Temptation: The Lie

Sermon Summary

Using the temptation of Jesus as an example, this message looks at the lies behind temptation. We discovered last week that temptation's source is three fold: Our own worldly desires, Satan, and peers. We know that Satan takes advantage of our weaknesses. With that in mind we examine the fact that within temptation there is the lie that "it's all about you," the lie that "it won't hurt you," and the lie that "You can have it all!" We know, besides the deception of our own minds, that Satan is behind these lies. Knowing the truth can help set us free from these lies and help us make better decisions when it comes to temptation.

Community Group Study Guide

1. This message talks about the lies behind temptation. Knowing the truth can help us fight temptation, but sometimes we fall prey to temptation even though we know it' a lie. Why do you think this is?

2. You may have used this to answer the previous question, but we do have a tendency to place our own wants and desires above everything else. We sometimes live and act as if the universe revolves around us. How does Satan exploit this weakness?

Mark 4:19  but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.

3. Have you ever made the mistake of thinking "Just this once won't really hurt me or anybody else" only to discover sin always hurts? God offers forgiveness when we mess up, but He has warned us of consequences that are placed into motion by our decisions. He will even help us get through the consequences, but wouldn't it be better to make better choices? Discuss.

Gal 6:7  Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

4. A third lie is closely related to the last question. Satan will offer you the world. He promises to give you your heart's desires, but at what price? Jesus faced this temptation in a big way, but thank God He didn't fall for the lies of Satan. When we face this last temptation we need to remember Jesus' words...Matthew 16:26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? Discuss.

5. Bonus Discussion topic: Because Jesus did not take Satan's offer for the kingdoms of the world at that time, He was able to keep His promise to Abraham and to us. Read the following and discuss.

Romans 4:20-5:1 Yet he(Abraham) did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Full Sermon Notes

Temptation: The Lie

That song talks about Jesus making a way where there was no way. We're going to talk today about the fact that Jesus resisted the temptation to take an easy way out when it comes to our salvation. He made a way where there was no way. He did the right thing and paid dearly. We can openly talk about what Jesus did today because we've had men and women who have been willing to give their lives for that freedom. Tomorrow is Memorial Day and we will remember their sacrifices. I know it's a time to be with family and friends, but please don't forget those who never made it home because they were protecting our homes. Let's remember them and their families.

"Father God, I pray this morning that we never forget the men and the women who have given their very lives so that we could be protected and have the freedom to gather together and worship you in the way we believe is proper and fitting. We thank you for their sacrifice and pray for their families and their sacrifice as well. Please be with them in a special way tomorrow and every day! I want to thank you for the sacrifice that You made on the cross many years ago so that we could have freedom from the bondage of sin. Help us to remember the cost every time we are tempted to do wrong. Help us gain Your wisdom to see through the lies of the enemy that are disguised within temptation. Temptation can look so good, so appealing, so desirable! However, the end result is anything but desirable. Help us have the discernment of The Precious Holy Spirit to see the truth. Anoint me with Your Spirit and speak through me. Hide me behind the Cross so that you will increase and I will decrease in the eyes of all who are present in this place. Thank You for hearing this prayer and it is in the Sweet Name of Jesus I pray and believe, Amen!!"

The song we just sang says..."This is my confidence, You've never failed me yet!" I'm so glad I can trust my Lord to never fail me! One thing I've learned in my life is this, God is trustworthy! Another thing I've learned in my life is this, Satan is not trustworthy! Satan is a liar and all of his temptations are lies! And as we talked about last week, Satan takes advantage of our own weaknesses. Remember, the source of temptation is first and foremost our own worldly desires, then Satan, and then others who are living in the misery of the world and misery loves company.

We're going to look at the lies of temptation this morning by examining the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness! There are so many things we can learn from His experience that can be applied to our own experience with temptation. So let's look at our text.

Matthew 4:1 "Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil."

Now remember, God tempts no one with sin. So the Holy Spirit didn't tempt Jesus, but He did lead Jesus into the desert to confront Satan and his lies. Let's read on...

Matthew 4:2 "After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry."

Remember that Satan will attempt to catch you at your lowest, most vulnerable state of being. Jesus had been fasting and praying for forty days and nights. I can skip one meal and my stomach starts growling at me! I can't even imagine how weak He must have been physically and how emotionally and mentally spent He must have been. It says He was hungry: we would probably say starving! However, spiritually, He was strong as ever! Let's read on...

Matthew 4:3-11 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.
“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they
will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ ’” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do 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 splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ ’” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

So Jesus was led by The Spirit into the desert where He was tempted by Satan with three very serious temptations. We too face serious temptations from Satan and must be able to see through the lies as Jesus did. My prayer for you today is that you will be able to discern the lies in every temptation that comes your way! What kind of lies are behind the temptations? Let's look at the kinds of lies which are hidden behind the temptations we face as we examine the three temptations of Jesus.

