Now we're turning in our Bibles to 1 Corinthians chapter 10 for our reading. As I said, we have now on these Lord's Day mornings begun a series entitled 'Back to Basics', looking at really the ABCs of the Christian faith, that if we are new to Christ and have only come to faith in recent days we need to learn as elementary truths right away if we're going to find our feet and get the most out of the Christian life. But also it's good for us as believers for perhaps 10, 20, 30 or more years, to read and remind ourselves of these important basics in the Christian life. So it's relevant to all of us. We looked in the first week at 'The Morning Watch', and how important it is to rise early in the morning before day and meet with God in both prayer and the reading of God's word - chiefly to have communion with God. Then the last week I was with you, that Sunday morning we looked at the subject of 'The Fullness of the Holy Spirit', which is a concept that has been largely lost to many in Conservative evangelicalism today.
This morning we're going to look at the subject of temptation. Let's bow in a word of prayer just before we come to a subject that affects all of us, if we're honest, a subject that is very prevalent today as a problem amongst those who are young in our gathering today. So let us pray that the Lord may help us and really speak to us all in our hearts:
Father, we thank You today for the words that we have been singing, 'Ask the Saviour to help you, comfort strengthen and keep you, He is willing to aid you, He will carry you through'. Lord, we thank You that we have a friend in the Lord Jesus, we have One who sticks closer than a brother, One who we can bring all our problems to, our temptations, our trials, our testings - because we know we have a High Priest who is touched with the feelings of our infirmities, because He was tempted in all parts like we are, except sin. Lord, we pray that we would know today His sympathy, Lord we pray for those who are ill, we pray for those who have been bereaved in recent days, those who are going through problems in our marriages, with our families, in the workplace, those who are struggling with terrible temptations that will not be quenched, that will not be silenced. Lord we just pray at this moment for those who are in our gathering who really at this time are almost calling it quits with regard to their faith in Jesus Christ because they cannot overcome a certain sin in their lives. Lord, would You help them today, give them grace, and give us all grace to struggle and to overcome with sin in our lives. Lord, we pray for our missionary friends, those who are serving You afar off in fields where they are white unto harvest. We pray too that You will thrust forth further labourers into the harvest field. Lord, we pray for us all, that we will be more like Jesus, that in this world that is so sinful, so evil, that our God, we may know what it is to be victorious Christians in this life here on earth - that others may see our good works, not see our failures, and glorify our Father who is in heaven, to whose glory we pray these things. Amen.
Let's read this verse together, 1 Corinthians chapter 10 and verse 13, Paul writes: "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it". Let's read that verse again, please note every single word and phrase and sentence in it: 'There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it'.
Some years ago there was a girl in Colorado in the United States who was released from jail. She emerged with this exclamation: 'Fine, just as I expected, I am cured - no wedding bells for me!'. That might seem a little bit obscure to those who don't know the background to why she was locked up in prison, but what had happened was: she had sent herself to jail in order to prevent getting married. It was the holiday season, and this girl by the name of Margaret Carrow who was 17 years of age, appeared in a juvenile court and asked the judge to put her into jail until January the 20th, the date of her wedding. That, she explained, was the date that she didn't want to be married. Now you would be forgiven for thinking: 'Well, why did she agree to her fiance in being married at all?'. She related to the judge the fact that when she was engaged to be married, she was engaged to be married to a much older man who she didn't really want to marry, but the fact of the matter was he was so charming, so romantic, that when he turned it on she just couldn't resist him! She knew that if she turned up at the altar on her wedding day, she wouldn't be able to resist saying: 'I do', and she was afraid that she would get married. So she tried to break the spell, and got herself locked up in jail.
