Temptation: The Source 

Sermon Summary

This message discusses three different sources of temptation and the fact that God is never the source of temptation. It is important that we know where the temptation is coming from if we are to develop strategies in which to combat the power of temptation. A brief discussion at the end helps point us in the right direction when it comes to temptation. Further instructions will follow in subsequent messages .

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. Even when we've been deceived by Satan's lies in the past, temptation still has such a power to draw us into things that are not good! Why is this?

2. Sometimes people think God is the source of their temptation, but Scripture clearly indicates that He would never tempt us with sin. We sometimes ask God to take away the temptations, but He's not the source. Why does God never tempt us with wrong?

James 1:13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;

3. The main source of temptation comes from within rather than from without. Read the following passage and explain why this is true. 

James 1:14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.

4. Satan exploits our weaknesses when it comes to temptation and others will to tempt us to join with them in their sin. What are some ways we can combat this found in the following passage?

James 4:5-8a Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you...

Full Sermon Notes

Temptation: The Source

"You put Your love on the line to bear the weight of sin that was mine!" In this life I will never fully understand why God was willing to do that! And while it hurts me to think of what it cost Jesus to pay for my sins, I'm so thankful He was willing to do that for me! But here's something that baffles me: if we know what sin did to Jesus and have experienced it's evil effects on our lives, why are we still tempted? We're going to talk about that today. Let's pray and ask God to open our hearts, minds and eyes to His truth today…PRAY!

So where does temptation come from? What's the source? Before I tell you the source, I'm going to tell you what's not the source!

Temptation does not originate with God!

James 1:13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;

Let's look at the definition of temptation...

Temptation: A desire to do something, especially something wrong or unwise.

God is not tempted by sin and it would go against His nature to tempt someone to do something wrong or unwise. God does allow us to be tested by trials and difficulties, but He doesn't test us with temptation. Oh, to be sure you will face the test of temptation, but it doesn't originate with God. God knows what sin will do to you so He would never tempt you do wrong!

He encourages us to good because good is good for us! God knows the power of temptation because He's faced it! When He took on human flesh and lived here on the earth He experienced the pull and the draw of sin. How do I know this? Holy Scripture speaks of this in the book of Hebrews...

Hebrews 4:15-16 "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are —yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."

God understands temptation more than we could ever know! You see, when Jesus was in the flesh, He was fully God, but also fully man! He could have sinned, but chose not to because He had a holy desire that overcame the desire of His flesh! His desire to fulfill the call of The Heavenly Father to make a way for you and me to be forgiven for our sins and to have a relationship with the God motivated Him to say no to sin. His desire to fulfill His God-given purpose in this world trumped everything this world could offer. No pleasure outweighed the joy He would find in the salvation of a soul and no pain was too much to bear if it meant the salvation of a soul! Listen...

Hebrews 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

What was the joy set before Him? Your salvation and mine! We'll hear these two passages from Hebrews again in this series and will look at their context because they reveal other things, beside the motivation of Jesus, that allowed Him to overcome temptation. But for today I want you to know when you're tempted, it's not God tempting you to sin!

So if temptation does not originate with God, where does it come from? I want you to think about this for a minute... What is the source of temptation. Well, there are several, and if I asked you to say it out loud, most of you would mention the most obvious, one we will talk about, but most of you would probably miss the most common and the most powerful source of temptation. Here it is:

Temptation originates within!

James 1:14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.

"Wait, what, the source is me? You've got to be kidding? I thought it was the Devil or my peers, or the internet, or hollywood, or the advertisers trying to get my hard earned money and now you tell me it's me. That's just not nice."

There are multiple sources of temptation, but we are most swayed to yield to temptation when by our own desire we are dragged away and enticed. You see, one of the biggest problems we face in the area of temptation is we think we know what's best! I know what's best for me, at least I think I do, but it rarely works out the way I think it should.

God's Word says this in Proverbs...

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

And do you know what James says in the very next verse of our text? Listen...

James 1:15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

When you look at the sermon graphic closely you'll see a fence with razor wire at the top. You'll see a sign that says "Danger High Voltage Keep Out," and a sign that reads "No Trespassing, Violators Will Be Prosecuted!"

While I was taking pictures of this abandoned building down by the river in New Orleans, I saw four young adults pull up in a car, get out and go through a hole in the fence into the building." A total disregard for the warning signs. Isn't that just like us? We ignore the warning signs, the fences, and everything put there to keep us safe. It almost seems the warning signs make us want to go in!

Satan would not be effective at all in his temptations if it were not for our own evil desires. He knows our weaknesses and exploits them. More on this in a minute, but you need to be concerned about where your head is and where your heart is! Way back in the Old Testament we are given this warning...

Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

And Jesus gave us this warning...

Matthew 26:41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

In fact what I'm about to tell you is a truth many have failed to realize! Satan is certainly a force to be reckoned with, but he's not the most powerful enemy when it comes to temptation! "Wait a minute Pastor, what are you saying? I though Satan was like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour!" You're right, but check this out...

James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

In other words, when you've submitted yourself to God you can actually resist the devil and he will flee from you. You can stand up to Satan, stand your ground, be strong in the Lord and Satan's roar fades as he flees from you! However, when it comes to your own evil desires here's what Paul told young Timothy...

