Temptation is just a question, asking, "Do you trust God?" JP teaches us about temptation from Matthew 4, when Satan tempts Jesus three times, and how He overcame it. JP walks through Jesus' temptation, how He overcame it, the significance of the temptation, our temptation, and how we overcome it. We are to trust God, which includes knowing God and His Word. JP shows us we are to trust God with our wants, trust God's plan over our pride, and trust God's schedule over our shortcuts.
Redemption: The Message of Reconciliation
Trusting God in Temptation
The Greatness of Christ: Christ's Humility
My name is JP, and I'm a believer who struggles with desserts. I don't discriminate. I like pies, cakes, cookies, snow cones, ice cream (preferably Blue Bell, but I also like Ben & Jerry's). Really, any kind of ice cream. Let's be honest. I like all kinds of desserts unless it has fruit in it, because that's kind of a salad. I really like any sort of desserts.
I love them, and that love, or that strong affection, landed me in the hospital just past my thirtieth birthday with a diagnosis of a fatty liver, to which I was like, "Are you serious? That's what it's called? A fatty liver? Do you need a fatty lip right now? Are you making fun of me? What's really going on?"
Being pre-diabetic… I heard you could die from diabetes, so I'm like, "Okay. I need to get my act together here." That created this challenge between my friend Scott Kedersha and me. Scott Kedersha is a pastor on our staff, as well, so we basically came up with this challenge. If one of us eats a dessert of any kind, for a year we have to pay the other one $100. We have to go a year with nothing iced. No sodas, no cookies, no pies, no cakes. No kind of dessert for one year.
Some of you feel my pain. Pray for me. We started this on Mother's Day. As soon as we started this deal, desserts are popping up everywhere. People are bringing me cookies at work. I'll go to somebody's house, and they're like, "Would you like some cobbler?" I'm like, "No, because that's a salad that has fruit in it, but what else do you have?" They're just coming out of the woodwork with dessert.
Every now and then I get to speak somewhere, and as compensation they'll give us a gift card. Well, I got a gift card to this place called Three Forks. It was date night, and usually date night is at Taco Buena, but this time we got to go to Three Forks. I told Monica, "Baby girl, we're going out tonight. Daddy has a gift card. Let's go."
I'm thinking, "Steak… It's going to be awesome." We go to Three Forks and had a great date with lots of good conversation. This is not the typical date for us. The conversation being good is, but not Three Forks. At the end of the meal, this server comes up to us and says, "You don't know me, but God has radically changed my life through the ministry at Watermark. I came in through The Porch. I'm just really grateful for what you guys do."
I was so encouraged. She brings this giant cake and said, "This is on the house," and sets it in front of us. Monica looks at me. I look at her. She says, "What are you going to do?" I said, "I'm going to pay Scott $100." You start justifying it in your mind. You start counting the cost. I'm like, "Well, the meal was free, so the dessert was $100. It's all going to work out." You start thinking about those things.
Then, I'm like, "Wait a minute! Did Scott put you up to this? Do you know Scott Kedersha?" I'm thinking through these things, because that's how temptation works. As soon as you try not to do something, it starts popping up everywhere. The second you fix in your mind, "I'm not going to go there anymore," or "I'm not going to think about that," or "I want to get over him or get over her," or "I don't want to try to control my children or control their situations or worry about their health because I hear worry is a sin."
As soon as you try not to do something, it's just like, "I can't stop! I can't transition. I can't get away from it." It seems like that's how temptation works, and temptation is real. In fact, so many of the circumstances we're in this morning are because of how we've handled this reality of temptation. Temptation is just a question. It's always a question, and here's the question: Do you trust God?
Here you go. Do you trust God? It is an opportunity to trust God. A temptation is a proposition. It always is a question. Do you trust God? Those choices have impacted your life. They can impact the lives of your children and the lives of your family and the lives of loved ones. They have a lot to say about what you believe about God (the way you handle temptation).
We're in this series called The Character of Christ where we're looking at dialogues between Jesus and people when he was here on the earth. Last week, we looked at a dialogue between Jesus and his disciples, as we talked about the greatness of Christ, which was really the servanthood of Christ and how Jesus came to serve us. Being fully God, he put on humanity, as well. Being fully human and fully God here, he said, "… the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
This week, we'll talk about Christ's character in the midst of temptation, and it will be a dialogue between Jesus and the Prince of Darkness himself (Satan) as Jesus is tempted in the desert. This raises all kinds of questions like…Could Jesus sin? If you say, "No, Jesus couldn't sin," is it really temptation?
