those who allow their desire to run its course. Sin is full-grown when it becomes a fixed habit. Death is referring to spiritual separation from God that comes as the result of sin (see also Romans 6:23; 7:7-12; 1 John 2:16-17; 3:14).

When we yield to temptation, our sin sets deadly events into motion. There is more to stopping sin than just stopping sinning. Damage has been done. Deciding to “sin no more” may take care of the future, but it does not heal the past. That healing must come through repentance and forgiveness. Sometimes restitution must be made. As serious as the remedy sounds, we can be deeply grateful that there is a remedy at all. God loves us. It is his gracious love that breaks the cycle of desire-sin-death. Wherever we find ourselves in the process, we can turn to God in repentance for help. His way leads to life.

1:16 Do not be deceived. The Greek expression means “stop being deceived”—deceived about God’s goodness and about the source of temptation. Simply claiming that God is not the author of evil doesn’t automatically mean that he will help us fight it. If life was fully defined by 1:13-15, our situation would be desperate. We might be faced with struggling against sin while God watched, uninvolved either way. James hurries on to spell out our hope. Not only does God not tempt us, he is also actively providing everything good that we find in life. We are not to attribute evil intent to God—God is the source of good gifts, especially the new birth (1:18). He is the author of salvation, not temptation. Paragraph 1:16-18 is the positive side of the picture painted in 1:13-15.

The danger behind James’s warning to us not to be deceived is the temptation to believe that God does not care, or won’t help us, or may even be working against us. The picture is not pretty. If we come to believe we are alone, we have been deceived. If we distrust God, we have been deceived. And if we dare to accuse God of being the tempter, we have been thoroughly deceived.

What more devastating example of deception could there be than seeing the source of all good as the source of evil? Is it any wonder that Jesus leveled this charge at those who had a twisted view of God? “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Believing in God is important, but it also matters how we believe in him. As James will illustrate later (2:19), we are capable of believing in God—the wrong way. It is this very deception that James is attacking by his entire letter.

The sequence, described clearly in sexual language, represents the course any sins have taken by the time they are apparent to others. Since it begins within, the help we need the most in combating sin is internal. That help comes from God. The best time to stop sin is at the moment we realize the desire is about to become focused, before it has conceived.

At first it [temptation] is a mere thought confronting the mind; then imagination paints it in stronger colors; only after that do we take pleasure in it, and the will makes a false move, and we give our assent. Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ.

 1. A temptation is not present if the possibility for a wrong choice is not there.

Though I don’t fully understand why or how, I believe, from Luke 4, when the devil tempted Jesus:

* That he led Jesus to the highest point of the temple.

* That the devil somehow had the power to grant Jesus the power and splendor and control of all the kingdoms of the world.

I don’t know how.. but it would have not been tempting to Jesus unless the devil could have delivered on his promises?

  1. Jesus felt the full power of the Devil’s temptations…temptation at its greatest
  2. He was tempted through the flesh, eyes, and pride of life.
  3. He did not sin, though He felt this full power.

* We might not understand all these verses could say.. .but we must clearly see that the Savior can identify with us, and is therefore sympathetic with us.. and “let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence…

It takes spiritual growth and consistent dependence on God to know when a desire can be calmly evaluated and when a desire can easily become lustful and controlling. Desires that present themselves to us in expressions that begin with “I have to have,” ”

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2022 in cross

 

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