Ever wonder why really good people sometimes make really bad choices?
I remember when I was in high school and a new Christian or Christfollower that I came to realize that not everybody who said they were a Christian actually were following Christ. I can remember some people that I had a lot of respect for making some really bad decisions or choices that blew their lives apart. Most of these sins centered on having an affair or getting involved with some other kind of destructive sin. Most of these people were in ministry either full-time or as a layperson. Most of them were high-profile and put on a pedestal because they were doing so much good so when they fell they left a huge ripple that was felt a long ways away.
(2 Samuel 11 David doesn’t go where he is supposed to go. This is the giant slayer. Writer of most of the Psalms. Adulterer, Murder Not a bad man but a good man in a weak moment.)
Trials and temptations are the same thing. The context makes them different. God may allow you to go through a trial to build your character but Satan will use it as a temptation to destroy you.
Under pressure, we are tempted to abandon God’s character-building program of endurance and opt for “short cuts” that promise immediate relief, but deliver devastating consequences.
• Deception = Behind every temptation is the father of lies. The lies we believe that destroy our lives Remember that in the book of James he is writing to people who are on the run. Their lives have been destroyed because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Many of them have been tortured and killed. They don’t have jobs, they are being persecuted and going thought incredible testing and trials. Remember what I said a few moments ago: Satan will use our trials to tempt us to do wrong.
Three Lies That Destroy Our Lives
And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. 14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.
16 So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens.[d] He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. 18 He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession. James 1: 13-18 NLT
I want to examine these three lies and come to understand how temptation works to destroy our Christian walk with Christ.
Deception One: We are deceived about the source of our sin.
When you are deceived you are the only person that doesn’t know it. Many times friends and family can see it but if you are deceived you often can’t. We make excuses or better yet declarations of how much we have it all under control.
We are deceived and will often blame the wrong person for what is happening to us. People who are deceived love to say, “It’s not my fault.” They play the victim role often citing their backgrounds. People with severe anger issues will often blame it on their past. I get mad because my Dad or mom always got mad and blew up. I am doing this or that because of what has happened to me in my life for the last few months.
And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. 14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. James 1:13-14 NLT
This is not about people saying it is God’s fault but they are blaming their issues indirectly on their circumstances.
The Lie: “I’m not responsible for my sin. It’s not my fault.”
The Truth: God tempts no one. The problem is not our external circumstances, but our internal desires. The problem is not our outside circumstances but internal. The idea is that we need to quit shifting the blame and own our own stuff. It is time to openly admit our issues. (Adam, Eve indirectly blaming God) When we are deceived about the source we will never own our own stuff. Bad things happen when we are tired and vulnerable.
14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.
Satan works to take things that are not evil and push us to a place where they become evil and destructive.
There is nothing wrong with eating but eating a purging so you can stay skinny is a problem.
There is nothing wrong with sex in the context of a marriage but sleeping around or hooking up with someone you are not in a committed godly relationship with will destroy your Christian walk. Under pressure we get tempted to take quick fixes instead of working and walking in God’s program of character building.
Don’t be deceived about the source. Don’t blame it on other people or circumstances. Get real and responsible. Call it sin!
I have a problem with an addiction
I have a problem with co-dependency.
I have an anger problem.
I have a problem with abusing alcohol or drugs or even food.
I have a problem with lust and pornography
I will quit blaming others and ask God to help you overcome by the power of His Spirit.
Deception Two: We are deceived about the consequences of our sin.
These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. James 1:15-16 NLT
The Lie: “I can handle this! It’s not hurting me or anyone else.”
For those of us that have been around a while, how many times have you heard someone say, “Were just friends.” We just meet for lunch every now and then. My wife or husband wouldn’t mind. “Are you kidding me? I just need to unwind but I don’t have a problem.” “Look this is no big deal I just do this when no one else is around. It helps me get through my day and after all it’s not hurting anyone.” I can handle this. I am a mature person. I can handle watching anything. It doesn’t affect me.
Look at the scripture in verses 15 and 16 again. Sin is a progression.
The Truth: Sin is not simply an act; it is the result of a process.
The progression of sin: Desire – Deception – Design – Disobedience – Death
We desperately need each other to be accountable. Be as drastic as you need to be to avoid temptation.
Psalm 66:18: “If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear.” NKJV
(Stick your toe in the water and think it feels pretty good. Look around and wade on in and pretty soon you are floating and wondering what all those legalistic Christians make such a big deal about this being wrong because this feels really good. All of the sudden you realize you are drifting away from the shore and just as you try to turn around you realize you are in a current an now you hitting a little white water and as you call out for help you may not know it but the worst is just ahead. You are about to go over a falls and without divine intervention it is going to destroy your life.)
