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10 Temptation Truths
From the recent sermon Jesus Without Sin, on Luke 4:1-13.
1. Satan is a real enemy
Satan is a real enemy. Do you believe that? You need to discuss that at your community group and with your friends. If you don’t, if you still think, “I think that’s hocus pocus. I think that’s psychological projection. My community college professor really confused me on this point,” you need to articulate that. Don’t be a liar. Be honest. Come clean. See, one of the most amazing things Satan did is he presented himself in the media: cartoons, little horns, red cape, and pitchfork. “Here he comes. Yeah, we know it’s him. How can we tell? He’s the red guy.” It’s not that easy. He’s into marketing and advertising. He’s subtle and crafty and sly and he’s very adept at baiting the hook. You have a real enemy. If you don’t believe that, confess that as sin. That’s the beginning of all your troubles. You have a real enemy. You’re born into a real war. You’re born again as a Christian on Christ’s side of the battle. But, the battle rages in your life as it did in his. (Click here to see the rest of this post)
2. Satan will H.I.T. you
Satan will H.I.T. you. By that I mean, be particularly aware when you’re hungry, isolated, and/or tired. How many of you find that your physical condition weakens your resistance to temptation? Jesus had physical hunger. When you’re physically hungry, you’ll get more grouchy, grumpy, tempted, and isolated. Now, solitude is good. The Bible says, and we’ll see it a little bit further in Luke, Jesus often withdrew to lonely places to be alone with the Father (Luke 5:16). Solitude’s good. It’s “I need a break from all of my activities to get alone with God and have him refresh me.” Isolation is dangerous. Jesus here was led by the Spirit into isolation, to do battle with Satan, to win where we and Adam lose. But, for you, isolation is a very dangerous thing. Isolation means you don’t really have a lot of Christian friends, or the friends you do have, the relationships are very shallow. “How are you doing?” “Great, how are you?” “Great.” “Well good, nice that we’re all caught up now.” It’s even inviting your friends in defining the terms of your relationship. “Okay, look, we’re Christian friends, not in some legalistic, weird referee, whistle-blowing religious way do I want you to ask me accountability questions. But, as a loving friend in the course of relationship, I want you to ask me real questions. You know my weaknesses towards sin. Ask how I’m doing. You know my vulnerabilities. You know how Satan baits my hook.” And, if they don’t know how he baits your hook, ask your friends and in your group and with your spouse. That’s the first question. “So, what bait’s usually on your hook? Great, do you mind if I ask every once and a while how it’s going?” Those kinds of relationships draw us out of isolation and into community. They’re very important. And, what happens is, most people don’t pursue them until they’re in crisis. So, they don’t pursue Christian friendships. They don’t join a community group to live on mission together as a church, opening the Scriptures habitually every week together, doing life together. They wait till they’ve taken the bait, they’ve got the hook in their mouth, they’re headed off into Satan’s possession and their destruction, and then they run into the church and say, “Give me deep, significant, profound, life-changing relationships right now.” We’ll try, but it would’ve been a lot smarter to get started before the hook was in your mouth. It’s not too late. We’re not going to give up on you. But, it’s better to be preventative than reactive. It’s better to have friends help keep the hook out of your mouth than wait till the hook is in your mouth and then beg for some people to come and take the hook out of your mouth. Isolated. This includes church hopping and shopping and bouncing, not committed, plugged in, dialed in anywhere. Find a home. And tired. Sometimes that tiredness is our own sin: staying up too late, watching TV, surfing the internet, disorganized. Sometimes it’s just a season of life: crisis happens, the baby’s teething. It’s just one of those times when you’re just tired. And what can happen when you’re hungry or have physical need? This can be a propensity then toward gluttony, comfort food rather than Christ giving us the Holy Spirit as our comforter. Drunkenness, just, “I’ve had a hard day. I just deserve a stiff drink.” This can be sexual sin and pornography and things of various sorts and kinds. “I’m lonely, I have urges, my body desires things so I must satisfy them.” Isolation. “I’m lonely, there’s no one to help, God you’ve abandoned me. Where are my Christian friends?” Tired. “I’m exhausted, I’m worn down, and I’m weary.” Jesus was hungry, isolated, tired, and without sin. Don’t use biological, physical desire, relational isolation, or personal fatigue to allow you to sin and say, “Well, God, look, it’s hard. I feel like you owe me one.” No. You will be hit when you’re hungry, isolated, and tired. That’s why you need to make particular provision for those seasons where you’re experiencing one or more of those factors. You just need to. You need to be honest about that, particularly if you’re married.
