Temptation: The Victory Part 1

Sermon Summary

This message examines one of the most important ways for an individual to achieve victory over temptation. We've learned from God's Word that one of the main sources of temptation is our own evil desires. So it stands to reason that one of the most effective ways to combat temptation is to change those desires. However, this requires "life change." The following four life changes are discussed:

Change the Desire of Your Heart
Change the Passion of Your Soul
Change the Focus of Your Mind
Change the Use of Your Strength

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. Two questions to start of with: Have you ever thought about how easy it is to be judgmental of another person because the sin they are involved in is not even a temptation to you? Why is it so important for us to remain humble and be merciful?Luke 6:36-37 Be merciful just as your Father is merciful. 

 

2. Regardless of what kind of temptations a person deals with, if they ask God to help them change the desires of their heart then temptation will loose much of its power. Why is this true?

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

Psalm 51:9-12 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

3. Temptation will always be a part of our life on this earth, however, if we daily allow God to help us put on the new self, and take off the old self, then temptation will loose its power. Discuss this concept.

Eph 4:22-24 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

4. Changing the desire of our heart, the passion of our soul, the focus of our mind, and the use of our strength will not only help us overcome temptation but will help us in every other aspect of our lives because each of these deal with life change. The Holy Spirit helps us make this life change and the list of areas of life that are changed is extensive. Read the following passage and discuss.

Galations 5:22-25 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Full Sermon Notes

Temptation: The Victory

"Oh how I need Your grace, more that my words can say!" Wow, those words are so true!! And then these words, "In all my weaknesses, You are my confidence! Jesus I come!" Now that last part is a major secret to obtaining victory over temptation. "Jesus I come!" Let's pray and I'll explain! Prayer.

So we've been talking about temptation for two weeks now and this is the third week. I've been telling you I was going to let you know the secrets to overcoming temptation. What are the key ingredients to finding victory over temptation? What you may not realize is this. I've already given you some real keys to overcoming temptation. The first key is knowing the source of temptation. When you know the source of temptation you are better able to fight temptation. Remember, the source is not God, but your own worldly desires. If you are the source, then you already know your weaknesses and your triggers and this should help you develop a strategy to combat temptation. And when you learn that Satan, God's enemy and yours, is trying to lure you away from God towards another path, understanding Satan's evil motives will help you resist temptation. And we know temptation sometimes comes from the people around us who are living in sin! Misery loves company, so they will try to get you to participate.  

Knowing the source and motives behind temptation can help you fight against it. Also, as we discovered last week, when you realize that temptation is a lie that seeks to prey on your selfish tendencies, and that it will hurt you, and that any bargain with Satan is a bad deal even if he offers you the whole world! When you understand these things it makes temptation a lot less appealing. Now what I'm about to tell you might be considered a no-brainer, but it's so easy to miss it. I hope you're ready for this because it will revolutionize your entire life. Before I tell you, let's read two of the verses of Scripture we read two weeks ago...

James 1:13-14 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.

"but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed." When it says by his own evil desire, we know that we all have temptations, but they are not all the same. Some of you are tempted by things that just are not a temptation to me and I may be tempted by things that would never be a temptation to you. We are sometimes tempted to be judgmental when it comes to temptation because we just can't imagine why some people fall prey to certain things and we judge them as weak or more sinful than we are. But usually it's just that the things that tempt one person may not tempt another. So you and I need to have a little mercy and grace for those who are dealing with things we don't think should even be a temptation! We should thank God for His mercy towards us every day! Now, having said all of this, it stands to reason...

If the greatest, and strongest source of temptation comes from our own evil desire, then it seems to me the most important way to fight temptation and to have victory over temptation is to attack the source…our own evil desire! And how do we attack the source? This is gonna hurt, are you sure you're ready? Ok, here goes. Victory over temptation requires...

Life Change!

"Ok, Pastor Larry get real! Come on, I'm only human! What you're saying is not really practical! I can't just change who I am! That would be difficult and uncomfortable. I'm not sure I really want to change anyway. I would have to admit I've been wrong. Besides, I kind of like where I am and my lifestyle."

