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▪ Mechanic under car and brake fluid drops in his mouth. He actually liked the taste and started to drink it by the bottle full. A co-worker saw him drinking the brake fluid and told him it was harmful to his health. The mechanic said, “Do not worry; I can stop anytime I want.” It’s brake fluid!
This message will review the reality of temptation. In our personal fight with temptation we must remember that Jesus understands our fight. He too faced temptation (Hebrews 4:15) and we can learn from his experiences.
EXAMINE Luke 4:1-15 Fighting Temptation
Last message was on the genealogical generations of God’s faithfulness. Luke gave us the genealogy of Jesus to show us both Jesus’ humanity and divinity – “son of Adam, son of God”. This next passage is Jesus entering temptation. Do you remember what happened to the first Adam in temptation? He lost and died. The same is true for all those “in Adam” – we sin and die. But Jesus’ fight with temptation is victorious. He wins and lives, offering everyone to be “in Christ” (- the second Adam) that they too may find hope. We have hope because Jesus is our Savior who conquered sin, Satan and death that we may have forgiveness and eternal life.
We fight temptation by preparing for battle (4:1-2)
Jesus returns from his baptism preparing to inaugurate God’s kingdom but before he does is led to fast in the wilderness for 40 days. There is no shortage of significance here.
Jesus is the greater Israel.Israel wanders in the wilderness for forty years of disobedience and many never get to enter the Promised Land. Yet, Jesus’ obedience in the wilderness will ultimately bring about blessing and eternal life for numerous generations. Jesus succeeds whereIsrael fails.
Jesus is full of the Spirit. At no time in history has there been a person whom God’s Spirit rested. There is great mystery for how the persons of the Trinity existed during Jesus’ time on earth, but the human nature of Jesus is filled with the same Holy Spirit that empowers believers today.
The Psalmist prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit” (Psalm 51:10-12)
Jesus is preparing for battle. Before Jesus begins his public ministry he fasts and prays. He understands that the next few years of his life will be more challenging and excruciating than any in his life. To face this battle he does so with the foundation of his relationship with God. He gains strength through fasting and prayer. He left family, friends, entertainment for the reality and urgency of what would be at stake.
If Jesus – the divine Son of God – needed this foundation, how much more than us?
Every day of our lives is a battle. Living the Christian life is counter-cultural. Thinking godly, having Christ-like conversations, and living under Jesus’ Lordship is not easy; in fact it is a fight. The world seeks to live for the world of here and now; making much of the latest trends, new technology, winning athletic teams, etc. But living for God is different. Christians make much of Jesus and things that will last for eternity. It is what John Piper calls having a “wartime lifestyle”. A Christian wartime lifestyle is one that is costly: commitment and focus are required, sacrifices are necessary to advance the mission of God. And often, the battle is not so much fighting over which is wrong/right but over that which is good/great. It is about avoiding things that are not essential to the war effort.
Preparing for battle means removing distractions
ð What are the things in your life distracting you from God’s mission?
Preparing for battle means readying defense
ð How will you arm yourself for battle? (Bible intake, Prayer, Fellowship)
Also notice that Jesus is tempted during and coming away from of a spiritual high. This is the same for believers as they are living the Christian life or return from a spiritually impacting event or retreat encounter.
“all those who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2Tim 3:12).
We fight temptation by recognizing our enemy (4:3-13)
Jesus converses with Satan over three different temptations to deter his mission of fulfilling God’s will as the sent Son of God. Their communication helps us to understand how to fight temptation.
Jesus knows Satan’s identity. There are no introductions. They know who each other is and for what they stand. Their conversation skips pleasantries and leads to opposition. Jesus is not casual or conciliatory but quite candid.
When faced with temptation we must understand with whom and what we are dealing. It is no time to entertain or be casual about sin. The Bible is very clear about Satan’s identity and we would be wise to recognize its seriousness.
John 8:44 “the devil was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because 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 10:10a “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy.”
1Peter 5:8-9 “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith”
Our enemy knows and uses Scripture. Satan tempts Jesus with perverted and twisted biblical propositions.
Temptation to turn stones into bread.
Coming away from a 40-day fast, Jesus would have been hungry. Satan tempted Jesus’ identity as the Son of God. If Jesus really is God, he can do any miracle – prove it! The miracle of turning stones into bread would have been self-serving. It would have met Jesus’ need of hunger but would have showed Jesus’ lack of dependence and trust in provision from his Heavenly Father. Just as God provided the children ofIsraelmanna from heaven, so the Father would provide for his Son.
Jesus responded, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 8:3)
When faced with temptation to doubt God’s provision, we must look to the past. Has God been faithful throughout history? The answer is a resounding YES, because that is God’s character – and sometimes even in spite of our unfaithfulness and doubt.
– Tell someone a story of God’s past faithfulness in your life. Write it down so you can remember to trust God in the future.