If sin is not an option, then what is the temptation he faced? We read he was tempted in every way, but then we read God cannot be tempted, so there's some confusion about this idea of the hypostatic union, which is just a big word that means Jesus was fully God and fully human (not half God and half human but fully human and fully God at the same time). There are questions that brings to be that I hope to bring resolve to this morning as we move through Matthew, chapter 4.
If you have your Bibles, turn there with me to Matthew, chapter 4. We're going to look at the three temptations of Jesus and how he overcame them. There is a real rhythm to this sermon that I'll give to you up front. The rhythm will be Jesus' temptation, how Jesus overcame that temptation, the significance of that temptation, how we are similarly tempted, and how we overcome it. That's how the sermon will flow this morning.
Here in Matthew 4, what has happened is Jesus was just baptized publicly, and God spoke from heaven, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." God has identified Jesus as his Son in this voice from heaven. Then, Jesus is about to start his ministry. His ministry is about to really ramp up, but before he goes into an intensive season of ministry giving us an example he goes into the desert to fast for 40 days and 40 nights, and there he is tempted by Satan himself.
It says this in Matthew, chapter 4, verse 1, " Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil." **The Spirit of God led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted."After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry."** This is God in the flesh, and he's hungry. He has a desire within him for something. That something is food. He hasn't had it for 40 days.
" The tempter [Satan] came to him and said, 'If you are the Son of God…'" **Questioning his deity and questioning who he is, saying as the Accuser,"If you are the Son of God tell these stones to become bread." "You're hungry. Eat.""Jesus answered, **'It is written: "Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God."'" Jesus trusted God's Word over his own wants. My first point this morning is…
1._ We are to trust God's Word over our wants._ You have wants. You have desires. You have a flesh, a wiring, a sinful nature, and you are not to become obedient to it. You're not to become a slave to it. You are to trust God's Word even over your own desires. What is the temptation Jesus is facing? He's hungry. He has gone 40 days without food.
Satan didn't come on the eighth day or the sixteenth day or the thirty-second day. Satan came at his very weakest moment on the fortieth day at the end of this fast and said, "Eat, for eating is not a sin. Turn these stones into bread. There's nothing wrong with turning stones into bread. After all, you're God." Jesus says, "No, that's not my Father's will." What is the Father's will? The Father's will was that he would be hungry and without food. Are we okay with that?
God's will for Jesus in this moment is that Jesus would be hungry and without food because he's fasting. What is fasting? Fasting is suppressing a desire you have and depending on God in the midst of it. It is the discipline of not following the desires of your body, of your making, or of your wiring, and suppressing that and depending on God in the midst of that. It strengthens your resolve to overcome sin and to depend on the Holy Spirit and to depend on God.
The way Jesus overcomes this temptation is he says, "Satan, turn with me to Deuteronomy, chapter 8, verse 3, and let me preach to you for a moment." Jesus goes back to the Word of God. This is Deuteronomy 8, verses 2 and 3. He's talking about the Israelites in the desert. "Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years…" They were in the desert for 40 years. Jesus is in the desert for 40 nights.
"…to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna…" He says, "Hold out. I have provision for you." "…which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that…" Here we go with Jesus' quote. "…man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of [God] ."
Jesus, in the midst of temptation, turns to the Word of God. He turns to Deuteronomy 8, verse 3, and says, "Satan, let me show you a promise, or a message, from God Almighty in his Word." What is the significance of this? Jesus is talking about the Israelites in the desert. The Israelites failed the test in the desert. Do you remember this?
If you've been around the Bible long, you remember God freed the Israelites from slavery. They come to a body of water there in Exodus. Pharaoh's army is coming after them, and immediately after God frees them from slavery, they say, "Why have you brought us here to die? We would have rather died in slavery," to which God says, "Part the waters and go through." He closes the water on their enemy, and they sing him a song.
"O God, you're the greatest. Praise be your name. We will worship you forever." Then, they come to another body of water, and they're thirsty, but they can't drink it. "God, why have you brought us here to die? We can't even drink this water." God makes it drinkable. They drink it, and they go on about 40 more days, and they're hungry. They say, "Why have you brought us here to die? We would have rather died in slavery!" God says, "Okay. Here's some manna from heaven. Food from nowhere that I created and provided for you."
He says, "Don't take more than you can eat in a day." They do. He says, "Don't gather on Sunday." They do. Then, they get thirsty, and they say, "Why did you bring us here to die? We can't even trust you!" They test God. They say, "God, are you not even with us?" We're reading this, and we're like, "This is crazy!" We do the same thing, though. God brings forth water from a rock.
