Temptation

RUN FOR YOUR LIFE

As blogger Trent Hunter points out “we are supposed to run from things that can kill us – active volcanoes, oncoming traffic, and snakes come to mind.”

Yet, we can allow behaviors and thoughts into our life that are death to us in a far more serious way then being incinerated by a rushing lava flow.

Read this article by Trent in which he reminds us of serious dangers AND gives advice on how to have an exit strategy, or as he describes it – how to F.L.E.E.

 

TOO DESTRUCTIVE TO IGNORE!

Destruction is a word we use to express radical loss.

Destruction is a fearful word for good reason, and destruction is an accurate way to describe the consequences of pornography.

Pornography is a monstrous problem in our culture, in the church – and perhaps in your life.

If you don’t struggle with pornography, you know many people who do!

A struggle that was thought to be mainly a problem for young men, has now seeped into every corner of the culture, affecting men and women – young and old.

Tim Challies regularly provides excellent articles and resources on the subject of pornography through his blog @Challies

In time for Valentine’s Day, he gathered 10 of his best articles covering many aspects of this plague. There are articles specifically geared for men, women, and parents. His list contains a brief synopsis of each article to help you choose which to read.

At the end of the post, Challies gives his suggestions on the most beneficial books to read on purity and pornography, for men and for women.

Pornography is too destructive to ignore.

 

THE LIES OF LUST

Fight2bFree

Last week we held a conference on sexual purity, “Fight to Be Free”. I taught the final session entitled “Come into the Light”. In that message I dealt with three lies Satan uses to draw men into lifestyles of pornography and lust. Here is my outline.

 

THE LIE OF INEVITABILITY

Hell Wants You to Believe

You will not stay pure; it is only a matter of time before you fall. Satan wants you to doubt that real change can happen, so that your actions will lack full conviction

The Truth That the Gospel Gives You

Ephesians 6:16 tells us that faith is a shield to extinguish the darts of Satan: Faith is to take God at his word – so act on it

Sinning again is a possibility, but that we will be pure and whole is the great inevitability

It is true we will be tempted again; but the greater truth is that we are being completed in godliness

“I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ”  Philippians 1:6

“May the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it”  1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Satan is a liar who knows the real inevitability

‘The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet’ Romans 16:20

Applying the Truth

Look for your identity in God’s Word. Look for the declarations of God’s work on behalf of his people

Become more mindful of God’s activity: look for evidences of God’s grace & give thanks for them

Think more often about eternal realities

 

THE LIE OF INABILITY

Hell Wants You to Believe

You are too weak; other Christians can live victoriously, but not you. Satan wants you to think your struggle is unique, your situation is harder and your salvation is weaker

The Truth That the Gospel Gives You

Of course you are weak! But that fact is irrelevant to victory (Eph 6:10-18)

Great Commandment Living is always by the power of God (John 15:5)

Jesus lived and worked on earth in the power of the Holy Spirit

Power at work in you is same power that raised Jesus from the dead & lifted him above enemies (Eph 1:19-21)

The entire Godhead is active in our becoming godly men

  • Our new life of godliness was set in motion by the Father’s will and plan (Phil 2:13)
  • Our godliness is made possible by the all-sufficient work of Jesus Christ
  • Day by day we are empowered to live whole by the Holy Spirit who lives in us

Applying the Truth

Stop listening to yourself and daily preach gospel reality to yourself

Embrace your weakness as wisdom that keeps you abiding in Christ, rather than as a discouragement that leads to giving up

Become more Trinitarian in your praying and thinking

 

THE LIE OF FULFILLMENT

Hell Wants You to Believe

Sensuality and sexual fantasy bring needed happiness. Satan wants you to think there are justifications for “controlled indulgences” in lust

The Truth That the Gospel Gives You

Sin is Empty – it cannot give life or wholeness or fulfill its promises. Sin will never satisfy or be satisfied

Sin always turns on us! It chews up our life without a care for the consequences it brings

True Fulfillment and lasting Joy can only come when we love and submit to God (Eph 3:14-19)

Holiness must be the greatest happiness, because it is to be like our perfect Heavenly Father

Applying the Truth Eph 5:18-21

Be a worshipper who is in awe of God, and who increasingly loves God

Fill life with gospel work, this will regularly bring situations that press us to remain closely connected with God

Be deeply connected with believers who feed your soul and be that to others

THE ART OF DELUSION

 

Satan’s great weapon is deceit; he is the “father of lies” (John 8:44).