3. Jesus Christ is your victorious Warrior-King
Jesus Christ is your victorious Warrior-King. Up until this point, you’re all depressed. You’re all like, “Alright, I’ve got the big idea. I’m really bad. Satan’s a winner, winner, chicken dinner, and I am a loser. I got it, big idea, thank you very much.” Here’s the hope. The hope is not in you. The hope is Christ in you. That’s the hope. You’re not a winner. You’re a loser. See, some of you say, “Well, now life makes sense,” because see, in school, they keep telling you, “You’re a winner, you’re a winner, you’re a winner.” And, if you’re paying any attention, you will notice that you’re not. And what they’ll say then is, “Okay, you’re a loser, but if you have high self-esteem then you’ll be a winner.” No, then you’ll be a proud loser. And pride is the worst sin of all. And if you walk into a church, they’ll tell you, “You need to have more esteem so that you can be all you can be. You’ll never have to be poor. You’ll never have to be sick. You can be a winner.” It’s all a lie. Here’s the truth. Jesus is the winner. That’s the truth. We’re not victorious. He is. We’re not righteous. He is. We don’t redeem ourselves from slavery to sin. He does. We don’t change ourselves. He changes us. I’ll read it to you, one of my favorite texts, Colossians 2:13–15: “And you,” that’s you, “who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” Here is what he is saying. There’s a list of laws and commands and Satan would stand as the accuser of the children of God, that he would condemn us day and night and he would simply check the list: “This is your sin and your sin and your sin, thought, word, deed, omission, commission. You have done what you ought not do. You have done what you ought not have done. You’ve said and done that which is in violation of God’s laws. Guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty. You are my possession. You belong to me. The hook is in your mouth. I am your master. You will worship me.” And Jesus comes, and he identifies with us humbly. And he’s tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin. And he goes to the cross, and what looks like the greatest defeat in the history of the world is the great victorious liberation of the captives who become the children of God. And Jesus substitutes himself on the cross. And he who is without any sin takes our place, suffers, and dies in our place for our sins. And he says that cancels any right Satan has to you. You don’t belong to him. You belong to God. You’re not a slave, you’re an adopted son. You’re not an addict, you’re a worshiper. Worship got you into trouble and worship will get you out. And so, you need to worship Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and he triumphed over Satan at the cross. He disarmed him. Satan can’t defeat you. He can get you to defeat yourself, but your victory is in Christ. I have so much hope for you. All day I’ve been praying with people who have no hope. And I look them in the eye and I tell them the same thing I tell you: I have hope because we have Christ. And he is not finished with you and he has not given up on you. And I know you may be feeling guilt and condemnation and shame right now. But there is now no condemnation in Christ. There is conviction but not condemnation. The conviction should cause us to love Jesus, give him our sin, go and sin no more, and walk in his great triumphant victory. Condemnation is paralyzing. Conviction is liberating. Condemnation will cause you to live out of an identity that is stained and marred and broken and worthless and a failure. And Jesus will give you a new identity as one who is changed, loved, healed, forgiven, and granted his perfect righteousness. Jesus’ victory is your victory. Jesus’ righteousness is your righteousness. Live up to what you’ve already obtained. See, this is why we love Jesus so much. See, some of you would’ve come in here and you would’ve said, “I think Jesus is good. But sometimes he’s not very fun. He doesn’t let me do some things that I really want to do. And maybe Satan isn’t that bad because he would let me do those things.” No, Satan is bad and Jesus is good and sin is death and he’s a liar and you need not be a fool. He’s your victorious King.
4. The Holy Spirit is your power
The Holy Spirit is your power. Jesus was filled and led by the Holy Spirit. How did Jesus resist temptation for forty days? Answer: by the power of God the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit who takes up residence in the children of God. You have the same presence and power of God the Holy Spirit in you that Jesus did. You can live as he did. You can defeat the temptation that comes to you as he did by the presence and the power, by being filled and led by God the Holy Spirit. This isn’t religion and it’s not guilt and it’s not more that you need to do, it’s more of you yielding to his purposes and presence and power so that you can follow in the life of Jesus by the enablement of the Holy Spirit. God doesn’t just stand back and say, “I’m keeping score, you need to do better.” Jesus dies to forgive, redeem, give new identity, sends the Holy Spirit to redeem, regenerate, transform, and give new power. That’s an amazingly loving, gracious God.