Now we laugh at that, but the fact of the matter is that many of us struggle with temptation in a similar way. We just don't know how to resist one, two, or more particular sins; and when they come along we wish almost that we could lock ourselves up. Of course, that's what the monks did, and the nuns, the reason why they secluded themselves away from the world and, they thought, the devil, was to overcome the temptations that are in the world, in the flesh, and posed to us by the devil. But we know, and they hopefully by now know, that it is impossible to resist temptation by locking yourself away. Because not only is there a problem with the world and a problem with the devil, but there is a problem with ourselves. Hopefully by the end of this morning's study you will recognise that.
There are three things first of all that I want you to recognise from this verse that we read together, if you'll look down at 1 Corinthians 10:13. There are three 'buts', this little conjunction 'but' is used three times, and significantly the first 'but' that you find there in verse 13 is: 'There is no temptation taken you but such as is common to man'. Now here's the first elementary principle that you need to understand if you're ever going to overcome temptation in your life, it's this: all people, men and women, boys and girls, teenagers alike, are subject to temptation. Everybody is tempted!
Now I know, and you know, that when you're being tempted, particularly in some very very hot, seemingly unbearable way, you feel you're the only one in the world who is being tempted in that particular manner. The fact of the matter is, as one paraphrase put that verse, Paul is saying: 'Remember that the temptations that have come into your life are no different from what others experience'. There are young women and young men who actually commit suicide because they feel that no one is suffering, no one is being tested or tempted like they are. They think they are unique, but they're not. None of us are; all of us have been tempted, are tempted, and will be tempted.
Look at the second 'but': 'but such as is common to man: but God is faithful'. All are tempted and will be tempted, but God promises faithfulness towards us in our temptations, no matter how wild they may be. Now that is a tremendous encouragement, we'll look at that in a little bit more detail later on, but that is the very truth of God that can break the very bondage of sin and temptation in anyone's life to know this: that God is able to deliver us!
The third 'but' is: 'but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it'. Victory is possible to everyone! Isn't that tremendous? First of all: all will be tempted - a sad fact, but a fact nonetheless. Secondly: God has promised faithfulness, and God is able to deliver us; and if we trust in God - thirdly - all can know victory in their lives over temptation. Now if that doesn't encourage you to study this subject further, I don't know what will. It is depressing to think that there is no immunity from temptation. All of us will face it one time or another, probably everyday if you're honest with yourself. As Josh Billings has said, the man who has never been tempted doesn't know how dishonest he is! All of us struggle with one temptation or another.
Now, before we go on any further in understanding temptation, I want you to understand a doctrine that is found in God's word that is misunderstood today. It causes many young Christians headaches, nightmares, struggles, because they feel: 'Well, I'm a Christian, I shouldn't have feelings like this, I shouldn't be struggling with sin like I am, because once you're a Christian everything changes - old things pass away and all things become new - maybe I'm not saved at all!'. What many overlook is the fact that when you're saved you receive the divine nature, that means God births His Holy Spirit in your heart to live the life of Christ in you, but what also happens is that the old nature of sin and flesh that you have stays there. It does not disappear, it is still with you.
I could show you many verses from the Scriptures to prove this, but one very particularly significant one is Romans 7:21-23 where the apostle Paul describes how externally keeping the law, as Philippians says, he was blameless, he kept all the rules and regulations of his religion - but internally, in his heart, there was a rule of sin, a law of sin that he couldn't overcome no matter how religious he was. He says this: the good things that he wanted to do, he couldn't do them; and the bad thing that he didn't want to do, those were the things that he found himself doing. In Galatians chapter 5 and verse 17 Paul says this, that the flesh strives against the Spirit, it fights and wars against the Spirit of God in us. That fleshly human old nature fights and tries to overcome the new nature, and the new nature fights and strives with the old nature. And as a Red Indian put it on one occasion: 'There's a black dog and a white dog in us as Christians, and they're both fighting one another, and it is the dog that you feed that will be the one that will overcome'. So Paul said: 'Do not walk in the flesh, but walk in the Spirit, that you may not fulfil the lusts of the flesh'.