All sin involves delusion of some kind

“I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ”  (2 Corinthians 11:3)

Satan cannot make us sin, but he works very hard to deceive us (with cooperation from our fleshly nature)

He wants to delude us about sin and its fruit

He wants to delude us about what is important and wise for life

He wants to delude us about God: his character and the benefits of being sold out for him

Satan presents the bait and hides the hook

He makes sin look inviting while hiding its poison and God’s judgment

But there is always a hook and to sin always makes us play the fool

We need to remind ourselves of the realities behind every sin

Satan’s real purpose is always to separate us from God

Satan hates us    

Sin hates God       

Every sin will be regretted

Satan shows us only one side of sinful lives

We see the success and pleasures of godless people

Or we hear positive reactions to sinful behaviors

We cannot see the true condition of people’s inner life. People without Christ cannot have peace with God or the peace of God

When we consider what lies ahead for unbelievers and sin, there is nothing to envy

We need to consider the results of life and obedience with the eyes of faith

Satan covers some sins with social acceptability

“If so many people do it, how wrong can it be, and how angry can God be?”

The Bible is clear, God will condemn many

“Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction and there are many who go in by it” (Matthew 7:13)

We should expect the world to commonly and increasingly pursue what is evil   

“Evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:13)

God acts from his perfection, he’s unaffected by human opinion and practice

Satan portrays God as only love

Instead of being seen as perfectly loving, God is made out to only loving

The Bible portrays God as perfect in all attributes; which includes his justice and holiness

“Consider the goodness and severity of God” (Romans 11:22)

Satan wants to change the size of God and man

He wants us to magnify man and minimize God; to make what men do important and what God does distant

The result is we fear people over God, follow people over God, listen to people over God, and appease people rather than God

We need a clear view of mankind’s true nature and position  

“All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass.” (Isaiah 40:6-7)

We obviously need the same concerning God  

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.” (Isaiah 40:28)

Both of these need to be reinforced regularly

Whenever temptation comes, remind yourself that deceit, failure and regret are in the heart of what is being offered to you

 

THOUGHTS ON MANKIND’S FIRST SIN

Genesis 3:1-6

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

 

Satan’s Attack

1.  Satan brought God into question. What God had said, was made to be ‘open to discussion’.

2.  Satan accused God’s law as being unreasonable.

3.  Satan inflated Eve’s view of her rights and needs.

4.  Satan pretended he was concerned for Eve’s interests, when his real motivation was to destroy.

5.  Satan planted the seed of sin’s immediate gratification.

6.  Satan omitted the full result of his suggested course.

We should always view temptation as an attack. Satan is a ‘roaring lion seeking to devour’.

 

Eve’s Failure

1.  She took up the self-centered perspective offered.

2.  She did not place the temptation under God’s wisdom: What does God have to say about this?

3.  She did not admit God’s authority over her and everything else.

4.  She did not seek God Himself.

5.  She allowed the temptation to take root (James 1:14-15).

6.  She allowed truth to be experimental;  i.e. to define truth by our experience.

Love for God and trust in Him was not enough for Eve. The same principle is true when we disobey God’s word.


THOUGHTS ON JESUS TEMPTATION

 

Matthew 4:1-11

      Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.

3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, ’and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’ Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve’”

 

The 1st Temptation  vs 3-4

Satan’s Approach

It doesn’t appear outwardly sinful, but his suggestion cut across God’s purpose for that time

Satan’s appeals to love for self and the world

Just as with Eve, his approach was to have Christ be self-focused

Jesus Response

He immediately put the suggestion into the context of God’s sovereignty

Jesus responds by bringing up God’s priorities, because they his first concern

Jesus did not say bread was sinful, but that there are more vital things

 

The 2nd Temptation  vs 5-7

Satan’s Approach

He used Scripture, but outside of its intended understanding and context

He appeals again to pride; this time with implied altruistic value: ‘people will know you are Son of God’