The Lie: It's All 
About You!!

Matthew 4:3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Then

Jesus was beyond hungry! He was physically famished. The thought of having a big meal with some freshly baked bread had to be a powerful temptation. The initial temptation was to think about His own needs first! Instant satisfaction, instant gratification. Don't wait, do it now, right now. Why wait? You have the power to turn the stones into bread!! And we all know Jesus had the power. But there was another temptation for Jesus besides His own personal need for food! A huge element of this temptation was for Jesus to turn the stone laden land into an agricultural mecca. If Jesus did this then the people of that region would become immediately wealthy beyond imagination. They would follow an earthly king who make their earthly dreams come true! Any politician is popular if the stock market goes up, people make more money, and they get things! So a part of the temptation here for Jesus was this would be a much easier way to get people to follow Him than having to suffer on the cross and take the chance that some would reject the message of the cross altogether! Some might even think of the cross as foolishness. Listen...

1 Corinthians 1:18a For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing...

But Jesus wasn't a politician. He was not an earthly king! He was a Savior who had come to make a way for people to have a personal relationship with God. Not a relationship based on what we get materially from God, but based on the love, the grace, the forgiveness, and the friendship we get by knowing God personally! Satan tempted Jesus to give them what they wanted! But Jesus had come to give them what they needed! There's a big difference!! Listen to how Jesus responded to Satan's temptation...

Matthew 4:4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ’”

Jesus had not come to this earth to simply live for Himself and His needs, or to win some kind of popularity contest. He had come to fulfill the Word of God, and to do the will of God! Jesus had come to be the spiritual bread of life for all who would believe and receive that bread. I love the words Jesus spoke to His disciples in the Woman at the Well story...

John 4:31-34 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?” “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work."

So that was Jesus! That was then! What about now?

Now

Our temptations have something in common with Jesus' first temptation. We are also tempted to believe the lie...

The Lie: It's All 
About You!!

We are tempted every day to put our self at the top of our priority list! My desires, my needs, my wishes, my wants, my rights, my stuff, my comforts. But here's the lie: Self is never satisfied and if self is not controlled by the Spirit of God and redeemed by the grace of God it will consume you to a no good end! This is not a new temptation.

Do you remember the Hebrew people when they were enslaved by the Egyptians? When God worked all those miracles to set them free, instead of cherishing their new freedom and seeking God's purpose and meaning for their lives and trusting Him to provide for them, which He was doing, they complained. Listen...

Exodus 16:2-3 In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the LORD’S hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”

Here's the deal: You can have all the physical necessities to sustain physical life, but if you don't have the wisdom of God to help you understand the purpose of life then you are no more than a physical organism living simply to survive and breath another day, but with no hope, no peace, no love, and no real meaning! So that takes us to the second temptation and the second lie of Satan...

The Lie: It Won't Hurt You

Matthew 4:5-6 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ ’”

Then

What a temptation this must have been for Jesus. The Temple was the center place of Jewish worship. This is where crowds of people gathered on a daily basis. Satan was once again tempting Jesus to take another way besides the cross to save the people. This temptation was to wow the people with signs and wonders. Do something so spectacular that they won't need faith, they'll have to believe! They won't have a choice! Now to be sure, Jesus did some amazing miracles during His time on earth, but the purpose was not to gain followers, but because of the real needs of people who were the recipients of His miracles. Many times, Jesus would tell them not to tell anyone of the miracle. Now why would He do that? Because He didn't want people to follow Him just because He could do a miracle. Once again, a real, genuine, personal relationship with God was the goal. Jesus didn't want people to see God as their genie in the bottle or the great Santa in the sky! And Satan took a passage out of context and tried to use it to convince Jesus to jump off the precipice to prove to people He was the Son of God! Satan's tries to get Jesus to believe no harm would be done! But there would be great harm done. While Jesus Himself could certainly have done this without any physical harm to Himself, the damage to His God-given mission would have been immediate and devastating. First of all, only those there and watching would have been convinced. Secondly it would have been disobedient to the clear will of The Father! Dr. Frank Stagg put it this way in the Broadman Commentary:

"Jesus saw that true faith does not try to compel God to act, and true faith cannot be brought about by 'compelling' signs and wonders.
What Satan proposed, a leap from the Temple, would not be an act of faith but one of presumption and provocation. Satan represented such a leap as trust in God, who would send His angels to the rescue. Jesus saw it as tempting God. It would be the attempt to force God into certain action. True faith in God is reflected in a trust of His loving and wise will, not simply trust in His power to provide."

Listen to Jesus' response to Satan...

Matthew 4:7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ’”

So Satan's lie that it would not hurt Jesus was wrong. It would have been testing The Father to see if He would keep His promise rather than walking in faith that He would keep His promises. Thankfully, for your sake and mine,  Jesus saw through that lie! Well that was then, but what about now? Does Satan still push the same lies today?