2 Timothy 2:22 Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

Did you hear that? Paul told Timothy to flee the evil desires of youth. Here's what God's Word is saying…you should have a greater fear of the power of your flesh!  God's Word says resist the Devil and he'll flee, but we are to flee youthful lust! That should tell you something about the most dangerous source of temptation.

When it comes to the temptations of our own flesh, we are not to stand our ground, be strong and fight, we are to flee, run. Run away from those things. This is why I tell young people all the time to understand how important it is to be so careful what situations they allow themselves to get into.

Sometimes the best way to avoid temptation is to avoid placing yourself in a situation where you will be tempted! Sometimes you just need to use preemptive tactics and make a decision not to go to a place where you know you will be tempted to make decisions that are not godly! That's why Paul wrote this little bit of wisdom in 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22...

1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 Test everything. Hold on to the good.
Avoid every kind of evil.

That's good, just really good wisdom. Think about things and the potential consequences before you act. But sadly the desires within us are sometimes so strong they lead us down paths of temptation. In fact, James explains our issue even further in chapter four of his book. Listen...

James 4:1-2 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want.

Ok, you've heard me say this before, but here we go again, did you hear how many times James used the pronoun you? It's the unholy trinity again. Me, Myself and I! And don't you know Satan will exploit our weakness in this area? When Satan knows a person is more concerned with their own selfish desires he knows he can pounce like a lion on helpless prey and devour them.

Temptation originates with Satan!

James tells us this in chapter 3:14-16...

James 3:14-16 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

Satan does tempt us! As I said, he exploits our weakness if we let him and all too many times we leave the door wide open for him to take advantage of our weakness. We allow Satan to lie to us and our selfish desires cause us to take the bait, hook, line and sinker! I want to give you an example. It's an example that sadly has been repeated so many times.

I'm not talking about any particular situation, but a situation I've seen too many times. A young lady in a bad home situation meets a boy who promises to take her out of her bad situation, so they move in together. He gets all the amenities of marriage without any of the commitments or responsibilities that should come with a relationship like that.

Here's my question to them. "Do you realize you're giving something away you can only give away once?" Here's the answer I might get…"Well, I've already given that away so it doesn't matter anyway." That's one of the oldest lies in the book. It does matter, and Satan wants you to think because you've messed up in the past, that you're "used goods" and not worth respect!

Please don't buy that lie!! Don't let somebody treat you like a piece of meat to be consumed rather than someone to be loved, cherished, and protected till death do you part! Call it old fashioned if you like, but it's God's beautiful plan and it's a plan that is designed for your good! In fact let me point this out to you. Jesus has your best interest at heart, but not Satan. Jesus put it this way...

John 10:10-13 "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away.  Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep."

Do you know why Satan tempts you? Do you know why Satan wants to kill, steal and destroy? His motive in tempting you is to get you to make choices that will keep you separated from God if you've never accepted Jesus as your Savior. His motive in tempting followers of Christ is to destroy our joy, to harm our relationship with God, and to steal our witness to the rest of the world!

And the motive behind his motive is this: Satan hates God and wants to hurt God. However, he doesn't have the power to walk into heaven and fight God. He tried that once and got kicked out of heaven. However, he still desires to get back at God, to hurt God, to break God's heart. The best way for him to do this is to attack the ones God loves: People! You see, Satan knows how much God loves you, so Satan hates you! He's jealous of the love God has for you! We're going to talk about this in the coming weeks, but you've got to come to the place where you trust God's heart and love for you and stop listening to the lies of God's enemy and your enemy, Satan.

But there's one other source of temptation I must mention.

Temptation originates with Peers!

For this point we will look at a passage in Paul's second letter to Timothy.

2 Timothy 3:1-7 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.

Have you ever heard this statement?
Misery loves company! Temptation comes from people who have surrendered to their selfish desires and their god, little g, has become their flesh, their self, their evil desires. They are miserable, but their pride won't let them admit their mistakes and turn to God in repentance so they seek to get others to join them in their masquerade. Somehow they feel better about themselves if they're not the only ones swimming in polluted water! Once again, you must realize the importance of making good decisions that will help you avoid temptations. If your best friends are people who are constantly trying to get you delve into their misery, it is time for you to go home and "rethink your life!" Okay, Star Wars fans, that bit of wisdom did not originate with the Jedi! Listen to what God's word says in Psalms 1:1-4...

Psalm 1:1-4 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.

Wow! Who are you going to run with? Who are you going to listen to? It may well determine the decision you will make when you face real temptation. The writer of Proverbs put it this way...

Proverbs 13:20 He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.

Proverbs 14:7 Stay away from a foolish man, for you will not find knowledge on his lips.

So now you should be very aware of the sources of temptation. But how do we overcome temptation. We're going to talk about this in detail in the coming weeks, but let me give you a start. You may face temptation before the next sermon. Because the most often source for temptation is within, overcoming temptation has to do with changing the desires of your heart!

Because temptation also originates from Satan we have to learn how to be wise to his lies! Because temptation also originates from people who have already surrendered to their worldly desires we have to choose carefully who we're going to listen to. We are to love everyone, but we must choose carefully who we allow to speak into our lives and influence us!

More on this to come, but I will close with these words from our main text today, James...

James 4:5-8a Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you...

Humble yourself and accept the grace of God, which is His undeserved favor and love!
Submit yourself to God!
Resist the devil!
Come near to God…He will come near to you!

I'll explain more detail in the coming messages. Let's pray.