Now hopefully that helps you to understand that the reason why we struggle against sin is because we still have an old nature, it is not eradicated at the moment of our conversion. That is why we need to pray, as the Lord taught us, 'Lead us not into temptation'. In other words, 'Lord, either spare me from temptation, or if I am to go through temptation deliver me from the evil governing me and taking control of my life'.
Now let me share with you four points that I believe will help you to overcome temptation, and they're necessary if you're ever going to have the victory. The first is to understand the purpose of temptation. Many do not understand the purpose of temptation in their lives. If you turn to James chapter 1 for a moment please, James explains the purpose of temptation and testing in the life of the believer. James chapter 1 verse 12: 'Blessed is the man' - blessed is the man! - 'that endures temptation'. Now we tend not to think that temptation is a blessing in our lives, it's a curse as far as we are concerned - but God's word says it is a blessing to be tempted. 'For when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of victory', upon victory of course, 'which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death'.
What I want you to understand right away is that for the believer temptation is in the will of God for us all. Now until you understand that, you will have a real struggle not just with temptation, but understanding God's will for you in allowing you to go through such things. Now I'm not saying God tempts you, because that is wrong, it clearly says here that God cannot tempt any man with evil, because God is holy. But God says that He allows us to go through the trials of temptation, because it is for our good as believers - how is it for our good? Well, it is for our growth, that is very clear from God's word, that each temptation you overcome, you become stronger when facing that temptation again. But also it is for the testing of our faith: if it was to be rosy in the garden all our lives, and the sunshine was continually beating down upon us in our Christian testimony, when would we ever need to trust in God? It is through the hard times, it is through the times when we feel that the devil is facing us eyeball to eyeball, wanting us to sin; it is then that we really learn to cast ourselves completely by faith on the Lord. Temptation is for our growth and for our faith.
Now understand the process of temptation here for a moment in its purpose. James says, verse 14: 'Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust'. Now that's the first step of temptation, the bait is dropped - Satan or the world drops a bait in front of you to tantalise you. Then the inner desire, James says, that inner lust is attracted to that bait like a magnetism - that's why we know that you've got a sinful nature, because you're still attracted to sin, the Greek word is 'enticed'. It's actually a word for fishing, to lure by a bait. You know exactly what I'm talking about, there are some things, visual images that suddenly come into your sight, and right away there's something in you that is drawn to that sin. James says that as you yield, sin occurs - not in the temptation, but as you mentally and volitionally yield and give in, and are tantalised and satisfied by that sin, then that is transgression in the eyes of God. And fourthly, the tragic consequences are this: that death is hatched in your heart spiritually. That sin brings forth death, and as a believer what it does for us is, is cut off momentarily our communion and fellowship with God in an experiential sense. Like the fish that get hooked, we get cooked when temptation is given into!
Now let me say in passing, because I know that this is a question that will be on many people's minds as we look at verses like this: the temptation of the Lord Jesus Christ was actual temptation, there's no doubt about that. Otherwise He would not be able to succour those that are tempted. But what we must understand is that His temptation in Matthew chapter 4 was different in this regard, as James outlined, because our Lord Jesus had no inner principle of sin to be attracted by outward sin and temptation. He was tempted, but He had no inner lust and desire to come and mirror and magnetise that temptation externally. 'Well', you say, 'then how can it be called temptation at all?'. Well, although He had no sin principle in nature, He had human nature. He was 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness, He was fasting so that when Satan tempted Him to change stones into bread, He was tempted - do you not think that His gastro-system started to grumble at the thought of bread? Of course it did! He was a human man and being that was actually in the flesh, the likeness of sinful flesh. But there was no sinful human nature in His heart that strived after those sins that the devil was tempting Him with; to fall down and worship him, to give way and to get salvation on an easy road as Messiah.
I hope you understand that. But if we are to overcome temptation, we need to understand that part of the strategy of overcoming: it is adopting the attitude that temptation in our Christian lives is not a curse, but it is the stepping stone to spiritual blessing and growth. I never cease to be amazed at how attitude has a great deal with how you get on as a Christian, your attitude to things. Your attitude to trials, and illness, and sickness, and backbiting - but this is one that is primary: your attitude to temptation. Do you go: 'Oh no, not again, what is God doing in my life? Does He not understand that this is something I could be doing without?'? God knows you need it! He knows it's for your betterment as a spiritual being.