If this is your mindset, it may be that you're not serious about overcoming temptation. You may even know that temptations are really lies which will consume you and hurt you, but you've bowed down at the alter of self so many times you are blinded and can't see just how bad sin is affecting you. But if you know the truth about temptation, you're tired of always being tackled by sin, and you want to overcome it, then there is a way to change the desire's of your heart! The secret is found in Jesus' response to the questions of a prominent lawyer back in His day. We've studied this text before, but not in this context. So let's look at the story and then I'll explain how it is the key to victory over temptation and why the line in that song we just sang, "Jesus, I come" is the secret to overcoming temptation. Jesus had been in a debate with some religious leaders considering the resurrection of the dead and here's what happened next...

Mark 12:28-31 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

The first life change that must take place is...

Changing the Desire of Your Heart!

Mark 12:30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart...

So how does one go about changing the desire of their heart from whatever has been its focus to loving the Lord God your God with all your heart? First you must admit that God has not been first place in your life. Just admit that to yourself and to God. Ask God to help you change. And this is so important because we can't just change ourselves! We need God to change our hearts, and this He will do if we only give Him permission. Some people say this, "I'll come to God someday once I get my act together!" Please don't believe that lie. You and I don't have the power to clean up our own act. We don't have the power to change our heart. We can desire to have a heart change, but we need God almighty to do the transplant. But it's like this: You've got to sign the consent form! God will not perform the surgery on anyone who doesn't give Him permission. King David, who wrote some of the most beautiful songs in the book of Psalms had given into terrible temptation when he cried out to God for forgiveness and for a change of heart. Listen...

Psalm 51:9-12 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

David didn't just sign the form, he gave blanket permission for God to do whatever He had to in order to change his heart and life. Here's another great example of changing the desires of the heart: When God's people, the Israelites had rebelled against Him and were scattered, God spoke this to them through Ezekiel the prophet...

Ezekiel 36:23-28 I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Sovereign LORD, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes. “ ‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God.

That last verse is a very important verse in the Old Testament and one that is repeated often. It is known as the Covenant formula. 
"You will be my people, and I will be your God." What is implied throughout Scripture is the word if! "If you will be my people, I will be your God." Again, we must sign the consent form.

Now, I want to explain something else. God points out their sin and that He was going to show His holiness through them to the world. He talks about sprinkling clean water on them as a symbol of their purification, and God made it clear He would be the One to cleanse them from their impurities and idols. In other words, it was not something the people could do on their own. Now that we have the New Testament we know what it cost God to make the cleansing of humankind possible...

Hebrews 10:19-22 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

You can clean your body with water, but for the heart to be cleansed it takes the most precious and pure blood of Jesus Christ, God's One and Only Son! When you realize the price God was willing to pay in order to give you a new heart and to give your heart new desires, it should delight your heart to  to know you are loved that much by the Creator of the Universe. And here's a little secret...

Psalm 37:4-5 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:

Verse 37 can also be correctly translated from the Hebrew into English to read...

Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give your heart its desires.

So when you start delighting in The Lord because of who He is and because of His awesome love for you, you will find the desires of your heart will begin to change, because He will begin giving your heart the right desires and then He can give you the desires of your heart because He put them there and they will be good desires!! How cool is that? Very!
When you allow God to change your heart, temptation begins to loose it's power! But if you're going to have victory over temptation you also need a second life change...

Changing the Passion of Your Soul!

Mark 12:30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul...

In Hebrew thinking the soul was the seat of the will and emotions of a person. In other words what is your passion? What is the driving motivation behind everything you do. If your passion becomes the love of God, the will of God, the things of God, the heart of God, the passion of God then temptation will have a hard time getting traction in your life. Passion drives. Passion emboldens. Passion inspires. Passion is powerful. When you realize the passion of Jesus Christ is you, then you'll begin to have a passion for Him. We read this in our first message of this series, but it so applies here...

Hebrews 12:1-3 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 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. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Fix your eyes on Jesus! He is the One who made our faith possible. He's the One who endured the cross and its shame because His passion was to do the will of God and His joy was that through His death you and I would live forever! When we understand Christ passion we begin to have a passion for the things of The Spirit rather than the flesh.

