David Jeremiah - Overcoming Temptation With Scripture
Temptation is so beautiful on the front side and so ugly on the back side. And no matter who we are, or what our background may be, temptation always presents itself as beautiful and inviting. But behind that mask, it is dangerous and deadly. Now, of course, the best way to avoid temptation is to run away from it. Did you know that in the Bible there aren't very many things we're told to run away from but the Bible does tell us to run away from sexual temptation because nobody can stand against that and ever win. The Bible tells us the best equipment for getting out of that situation is the best pair of Adidas money can buy. Just get out of there. But despite all of our care and caution, we can't always get away from temptation and we're all gonna be tempted at some point. It's part of life. Couple of things to remember up front.
Number one: temptation itself is not sin. It is not a sin to be tempted and I'm gonna prove that to you. It is a sin to yield to temptation but it's not a sin to be tempted. So as long as you live, just like me, you will be tempted. It's just part of life. You're in good company. I'll tell you right now somebody in this room, right now, is being tempted just like you are. Somebody that lives in your neighborhood, somebody that goes to your church, is being tempted just the way you are because the Bible tells us that temptation is not particular. Temptation is not on a journey to just get you. Listen to what it says in 1 Corinthians 10:13: "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man". Listen to that. "Such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond that you are able, but with the temptation will make a way of escape, that you may be able to bear it".
Here's how I can prove to you that temptation is not sin. Even Jesus Christ was tempted. Here's what it says in Hebrews 4:15: "We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are," he was tempted as we are, "yet without sin". He didn't yield to the temptation, but he was tempted. And remember this too, folks. Temptation never comes from God. If you ever hear anybody say, "Well, God made this temptation happen in my life," you can know for sure that's not true. Here's what the Bible says. The Bible says: "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone". Those are the words of James chapter 1, verse 13. Listen to me. It's the devil who tempts us to evil, and that's why in the Bible on two occasions he's called the Tempter. That's one of Satan's names. He's the Tempter.
If you've been a Christian for long, the Tempter isn't any stranger to you. I mean, he roars about like a lion. That's what the Bible says. He seeks to devour. And I'm pretty sure he's passed your way more than once as he has mine. But while you have to respect and be wary of the devil's temptations, I'm here to tell you today you do not need to have an inordinate fear of them. Temptation can be overcome. Our faithful God is not gonna let us be tempted beyond what we can bear. That's what the Scripture says. He may test us by allowing temptation but he himself will never tempt us. There's an old adage that says this way: Satan tempts us to make us worse; God tests us to make us better. And so as you read this whole list of armor in the book of Ephesians, all of the first things are all protective pieces of armor but then we get this one offensive piece of armor which we're gonna talk about today and that is what the Bible calls "the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God". God hasn't left us without a piece of armament. God says that every one of us as Christians, we have this armament. It's called the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Say that. "The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God".
In the Bible, there are two different words for the word "word". There's two different words for the word "word". Let me explain to you. The first word is a word we sometimes say in the English language. It's called logos. You've all heard that somewhere. Logos is the main word in the New Testament for the Word of God. Listen to me. Logos is the word which refers to the entire Bible. From Genesis to Revelation, all in between, that is the logos of God. But in Ephesians when Paul says we're to take, "the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God," the word "logos" isn't there. It's a different word. It's the word "rhema". And the Bible says we're to take "the sword of the Spirit, which is the rhema of God". "Well," you say, "Pastor Jeremiah, what's the difference between logos and rhema"? Real interesting, and it's the key to everything I'm gonna say from now on. The logos, as I said, refers to the whole Bible but the rhema is, in the Scripture, it means a saying of God. The Bible says we're to take the sword of the Spirit, which is the saying of God. And what it means is that out of this logos which is the entire revelation of God, there are certain sayings that we find and we learn and these sayings are what we use against the enemy when he comes after us. The Bible is the armory in which the swords can be found.
So when it says in the Bible you're to take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, it's not saying, "Take the whole Bible". It's saying, "Find the Scriptures that are in the Bible that apply to the temptation you're under and use those Scriptures to defeat the enemy". If we could ever get that, if we could ever get that under our spiritual skin, it would make all the difference in the world. We go into the battle against temptation without any protection whatsoever. We haven't learned enough of the Bible so we know anything to say, so we go in totally unprotected. The person who uses the sword of the Spirit better than anyone else in all of the Scripture is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. And I wanna share with you an experience in his life where he shows us how to use the sword of the Spirit.
