Endurance, Series 3, Episode 2, Resisting Temptation
Endurance is your weekly spiritual workout, whether you think of yourself as a beginner, an intermediate, or advanced!
Explore with us as we look at ‘Resisting Temptation’, and how and why we do so.
Go Deeper with Andy B, as he talks about resisting temptation.
He reads both of our Scriptures for this week: James 4:7 and Matthew 4:1-11.
Jesus faced the same temptations we do when He came to earth as a man, so He understands our struggles against temptation. Andy B relates the story of a wealthy lady who was hiring a new chauffer, and how she asked each of the applicants a very specific question to test them.
Read and Remember:
Steven explains how when we’re facing temptation, we need to turn to Jesus, because He knows how to handle it.
Go to Jesus in prayer because He has faced all the temptations we face in our daily lives.
Reflect and Respond:
Nathan challenges us to think about what temptations we are struggling with and to follow Jesus’ example for resisting the devil – with the sword of God’s Word.
Welcome to endurance, your weekly spiritual workout.
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Today we’re looking at Resisting Temptation. How we resist temptation. Why we resist.
Er, which Andy B will unpack for us after the break.
It’s easy to use the right Christian buzzwords, but God can see our hearts. You cannot deceive God.
So, Resisting Temptation.
What does that look like?
What does that mean to us in 2021?
Well, we’re gonna go, erm, to Matthew and it’s the 1st 11 verses of Chapter 4. And it’s called the temptation of Jesus, because one of the things that’s really encouraging to me is that Jesus was God. But also Jesus was man. And he would have struggled, as a man, with the same sort of struggles that I struggle with each and every day.
Jesus, of course, was a perfect man, but he was still a man!
Verse 1: Then Jesus was led up by the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting 40 days, and 40 nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, if you are the son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread. But he answered, it is written man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, if you are the son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written he will command his angels concerning you and, on their hands, they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. Jesus said to him, again, it is written you shall not put the Lord your God to the test. Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, all these, I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me. Then Jesus said to him, be gone, Satan, for it is written. You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve. Then the devil left him, and, behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
And the thing about Jesus, that really really encourages me, I’m going to say this for a second time, is that yes, He was God, but He was also man. Completely man.
And if he hadn’t been fully man, the sacrifice He made on the cross wouldn’t have meant the same. He had to be completely a man.
I’m sure most people might think this next statement is heresy, but I’m fairly confident that when Jesus was learning to be a carpenter, He probably would have had splinters, because that’s, kind of, what happens when you’re into carpentry.
Although I’m sure if He ever hit his thumb He probably would have been very good about it.
Jesus was man and He faced temptations.
We read elsewhere in Scripture that there is nothing new under the Sun. What does that mean? Well, Jesus had the Romans they were persecuting their people. In Afghanistan, the Talibam, the Taliban, the Muslim extremists who are persecuting the people.
And wherever you are in the world, in time, on Earth, there is a group of people that is trying to persecute another group of people and we all have to face difficulties.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, an amazing guy, who lived through Nazi Germany. He was faced with real serious on the ground, actionable dilemmas. ‘If I say in truthfulness to this person that there are Jews over there, they will die. Do I lie and commit them to death? Or do I tell the truth’, sorry, ‘do I tell the truth and commit them to death, or do I lie and sin, maybe save them, but then I’ve got to be answerable to God’.
And these were the real questions he had to ask. And answer. And people were asking of him.
If you read the book by Corrie Ten Boom, one of her sisters was completely honest, and truthful. ‘Have you got any Jews in here?’ ‘Yes, they’re over there.’
We’re gonna to face struggles and different times and whatever, and we’re going to have different times, that are different struggles, but there is nothing new under the sun, so the temptations that Jesus would have faced, thankfully, they’re going to be the same as for us.
The details may change. OK, they didn’t have social media, they had other things that were just as difficult.
Let’s just jump into James Chapter 4, verse 7 which says this.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
Be reading that chapter 4 the 1st 11 verses of Chapter 4, the temptation of Jesus, fasting for 40 days and nights. How does He deal with the devil? Well He resisted the devil. How did He resist the devil? Well He resisted the devil by quoting scripture?
Don’t ever think the devil doesn’t know the Bible, he’s quoting it at Jesus.
It’s not knowing the scripture that’s gonna save you, it’s knowing what to do with the scripture, and that’s a really key difference!
When I was studying Christian Theology at school, erm, there were many people who could quote the Bible far better than I could. The difference was they didn’t have a professed faith in Jesus Christ. The difference was I did.
So yes, they could quote the Bible better than me, but they didn’t really understand what it meant.
Unless we really understand the depth of the words in here, it’s just a good book.
And it’s much more than a good book!
And that’s why we need the Holy Spirit to interpret it for us.
