We all deal with temptation all too often. Learn how Jesus defeated temptation and how we can imitate his strategies.
Morning. Welcome to Renovation Church. My name is David Sorn – I’m the Lead Pastor here.
How many of you have felt tempted already at some point this morning?
Tempted to hit snooze on the alarm clock?
Tempted to yell at your spouse or kids? (Get in the car!)
Tempted to have not one, but two donuts at the church café of all places?
If you haven’t felt tempted yet this morning, my guess is, you have, you just probably didn’t notice it.
Temptation is everywhere.
And for many of you, you may feel sick of losing the temptation battle.
And you’re looking for answers.
And so today, we want to look to God, and figure out, how do we get more victory in our battle versus temptation
We are going verse by verse through the Book of Luke this year, in a series we’re calling Lost & Found.
We are in chapter 4 this morning, as we’re skipping over the genealogy of Jesus at the very end of chapter 3.
I actually gave a message on the genealogy of Jesus not all that long ago if you want to listen to it on our website
It’s from March of 2014 and is called, “Awkward Family Photos”
Today, we’re going to look at the temptation of Jesus
Jesus just finished being baptized by John the Baptist, and we’re going to go immediately to his temptation
There are 3 main temptations listed…we’ll start w/ the first one
(Luke 4:1-4) – NIV
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’
So Jesus has been fasting (not eating) for 40 days
He’s just relying on God.
And at some point, the devil comes along and begins to tempt him.
Now, if it’s difficult for you to believe in a literal being called “the devil” or satan…or even demons.
I always tell people two things:
1) If you can believe there this is an invisible good being named God…maybe even other good beings called angels, then it’s really not any further of a leap to believe there are evil ones as well.
2) The Bible talks about evil, including the devil, as a literal thing, not a metaphorical one.
TRUST THAT GOD IS ENOUGH
Qhat’s really interesting here is that all 3 of the temptations that Jesus experienced in the wilderness are echoes of what’s already happened long ago to the Israelites in the Old Testament.
I realize that so many of you are new (another 100 of you are new…just in the last 12 months) but most of us spent much of this past year studying the book of Exodus in the OT
It’s the story of the Israelite’s journey out of slavery in Egypt, how they were tempted and tested in the wilderness, and then in subsequent books, how they crossed the Jordan River and entered into the promised land.
The temptation of Jesus is basically that story in reverse.
In Luke 3, Jesus starts in the Promised Land, is baptized in the Jordan River, and then crosses the Jordan River over to the wilderness side…
…where he’s tempted for 40 days…just like the Israelites were tempted for 40 years
In fact, Jesus even undergoes similar temptations to the Israelites
For example, in Exodus 16 (this was in our message entitled “Daily Bread” last summer), the Israelites, in the midst of their 40 years in the wilderness…
…grumble that life is too hard …that they crave different food to truly satisfy them.
They’ve even tempted to go back to Egypt to get it!
But how are they eventually satisfied?
God provides them manna from heaven.
And the first temptation of Jesus (to turn stones into bread) is an echo of that story in the OT…except, Jesus is actually going to avoid every temptation.
Now, before we go any further, it’s not that bread is bad.
I realize there are plenty of angry food bloggers out there that will tell you that bread is bad because of its carbs or gluten or whatever
But there’s nothing inherently wrong with food.
That’s not what this verse is about.
What’s happening is this: Jesus knows that God the Father is supposed to provide for Him. And He knows He’s supposed to fast for 40 days.
And the question before him is: Whom do you trust?
Do you trust that God is enough?
Or do you think you need to provide for yourself?
That’s what’s underneath ALL temptations of “the flesh” Let me explain:
Say you’ve had a really bad day…
You got terrible news at work…or your toddler and preschooler at home thought it would be fun to draw stick figures with markers all over the back of your couch
And you finally sit down at night and even though you’re trying to eat healthy foods again…boom, there goes the entire pint of cookie dough ice cream.
Again, nothing inherently wrong with cookie dough ice cream.
Personally, I think there’s a lot right w/ cookie dough ice cream!
But when you’re using it to cope with your pain instead of turning to God…then, that’s a problem.
At every temptation, you must ask yourself this question:
WHOM DO I TRUST? - Point to slide
When all I want to do is take another look…or take another drink…
Do I trust that God is enough?
Jesus says in the Matthew version: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’
It’s the Manna from heaven that truly sustains us
Do we believe that…or are we just instead believing that we have to satisfy the desires of our flesh, in order to feel satisfied?
How does Jesus defeat this first temptation:
Trust Your Way out of Temptation:
1. Trust God is enough
And so when the temptation begins to come…stop…and say:
WHOM DO I TRUST?
Do I trust God…who says that He is enough for me?
That His ways will satisfy?
WHOM DO I TRUST?
Who’s path is more trustworthy for me here?
My desires or God almighty?
What are you doing when you ask yourself this question?
You’re actually just washing your mind with the WORD…with spiritual truth.