5. Biblical truth is your counterpunch
The Bible is your counterpunch. Biblical truth is your counterpunch. Satan will lie to you. You need to know the truth. Jesus says this in his high priestly prayer in John 17, “My prayer is that you protect them from the evil one. Father, sanctify them by the truth. Your Word is the truth.” Every Word of God, Proverbs 30:5–6, is flawless. This is the truth. When Satan comes, you need to know the Scriptures. I just want you to read your Bible. I know some of you come here and the only time you pick up your Bible is when I’m talking. I’m grateful that you would come. I’m grateful that you would let me teach you. I’m grateful that you would come to listen and learn. But if this is the only consistent time you pick up the Scripture, you are really doing great danger to your soul.
6. Christ is your identity
Christ is your identity. I don’t care what you’ve done, and I don’t care what has been done to you. Those things are horrible and we can deal with them in Redemption Groups, biblical counseling, community groups, friendship, and relationship, but here’s your identity. It’s not what has been done to you or what has been done by you, but it is what Christ has done for you. In the eyes of Christ, you are clean. You were forgiven. You were adopted. You were redeemed. You are beloved. You are, you are. And I know some of you, the guilt is deep, the sin is real, and life is a wreck. And Christ is good. And if you believe that your identity is transformed in Christ as an adoptive, loved, forgiven, regenerated, transformed, empowered, renewed, hopeful child of God, you will live differently.
7. Escape is always possible
Most of you don’t believe this: escape is always possible. What happens is, for some of us, the hook has been there so long that it’s like, “I can’t ever get free of it. I used to eat all the bait. Now, I eat some of the bait. I used to eat the bait every week, now I only eat the bait once a month.” Or, “I eat the bait, but it’s my dad’s fault, he ate the bait too and it’s a habitual family issue. My counselor says it’s a genetic issue. I come from a long line of people who are addicted to this particular bait. I can’t really stop.” So, I need to blame someone else, manage it, and hide it. “Oh, I’ll just go over here in the dark all by myself and I’ll eat my bait and I’ll put the hook in my mouth. But, if I do it privately, it won’t count.” God’s there too. See, some of you would take the bait and you’ll put it, you’ll walk so close to it. Like, “Oh my goodness, look at that. That’s amazing. I would like to eat that, smoke that, drink that, get my hands on that, do that twice.” God would say, “Hey, there’s a door over here that’s open and you could walk out it and be free.” “I don’t see any door.” “Really? Well, there is one right over there.” “Yeah, this is so big and so real and so awesome and so close.” God would say, “Do you see the hook?” “No, I don’t see the hook. I see some pretty amazing bait.” The truth is you have two choices: the hook or the door. You either bite the hook or run out the door. Those are your only options. I’ll give you a verse, so that I can win: 1 Corinthians 10:13–14, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” Don’t worship anything or anyone other than God. What he’s saying is this. When temptation comes, keep your senses. Look for the way out. There is a door of escape somewhere. There’s a way out of it. Some of you have said for so long, “Well, I’m already dating them. I’m already at the club. I’ve already logged onto the internet. I already started this conversation, you know. I’m already halfway there.” Run. Run out the door of opportunity that God gives. You have two choices, friends, the hook or the door. You bite the hook or run out the door. Your whole life, it utterly depends on the decisions you make in those moments. There’s always a way out. You and I, we love to always be the victim. “I couldn’t help it. It was not my fault, my friends blank, my life blank, this blank, God that.” No way. The door was open and your eyes were closed. Repentance is believing that. Some of you need to go back over your life history and some of the major traumatic decisions you made and say, “Holy Spirit, show me where the door was open so that I can repent of having my eyes closed. And please help me to keep my eyes open. And please help me to keep my feet moving.”
8. Satan eventually taps out
Satan eventually taps out. Resist the devil and he will, what? Flee from you. Eventually. Maybe it takes forty days.
9. Repent whenever you tap out, and fight another round
Repent whenever you tap out and fight another round. Some of you, Satan tempts you, you’re in a fight, and after a while you’re like, “Okay, I tap out, I give in, I’ll do what you want, I’ll believe what you want, I’ll behave how you want.” So, what do you do then?
10. Life is a battle with many rounds
Fight some more, because, number ten, life is a battle with many rounds. Just because you tapped out in one round doesn’t mean it’s over. He’s going to be back anyways, just like he was to Jesus. He’s going to come back into Jesus’ life repeatedly. He’s going to, in fact, indwell and empower Judas Iscariot to murder him. This was just one round. The battle will rage all the way through the empty tomb. And it rages all the way to this very day. Some of you come here having already tapped out. Repentance is acknowledging that you bit the hook rather than running out the door. It is acknowledging that Jesus is your only hope for escape and victory. It is confessing your sin to him in humility, so that that control Satan has in your life would be broken, that you could live a new life as a new creation as a new person with Christ. Note: You can read the whole transcript of this sermon in PDF format here.