Erm, a friend of mine, Olli, I was just chatting to him this morning and he was saying he’s had malaria, and he has it twice a year. And when malaria strikes. As soon as he feels those symptoms. He’s straight on it.
He’s so aggressively with, with there, with the medication to deal with it, and that’s how he deals with malaria.
And we should be the same with sin, and with temptation.
When temptation comes, we shouldn’t think, oh well, I’ll deal with it in the morning. Just like Olli is with his malaria medication, we should be the same way with sin and temptation. As it starts to grow, we should be dealing with it really, really, rapidly and aggressively.
I heard a story a long time ago. Maybe you’ve heard this one too.
There was, er, an old lady who had lots of money. And she lived, erm, high up in the mountains in this big old castle. And every day she would go down, from the mountain, in a car, down the road, quite a twisty road, and she’d go down to the village, and she’d have a drink in the coffee shop.
And she needed to replace her chauffeur.
So she put out adverts, and she had 1question that she would ask these, erm, guys. And she knew that they’d driven up the mountain.
And she’d say, how close can you get me to the edge of this road for me to still be safe?
And the first guy sized it up, and thought, well, if I get the right answer, I’m going to get the job. And it’s a very nice job. And she’s a very nice old lady, and actually it’d be a good job. So, so I’m gonna say, I’m gonna say, I’ll get you 30 centimetres from the edge of the road and I’ll still get you there ‘cos I’m a good driver.
OK, said the old lady.
The next guy came along who wanted the job, erm, and he really wanted this job. And, and she said the same question.
How close to the edge of that road can you get me for me to still be safe?
And he’s sizing it up and thinking, well, I’m a better driving that last guy. And so he said, well, I’ll get you 15 centimetres. 10 centimetres I’ll get you from the edge of that road and you’ll still be safe.
The 3rd guy comes along and the, the, lady asks him the same question. How close to the end of this road can you get me for me still to be safe, doing this road every day? How close?
And the guy sizes it up and he said, as far away as possible to keep you safe.
And that’s how we should be with temptation and sin.
We shouldn’t court it.
We shouldn’t entertain it.
We shouldn’t think well, it’s just a little bit of sin and.
We should be as far away from sin and temptation as we possibly can.
Why should we resist temptation?
Well if we don’t resist temptation, we’re going to have difficulties, because sin is really attractive. It’s really enjoyable. And it can feel quite good sometimes. But we need to go deeper than that as Christians.
That’s why our feelings, we always talk about our feelings and not something that should overwhelm us. Feelings are a really good way of knowing how you feel, but feelings also should be something we’re very, very careful of, because feelings change overtime, so we never let what we think, what we feel about ourselves, dictate what we do and are.
We need to balance that. And how do we balance it? We go to the good book!
Erm, I’ve forgotten the verse I was looking at. James 1, 27 says this.
"If anyone thinks" this is verse 26 "if anyone thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue, but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. Religion that is pure, and undefiled before God, the father is this. To visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."
And that unstained from the world part is a bit that we tend not to hear about. We hear about the visiting the orphans, and and the widows. And you’ll see this in the media all the time when some Christian has said something about something controversial. ‘Ah yeah, but, you know, you just need to go back and, you know, go and feed the orphans and feed the sick.’
During COVID one thing the government realised, the Christian Church community in the UK contributed, by far and above, excessively more into helping the weak, and the vulnerable, and the sick, and the needy during COVID.
The majority of food banks can trace their origins to churches. All the volunteers that help run them can be traced to churches. Not all of them, clearly, but a vast majority.
Christian Church in the UK, the community, that’s something we do as a matter of course. But then we tend to forget about this, keep oneself unstained from the world.
Well, what’s that about?
Well, that means we don’t entertain sin.
We don’t get close to the edge of that road, just because we can, ‘cos it feels good. We stay far away from sin.
We’re supposed to be in the world, not of the world.
We’re supposed to be amongst people, but we’re not supposed to be like them.
If you think about, erm, the idea of being unequally yoked. It’s not about never being with people who aren’t also disciples of Christ. It’s about where do you choose to spend the time you have freely available to you? Are you spending it with Christians and like minded people? Or are you spending it not with those people? Are you watching the TV? Seeing things you shouldn’t see?
Temptation we obviously, always, will jump to, oh, what do I see? That’s temptation, but that’s just one of the senses.
Other temptations. Getting a better job and a better house. That can be a real temptation if you’re not very happy where you are. But getting a bigger house, and a better job, and a bigger car, won’t bring you satisfaction. The only satisfaction we ever find is in a relationship with Jesus Christ, as we develop that.
“Keep oneself unstained from the world”.