 Jesus Response

He again is biblically rooted and God-centered

He points out the presumption of Satan’s suggested action; it would have been dictating to God, not resting on His promises (we are responders to God, who do not set the framework for how God should act)

 

The 3rd Temptation  vs 8-10

Satan’s Approach

Satan is offering immediately, what was the ultimate end of Jesus ministry, to be Lord over all kingdoms

However he is also offering it these things in a distorted fashion

Satan offers what is not his to give

Jesus Response

He remains biblically oriented and God-centered

He not only rejects Satan’s offer, he rebukes the tempter

 

Summation

Jesus used the ‘shield of faith’ – – Eve did not (Ephesians 6:16)

Jesus submitted and resisted – – Eve did not (James 4:7)

Jesus recognized the only true source of good things – – Eve did not (James 1:16-18)

Jesus had absolute confidence in God’s sovereignty and goodness. We may say it – Jesus lived it

BACK IN THE SWAMP

 

How did we get into the swamp of sin – again?

John MacArthur gives us an obvious, yet insightful clue:

“Nobody just falls out of a tree. They climb up in it, move around a bit, and then fall out.”

Erik Raymond, shares this quote and some very helpful thoughts in this article found on the Gospel Coalition Website, “A Secret Life of Prayer Will Prevent a Secret Life of Sin”.

Erik’s article is only an important reminder if you are ever tempted or struggle with sin.

Temptation will keep coming, but that doesn’t need to overwhelm or discourage us.

Because God’s presence, wisdom, strength, and commitment are all greater than our temptations and our Tempter!

However, we do need to operate in God’s grace and not keep walking in our own ways. Let’s become more consistent in holding onto the handrail of God’s abundantly offered grace to us.

SERMON LEFTOVERS 5.25.15

 “How Love Lives”

Matthew 5:27-30

The Sermon on the Mount is not simply what Jesus said, it’s how Jesus lived

This is Great Commandment living; it is what life looks like when we love

God with all that we are, and love our neighbor as ourselves

Jesus makes a series of six clarifications about the law in chapter 5

“You have heard that it was said . . . But I say to you . . . ”

Something was wrong with how people saw righteousness

The so called righteousness being paraded in Israel was a facade

The Pharisees were diligent rule followers, but that was missing

What is the righteousness that Jesus is calling for?

It is not that we must try harder, with higher standard – like a track meet where the high jump bar keeps being raised

That was what the Pharisees had been doing for years with their increasing complex regulations. But success in keeping more rules doesn’t make anyone righteous (Colossians 2:20-23)

The righteousness God wants, is to have all of our heart committed to him

Paul tells us love is the fountain of obedience and righteousness (Romans 13:8-10)

When we come to Christ by spiritual birth, a love for God is created in us

The process of growing in righteous living, is a process of that love growing in us

Let’s bring all this back to our text

Love for God and neighbor is not complete because we stop all actions of sexual sin

Love for God follows the intention of love in our heart and mind

Guarding against lust is not trying harder, it is loving more fully

This section of the Sermon on the Mount (vs 21-48) emphasize two truths

1. All sin is a serious matter

The text is saturated with a sense of seriousness:  lust is adulterous, the admonitions to tear out, cut off, lust is deserving of hell

The sin of lust is not noticing attractiveness in someone – it’s when we have pursuing thoughts (this includes romantic fantasies that replace our spouse with someone else)

2. We have an urgent need to take action

Throughout the Bible, faith and love are defined by action

Sin is destructive, we should respond to “small sins” like we respond to a little bit of cancer – we act decisively to eradicate every trace

This language of “tearing out” and “cutting off” is making the point that we are to do whatever is necessary to eliminate all traces of sin from our lives

Jesus doesn’t want us to simply push sin away; he tells us us to “throw it away”

Culture and technology have made the avoidance of lust a bigger challenge

Easy access to pornography means we need more accountability (we give up our ‘right’ to secret passwords etc)

The prevalence of sensuality means we need a plan to fight it

We need plans to minimize exposure to sensuality and plans to change routines that make us vulnerable

We need people who will encourage us in purity

We need to learn how to bounce our eye and replace invading thoughts

The Sermon on the Mount may seem extreme to you

Is the Sermon on the Mount unreasonable?