There is a little bird in Kentucky that is called a Killdeer bird. It builds it nest beside the road in the gravel. The eggs look gray and white speckles like the gravel on the roads. Children love to try to get them. The fun part is when you get close to her nest she will move off and ack like her wing is broke so you will try to grab her. she will flutter the wing and look like it is broken. Each time you get close she will move a little further off until you are away from the nest. Then she will just fly off. This is what the devil does. He shows you things that you think sparkle and things you can achieve if you just go a little piece and receive it, but he keeps moving farther and farther away from God's plan for you. Then when you are away from the God nugget that God had for you to receive he will just fly off and leave you all alone. Don't follow the temptation of Satin and loose the prize egg that was at your feet, Go back to where he started tempting you and look around for the the nest egg that God has in store for you. It will be found close by where you stood before temptation took over. Look closely, seek and you shall find.
Jesus said if you hand offends you cut it off or if your eye offends you pluck it out. He didn’t mean that literally but He did mean take whatever measures you need to do to avoid the temptation. Instead of seeing how close you can live to sin see how much you can fall in love with Jesus Christ. Instead of flirting with disaster fall on your knees daily and invite the power of God into your life to enable you to overcome what has become a devastating habit in your life.
Quit buying the lies. We are deceived about the source and consequences of our sin and we are deceived about:
Deception Three: We are deceived concerning the nature and the character of God.
The Lie: “I’ve got to ‘party’ and have my ‘good times’ now; I’ll get serious with God later.”
If I follow all my fun is going to end. He is nothing more than a cosmic killjoy! I know I shouldn’t do it but I can handle it and God will just have to understand. I’ll get right with God later because if I do life His way I lose out on all the fun.
The Truth: God is good and His will always has my highest and best interest in mind.
Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. 18 He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession. James 1:17-18 NLT
God wants nothing more than for us to live His way and to run to Him for help in observing His principles of living.
Do you really believe that God loves you and has your best interest at heart or have you bought the lie that you can’t really be happy without “that person” or “that habit’ or “that house or car” or any number of other lies are set to destroy you?
God’s promise for us:
13No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NASB)
Some “Ways” of Escape Include:
1. Your conscience – heed it immediately.
2. Scripture – Psalm 119:9-11
3. Prayer – Matthew 6:13, 26:41
4. Flight – 2 Timothy 2:22
5. Pre-decisions and Planning – Romans 13:14
Philip Yancey, in his book "Reaching for the Invisible God" describes the way God get’s blamed for things in this way. "When Princess Diana died in an automobile accident, a minister was interviewed and was asked the question “How can God allow such a terrible tragedy?” And I loved his response. He said, “Could it have had something to do with a drunk driver going ninety miles an hour in a narrow tunnel? Just How, exactly, was God involved.” Years ago, boxer, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, killed a Korean opponent with a hard right hand to the head. At the press conference after the Korean’s death, Mancini said, “sometimes I wonder why God does the things he does.” In a letter to Dr. Dobson, a young woman asked this anguished question, “Four years ago, I was dating a man and became pregnant. I was devastated. I asked God, “Why have you allowed this to happen to me?” Susan Smith, the south Carolina mother a couple years ago who pushed her two sons into a lake to drown and then blamed a fictional car-jacker for the deed, wrote in her confession: “I dropped to the lowest point when I allowed my children to go down that ramp into the water without me. I took off running and screaming, ‘Oh God! Oh God, no! What have I done? Why did you let this happen?” Now the question remains, exactly what role did God play in a boxer beating his opponent to death, a teenage couple giving into temptation in the back seat of a car, or a mother drowning her children? Is God responsible for these acts? To the contrary, they are examples of incredible human free will being exercised on a fallen planet. And yet it’s in our nature as mortal, frail, fallen people to lash out at one who is not, that being God."
First Service: Today we are baptizing 15 people. I want you to watch the testimonies of those who are being baptized today and listen to their declarations of faith.
A fly was buzzing along one morning when he saw a lawn mower someone had left out in their front yard. He flew over and sat on the handle, watching the children going down the sidewalk on their way to school. One little boy tripped on a crack and fell, spilling his lunch on the sidewalk. He picked himself up, put his lunch back in the bag and went on. But he missed a piece of bologna. The fly had not eaten that morning and he sure was hungry. So he flew down and started eating the bologna. In fact he ate so much that he could not fly, so he waddled across the sidewalk, across the lawn, up the wheel of the lawn mower, up the handle, and sat there resting and watching the children. There was still some bologna laying there on the sidewalk. He was really stuffed, but that baloney sure did look good. Finally temptation got the best of him and he jumped off the handle of the lawn mower to fly over to the balogna. But alas he was too full to fly and he went splat!!, killing him instantly. The moral of the story: Don’t fly off the handle when you are full of balogna.
There’s a dark side to us, that’s as reckless as the fly. It does not matter what the costs are, you just got to have it. Humanity is like that, so full of balogna, they can’t see it and they fly off the handle, thinking they can handle it all, and be satisfied only to end up flat and splat.
Benediction: No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13
God bless you as you go today resolved to follow God and resist temptation.