The Israelites failed the test miserably. Jesus didn't. Jesus passed the test with flying colors. He says, "I'm hungry, but I trust God has a plan. I'm going to trust his Word even over my own desires," which is profound, because you consider your temptations or your desires…your temptation for sleep, your temptation for food, your temptation for sex…saying things like, "Why would God give me this desire if he didn't want me to act out on it?"
It's something I hear in my young adults all of the time. "If God didn't want me to act out on this desire, why would he give it to me?" Do we not have desires for things that are not good for us? Lots of Blue Bell in my case, right? We have desires for things that are not good for us. Just because you have a desire does not mean that's what you need to act out on.
Maybe that desire is a test that you would have the resolve to strengthen your resolve and depend on the Spirit to overcome all of your own desires of your flesh. "Why would God give me this desire?" What is your temptation? What did you come in here with this morning? Is it for control? Is it for sex? Is it for money? Is it for promotion? Are you tempted toward pride? Do you need people's attention? Do you need people to like you? Is it the approval of man?
What are you tempted toward this morning? Is it discontentment in your situation or discontentment in your neighborhood or discontentment in your house or discontentment in your car? What is the temptation you're tempted to this morning that God is saying, "Trust me at my Word over your wants"? "Trust me at my Word over the things you think you want." So often, what we do is we say, "Well, the Holy Spirit told me," or "God told me," or "God gave me this desire."
I hear this a lot in the circles I run in. "The Lord just led me to this place," or "The Lord just placed it on my heart," or "The Lord said I should marry them," to which I say, "Can you just say that you want to? Do you have to bring God into that? Maybe he did, and I'm curious about hearing how he did, but it seems the community he placed you in, who also have the Holy Spirit, by the way, are saying, 'That's not a good idea,' and they're using the Scriptures to support their stance, and you're standing here saying, "Well, God said," and who can argue with God? But how did God say it again? Because it seems that's just your desires."
We don't have to over-spiritualize your desires. Just say, "I really want to marry them," or "I really want to move there," or "I really want to buy that," or "I really want to do that," instead of, "God just laid it on my heart." Really? Did he? Do you know Satan masquerades like an angel of light? That's what it says in 2 Corinthians. How do we know if it was God or Satan or just your desires?
It seems he has provided a community of folks around you who also have the Holy Spirit and his Word to help you determine that. How do we know? How do you trust yourself to differentiate that? How do we overcome this temptation? We trust God's Word over our wants, which starts with knowing God's Word.
Jesus is going to respond to Satan three times out of Deuteronomy today. He's going to slice Satan up with a sword, which is the Word of God, through Deuteronomy. To actually trust the Word of God we have to know the Word of God. I just read this in the Bible Knowledge Commentary which I thought was both simple and profound: "It is better to obey God than to satisfy human desires." Do we believe that? It is better to obey God than to satisfy our own desires.
So often the Spirit of God, which we're so quick to give credit to… "It's the Spirit of God." The Spirit of God works through the Word of God to make known to us the things of God. So often the Spirit of God works through the Word of God to make known to us the things of God so we would know which way to go. So often the Spirit's method is that he uses God's Word, so we must know God's Word. We must trust God's Word over our own wants and resist our desires and trust our Master and what he says is good for us.
I'd like you guys to meet a friend of mine. I want my friend Jay to come up here. This is Jay. Jay has been with his master for seven years. His master has told him what is good for him and what is not good for him, and he has learned to trust him. This is another friend of mine. This is Roast. Meet my friend Roast.
I don't know if you can smell it down there, but it was freshly cooked this morning. It is very, very delicious. It smells really good, so I'm just going to go ahead and tempt Jay with this roast. I don't know if you can see what is going on, but Jay is watching his master. "Is it good for me? I trust you. If you say it's not good for me, I think I'll scoot away. I don't want anything to do with that which isn't good for me, and you get to decide what is good for me. Everything in me wants the roast! It smells good, but you get to decide. I want to please you."
He's like, "Dude, you don't even know. This isn't even hard. I'm just trusting my master. Let me yawn for a minute." Trust the Master. I think he wants the roast, but he's like, "I'm not even going to look at it. I'm not even going to look at it. No, sir." Let's go back into the Word of God. Verse 5. You're wondering if I'm going to leave that there. Yes, I am.
"Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple." **We don't know if this was a literal taking, what that looked like, or if he's giving him a vision. We have no idea, but somehow they're at the Holy City and they're seeing it."'If you are the Son of God,' he said…" Again questioning who he is and questioning his goodness and questioning his deity, he said,"…throw yourself down. For it is written: 'He will command his angels…'"**
You see, Satan just stepped up his game. He said, "Oh! You want to use Deuteronomy. Okay. Well, let's go Psalm 91 then, Jesus. I know the Word of God, too, Jesus." "'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."'" Jesus trusted God's plan and was not tempted toward pride.
2._ We trust God's plan over our own pride._ We trust God's plan. We don't need to prove anything. The temptation is, "Prove you are the Son of God to both me and to them." Let me tell you why I say it is, "Prove that you are the Son of God to Satan and to them." There is a prophecy in Malachi, chapter 3, verse 1, that says the Messiah is going to come down upon the temple, so the Jews misunderstood the prophecy at that time, and there was the belief that the Messiah is going to appear in the air and descend upon the temple. That is what they're looking for.
Satan is effectively saying, "Why don't you give the people what they want? If you are the Son of God, then show up in this grand plan. Say, 'Hey! I'm here!' Let them know. Why do you have to keep it veiled from the Jews by coming as a servant? Show up in a grand plan. Let them know you're the Son of God!"
Jesus says, "I don't have to prove anything. I don't need to test God. I'm not here to present my resume. I don't need people to like me. I'm okay that they're going to kill me. That's God's plan. That's the Father's plan. I'll trust it." Satan uses the Word of God. It's Psalm 91, verse 11. He says, "For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you…" **Then, it says,"…in all your ways,"** but he omitted that. Why? Why does Satan omit those words?
Because Satan doesn't want you to know God has a plan. Satan doesn't want to remind you God has a way for you to follow. He omits this, "…in all your ways…" Then, he goes, "…they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone." How does Jesus overcome this temptation? He said, "Satan, turn with me to Deuteronomy 6. I have a sermon for you."
Deuteronomy 6, verse 16, says, "Do not put the Lord your God to the test as you did at Massah." When the Israelites were thirsty, they said, "Is God not with us?" He says, "Satan, do not test God." What is the significance of this passage? Jesus says, "I don't need to prove anything. I don't exist to please people. I don't have to show off my power. You're asking me if I'm the Son of God."
I would have been like, "If I'm the Son of God?" Boom! Satan would have been gone. I think that's the greatest temptation in this passage (for Jesus to smite Satan), but he doesn't. He says, "I trust my Father. My Father is in charge of what people think of me. My Father is in charge of this plan. My Father is in control of the plan. I will trust his plan. I am not tempted to pride."
What is our temptation in the midst of this? We always want to prove our worth through performance, do we not? If you don't think so, has anyone ever questioned your parenting? "I'm a good mother! Do you want me to prove to you I'm a good mother?" or "I'm a good father!" Has anyone ever questioned your ability at work? "Do you not know where I trained?" Have they questioned your college? "I went to school here."
As soon as someone questions us, we're so quick to bow up. "Let me just show you how great I am. You don't think I can? Let me show you the resume. We'll go straight to the resume," but God is in charge of what others think of you. If that's your struggle, I want you to write that down. God is in charge of what others think of you. You don't need to prove anything to them. What happens is this performance moves into our theology where we begin to perform for God so God will perform for us.
No one would ever say it in those words, but we turn our theology into one giant if-then statement. "God, if I do this, then you will… If I go to church and join a church and read the Bible and join a Community Group then certainly you will bless me. You will bless me in what I think of blessing. You will bless me in this way, maybe with a spouse or with a good marriage or with children or with a house in this neighborhood or with this car or with this job or with this promotion. If I do, then you will."
It's a new flavor of the prosperity gospel, which is just us trying to obligate God to do something, but God never strikes that deal. That's not the deal God strikes (if you do, then he will). Why are we performing for God when he has given you everything in Jesus Christ? He says, "I accept you because of my Son. Not because of what you do but because of what he did on the cross, I accept you right now. Not some future version of you. Not when you get it all together. Not when you stop looking at porn or stop spending money you don't have. I accept you right now because of what Jesus has done for you."
I think so often our faith becomes superstition where we're kind of running scared from God. We don't believe he loves us and he wants what is good for us. We try to get him to give us good things through some formula or through some equation. I met a guy on Thursday night. I was in Houston. This dude knew the Bible. I mean, he was really an impressive young adult. He just kept quoting Scripture. Entire sections. I don't mean just verses, like John 3:16. I mean entire sections of the Bible he was telling me.