People generally think lust doesn’t hurt anyone, and after all it is hidden

Lust is not hidden to God, and he is to be the foremost object of our devotion

Lust does hurt people: it is a selfish expression that exalts our wants over attitudes that carry love

Our heart must push God and people aside to express lust

Is the Sermon on the Mount impossible?

Even some Christians think it is impossible to stop lustful thoughts

All godliness is impossible without the Holy Spirit and a spiritual birth

The day is coming when lust will seem unreasonable and impossible

For true children of God, our inevitability is that we will be like Jesus (1 John 3:2-3)

The Sermon on the Mount is about Christ

It tells us how Jesus lives before the Father

If we adore Christ, the Sermon on the Mount is how we want to live

We rejoice to learn these truths that shape us in his image

When we hear lust is like adultery, we respond “Jesus, thank you for truth”

When we read every thought matters, we respond “Jesus, yes purify all of me”

When we are told to cut off and tear out, we answer “Lord, I want nothing in my life that offends you or rebels against you”

We must see sin for what it is: God hating, relationship breaking and character deforming

We must see holiness for what it is: the pure beauty of Christ that will fill heaven with uninterrupted joy

Practical steps to stop lust are necessary

But these steps will be empty and powerless without love for Christ

WHAT DOES SATAN WANT?

What does Satan want for your church?

He uses cunning and strategy, and his main weapon is deceit. Jesus warns us that, “there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44)

But with the Apostle Paul, we can say that “we are not ignorant of his designs” (1 Corinthians 2:11).

We should easily recognize these strategies of Satan who hates Christ and wants to harm his Church:

Satan wants us to be impatient with other believers

Satan wants us filled with frustration for the people of our church

Satan wants us to think that our differences with other believers are greater than our bonds in Christ

He doesn’t want us to read Ephesians 4:4-6

“There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism,  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

Satan wants us to argue with as fellow church members as possible.

Satan wants us to gossip about the weakness of fellow believers

Satan wants us to give up on one another instead of keep “bearing with one another”

He really doesn’t want us to read any of Ephesians 4

“Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,  with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (vs 1-3)

Satan wants us to attack the failures that we see in fellow believers

Satan wants us to live disconnected from other church members

Satan wants us to ignore the hurts of fellow believers

He doesn’t want us to read 1 Corinthians 12:24-26

“God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”

Satan wants us to believe the worst about people in our church

Satan wants us to think that we have loved enough, and to think that we are justified in giving up on loving them more

He doesn’t want us to read 1 Corinthians 13:7-8 

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends”

Satan wants us to forget that God deeply loves every believer – that Jesus died for every believer – and that the Holy Spirit lives in every believer

We know what Satan wants – what do you think God wants?

HELP IN PROTECTING YOUR CHILD FROM PORNOGRAPHY

“One in three children ages 11 to 14 have viewed pornography on a mobile device”

As a parent, that is a fearful and sickening statistic!

There are a lot of responsibilities a parent must bear

And there are (it seems) an increasing number of dangers to guard against

Protecting our children against pornography needs to be high on those lists.

The potential damage is too great

The accessibility is too easy

Our culture is too irresponsible

I have noticed particularly among moms, that there can be an unrealistic assumption of innocence about their children and pornography. If your children truly have been spared, praise God for that grace. However, we must not allow our good desire for their innocence to cause us to be naïve about what they might be hearing and seeing.

These facts are virtually certain, whether or not your children have seen pornography:

1.  There are people they know who are exposed to pornography

2.  There are people out there who want your children to get hooked on pornography

Jen Wilkins has written this outstanding article for the Gospel Coalition entitled “Help Your Children Say ‘No’ To Porn”. This is an apt title, because eventually your children will be asked or offered to see it.

I particularly like her thoughts on giving our children “internal controls” to help protect themselves; and reinforcing a “cultural of confession” rather than concealment in our homes.

As Jen points out, we need to start early. Even if our children are too young to be capable of seeing pornography, it is good to start planning for their safe future.

At the end of Jen’s article, make sure you check out the valuable resources she provides.

I also encourage you to talk with one of your pastors, if you know or suspect your children are viewing visual filth. We want to be a help to you – because we are parents too. We want to be a church that supports one another in these matters that are dear to our hearts.