Which is how you fight temptation!
And you have to do this in the small things if you want to start winning the battle against temptation!
Think of it this way:
There’s a story told of a certain African tribe that learned an easy way to capture ducks in a river…which was no small feat.
The tribesmen learned to go upstream, place a pumpkin in the river, and let it slowly float down into the flock of ducks.
At first, the ducks would quack and fly away.
But the persistent tribesmen would subsequently float another pumpkin into the re-gathered ducks.
Again they would scatter, only to return after the strange object had passed.
Again, the hungry hunters would float another pumpkin.
This time the ducks would remain, with a cautious eye on the pumpkin, and with each successive passing, the ducks would become more comfortable, until they finally accepted the pumpkins as a normal part of life.
When the natives saw that the pumpkins no longer bothered the ducks, they hollowed out pumpkins, put them over their heads, and walked into the river.
Meandering into the midst of the ducks who were no longer bothered by the pumpkins, they pulled them down one at a time.
Slaughtered them, and ate them for lunch.
And so understand this: If temptation is eating you for lunch: The battle for temptation is rarely ever won, when you’re thinking, “What do I do now that I’m getting sucked under water?”
Where you must most importantly execute your battle plan against temptation is when the pumpkin first starts floating down the river.
Some of the best advice I can give you today is to learn to trust God in these little things
This is how you develop a spiritual heart that trusts him in the major temptations
When you’re scrolling through Netflix, and you feel tempted to check out that movie that feels like it could satisfy your lust
Oh, it’s not porn, it’s just…the first floating pumpkin.
WHOM DO I TRUST?
Which path is better for me?
Remember temptation never begins by saying, “Hi, I’m evil incarnate… would it be okay if I ruined your life? Yes or no?”
That’s never how it starts.
Trust that God is enough…and practice it most often in the small things.
And listen, you’re not just having a philosophical conversation with yourself while you try and defeat temptation.
“Hmm…Whom do I trust?”
Yes, it starts there!
The more you practice it in the small things, the more trusting Him becomes more and more automatic for you!
But while you preach the truth to yourself about whom you should trust, call on the one that defeated every SINGLE temptation that ever came at him.
Call on the one that makes the darkness tremble!
Call out, “Jesus, help me trust you. Help me trust you.”
“I know I should trust you, but the problem is, I don’t want to trust you. Help me!”
TRUST GOD TO LEAD
But we see there’s a second temptation
(Luke 4:5-8) – NIV
5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours.”
8 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’
This temptation also echoes another temptation that the Israelites encountered
If you were here in January, we did a message on Exodus 32 called “Revising God”
And we talked about how the Israelites, when they were in the Wilderness, got frustrated with God’s timing.
And so they decided to revise God and make him in their own image…a golden calf.
And then they proclaimed that their golden calf had said, “It was time to get moving”
The devil is making the same sort of temptation with Jesus in the wilderness
He’s saying, “You don’t need God to lead. YOU lead. You decide how this goes. YOU take the power”
And that, just like the first temptation, that is the foundation for many of our temptations.
But if we’re going to have victory over temptation, we need to TRUST GOD TO LEAD…not ourselves.
Trust Your Way out of Temptation:
1. Trust God is enough
2. Trust God to lead
Because friends, trying to lead instead of God… always come with a price.
The devil said, “Sure you can have these things, but oh yeah, in the fine print, notice you’ll have to worship me”
And again, authority, money, and “things” aren’t inherently bad…
But chasing them at the expense of honoring God…that’s a problem
HEAR THIS: If at ANY moment in your life, you have to do something that Jesus wouldn’t do, in order to get the things you want…then you, in that moment, are bowing down to Satan, not God.
We make little trades like this all the time.
This is going to hit HARD for some of you…so listen with an open heart.
We say things like: “I can’t usually go to church on Sundays…because I need to work…I need money…I need to get ahead”
As if God couldn’t provide for you if you said, “I’m going to tell my boss I can’t work Sundays.” Or, “I’m going to look for a different job where it doesn’t get in the way of me growing spiritually.”
Or for others, we know that the best thing for our families is to let God lead…to let God have control…and to submit to one another (our spouses) out of reverence for Christ …that we have a Godly partnership w/ each other
But we want control…you want control of your husband…of your kids…
And if it means you’re not living out who God intended, well then, at least you have control
Friends, you will never win, when you have to sin along the way to getting ahead
Even if it looks like it’s getting you ahead.
The steps backward in your soul is far worse than the few steps you’ll appear to take forward
There was a story in the news out of Florida back in February…where a boy was looking at one of those machines they have in the lobbies of restaurants…
You know the one with all the stuffed animals and the claw that reaches down to “grab one?”
If that’s not a temptation trap…what is, right?
Anyway, a young boy decided that he had enough of losing, so when his parents weren’t looking, he somehow climbed through the chute where you grab the stuffed animal if you ever do win…
…and eventually wiggled his way into what looked like a stuffed animal paradise.