He says, "I'm kind of bitter at God right now." I said, "Why is that?" He said, "Well, things haven't really gone as planned. I've been spending so much time with him and I've done everything I needed to do. I saved myself for marriage and this and that or whatever. I'm still here. I'm not married, and I don't really like my job."
I said, "You sound like the older brother in Luke 15, the one who said, 'I'm here, and I've done all of these things for you, and you didn't even give me a fattened calf.' You were trying to obligate God. You had already written the plan for God. You said, 'Hey, God! I'm going to do all of this. Then, you're going to do this.' God never struck that deal. By the way, can I ask…?"
This is something I ask my single friends a lot. "When did heaven stop being enough?" God says, "You're going to serve me down there so you actually get more of me, and as you do that you're going to die and you get to spend eternity with me in my kingdom in paradise. When was that not good enough?"
Nobody is going to get up to heaven and be like, "Hey! I'm here. By the way, why wasn't I married down there? I'm here. By the way, why didn't you let me have kids down there? I'm here. By the way, why did you have to give me cancer?" When did heaven stop being enough? I know those are big things, guys. I know they are. I don't mean to say them so flippantly, but I am asking you the question…When did heaven stop being enough for us?
We need God plus something else. We feel, "I want God. I want you, but I also want these other things that I feel are owed to me and I feel entitled to." They're reasonable things. By the way, bread was a reasonable thing for Jesus. He was hungry. It's just bread. Coming to the temple was a reasonable thing. That's just what they expected.
We have to trust God's plan over our pride. That's how we overcome this. We don't need to try and manipulate God. We serve God for his glory. We search for him in hopes to find him and him alone. We just sang, "In Christ alone I place my trust…" not "In Christ and a house and a car and a status on Facebook we place our trust." We should sing that if that's what we mean.
Verse 8: "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."'" Jesus trusted God's schedule over Satan's shortcuts.
3._ We are to trust God's schedule over our shortcuts._ What is the temptation? The temptation is that the God of this Age, the Prince of the Air, the Prince of this World… That's Satan, by the way. I don't know if you know that, but God put him here as dominion over the earth. We are in the midst of the middle of this test where Satan is hearing he has power and he's looking for people to steal, kill, and destroy. He's roaming around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour, the Scripture says.
He comes to Jesus and says, "God put me in authority over all of this, and I will entrust it to you." Do you know what the temptation is? He says, "You can have it right now without the cross. You don't have to go and die. You don't have to be tortured for them. You can have all of this right now." He offers Jesus a shortcut. How much does Jesus love you that he says, "No, sir"?
"I love those people and I will die for them. I will willingly take their sins on me. Because they wanted to go that way and they wanted to look at that and they wanted to buy that and they wanted to have that and they wanted to idolize that and they wanted those idols, I will take all of those idols on me.
I will die. I will be crushed. I will come back to life so they can be reconciled to God. I love them that much. I don't need your shortcuts, Satan. My God has a schedule, an order of events, and I will walk it. I will die. I will raise. They will be saved, and I will reign. Everything you're offering me is already mine. By the way, I created it. It was made by me and for me," as we looked at last week in Colossians 1. Everything was made by Jesus and for Jesus.
"Satan, I do not need a shortcut." How did he overcome it? He worshiped only God and trusted his schedule, God's order of events. What is the significance of this? Jesus is the second Adam. The first Adam was tested in the same way by the same Satan in the garden. He failed miserably, and sin entered the world through him.
Do you remember how he was tested? He was tested with food. He was tested by something that looked good visually, just like Satan took Jesus up and said, "Look at all of this. All of this can be yours." He was tested with power. "If you do, then you will have power. You will have wisdom. You will know the things of God."
Satan says, "If you do this, then you will have these things." Adam failed miserably, but Jesus passed the test. This is Genesis 3, verse 6: "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."
Eve saw that it was good, pleasing to the eye, and offered power, and she ate it. Jesus saw that it was good, pleasing to the eye, and offered power, and he denied it. He said, "I trust the Father." It's Romans 5, verse 19. "For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous."
We are made righteous through Christ. Passing the test, dying for our sins, the exact representation of humanity… I could die for you. I could say, "God, don't make her pay for her sins. I'll pay for them," or "Don't make him pay for your sins. I'll pay for them." But the problem is I'm not an eternal God. I can't endure an eternal punishment in a moment. Jesus could. Jesus, being an eternal God and the exact representation of you, is the only one who can pay for your sins.
