Monday, April 12, 2010

April 12, 2010

"When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death." James 1:13-15
Yesterday I began a four-part series on temptation based on the temptation of Adam and Eve. The devil used a four-part strategy to break them down and those four steps are the basis of my series.
First, he got them to doubt the word of God, the ways of God and the wrath of God. Once he sowed those seeds of doubt and distrust they became easy prey. Then he got them to delay in front of the tree and give the temptation a second thought. Then he was able to decieve them because they allowed a sinful thought to enter their mind. And once they doubted God, were deceived in their thinking, a desire to sin sprung up within their spirit and they want to please their desires more than they wanted to please God.
Before I get much further in this series I want to define what I mean by temptation. When the Bible refers to temptation it uses two different concepts. One idea of temptation is the enticement to choose your will against God's will. The other idea is to test or try your commitment and your character for the purpose of developing you.
Temptation becomes an issue only after you are a believer. Here is why. Once you become a believer you are in possession of two wills - the human will and the Holy Spirit (God's will).
Temptation happens when you and placed in a situation where you have to choose between your will and and the will of God. Temptation is facing a choice of the wills, a decision of who you will please - your desires or what pleases God. The crux of temptation is this, "Who do I love the most? Do I love God because I have to or because I want to?"
Yesterday I raised the question, "Do we sin because we are tempted or are we tempted because we are sinners?"
According to our text we are vulnerable to temptation because of the sinful desires within us. But, Adam was tempted BEFORE he had a sin nature and Jesus was tempted and he didn't have a sin nature. How does that happen?
Adam was created without a sin nature but he did have a human nature with a will. Jesus, the Second Adam, was also born without a sinful nature - but with a human nature and a will.
Both were tempted not because they had sin but because they had a will. In order for the will to have significance or meaning, they had to be given a choice and the choice was this, will I love God and serve Him or will I serve my own desires? Adam chose to "be a god", Jesus chose to love God and serve Him above all else.
So, temptation is in essence a test of love! Temptation is a decision about who you will love!
For love to be meaningful it must be a choice. God wants to know if you love Him more than you love yourself or anything else. He wants you to know that, too!
God is so committed to being loved by people who love Him that He allowed Adam to be tempted and Jesus to be tempted - and YOU to be tempted!
You will be tempted today! You will have opportunities to prove who you love. How will you choose? Whom will you choose? Will you be drawn away from God by your desires, or will you aim your desires at God and prove your love?

April 11, 2010


Week One – “Doubt” Genesis 3:1-6

“Do we sin because we are tempted or are we tempted because we sin?”

DOUBT THAT HELPS – John 20:24-28

A little boy that said to his dad, “dad, why is the sky blue?” I don’t know son. "dad, why is the grass green?" I don’t know son. Dad...etc. Finally the boy said, "Dad, do you mind me asking these questions?" "Why no son, if you don’t ask questions you don’t learn anything.”

Thomas was looking for truth but needed to be convinced. He didn’t doubt Jesus but He doubted the good news about Him. His hope had been shaken by the recent events and he was suffering a crisis of faith. He needed some facts to strengthen his faith. Faith is not the absence of facts. Faith is believing in God based on the facts of His Word. Faith is knowing the heart of God even when you can’t see the hand of God. That was where Thomas was at this point. And when he literally saw the hands of Jesus his doubt was erased and his faith took a quantum leap. It is not really fair that he is labeled as “Doubting Thomas” because he became “completely convinced Thomas”.

Historical accounts indicate that Thomas became an evangelist and missionary in India and was killed as a martyr. Does that sound like something a doubter would do.

For Thomas, his doubt didn’t hurt him – it helped him.

Think about how you came to faith in Christ. You probably didn’t just accept everything at face value. You had to have evidence – through the life of other believers, through knowing the Word and seeing it work changes in your life and others – through seeing Him work in the life of a local church – and through the growing awareness of Him in your personal relationship.

Being a strong Christian is not about believing easily or automatically, but it is about aiming your doubts in the direction of God and His Word and allowing Him to prove Himself to you. Being a strong believer is about anchoring your heart in His heart while you search for His hand. Honest doubt – doubt that helps never doubts the heart of God. God invites honest doubt because He knows it leads to strong faith. When you do have doubts - aim them in the direction of God. He will reveal His hand when He knows you trust His heart!