Have you ever taken that step to understand the purpose of temptation? I've got a bit of bad news for you, because the more spiritual you get the more tempted you will be, the greater the testings and temptations that will come. As Vance Havner said: 'If you have not been through the devil's sifter, you're probably not worth sifting at all'. Do you understand that temptation is for your good?
Secondly, there is the promise for the tempted that we read - not just the purpose for the tempted, but the promise for the tempted in 1 Corinthians 10:13: there is a way of escape for everyone tempted! There is conquering and victory assured for everyone, why? Because God is faithful! Now there's some people here today who need to hear this: our God is El Shaddai, the Almighty God, the God who is all-sufficient, the God who has endless resources. Now if the first step to victory over temptation is your attitude towards it, not to fear it, but by faith to accept it; the second step is this: to realise that in God there are limitless resources and power to overcome. Now why is that so important? It is important because I know, as well as you do, that when the devil comes along with a tantalising titillating temptation that you always fall down in front of - it is these words that he uses: 'You didn't overcome in the past, you're not going to overcome today. This is the sin that you can't overcome. This is something that is more powerful than you, more powerful than your God'. He's got the evidence of all those past citations of when you did fall into that temptation, and you start to believe his lie, and you say 'Yes, he's right, I can't overcome!' - and that is the lie of the devil that many Christians, and sinners alike, are held in grips of because they really believe that they cannot overcome when God's word says 'This is my promise: you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free!'. The truth is this: that if you're in Christ, sin shall no longer have dominion over you.
We tend, in those experiences, not to listen to God's word, don't we? We tend to listen to the words of the devil. The purpose of temptation is not for a curse upon you, but for your blessing, but secondly you need to understand that God has promised, promised you, guaranteed you that if you do what He says you will overcome - no doubt about it! Thirdly, yes there's the purpose in temptation, there's the promise for the tempted, but thirdly there is the provision for the tempted. Hebrews chapter 2 and verse 18, if you care to turn to it, reads like this: 'For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted'. The Saviour is able to sympathise and help us in our temptation because He was tempted in this world, and tested as a man. Turn to Revelation chapter 12 and verse 11, looking to a future day, and we see how these saints will overcome the temptation of antichrist and the devil, Revelation 12:11: 'And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death'.
Now I want to speak to you of the provision for the tempted. Around the Lord's Table this morning we were thinking of Calvary, as we ought to do every time we are there, but we were thinking specifically of how, yes, at Calvary we believe that our sins were purged, reconciliation between God and man was achieved, redemption, we were bought back from slavemarket of sin into the kingdom of God's marvellous light, all those things - and we could go on and on listing many other things that took place at Calvary - but do you realise today that at Calvary there was achieved once and for all, for every believer, complete deliverance over the power of sin? Do you know that? I think Sidney was touching on that this morning in his ministry, but you see we have three enemies in this world: we have the enemy of the world, externally, the public lights of temptation that are in the sins and pleasures of this world system; we have the devil, the accuser of the brethren who continually tempts us along with his minions of demons; but there is in us a principle called the flesh, the old nature, that still lives on after conversion. It is not eradicated, it does not disappear, but what God's word tells us is that all of these three enemies have been crucified with Christ at Calvary!
Let me show you this, turn with me to Galatians chapter 6 verse 14, this enemy, the world: 'But God forbid', Paul says, 'that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world'. Does that mean you'll never be tempted by the world again? No, but it means this: the power has been cut from off your life of the world, if you would only trust in Christ and what He did for you at the cross. The world has been crucified. Turn back to Galatians 5:24: 'And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts thereof'. This old nature that is in you, it does not disappear, it can still cause you problems, but if by faith you reckon that it died with Christ 2000 years ago on the cross, it is dead and the power is gone. Then Satan, in Hebrews 2, if you turn back to it, Hebrews 2:14: 'Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, the Lord Jesus also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil'. Now is the devil destroyed today? Is he gone, if he eradicated? Of course he is not, he's still very much alive! But the fact of the matter is: he's as good as dead, because the Lord Jesus when He was crucified on the cross defeated him who has the power over death, the devil!