Now

The Lie: It Won't Hurt You

You better believe Satan is still pushing the same lie. "It won't hurt you! It's not that big of a deal! You'll be fine! If nobody knows, it won't hurt anybody! God just doesn't want you to have any fun! God just wants to control you! God's not being honest with you, He's just trying to scare you!" Now let me ask you a question. Have we ever heard this before? Yes we have. Back in the very beginning.

Genesis 3:1-6 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ” “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

And if you don't think that was a lie and Eve's decision didn't effect her or anybody else then you may need to have your vision checked. You've been blinded by the enemy. You see, succumbing to temptation will not only hurt you, but it will hurt those around you and it will break the heart of God because He hates to see His children devastated by sin and its consequences. Speaking of consequences.

You may remember me saying this before, but sin will take you further than you ever thought you would go, keep you longer than you ever thought you would stay and make you pay more than you ever dreamed you would have to pay! Well, there's one more lie behind Satan's temptations. Here it is...

The Lie: You Can Have It All

Matthew 4:8-9 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.
“All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

Then

Satan promised Jesus the world, the whole world! All the splendor of all the kingdoms of the world. But in exchange for what? Jesus would have to bow down and worship Satan. You might wonder how this could even be a real temptation for Jesus. Well, for starters, the Jewish people were looking for a Messiah who would take over the kingship of Israel and rule the other nations of the world. The Zealots were one such group. They were willing to fight and die to kick out the Romans.  Two very bloody wars were fought with the Romans with the expectation that The Messiah would emerge. Jesus could have been that guy. But He refused to equate the Messiahship with political aspirations. You see the Kingdom of God was bigger than one nation! And Jesus knew that the Kingdom of God was not just for that time in history, but extended way into the future. Some scholars think the bargain Satan was trying to make with Jesus was this: he would give Jesus all of the souls alive on the planet at that time, right then! But past and future souls would belong to Satan. Jesus was not willing to make that bargain. For one thing, I believe, Jesus wanted people to choose whether or not they would have Him be their King, not because of some cosmic deal He had made with Satan. Jesus looked down into the future and saw you and me and wanted us to have a chance at salvation. But the choice of a personal relationship with God is one God offers, but you must decide what you will do with Jesus! And Jesus looked back at the great men and women of faith in the Old Testament who had lived and died believing The True Messiah would someday make the right decision and make a way for their faith to be counted as righteousness so they would be allowed entrance into the New Jerusalem, the heavenly city not of this world. The only way for this to happen was through the cross!

Here's what Paul said about Abraham's faith in the book of Romans...

Romans 4:20-5:1 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.”
The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

None of that would have been possible if Jesus had made the bargain with Satan. So here's how Jesus responded to that third temptation...

Matthew 4:10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ ’”

Ok, Pastor Larry, but that was then, this is now. How does this last temptation relate to me and my life?

Now

The Lie: You Can Have It All

Does Satan still promise people the world in his temptations? Yes he does. Satan's offer to Eve was that she would become as wise as God! Satan's offer to Jesus was that He could have all the souls on earth at that time and could be a political Messiah and rule the earth for that moment in time. What does Satan offer us? Happiness, thrills, pleasures, wealth, popularity, fame, recognition!

And for some folks it's darker. Power, payback, revenge, control. Remember, Satan plays to our weaknesses. But remember this. When you bargain with Satan, you always lose and in a big way. He may let you think your winning for a while, for a moment in time, but then there is payday. One famous preacher of old called it "Payday, Someday!"
Jesus put it this way...

Matthew 16:26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?

Some in this room are facing temptations. You know somethings wrong with the temptation you are facing, but you would rather believe the lies of the enemy of God than to listen to the God who lovingly created you and the Son of God who resisted the temptation to walk away from the cross because He wanted to make a way for you to overcome temptation and live! Over the next two weeks I will be sharing with you how you can overcome the power of temptation, whether it's coming from your own worldly desires, Satan himself, or from one of your peers. In the meantime, let me leave you with a statement and a verse…

Statement: Temptation is filled with lies!

But listen to this verse...

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

Let's pray!

The following is just some of the work I do with the text as I'm working to stay true to the text when I prepare the message. Thought you might be interested.

ETS (Essence of the text in a sentence) - Jesus was led by The Spirit into the desert where Jesus was tempted by Satan with three very serious temptations.
ESS (Essence of the sermon in a sentence) - We too face serious temptations from Satan and must be able to see through the lies as Jesus did.
OSS (Object of the sermon in a sentence) - I want my hearers to be able to discern the lies in every temptation that comes their way!
Probing Question: What kind of lies are behind the temptations?
Unifying Word: Kind
Transitional Sentence: Let's look at the kinds of lies which are hidden behind the temptations we face.