He said, "I will, as God, pay for their sins," and Jesus had to be a perfect, spotless Lamb, a perfect sacrifice, one who did not sin. When he was tested… "Do you trust God?" He says, "How can I not? I know God! I've spent time with God. God and I have been there since the beginning of the beginning. How do I not trust him?" And he dies for our sins.
What is our temptation like this? We're suckers for shortcuts. We live in this instant world. We want instant gratification, so, if it looks good and meets our needs and offers us power, we're in on that. We live by this mantra, "Do what feels good," and we want to control things. Does anybody want to control things? Does anybody here want things in their timing and not God's timing? "God, can we expedite this process?"
How do we overcome these temptations to have a child change or these temptations to have that promotion in your timing or these temptations to change your marital status, whether you're single and want to be married or married and want to be single? How do we trust God's Word over our own desires?
We live lives of worship. Jesus said, "I will worship God alone." I'm asking now, is your life one big act of worship, or is it this idea? "I'm in Dallas. I'm going to look and live like Dallas. Then, I'm going to go to church on Sundays and every now and then I'm going to pray and I'm going to do spiritual things, but I've kind of added the spiritual things to my life," or is your life no matter where you are, no matter what you're doing, and no matter who you're talking to or how you're talking, one big giant act of worship to God?
"I will worship him alone, Satan." It's Romans 12, verses 1 and 2. "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship." What is your spiritual act of worship? Presenting your life as a living, live sacrifice. "God, I'm here. Not my will but my Master's will."
"…holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed…" Be changed. Be different. Be set apart in Dallas, different from Dallas and different from the world. "…by the renewing of your mind." By taking on the mind of Jesus… "Turn those stones into bread? I don't think so, Satan! My God has a plan."
"Expedite this process? I don't think so, Satan. My God has a plan. I'll trust my God." "Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will," the Scripture says. Do you want to know God's will? Live a life of worship to him like Jesus did. It says, "Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him."
I love that. I mean, Satan is kind of weak. Right? He tried three tries. "Turn the stones to bread! No? Okay. Well, come to the temple. No? Okay. Well, why don't we do this? No? Okay. I'm out of here then. I'm out." Satan is like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour, it says in the Scriptures, but I want you to know he's a hungry lion, and if you don't feed him he leaves.
He shows up, and he's like, "This is how I'm going to attack you. I'm learning what you want, and I'm going to present it to you, but if you say, 'There's no food here,' he's like, 'Well, I have to go find someone to devour. If I can't devour you, then I have to go somewhere else.'" I've learned Satan works like Netflix. True story. Let me explain.
This is what Netflix is doing. They're always learning about me, and they're presenting me with what I want. They're like, "Oh, you like this? Well, then watch this. You like this? Well, then how about these three movies? I see you watched these three movies. Check out these three movies." They're learning about me, and they're presenting it to me.
Satan is doing the same thing. "What do you like? Oh, a little pornography? Okay. How about all of this? You like control? Well, here's an opportunity to control. Here's an opportunity to control. Here's an opportunity to control. Why don't you pretend like you're in control now? Oh, you like money. Here's just a little bit. A little bit more. Here's an opportunity for money. Here's a little shortcut; you can have a lot of money."
He's learning about you, and he's presenting you with the things you devour. "How about a little more? Do you want a little more?" Then, all of a sudden you're under his control and not the Spirit's control. Does it seem like Jesus struggled with these? As you read these passages, does it seem Jesus is like, "Bread? What kind of bread? Is that Sara Lee Honey Wheat? What kind of bread are we talking about? Is it a donut? Maybe an éclair?"
I'm a sucker for éclairs, by the way. Don't tell Scott Kedersha. "What kind of bread are we talking about, Satan?" He didn't do that. Jesus was tested or tempted. There are two kinds of temptations. This is important. He was externally tempted. He was presented with an opportunity not to trust God, but he did not internalize that temptation. He did not entertain the thought.
When you begin to entertain the thought, that becomes sin. When you take an external temptation and start to say, "What would I do in that situation? What would my life be like? Let me progress down the road and think. What would it cost? If I do eat that, I have to pay $100." He didn't internalize it. It seemed like he was, "Dude, I'm not going to do that. I'm not going to do that."
Some people are like, "Wait a minute! We have a sympathizing Savior, one who can empathize with our weakness," and he can because he was fully human and his humanity was completely tempted, but what you cannot forget is Jesus knew God better than anyone. Jesus had been with the Father in eternity past, so this is what I want you to find comfort in this morning.