When Jesus Christ was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, he used the sword of the Spirit with the deftness and precision of an invincible warrior and shows us by what he did just exactly how we can do the same thing. You remember in the book of Matthew chapter 3 when Jesus is being baptized and his Father says to him, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased". Did you know that's one of the places where you can prove the Trinity? Did you know that? Jesus is being baptized, the Father is in heaven saying, "This is my beloved Son," and the Holy Spirit descends like a dove. All three persons of the Trinity are right there in that one picture. How many of you know that was a high point in Jesus's life? That was a mountaintop experience. When you're getting baptized by God the Father and he says, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased," I don't know that it can get any better than that.
How many of you know that sometimes after your highest moment, that's when you're the most vulnerable to the temptation of the enemy? What you learn from watching what happens to Jesus is after he experienced his high moment in baptism, hearing his Father say, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased," he leaves that situation and goes immediately to the desert and the Bible says: "And Satan tempted him". Watch out for those high moments because sometimes the height of the mountain on which you find yourself determines the depth of the valley that follows it. Now watch that. So here's Jesus now and he's in the desert with Satan. The Bible says: "The Spirit led Jesus to the wilderness where Satan tempted him at the very heart of his Father's words".
This was Satan's strategy. Did you know that? I don't wanna be disrespectful of Satan 'cause I respect him greatly. I just don't fear him. I respect him. But Satan never had a new idea since the Garden of Eden. Did you know that? He always tempts people the same way. Do you know how he does it? In three ways: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. You'll find all three of those things listed in, 1 John 2:16, one verse. That was Satan's strategy in the Garden and he told Eve that the fruit was good for food, the lust of the flesh. He said it was pleasant to the eyes, the lust of the eyes, and he said, "It will make you wise," the pride of life. That's what Satan did when he tried to tempt Jesus. Now I wanna remind you of the story 'cause most of you know this well. First of all, Satan tests Jesus along the lines of the lust of the flesh. Matthew 4 says it this way: "Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted for 40 days and 40 nights, afterward He was hungry. And when the tempter came to Him, he said, 'If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.'"
Notice, he came to Jesus when he was hungry and tempted him with the ability to make his own bread. Satan was playing on the human hunger of Jesus, trying to get him to step outside of the will of his Father and perform a miracle for himself. And watch what Jesus does. He whips out his first sword. Are you ready for this? To overcome this thrust of temptation, Jesus reached into his armory and he pulled out a sword, a rhema of God, and this is what he said: "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'" Take that, Satan. To overcome this temptation, Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 8, verse 3. And the key word is "alone". He said, "Man shall not live by bread alone, or by bread only". Jesus reminded Satan that feeding on and obeying God's Word's far more important than eating any physical bread. And Satan was defeated in his first temptation. How was he defeated? The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Here's the second temptation: "And the devil took Him up into the holy city, and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, 'If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: "He shall give His angels charge over you," and, "In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.'"
The second temptation of Satan against Jesus took place 450 feet above the Kidron Valley, above the temple floor. Jesus was standing on the pinnacle of the temple with Satan, and Satan was saying, "Jesus, if you won't work a miracle for yourself, why don't you let God do a miracle for you? Why don't you jump off and let God catch you and protect you on the way down, and that will prove to everyone that you are really the Messiah". The devil wanted Christ to set himself up as a wonder worker, to put on a show. But the Lord had the perfect sword all ready. He said, "It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'" You can see the Lord Jesus doing battle with the enemy. He said, "Satan, get out of the way. Listen to what the Bible says. The Bible says: 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God,'" and Jesus overcame Satan's temptation by quoting Deuteronomy chapter 6, verse 16.
Did you know that Satan knows the Bible better than we do? I mean, that's a sad story but it's true. Satan said, "It is written, Lord, 'He shall give His angels charge over you,' and, 'In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.'" That's from Psalm 91:11-12, one of the great angel passages in the Bible. Satan knows God's Word and he's not above using them to his advantage. He uses Scripture to lead us to question God and by selectively using Scripture, he tries to confuse us as he tried to do Christ in this temptation. Well, there's one more temptation. I've told you there were three. The first was the lust of the flesh: "Make some bread out of this stone". The second was the lust of the eyes: "Why don't you just throw yourself off the temple and let God save you"?
And the third one is the pride of life. Once again, in Matthew 4: "Again, the devil took Jesus up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, 'All these things I will give You, Jesus, if You will fall down and worship me.'" By the way, that's what Satan always wanted from the very beginning, from the time he rebelled against God as Lucifer and was kicked out of heaven. We can see why this third temptation might have appealed to Jesus more than the others because the devil was offering Jesus a way of ruling the world without going through the agony of the cross. Once again, Jesus reached into his armory. Remember, the armory is the whole Bible and the sword is the saying of God that comes out of that whole Bible. He reached into the sheaf of swords and he pulled out the rhema of God. And he said in verse 10: "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.'"