Psalm 69:13-16 “But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness. Deliver me from sinking in the mire; let me be delivered from my enemies and from the deep waters. Let not the flood sweep over me, or the deep swallow me up, or the pit close its mouth over me. Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.”
Temptation to avoid suffering but receive splendor.
Satan showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. Satan offered power and prestige if Jesus would bow away from God’s mission and toward worldly aims. The opportunity would oavoid suffering from the cross to receive splendors of earth. But Jesus does not cave. He responded, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve” (Deuteronomy 6:13).
Note two things:
– Satan says “it has been delivered to me and I give it to whom I will” (4:6). The point is God has given Satan certain permissions of power in this world. His time is temporal but it is extensive. Do not be surprised when you encounter evil, false accusations or other attacks. Be prepared for battle by responding with God’s truth, light and love.
– Satan’s aim is to distract you from Jesus. It will look appealing – avoid suffering, receive splendor – but do not buy it. Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:23-25)
- False gospels of health and wealth
If you are a child of the King, why don’t you live like a prince/princess? God’s children aren’t poor and don’t have to struggle or suffer – they’re successful. Have your best life now! Be healthy, wealthy and blessed!
- NO – your best life is in eternity because this world is marred with sin and sinners. Jesus calls us to deny self in order that our lives point others to trust and treasure God not things.
- Where would Satan lead you if he wanted to tempt you?
Temptation to test God
Lastly, Satan leads Jesus up to the temple mount and, again challenges his sonship. Interestingly, Satan uses Scripture in his challenge – throw yourself off the temple ledge and God will guard you with angels (Ps 91:11-12). In other words, take a selfish and foolish risk without account for God’s purposes and God will have your back.
Jesus responded, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test” (Deut 6:16).
This is a relevant temptation of today’s new generation. It can be summarized in the philosophy of “act first and think later”. Intentions, desires and dreams do not equate to reality. This temptation is not just impulsive but arrogant against God. God wants His people to live in holy fear and worship according to His standards. Does that mean boldness or even risks are not valued? No, it just means you first commit to a biblical framework – a worldview – that denies self and prioritizes God (Luke 9:23; Mat 6:33).
We fight temptation by breathing biblical truth.
As you consider Jesus’ victorious response to each temptation you will notice a repeating phrase: “It is written”. Jesus fought Satan with the sword of the Spirit – the Word of God (Eph 6:17; Heb 4:12). The psalmist agreed when he said, “Thy word have I treasured in my heart that I may not sin against Thee” (119:11).
▪ Imagine yourself in a field. The sky is clear and the air is crisp. It seems you can see a great distance on either side. On one side there is thick green grass with hovering butterflies and beautiful trees bearing luscious fruit. There are birds soaring back and forth, chirping out songs to fill the ears. Still further, there is water just beyond the field with darting fish and shimmering streams. The location is a magnet to captivate your heart and mind.
The other side appears unapproachable. Roaming fog covers the field that visibility is low. It is a place of unusual mystery, like none other seen before. Long, winding valleys and dangerous ravines can be seen in the distance. And a curiously booming giant, thick tree stands in the distance that seems to define the entire landscape. You know there has to be more to be seen and experienced because of the giant tree but you cannot be entirely sure. It is a wonder if it is even real.
So, you begin to take a single step toward the first field and in the twinkling of an eye you come face to face a roaring lion with piercing eyes and his feet ready to leap and pounce on you, his prey.
This illustration and message reminds us that our life is filled with options that can allure our attention and mesmerize our mind. However, we must be careful that we are making life decisions based not on just things seen and worldly desire, but on what will lead to a deeper delight and greater glory. The pathway to God and the tree of life is not paved with comfort and convenience but is one of great contentment. In closing, in our fight against temptation we must remember these biblical truths:
µ God is good.
Many times when we think of God and living for Him, we view it as a concession to happiness. This cannot be farther from the truth. God is a God of life – he created it and wants us to have it abundantly (John 10:10). Further, when we reject God we are actually pursuing the path of displeasure; conversely, when we follow God we pursue joy.
Psalm 16:4a,11 “The sorrows of those will increase who run after other gods. You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”
Psalm 34:8 “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.”
Psalm 90:14 “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”
µ God is gracious.
When we think of temptation we often think of our failures. Our sin has the potential to haunt and define our lives. But, God does not want that. He wants us to experience the transforming power of the gospel to cleanse us from sin and call us to newness of life.
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
1 Peter 2:24 “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed”
Galatians 5:1 “For freedom Christ has set you free; stand firm therefore and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
µ God is great.
In our fight against sin we are not alone. God is powerful, even more than any desires, lust or addiction we may have. We do not have to live with defeated wills and depleted hopes. God’s wants us to grow in grace and understand that God’s forgiveness propels us toward righteous living.
1 Corinthians 10:13 “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 provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
2 Peter 1:3-4 “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
Titus 2:11-12 “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the present age”
 Illustration idea from http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/christ-in-combat-defense-by-the-spirit but largely adapted.