Galations 5:22-25 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Temptation has little power over someone whose passion is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control! When you allow God to change your heart's desire, temptation begins to loose its power!
When you allow God to change your soul's passion, temptation begins to loose its power! But if you're going to have victory over temptation you also need a third life change...

Changing the Focus of Your Mind!

Mark 12:30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind...

To the Hebrews the mind was the seat of understanding and intelligence. Some people are street wise and worldly wise. Some people have great knowledge and intelligence when it comes to the books, but when it comes to the wisdom and understanding of God they've fallen to that age old temptation of thinking the things of God don't really matter. We're smarter than all that. To some, modern science and the wisdom of man has surpassed the ancient wisdom of God. If you believe that then you are dangerously vulnerable to the temptations of Satan. The New Age philosophies that are behind that kind of thinking are simply old lies in a new age! Listen, I love science and learning, exploration, discovery, invention, and developing better ways of doing things. But we must never forget that the importance of some things should never change! If they cease to be a part of our existence we will loose our ability to function as a society. Things like integrity, honesty, civility, justice, fairness, morality, loving others, serving others, protecting the innocent and those who cannot protect themselves, and having a giving spirit. We'll explore this more next week, because some of these things are tied up with the second major way in which we have victory over temptation. But here's the thing about refocusing our mind in a Godly way: If our mind and our thinking are in the wrong place then temptation will overwhelm us. Either because we think we're to smart to fall for temptation or because our minds are focused solely on self and we don't care about truth or consequences, we just let our minds run wild with no restraints. But here's what God's Word tells us to do with our minds and this is key to loving God with all our mind...

Romans 12:2-3 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself
with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

So how does one renew his mind?

Eph 4:22-24 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

What does this mean? Put off your old self! Remember and realize the destructive things that happened in your life when you lived only for yourself. Put off your old self by realizing the old self was self-destructive. You see, even once a person has accepted the forgiveness and grace of God into their life through faith in Jesus, the old self still has to be controlled and put off, and the new self has to put on. We have to be allow God to give us new God-like attitudes. I was talking to someone just this week who was going through a lot of trials. Here's what they told me...

"You wouldn't believe the difference between the way I'm handling all of this since I've met Jesus and the way I would have handled things before!"

When the focus of your mind is on the things of God and you're trying to have the attitude of Christ about things, it really makes a difference. The temptation to worry, get mad, give up, or do something unhealthy to try and forget your troubles, loses it's power! Why? When you allow God to change the focus of your mind your begin thinking about how God would have you handle things. Well, this leads us to one last, but important life change we must consider if we are to have victory over temptation...

Changing the Use of Your Strength!

Mark 12:30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

What do you spend your strength on? How do you use your strength, your energy, your time, your gifts and your abilities? If you spend all your strength, mental, emotional, and physical, just to cater to your own wants and desires, and not to serve the Lord, then when temptation rolls around you will be weak and distracted and will become easy prey for the enemy. So how does one love God with all their strength? This means you use your physical power to love God. You don't just talk about loving Him, but you actually use your physical abilities to worship Him and to serve Him! Now remember, I'm not talking about trying to earn your salvation. We can't do that! I'm talking about loving God with all your strength out of gratitude for the gift of salvation!!

We're really going to explore this use of strength thing next week because it is one of the most powerful weapons against temptation. But in closing for today...you might say "I don't really have the strength or the ability to serve God." Here's a beautiful thing: If you don't have the strength, He'll give it to you! Check this out...

Isaiah 40:29-31 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

I was at a Bible study with some of our firemen Thursday morning. I told them that when I feel weak and when doubts and worries come my way, I gain strength by remembering all the amazing things God has done for me in the past. It's the old, Count your many blessing name them one by one, count your many blessing see what God has done!

Psalm 105:4 Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,

So if you want to have victory over temptation you must…

Change the Desire of Your Heart
Change the Passion of Your Soul
Change the Focus of Your Mind
Change the Use of Your Strength

Jesus said...

Mark 12:30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

And the Psalmist said...

Psalm 105:4 Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.

Reminds me of an old hymn that I love so much. It goes like this...

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?

There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;

O’er us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conqu’rors we are!

His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:

Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Written by Hellen Howarth Lemmel (1863 - 1961)

Let's Pray!