Each One Is Tempted
I want to talk to you today about temptation. And when I talk about temptation, I’m specifically talking about the temptation to commit sin. I’m not talking about the temptation to have another piece of chocolate cake, or the temptation to splurge on something that you know you really don’t need. I’m talking about the temptation to sin. The temptation to do something that you KNOW, is contrary to God’s will, and to God’s word.
Jesus said; “If you love Me, you’ll keep My commandments.” (John 14:15) But sometimes we’re tempted to not keep His commandments.
In the book of James it says; “To him therefore that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17) So then we can be tempted to do what we know we shouldn’t do, and we can also be tempted to not do, what we know we should do. At some point, we’re all tempted. There always seems to be something, that tempts us to behave, in a way that’s contrary to what God has told us.
The Bible Tells us What is Good.
The bible is full of good things that we should be doing, and we know what those “good things” are.
Things like attending worship services, EVERY first day of the week. (Hebrews 10:25, and Acts 20, verse 7, 1 Corinthians 14:26) And things like putting God, and His kingdom, FIRST, ahead of absolutely everything else that there is. (Mathew 6:33) And good things like bearing one another’s burdens, and thus fulfilling the law of Christ. (Galatians 6, verse 2) And things like doing good to ALL people, and especially doing good to other Christians, whenever we have opportunity (Galatians 6, verse 10)
And how about truly having a mind of humility in you, just like the mind that was in Christ? (Philippians 2, verse 5) How about being an ambassador of Jesus Christ? (2 Corinthians 5, verse 20) And what about exhorting one another, and building one another up? (1 Thessalonians 5, verse 11) And how about praying without ceasing? (Verse 17) How about abstaining from every form of evil? (Verse 22) How about simply remaining faithful unto death? (Revelation 2, verse 10)
We could go on like this literally for hours, listing all the good things that God instructs us to do. How about letting your light so shine before men, so that others can see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Mathew 5:16)
These are just a few examples of all the “good things” that God has for us to be doing. We’re told in Ephesians 2, verse 10; “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, for good works, which God has prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” But when you think about all these good things that God has prepared for us, think about how many ways, we can be tempted NOT to do those things.
No matter how many good things there are for us to be doing, I’d venture to say, that there are twice as many excuses that you can think of for not doing them.
How about praying without ceasing? Not literally “without ceasing”, you’ve got to eat and sleep, right? But you can pray before you eat, and before you sleep, can’t you? Oh, but you can probably think of an excuse not to. You might even be tempted not to pray. I’m too tired right before I go to sleep. I can’t think of a prayer then. And I eat on-the-run most of the time. I don’t have time to pray then.
Have you ever been tempted to set aside a whole day, and do nothing but what God tells you to do? You’ve probably been tempted to take a whole day for yourself, and do nothing but what pleases you. But what about doing nothing but what you know would please God? Have you ever been tempted to do that?
You probably haven’t. But if you were tempted to do that, there sure wouldn’t be any sin in that, would there? It sure wouldn’t be a sin, to be tempted to do God’s will, and nothing else. Boy, I’m sure tempted to do everything you’ve told me Lord, but I’ve got so many thing is need to do for myself. We’ll have to see which temptation wins out.
But it’s not the temptation that’s sinful. Otherwise it would be sinful to be tempted to do God’s will. And we can be tempted to do things that simply have nothing to do with sin. Like maybe someone might do something for you that’s really kind and thoughtful. And you might say; I’m tempted to give you a great big hug. And you do! You give them a great big hug for being so thoughtful. There’s sure nothing sinful about that. We think of temptation as being sinful, but temptation alone, is not a sin.
Jesus Christ was the perfect lamb of God. Sinless in every way. Yet, He was tempted. Mark 1, verse 13 speaks of Jesus, and says; “And He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted of satan.” Jesus was tempted of satan, and that’s a fact!
Hebrews 4:15 tells us; “For we do not have a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; But one that hath been in all points, tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” Jesus was tempted, in all points, like as we are.” That’s a fact. He was tempted, yet without sin. So then obviously, it’s not a sin, to be tempted. But rather, it’s a sin, not to endure the temptation, but to give in to it, instead.
The bible says, in James 1, verse 12; “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation, for when he hath been approved, he shall receive the crown of life, that the Lord promised to them that love Him.” If you can be approved by God, because you have endured temptation, then obviously, temptation alone cannot be sinful. Otherwise God would be approving your sinfulness!