And that’s what getting power the world’s way often looks like.
It looks SO good…until this happens:
(Show photo of boy terrified and trapped inside)
Suddenly the pain of your compromises will catch up to you…
And now everyone’s looking…and the professionals have to be called in to get you out and get your life back together
Don’t give in to your urges for power or for control.
Trust God to lead.
When you feel the temptation to compromise so you can get ahead, ask: “WHOM DO I TRUST?”
Keep asking this question!
I’ve been doing this all week! It works!
When I fall into temptation it’s because I’m trusting my own ideas, my own feelings…because I’m trusting myself.
TRUST GOD INTO SUFFERING
And then we see there is a third temptation as well:
(Luke 4:9-13) – NIV
9 The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you
to guard you carefully;
11 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.
Jesus again quotes from the book of Deuteronomy in the Old Testament and tells the devil it’s not right to put the Lord your God to the test”
If you look that verse up in Deuteronomy it says:
(Deuteronomy 6:16) – NIV
Do not put the Lord your God to the test as you did at Massah.
Which is in reference to another story of the Israelites in Exodus that occurred in an area called Massah .
In Exodus 17, there’s no water, and the people start questioning Moses, saying: “If God really loved us and delivered us from Egypt, then wouldn’t He give us water?! Tell Him to give us water!”
And in that, lies the third temptation
To believe that God will get you out of every suffering, and if He doesn’t, well, then perhaps He doesn’t love you.
So we must counter that:
Trust Your Way out of Temptation:
1. Trust God is enough
2. Trust God to Lead
3. Trust God…even into Suffering
This is all a bit counterintuitive, but think about this:
The devil has Jesus cornered, up on the highest point of the temple, and says, “Throw yourself down, the angels will catch you…”
We’re apt to read that as, “Test God…jump…see if he’ll catch you!”
But context, context, context!
We have to interpret with the clues we have in Scripture.
This is why you should take Mining God’s Word in Renovation U this summer J
Remember the Old Testament passage Jesus is alluding to
It’s more like the devil is saying, “If you really are the Son of God, then anytime you encounter any suffering, just call on the angels, and they’ll get you out. Surely God will deliver you from suffering.”
Why would he say that?
Well, what’s the last thing in the world the devil wants Jesus to do?
Suffer on the cross.
That’s the very thing that defeats the devil.
The devil wants to tempt Jesus into yelling out, like the Israelites did in Exodus, “This is too much! Too much suffering! If you really loved me, you’d get me out of this!”
Are you seeing the temptation?
Because we fall for it often.
The moment we start entering a season of suffering, the devil starts whispering in our ear…
Just like He said to Jesus over and over, “if you’re really the Son of God…”
He says to us, “If you’re really a child of God…wouldn’t God command his angels concerning you to save you from suffering???”
Wouldn’t God get you a job? Wouldn’t he make your pain go away? If you really were a child of God, wouldn’t He…”
But look at the wisdom of Jesus:
He trusts God…even into suffering.
Jesus doesn’t need to “test out” if God loves Him
Because that’s what we do when the devil gets us in this temptation.
We “test God”
“If you love me, then prove it! Command your angels! Get me out of this suffering!”
Jesus doesn’t need to “test God,” because He knows that God loves Him and has a plan…no matter what happens.
That doesn’t mean, Jesus doesn’t ask for help?
HE says, “Father if there is another way…but your will be done.”
If you’ve read the New Testament before, do you remember when Jesus said to Peter, “Get behind me Satan!”
What was the context?
Jesus had just told his disciples that he had to go to Jerusalem to be killed and raised again.
And Peter said, “Never Lord!”
And Jesus replies, “Get behind me Satan…”
Because that’s the exact attitude of the devil wants believers to subscribe to: The idea that all suffering must not be from God
And yet think of this:
On the night before his death, when Jesus is arrested by the armed crowd…and Jesus’ disciples begin to fight…
(Matthew 26:53-54) – NIV
Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”
See, just like the devil said during Jesus’ temptation…Jesus could CERTAINLY call on angels to rescue him out of suffering
But He doesn’t, because not every entry into suffering means that God doesn’t love you, or God isn’t with you, or that God isn’t guiding you where you need to go.
Don’t let the devil tempt you into thinking, “I’m suffering, and if God really loved me, He would get me out of this!”
Listen, God lets his very own son get arrested, and get beaten, whipped, falsely accused through 6 trials, and then murdered, gruesomely, on a cross.
If that’s not suffering I don’t what is?
But was God not in that?
Should Jesus have fallen for the temptation and said, “God, because I suffer, you must not love”
In fact, it’s because He suffered, we know that God loves us.
And so, even when you suffer, and you’re tempted to question his love:
Ask: WHOM DO I TRUST?
My own human heart…that doubts and doubts and doubts…
Or the One who promises…that He loves me.
WHOM DO I TRUST?
Trust in God.
Let me pray.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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