Jesus said, "Listen. The one whom I know really well is so worthy of trust, and if he says, 'Cross,' I'll go cross. If he says, 'Be hungry,' I'll be hungry. Because he is better than you all of the time he is always good, and I know him better than anyone. How can I not trust him?" That's why I believe Jesus couldn't sin, because I do not believe Jesus could not trust the Father. Jesus knew the Father better than anyone, so better than anyone Jesus knew the Father was trustworthy.
When we get to heaven, one day we're going to see fully the Father is trustworthy, and in heaven our free will, if you will, will be thwarted because God is irresistible. We'll see how irresistible he is. "I can't do anything else but worship you. You are so good and so great and so magnificent and so amazing I can't do anything else but worship you, and I can't believe I settled down there in those ways. I can't believe I didn't worship you in those moments in those ways. I settled, but now I'll worship you."
Jesus knew that better than anyone, so he's like, "What? I'm not going to live on bread. I'll live on the Word of God. I'm not going to test God. I'm not going to worship anything but God. He's so good. You have no idea." It doesn't even seem like he struggled. Some find comfort in how he was tested in every way but did not sin just like us, but I find comfort in the way he overcame temptation.
Do you know he did not use anything supernatural that is not available to you to overcome temptation? All he did was believe in the goodness of God, and that's available to you right now this morning. As you leave here, in the midst of the proposal, do you trust God? All Jesus did was believe in the goodness of God and say, "I'm not going to do that!"
All my friend is doing is believing in the goodness of his master. "It looks appetizing, but I'm not going to do that. I'm not going to do that." As we move toward application or summary, first, trust God's Word over our wants. Do you need God's Word more than food? The reality of it is, friends, you do need God's Word more than food. You just may not realize it yet. One day, you will realize, "Wow! I actually needed your Word more than I needed food to eat."
Right now, we may not realize it. As you think about how you might strengthen that resolve, I ask you to consider fasting. A friend of mine turned the word fast into an acronym. My friend David said, "It is forgoing appetite to strengthen trust." It is a discipline Jesus practices and expected that we practice.
I know a lot of you have been believers or Christians for a long time and maybe you've never fasted. I'd encourage you this week to consider fasting, to withdraw from something you really want or even something you need so you might practice dependence on God and strengthen your resolve to overcome sin. Strengthen your resolve as you depend on the Spirit to not give in to what your body says it wants but fast.
We trust God's Word over our wants. It's interesting. In the chapter that talks about the armor of God (Ephesians 6) that you have all of this defensive armor, the breastplate, the shield, the shoes, the helmet of salvation, and then you have one offensive weapon, one weapon to attack with. It is the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, it says. When attacked by Satan, Jesus slices him up with the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God three times from Deuteronomy.
In order to defend the Enemy with the Word of God, you have to know the Word of God. You have to take it in and write it on your heart, so this week you need to consider what your plan is to know better the Word of God and how you will defend yourself against temptation and strengthen your resolve to overcome sin.
Because of my story, I meet with people all of the time who are in a struggle or a fight against pornography, and the conversation almost always looks like this. I'll let you in on it. They'll say, "I'm really struggling. I have a story really similar to yours." I'll say, "Oh, you're a porn addict?" They'll say, "Yeah." I say, "Okay. How are you doing with that?"
"Man! I'm really struggling. I'm really fighting hard."
"Cool. How do you access porn?"
"Through my computer or my phone." Almost always it's, "Through my computer or my phone."
"Cool. Where's your computer?"
"It's at my house."
"What? Let's start over. You haven't started fighting. You still have an invitation in your home. You haven't even started fighting the struggle. You haven't even removed access. Where's your phone?"
"Well, it's in my pocket right now."
"Okay. I got you. When you said fighting, you didn't really mean fighting. You meant, 'I really don't want to look at it, but I'm looking at it.' Let's just clarify the terms. That's not fighting. It's still in your house!" They say, "Well, that just sounds legalistic. You want me to remove access?"
"Okay. It's legalistic. Let's just call Jesus one big giant legalist because in Matthew 5, he says, 'If your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out, and if your hand causes you to sin, cut if off.' It sounds pretty legalistic, doesn't it?" To me, it just sounds like wisdom. If something is tripping you up, remove it from your life. What is causing you temptation? Remove it from your life for the sake of holiness and the pursuit of holiness.