Do you remember what we’ve been promised, in 1 Corinthians 10, verse 13; “There is no temptation that has taken hold of you, but such as is common to man. (so common, that even Jesus was tempted in all points, like as we are) But God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted, beyond that which you are able, (able to endure) but with the temptation, will provide also the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
Temptations to do wrong, are to be endured. Trial and temptation, can increase our faith and steadfastness, IF we are willing to endure those trials and temptations. Our only other choice, aside form enduring the temptation, is to give in to them, and that is when you become guilty of sin. It’s not a sin to be tempted, but it’s a sin to not endure it. It’s a sin to simply give in to the temptation.
If you wanted to build, physical strength, what would you have to do? You’d have to do some “strenuous” physical exercise, wouldn’t you? I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “No pain, no gain”. You’ve got to “endure” a certain degree of “pain” if you want your muscles to get stronger.
It’s no different if you want to build spiritual strength. You’ve got to endure a certain degree of “pain”, in the form of trials and temptations, if you expect to ever get stronger, spiritually. Are you going to get stronger, if every time you’re tested, you simply give in to the temptation, and go ahead and sin? Of course not, you’ll only get weaker!Enduring trials, and temptations, without sinning, that’s what it takes, to grow stronger, spiritually.
The Thought of Sinning, and Sinning in Thought
Have you ever thought of skipping worship services, so you could go out and “play”, or maybe so you could stay home and “sleep in”. That’s what a temptation is. It’s the thought of doing something, that you know perfectly well, is contrary to God’s word. God’s word says; “Therefore, when you assemble together in one place..” (1 Corinthians 11:20). “What is the outcome, brethren? When you assemble together..” (1 Corinthians 14;26). “Not forsaking our own assembling together..” (Hebrews 10:25)
It’s not a sin for the thought of not assembling together, to come into your mind. But it sure is a sin to follow through with what that thought is telling you to do! As a matter of fact, it’s sinful to even continue to think about things that are contrary to God’s word.
You can sin in thought, without ever acting upon that thought. Simply by “entertaining” that thought, and by “flirting” with that thought, you are guilty of sin, if that thought is contrary to God’s word. You want proof of that don’t you?
Jesus taught us, in Mathew 5:27 & 28; “You have heard it said; Thou shall not commit adultery. But I say to you, that every one that looketh on a woman in order to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already, in his heart.” “Looking, with the intent to lust, or to covet”. Not just a quick glance, but “looking with intent”. Intent denotes thought. By “entertaining” a corrupt thought, a person becomes guilty, of sin.
Picture if you would, Eve, sitting in the garden one day. And the spirit of evil suggests to her that she would not in fact die, as God said that she would, if she were to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But rather, the thought that something good would happen to her, if she ate from that tree. Namely, that she would become wise like God.
That thought was a temptation, but she hadn’t sinned, just because a thought, contrary to God’s word, was placed in her mind. What Eve did next, was what was sinful. Eve could have said to herself, “I’m not going to even entertain such a thought, because God has told me something different, and that’s all I need; Just God’s word, I don’t need anything else.
But that’s not what Eve did. Here’s what she did do.. She gave that tree another look, and it wasn’t just a glance, but it was a “look, with the intent, to covet.” Here’s what the bible tells us in Genesis 3, verse 6; “And when the woman saw, that the tree was good for food (Eve was lusting to satisfy her flesh) and that it was a delight to the eyes (the lust of the eyes) and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise (the boastful pride of life) she took of the fruit thereof, an did eat; And she gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat.”
Now I’ve got a question for you; When did Eve first become guilty of sin? Was it the moment that she ate of the fruit from the tree? Judging from what the bible tells us, I believe that Eve had already sinned, even before she ate of the fruit. A tempting thought had been planted in Eve’s mind, and that’s not a sin for that to occur. But the moment that Eve looked upon that tree, with the intent to lust after it, she became guilty of sin. She was guilty even before she ate from the tree, because she had already lusted after it in her heart.
Just like the man who lusts for a woman, so also is anyone who lusts for anything, that the Lord has forbidden us to have.
Accepting and Enduring our Limitations
God has put limitations on us all, and all too often, we want more than God has allowed. And that’s when temptations enter our minds. But we need to endure the temptation, without lusting and coveting, the things in life that the Lord has forbidden. Enduring temptation is a lifelong process.
Remember what we read from James 1, verse 12; “Blessed is the one that endures temptation, for when he has been approved, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord promised to them that love Him.”
Our reward for enduring temptation is the “crown of life”. And when will that “crown of life” be awarded to us? Obviously, it will be at the end of time. That’s why I said that enduring temptation, is a lifelong process. We won’t be finished enduring, until our life is over.
Jesus said in Mathew 24:13; “But he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.” And of course it was Jesus who said; “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life.” (Revelation 2, verse 10) Being faithful, is enduring temptation. And we must faithfully endure, all the days of our life. But after we’ve done that, and after we’ve “been approved” we WILL receive the crown, of eternal life in heaven.