Now let's notice what happened when Jesus hit him with the third sword, verse 11: "And the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him". Do you know what the Bible says to us? The Bible says: "Resist the devil and he will," what? "Flee from you". That's what Jesus did. You know, sometimes we don't even resist the devil, do we? We just let him have his way with us. But the Bible says if we learn the Scripture and we take the Word of God and we use it against the enemy, he will flee from us. Satan has no promise of victory in your life. Do you know the Scripture that says: "Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world"? That's my Savior who is in me and he is greater than the one who is in the world. So there you have it. That's how you use the sword.
"How does that work, Pastor"? You and I, we have the same access to the Scripture that Jesus did. In fact, we have more. How do we take this truth now and make it work in our lives? First of all, let me say first of all, stay in the line of fire. Stay in the line of fire. You say, "Well, what do you mean by that"? Did you know that if you have a pastor who preaches the Word of God it's hazardous to go to that church? You know what he's doing? He's standing in the pulpit and he's slinging swords. He's slinging out the sayings of God. Have you ever gotten in the way of one of the swords coming from the preacher? Sometimes, preachers get accused of reading the mail of their congregants, but we don't do that. The Holy Spirit is in us and just like he's in you. The sayings of God may be incidental verses or phrases that I'm hardly aware of when I'm preaching. It may be some verse that I use to prove something but that verse is the exact sword that God needs to touch somebody's heart and that sword finds its way. Isn't that something?
I remember last year I started writing some of this stuff down because it was so amazing to me. People have become Christians through listening to a stewardship message. I had some people get saved one Sunday when I was preaching on stewardship. How does that happen? The sword is there and maybe it's a verse I didn't even know I was quoting and that sword found its way into the heart of a person who needed it. What I'm telling you here is that the declaration of a scriptural phrase or a word has power we don't realize. So never underestimate the potential of just one sword. How many of us could go back and say, "You know, I was in this situation or that situation, and I heard this guy on the radio or I saw this guy on television or I was reading this book and that thing jumped out of that book and just got me. And I've never recovered".
Stay in the line of fire. Obviously, the swords can't hit you if you're never in the presence of somebody who's a sword-thrower. I try to be a sword-thrower. I like to throw the swords of God. Number two, search every inch of the armory. Did you notice where God got all three of his swords? Now, I mean, c'mon, really. His entire repertoire against Satan came from the book of Deuteronomy? When was the last time you had your devotions in Deuteronomy? It's not exactly the book we tell new believers to start on. "Oh yeah, you just got saved? Well, why don't you read the book of Deuteronomy," right? No, we don't do that, do we? There isn't any place in the Scripture that's unimportant. There are some places that are more important than others but there are no places that are less inspired. The whole Scripture, all of it, has the same quality of inspiration. It's the Word of God.
So never underestimate reading, even those Old Testament prophets and the old, I mean, here's my trouble. Have you ever tried to get through Leviticus? But you know what? God's blessing is on Leviticus. And there's probably a verse in Leviticus that he wants you to find so you can use it when the time comes. 2 Timothy 3:16 says: "All Scripture is God-breathed and it's useful for teaching and rebuking and correcting and training in righteousness". One of the reasons why we should read through our Bibles and never stop reading through our Bibles, no matter how many times you read through your Bible, you're always gonna find new truth that you didn't see before. This book is a miracle book and, if you keep notes, you keep finding these swords you didn't know were there. Keep going through the armory. Examine every inch of the armory. You're gonna find swords where you thought there weren't any and they might just be the thing God wants you to have to defeat the enemy.
Number three, stay in the line of fire, search every inch of the armory. Number three, start gathering your swords. How many of you know that most temptations that come your way don't come your way while you're walking around with a Bible in your hand? That means I need to store up these swords in my mind so that when temptation comes, I can call on them to ward off the attack and defeat it. How many of you know that when you memorize the Scripture you make it portable? It goes wherever you go. I love what Psalm 119, verse 11, says: "Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You".
How does that work? If you have the Word of God in your heart when temptation comes, it's like God brings that back from the hard drive to action and all of a sudden now you have access to God's Word. Here's what I know about temptation. God has given us everything we need to withstand it. What is it? It's the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. But underneath all of that is an even more important principle, men and women, and that is when we love God with all of our heart, we will never want to do something that will hurt his heart. And we can then be overcomers, amen? Amen, amen. Thank you very much.