“Whether your faith is that there is a God or that there is not a God, if you don’t have any doubts you are either kidding yourself or asleep. Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving”. Frederick Buechner

As the Union Pacific Railroad was being constructed, an elaborate trestle bridge was built across a large canyon in the West. Wanting to test the bridge, the builder loaded a train with enough extra cars and equipment to double its normal payload. The train was then driven to the middle of the bridge, where it stayed an entire day. One worker asked, "Are you trying to break this bridge?" "No," the builder replied, "I’m trying to prove that the bridge won’t break."


He had right motives and attitude – he wanted to believe.
He expressed his doubt to the right people and the right place.
He gave God the last word.

DOUBT THAT HURTS – Genesis 3:1-6

“If God puts you on hold, don’t hang up.” – Jerry Falwell

“Never doubt in the dark what God told you in the light.” - Karl Barth

They doubted God’s Word - His Character – “Did God really say……?”

James said, “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.”

The Devil is the author of confusion and if he can keep us from the Word or cause us to doubt the Word He will have an easier time getting us to distrust God. Someone has said, “The Bible will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from the Bible.”

THE DEVIL WILL TRY TO GET YOU INVOLVED IN DEBATING WHAT GOD HAS ALREADY DECLARED! God deserves the benefit of the doubt until you are sure!

Learn from Adam and Eve and give God the benefit of the doubt. Believe Him and trust Him until He proves untrustworthy.

They doubted God’s Way - His Caring – “God knows that when you eat it…”

Just as it is foolish to doubt God’s Word, it is foolish to doubt His love. Let me ask you, who has ever loved you like God? God had given Adam and Eve no reason to doubt that He cared for them – look at what He had done! He created them! He placed them in paradise! He made them each other! He met their every need and treated them as the guests of honor in Eden!

A second attack the Devil will use is to DISTRACT you and then stir up DISCONTENT.

The Devil is not only the author of confusion, he is also the source of discontentment. He wants to keep you distracted from the Word and focused on your lack instead of God’s love. When that happens – you are prone to yield to temptation. He may use suffering – he may use materialism – he may use conflict – he may even use success

They doubted God’s Wrath - His Consequences – “You will not surely die…”

The Devil uses DEBATE – he uses DISTRACTION – and he will use DENIAL…..

ADAM AND EVE’S Doubt Hurt Them – And Us Because:

They were in the wrong place.
They listened to the wrong person
They allowed the wrong attitude and desire.

DON’T DOUBT THIS – James 1:13-15

We don’t sin because we are tempted we are tempted because we are sinners. We are sinners because we inherited their sinful nature.

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 lying 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 baloney. But alas he was too full to fly and he went splat!! killing him instantly.
The moral: Don’t fly off the handle when you are full of baloney.

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 baloney, they can’t see it and they fly off the handle, thinking they can handle it all, and be satisfied only to end up splat.

Here's some of the baloney we struggle with.

In a recent survey in Discipleship Journal Magazine, readers reported that their greatest spiritual challenges came from:

1. Materialism 6. Pride
2. Gluttony 7. Self-Centeredness
3. Lying /Sexual Lust (Tie) 8. Laziness
4. Envy 9. Anger/Bitterness(Tie)

Survey respondents noted that temptations seemed more potent when they neglected their time with God and when tired physically. We are also vulnerable during these time. We can become self-confident, instead of God confident. We should be aware that we are also vulnerable to overconfidence when we experience a spiritual victory.

Temptation is being confronted with the choice between obeying God’s will or seeking my will.

Back to James 1:13-15


Tempted – The thought of evil NOT A SIN YET!!! – The Serpent met them at the tree. They really shouldn’t have been there.
Drawn away – strong imagination – “Did God really say?”
Lust – self-gratification and desire – “You will be like God…”
Entice – weakening of the will - “When the woman saw that the fruit was good for food and pleasing to the eye….”
Lust conceived – yielding to that desire / carrying out the thought. – “She took some and ate it”
Sin – committing the act missing the mark God has for us to make. – “She also gave some to her husband and he ate it”
Death – the result of the sin (Spiritually separated from God). – (Vv. 7-8)

I think that pretty well answers the question – “Do we sin because we are tempted or are we tempted because we sin?”

So, if you know that you actually have a sin problem rather than a temptation problem will that affect how you approach the problem?



Search the Word
Take to the right place (like Thomas)
Share them with the right people (like Thomas)
Trust God’s heart until you discern His hand