Secondly, trust God's plan over our pride. You don't need to show the world how gifted you are. God is in charge of what others think of you. I want you to know that. God is in charge of what others think of you. Thirdly, trust God's schedule over shortcuts. In this world where everything comes instant, I'm telling you I want you to believe God's Word this morning, that you don't want money, you don't want children, you don't want marriage, you don't want that promotion, and you don't want anything apart from the will of God.
You do not want to take matters in your own hands and begin to try to take things by way of shortcuts that God has withheld from you. No matter how much you want it, you do not want to go against the counsel of his Word. You trust his timing. You trust his schedule over any shortcuts the Enemy would present to you.
I would just end with this. I want to show you how my friend, Jay, has learned. My friend, Brad, is coming up. Brad is Jay's master. These are what they call bumpers. This is how he trains Jay. Jay has been trained to retrieve ducks. What I want you to know is these two bumpers are exactly identical, but he can tell him, "This one is good for you, and this one is bad for you," and he will avoid the bad one.
Here's why. Because in the real practice of retrieving ducks, if a duck falls near an alligator or a duck falls… One time he told me a duck fell right over a bunch of rebar in the water. Jay will jump out with a huge leap, and he would be impaled by the rebar. He has to say, "No, not that one. Go get that one. That's the bad one. That's the good one."
He has to be able to listen to his master and know what is good for him. You'll look at him watch. He won't even run after it. Everything in him wants that, but he goes and gets the one he's supposed to get, and he brings it to him. He's watching his master. He says, "Master, you tell me what is good for me. I want to know. I don't want anything but what you tell me is good for me, and I will get that thing."
Let's just test him one more time, if we can. There we go. We didn't do that first service, so I don't know how this is going to work. He's like, "I don't want anything to do with that which is from me." Give it up for Jay, my friend! Thank you so much! That's right, guys. "You told me to stay away from that? I don't think so. If you say it's bad for me, then I don't even want to get near it."
Do you know God has told us sin is poison? Why do we play with temptation? Why do we do that? Yesterday, I was on Instagram. If you don't know, it's the fastest growing social media in the world. It operates by way of hashtags. If you don't know what that is, ask somebody younger near you what a hashtag is.
I was looking at what everyone was doing for the Fourth of July and whatnot. I clicked on #America to see everyone's Fourth of July pictures. It was like red, white, and blue bikini; red, white, and blue bikini; bikini that looks like an American flag. It's not worth it. I'll delete Instagram. It's not worth it. It's not worth it. Why would we play with that which wants to bring death to our lives?
Some of you are here, and you're like, "Yeah, but he didn't get the roast. He didn't get the roast." Did you see how delighted he was to please his master? When he got that bumper, that was the only time his tail was just going crazy. He lives to please his master. When is that not good enough anymore?
Why is it not good enough for us anymore? It's not just God's joy that we want; it's God's joy plus the desires of our flesh that we want. I'm not saying to perform for God so you can get something from him. I'm saying you live a life of obedience because God has given you everything in Jesus.
Jesus willingly went to the cross for you and died for you so you might live for him. He says, "Come and die. Anyone who wants to hold onto his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find life and have it abundantly and have it forever." The only thing you need to have in order to overcome temptation is to trust God. Say, "Lord, I need you. Father, I need you." Let me pray that we would.
God, we do need you. What an understatement of the year! We need you. Father, we need you. We're desperate for you. We need you, God. Would you make us obedient? Not like Jimmy but like Jesus. Lord, that we wouldn't even entertain the thought of sin, that we would just say, "No. My God knows better. My God knows better."
Father, I pray as we leave here and the Enemy comes and attacks us like a roaring lion seeking for someone to devour, your Spirit in us will strengthen our resolve to say, "No," that you would lead us not into temptation, Lord, but you would deliver us from evil. Father, we need you. In Jesus' name, amen.
Praise God! Praise God! Jesus knew he could trust the Father. He knew whatever the Father had for him was better than anything this world could offer. It's the truth. Don't let those words just be something preachers or pastors say. Jesus knew whatever the Father had to offer him is infinitely better than anything this world could offer him.
My friend Jimmy has been spending time with Brad. He's learned over the years he could trust his master, that his master desires to give him good things, to give him life not to rip him off. As you spend time with God, I pray we would all as a body come to that same conclusion. Could you imagine if 3,000 people flooded this city believing whatever God has is better than whatever this city or whatever this world offers?
Yeah! I pray we would do that. If we can help you do that or pray for you in that, please let us know through the Watermark News, that little perforated section. We would love to partner with you in prayer this week.
Have a great week of worship.