These three enemies are already defeated, they have already died in Christ - the victory, this is what I want you to see, this is the provision for the tempted, the victory has already been accomplished! This is why we need to understand this today, because there are many people who are struggling and striving, and when you talk to them they'll say: 'I'm trying to overcome this temptation, I'm doing my best!' - when they need to realise that His victory on the cross has, by faith, become our victory. We stand on His victory ground. Now we must claim this day by day in faith, it is not something that just happens at salvation, but it is something every day that we must stake our claim in and face the devil with: the cross victory of our Lord Jesus, just as he will face us every day, we must face him with Calvary's victory too.
So I ask you: what temptation is bothering you? Is it the allure of the world? The tantalising pictures? Is it the music? Is it the fashions and the fads? Is it their food and drink? Is it their way of life? Is it materialism? Is it hedonism? What is it that pulls you? Is it fleshly lusts from within your breast? Fornication? Adultery? All manner of immorality? Hatred? Greed? Strife? Malice? I could go on and on! What is it? Is it Satan attacking you? Is it demonic forces getting the better over you? Are you believing Satan's lies, rather than believing God's word? Maybe you're even, as a believer, God forbid, reading horoscopes, dabbling in the occult and alternative medicines that are from hell itself! Christ, by His death, has made you dead to these things - therefore why should you live as if you're alive to them? Why should you breathe life back into the old nature, when Christ has taken the power out of it?
That's why Paul said in Romans 6: 'How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?'. There is the potential to live on in sin, but why should we do it when it ought not to have dominion over us? The power has been cut from sin in our lives, why don't you realise that by Christ's death He has made you dead to these things? The pipeline has been severed, and the power to your worst imaginable temptation ceases when you realise that it has no life in it because Christ died for it!
That means practically - OK, that's the theology - but practically that means that when Satan comes to tempt you the next time, or when your flesh begins to attract some temptation externally, you remind the both of them that Christ has already defeated both sin and Satan at Calvary. That takes out of the equation you 'trying' to win the victory, or 'striving' to win the victory, when the victory has already been won and all you have to do is claim it! Now it doesn't come automatically, you have to actively by faith claim and believe, and stand in the promise of what Christ has done for you.
We sang Martin Luther's great hymn at the beginning of our service, and Luther often graphically described the activities of Satan in his own life. When asked on one occasion how he overcame the devil, he replied: 'Well, when he comes knocking upon the door of my heart and asks who lives here, the dear Lord Jesus goes to the door and says: 'Luther used to live here'. The devil, seeing the nailprints in His hands and the pierced side, takes flight immediately!'. That is what we're talking about: we can't face the devil alone, the archangel Michael couldn't face the devil alone! But in Christ, and in the power of His death, we stand on victory ground if we will only stand on it!
Here's three things to do the next time you're tempted: one, identify with Christ's victory. Remind yourself, and remind Satan and your flesh, that you are in Christ and your old nature has died in Him, and you need not live any longer to it. Secondly, recognise that victory of Christ is complete - He is able to give you all victory forever! And thirdly put your faith in it, nothing alone, not your own strength, or your own ability - and do you know something? If you do those three things you will no longer think of defeating the devil: 'How am I going to overcome this temptation?', but you will think of him as already defeated. That's the difference!
