Some would say, “If Jesus was God and couldn't sin then is being tempted was no big deal. I believe because Jesus was perfect that He endured temptation to a degree that you and I will never see. You know why you and I will never see it? Because we give in. Jesus never gave in. So as a result Satan kept turning up the heat by the time Jesus gets to the end of His earthly life, Satan has thrown at Him everything plus the kitchen sink to try to get Him to sin. Folks, I guarantee you, we have not seen Satan's kitchen sink. He's not thrown it at us. You know why? Because we give in. The more we resist the more Satan turns up the heat. The more the temptations intensify. Jesus actually endured temptation at a level far beyond anything you and I will ever experience. That's a good news for us. There is no one who understands your battle more than Jesus does. Hebrews 4 describes Him as a high priest who was tempted in all things just like us yet without sin. That means we can come boldly to Him when we are tempted because He understands. He will give us mercy. He will give us help. When you are tempted, don’t walk, run to Jesus!
From the story of the temptation of Jesus we learn little bit about Satan's strategies. The first thing I see is that Satan often attacks us when we're weak. For 40 days Jesus had not eaten and was hungry. When we are physically weak, Satan will attack us. When we're emotionally weak, Satan will attack us. And I guarantee you that when you are spiritually weak, when you are not reading your Bible on a regular basis, when you are not spending time in prayer with God, you become more of a target. Satan’s strategy also involves attacking us when we are alone. That's what happened to Jesus. He was alone in wilderness and Satan sees that as an opportune time. You need to be with other believers. You need to have relationships with other believers. You need to be consistent in church attendance because when you try to do this thing called the Christian life by yourself you become more susceptible of Satan's strategies. I think there's a third strategy. Satan often attacks us after a spiritual victory. What just happened to Jesus? He just got baptized where the heavens opened and the audible voice of God proclaimed, “This is My Son.” When you have a spiritual victory, be careful. Keep your guard up. That's an opportune time for Satan to attack.
In Matthew 16, Jesus tells His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem where He will suffer many things and be killed. I have to chuckle when I read how Peter responds. He took Jesus aside and began to rebuke Him. Don't you just love Peter? What does Peter do when Jesus says this to the disciples? He takes Jesus aside to rebuke Him. Husbands, have you ever had dinner guests over? Maybe it was family, maybe friends. You're sitting around the table talking and you say something really dumb. Then your wife looks at you and says, "Excuse me, Honey, can I talk to in the kitchen?" Now when you get in the kitchen, what's going to happen? You're not going to get a kiss. That's not why she took you in the kitchen. She took you aside to rebuke you. You know what Peter is doing? Jesus says I'm going to Jerusalem and there I'm going to die. Peter says, excuse me, Jesus, can I see you in the kitchen? And he rebukes Jesus. Can you imagine the gall of Peter rebuking the Son of God? Wait a second. How many times have you done that when something happened in your life that you didn't like? You see, we are a lot more like Peter than we want to admit.
Temptation usually begins with a look or a thought. That tells me the key to resisting temptation is in guarding what I see and guarding how I think. This look then leads to a conversation. So along with guarding our eyes and guarding our thoughts, we must also guard our tongues. When David saw Bathsheeba and was tempted he made the mistake of entering into a conversation about her. He inquired of his servant as to who she was. That is often how we run toward temptation. When the thought enters our mind, we talk about it foolishly. Temptation begins with a thought that leads to a conversation. David’s servant even tries warning his King by telling him that Bathseeba was a married woman. Unfortunately, David runs right through that stop sign. By the way, God always gives a warning and every time we choose to sin we have to ignore the warning. 1 Corinthian 10 says, “There is no temptation taken you but such is as common to man but God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able but who will with the temptation provide a way of escape so you may be able to endure it. With every temptation God provides a way of escape. There's always a warning
In 2 Samuel 11, King David sees a beautiful woman bathing and before you know it, he has fallen into sin. Temptation usually begins with a look or a thought. That tells me the key to resisting temptation is in guarding what I see and guarding how I think. If we don't guard what we look at, if we don't guard our thoughts, we become more susceptible to falling into temptation. I cannot stress strongly enough the need to guard our eyes. Look what Job said back in a day when there wasn't the TV, the billboards, the magazines, and everything else. There was even a different style of dress, yet he still knew how important this was which is why he said that he made a covenant with his eyes not to gaze on a young The Apostle Paul said that we are to take every thought into captivity. If we're not going to guard what goes into our eyes and we're not going to guard what we think about then more than likely when that temptation comes we're going to fall. You have a spiritual bull's eye on your back and I guarantee you that Satan has traps set for you. That is why we need to guard your eyes! That is why you need to guard your thoughts!