Such a powerful little scripture that we so often forget. But what it’s really talking about is the fact that we need to be very careful about how we live our life. Because there’s a lot in life that we will do that will pull us away from God.
Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. He was at his weakest moment and then Satan comes and quotes Scripture.
It’s a bit like in Narnia, if you’ve ever read the Chronicles of Narnia, or watched one of the films, there’s this moment where Aslan says, well, the witch knew the deep magic, but she didn’t really know what was behind it. She was able to quote it. And she killed Aslan. What she didn’t realise is that in killing Aslan, she’s set up for something really good, and it’s very similar to the salvation of Jesus Christ. Jesus died as a real man, but actually, that was then, went on to save the world. In the same way that in the book CS Lewis is using Aslan in the same way. That the witch kills Aslan, because she knows of the magic, but she doesn’t really know the real magic. She doesn’t really know the power behind it.
So how do we really temptation?
Well, if you’ve got lots of time on your hands, and you’re not visiting the sick and the orphans, and you’re not putting food in the food bank. If you’re not doing all the things you should be able to do, we’re going to let our minds wander and we’re going to have all sorts of problems!
The amount of time we spend watching the TV, or distracting ourselves, whilst that can be beneficial sometimes, if it’s too much of the time it’s no good.
I’ve used this analogy before, but it can cross into things.
Er, a really good guy I knew, and, and still in contact with, Colin Carson, an amazing Preacher and Pastor. He was talking about, and this is when PowerPoint was new. We had OHP slides, not fancy moving graphics like these wonderful things here.
Erm, he was saying if you’re spending more time on how it looks, as a presentation, then you are on the actual word, and the scripture, and the teaching, you’ve already missed the point.
We need things that can help us tell the word, but God’s word is powerful all by itself!
How do we resist temptation?
First step? Admit we can’t do it! We need Jesus Christ in our life. We can’t do it on our own! We’ll get so far. We’ve got skills and abilities and giftings. But they’re only gonna get us so far. If we really want to overcome temptation, then we need Jesus Christ and we need the power of the Holy Spirit in our life. That’s how you resist temptation.
And you resist temptation by not allowing yourself to be distracted by all sorts of things. When we focus on scripture and use this as a filter in our life, that’s when we can resist temptation.
We need to surround ourselves by Christians and focus on good things.
So if you’re struggling with anxiety and depression and stress. If you’re struggling with ‘what is the point of my life, it’s pointless, I’m never going to get to where I want to get to’. And if this is clouding your mind then you need to start being more grateful about what you do have.
As a family we’ve struggled in the last 4, 5 years. We’ve seen a couple of times of unemployment. We’ve been at the Food Bank, because we couldn’t feed ourselves. Some really difficult times. But, mercifully, God has always surrounded us by Christians, who can draw us back to God, and our difficulties, and we give thanks to God.
We may not have much food, but you know we have some food.
We’ve got running water for free in the tap.
We’ve got a toilet that works.
We’ve got a house that keeps us warm and dry.
There’s always something to say thank you to God for!
I got breath in my lungs, I can breathe, and I can praise God.
We need, we need to understand we’re all going to face it.
We need to remember that Jesus faced it too.
We need to understand that Jesus overcame temptation.
Paul struggled with temptation, but he overcame it.
So none of us is going to avoid temptation. We’re all going to face it at different times in our life, different seasons. And it may look very differently at different ages in our life.
Temptation when you’re 6, or when you’re 16, it’s very different from when you’re 36, or when you’re 60. But underpinning that temptation is the enemy, who’s trying to make us slip up ‘cos then he can point the finger, ‘ah you see, you’ve failed’.
But if you’re set free in Christ, that temptation dissolves. Those accusations from the enemy don’t hold and can’t get through.
So, just like my friend Olli, in Nigeria, who’s had, who’s had malaria. As soon as he gets those symptoms, what does he do? He aggressively targets those symptoms, and that malaria, with medication that he needs to get better.
As soon as we’re feeling that temptation, we need to turn the other way. We need to repent. Repent in Roman means you do a 180. You literally go the opposite way. You don’t sort of slope near it, and passed it. You go the opposite way.
We run away from sin, and we run away from temptation. Not out of fear, but out of obedience and love for Jesus Christ.
So let’s honour God in our lives by dealing with our temptation and our sin, aggressively dealing with it, knowing it, understanding Scripture, surrounding ourselves with Christians, and good things. And let’s focus on the pure and be grateful to God!
The key to, er, resisting temptation is to go to Jesus, because every temptation that we’ve ever faced, He also faced.
He’s perfect. He managed to resist every temptation that came along. Erm, and so with Him we can do the same.
And I think the best way to deal with temptation is to follow Jesus’ example. And that is to come back with Scripture. Which, of course, is the word of God, our sword in the armour of God, which we fight back against the devil with.
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