So we've seen the purpose of temptation, the promise for the tempted, and the provision for the tempted - can I just spend a couple of moments talking about the power for the tempted? In Romans 8 and verse 2 we get a tremendous thought on the power that is available to all of us. Paul says: 'The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death'. Frederick P. Wood was the director of the National Young Life Campaign years ago, and he summed this issue of temptation up - many of the things that I have spoken of - in one paragraph. He said this: 'All that the Father promised', that was 1 Corinthians 10, 'that the Son provided', what we've just been speaking of the cross, 'the Holy Spirit performs in us. What Jesus made possible, the Holy Spirit makes actual; what Jesus did for us, the Holy Spirit does in us'.
Let me explain it like this: if you were to get a poker and thrust it into a red hot furnace, and take it out after ten minutes or so, you would find that the nature of that poker had changed in that it was pulsating red - the fire had entered into the poker. Now you would find, after leaving it there for another ten minutes, that the old nature would begin to be seen again - because the old nature has not disappeared, it has not been eradicated, but a new overcoming nature has been inserted and infused. Now listen: victory over temptation cannot come by you in some way taking away your old nature and never being tempted to sin again, but what happens is this: moment by moment the Holy Spirit fills us, and counteracts all the sin in our being, and all the sin in the world, and all the devil can throw at us.
One put it like this: 'He has not brought us to a position where it is impossible to sin, but to a position where it is possible not to sin'. In other words, everything that is bad in us is to be replaced by what is good it in Christ. I talk to people who say: 'I can't help it, I'm just naturally badtempered. I naturally look like I've eaten a sour grape. I'm naturally in some way outspoken, my father was outspoken, and his father, and all the rest - I just can't help it!'. Listen: that's your problem, your problem is what you are naturally, and you're to replace what you are naturally by what Christ is supernaturally. You say: 'I can't do it!' - my friend, you can't do it, the reason why Jesus died and rose again three days later is that He wants to live His life through you, because the only life that God is pleased with is the life of Christ, and the only way you can live the Christian life is to let Christ live His life through you. That's what the Christian life is! It's not a ream of rules and regulations, it is to die to yourself and allow a greater power than any sin, temptation, the world or the devil to rule in your life.
Can I leave you with three things that you ought to do if you really want to overcome temptation? The first is: there is an action needed, there is an action needed. James 4 and verse 7: 'Submit yourselves unto God, resist the devil and he will flee from you' - but, listen, many people try to resist Satan but they have never in their lifetime submitted everything to God. You will not have victory over your temptation unless Christ has victory completely over you. You cannot have victory unless Christ has victory in you; unless, as Redpath says, He has every key to every room of your life. To have victory outside, Christ must have victory inside.
In the early days of Saint Augustine's struggle towards truth he made a prayer, this is his prayer: 'Lord, save me from my sins, but not quite yet'. Well, he grew from that prayer to another which went like this: 'Lord, save me from all my sins, except one'. Then finally he came to pray: 'Lord, save me from all my sins, and save me now' - and that was the only prayer that gave him victory, because he had submitted himself completely to God. Now listen, some of you are struggling with sin, maybe you're moaning about it: 'How can I be a Christian? God is meant to give me power over this, that and the other' - but there has never been a time in your life when you have made this action completely before God, and submitted everything to God, and been filled with the Holy Spirit.
Secondly, not only is there an action, but an attitude. First John 5 and verse 4 says, what is this victory that overcomes the world? The victory that overcomes the world is 'even our faith'. Hebrews 11, all those men that overcame this world, and the flesh and the devil, did it by faith. Do you view temptation as a stepping stone that will give you a stronger Christian experience? Erwin T. Lutzer put it like this: 'Each temptation leaves us better or worse, neutrality is impossible'. William Ward said: 'Temptation can cause us to succumb, to sink, to sin or to stand'. Do you just invite temptation? Do you just welcome it? What's your attitude? 'I can never overcome', or is your attitude 'God has given me the victory in Christ, and nothing ought to defeat it!'.