The key to resisting temptation is not necessarily what you do at the moment you are tempted, but rather, what you do before that temptation ever appears. There are some things as followers of Jesus that we are supposed to be doing in order to prepare ourselves to resist temptation. One of those things is reading and memorizing Scripture. The other is prayer. In Matthew 26, when Jesus is in the garden, He wants his disciples to pray with Him, He says this to them, “Keep on watching and keep on praying. Why? So that you will not enter into temptation because the Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” Jesus exhorts us to be praying now so that we won't enter into temptation when it comes. Not only do we know that we are going to be tempted this week, Most of us have a pretty good idea in what area Satan is going to tempt us this week. So here's my question. Have you been praying about that already? If you know it's coming, doesn't it make sense that you would spend time now saying, “God, I know that time's coming in which I will be tempted to sin, so when that temptation comes would You please help give me the strength to say no to that temptation?”
The key to resisting temptation is not necessarily what you do at the moment you are tempted, but rather, what you do before that temptation ever appears. There are some things as followers of Jesus that we are supposed to be doing in order to equip ourselves and prepare ourselves to resist the temptation that we know is going to come our way. One of those things is reading and memorizing Scripture. Psalm 119 verse 11 says, “Your Word I have treasured in my heart. Why? That I may not sin against You. What's the psalmist saying? He's saying, I have hidden Your Word in my heart. I have learned it. I have memorized it. For this purpose. So that when temptation comes I will have a protection in my heart that will help me to resist the temptation. All three times Jesus is tempted by Satan He responds by quoting the Word of God. The truth of the matter is this, if you are not learning the Bible, if you are not even trying to memorize scripture because you think you're too old, you have lowered your guard and you have become susceptible. The key to resisting temptation is not what happens at the moment of temptation. It's what you do prior to that temptation ever taking place.
Temptation never stops with us. It always involves others. I think that's one of the lies that Satan tells. He says, “It won't hurt anybody else. Nobody else even knows about it.” The Bible teaches that you cannot sin without it ultimately affecting people around you. Notice what Eve's sin does in the Garden of Eden. It affects Adam negatively because the Bible says then Adam took the fruit and ate, as well. Let me stop and make a comment here because in our culture today we tend to give Eve the rap for this mistake. Do you realize that the Bible puts the blame squarely on Adam? Paul says to Timothy that Eve was deceived into sinning while Adam just chose to sin. And his sin affected every person who would ever live on the face of the earth. Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, so death spread to all men because all have sinned.” Because Adam took the bite so did Adam's children…and his grandchildren…and his great grandchildren. And because Adam took a bite so did you. So did I. We are all born sinners. And suddenly Jesus Christ becomes the central figure of the story because He's the Savior who came to save us from our sin.
Temptation is always rooted in a lie. In the Garden of Eden, Satan gets Eve doubting God’s character and distrusting His Word. He then flat out lies telling eve that is she eats of the forbidden tree she will not die. God had said, “You will surely die!” Satan says, “You will not surely die.” It’s a flat out bold-faced lie. That's the same exact lie that Satan continues to tell you and me. “It's okay that sin in your life. It's not really not going to hurt you. No one else knows about it! It's really not doing any damage. You'll be okay. Don't worry about it.” Ladies and gentlemen, please understand. That's a lie. The Bible says, “Stop deceiving yourself. God is not be mocked. Whatever a man sows that will a man reap.” Folks, you cannot sin and get away with it. You cannot sin and have there be no consequences. If you are caught into a lifestyle of sin because you believe that it's not hurting anyone, it's not even hurting you, then you have bought into the lie. There's really only one thing the Bible says consistency about Satan and it's this. He is a liar. John 8:44 calls him The Father of Lies.” Beware, my friend, temptation is always rooted in a lie
Temptation becomes more powerful when we do not know well the commands of God. We see that in Eve's response to Satan in the garden. The first words out of Satan’s mouth was in the form of a question. Satan's goal is to get you to doubt the character of God because if you'll doubt God's character then it will be very easy to get you, number two, do distrust God's words. And if you doubt His character and distrust His words, the result will be you will disobey His commandments. Eve’s response does just that. She belittles the privileges of God. She adds to the prohibition of God. And she weakens the penalty of God. God had said, “If you eat from it you will surely die.” Eve, in her conversation with the serpent, leaves out the word “surely.” She begins to question if the punishment would be reality. The greatest protection you have this week to resist temptation is to get to know the Word of God better because the less you know the Word of God the more likely you will be to fall into temptation. We need to take learning the Word of God far more seriously than we do because one of the greatest way temptation succeeds is when we do not know well the commands of God.