An action, an attitude, but all of that is useless unless you have an alertness. This is where many of us fall down. James 4 says: 'Submit yourselves to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you' - you've got to resist. One way to resist is to recognise your enemy, I mean recognise where he is to be found. Now listen young people, the places your enemy is to be found, the people in whom your enemy is to be found; all of us: the programmes in which our enemy is to be found, the papers in which our enemy is to be found - I could go on and on. But bluntly, wherever the enemy lives, we ought to avoid it lest we be tempted! And second to recognising where he lives is to recognise our own weaknesses - don't all walk around like peacocks because we're able to resist something that we've never been tempted to. Stuart Anderson, preaching on the subject of temptation, reminded the congregation of a man called Bobby Leech, and English man who startled the world by going over Niagara Falls in a barrel without suffering serious harm, and yet years later walking down the street he slipped on an orange peel and was taken to hospital with a badly fractured leg. Dr Anderson put like this: 'Some great temptations which roar around us like Niagara may leave us unharmed, but a little insignificant incident may cause our downfall simply because we are not looking for it'.
You need to recognise your enemy, secondly you need to run from your enemy - Paul said to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:22: 'Flee also youthful lusts'. There is a holy running, a time to run like Joseph did from Potiphar's wife and from Potiphar's house. But sadly, as E. C. Mackenzie says: 'Few speed records are broken when people run from temptation'. Do you run from temptation, or do you run to it? As someone has said: do you leave a forwarding address when you resist temptation, in order to be tantalised again? Or do you cut off that hand that offends you, or pluck out that eye that makes you sin? Do you run from it? And finally, do you resist it unto blood? Hebrews 12:4 says: 'Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin'. The victory will cost you, the Christian life will be hard - there's no doubt it is through the narrow gate, it is along the narrow road, and if it's not it costing you I would question whether you're truly saved or not! But whatever the cost, strive to win! You need to get to a place where you hate sin! Are you there are? It doesn't mean you'll never be tempted by it, but do you learn actively even over the feelings you may have and the impulses that you have, do you learn to hate sin and detest it?
Billy Sunday was a baseball evangelist and reformer, and he was never, in his preaching, soft on sin. During what was called the 'gay 90s', the 1890s, through the Great Depression, he preached against everything that smacked of sin. This is what he said: 'I'm against sin. I'll kick it as long as I've got a foot, I'll fight it as long as I've got a fist, I'll butt it as long as I've got a head, I'll bite it as long as I've got a tooth; and when I'm old and fistless, and footless, and toothless, I'll gum it till I go home to glory and it goes home to hell!'. Is that how we think of sin and resist it? We need to take God's word, as the Saviour did three times in His temptation, 'It is written, it is written, it is written'. We need to take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, Ephesians 6, which is the only attacking weapon given in the armour of God in Ephesians 6, which is the spoken - the 'rema' is the Greek term - the spoken word of God: we need to face Satan and speak God's word to him!
'Can I conquer temptation?', you say this morning: yes! Philippians 4:13: 'I can do all things through Christ which strengtheth me'. No matter how many battles you may have lost up to this point, Christ has won the war, and you ought to be winning the battles too!
If there are those in our gathering who are not saved, then sin has to have the victory over you because Christ isn't even in your life and there's nothing to counteract that old nature that you were born with. You need Christ, you need exactly what we've been preaching this morning - that cross-work - to give you the victory. Believer, backslidden, far from God, struggling with sins and temptations that no one knows about: would you take Christ's victory for good today, and live in the good of it? It is possible. Some have done it, some here, will you do it? It's there for you have been bought by the blood of Christ, why not take it? If you want to speak to me or any of the folk in the hall, please do wait behind - but all of us: what a victory! What a Saviour we have in the Lord Jesus!
Father, we want to thank Thee for Thy Son, and for the complete and full salvation that He has given to us - but help ,us by faith, to live in the good of it; to reckon ourselves dead indeed unto sin, that the life of Christ may be manifest in our flesh, that others may see Him. Help those struggling today, we pray, and give them the victory through the blood. For Christ's sake, Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the third tape in his 'Back To Basics' series, entitled "Temptation" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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