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Greg Laurie - God's Solution To Man's Problem

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    Greg Laurie - God's Solution To Man's Problem

Have you ever noticed on certain products there's a warning label warning you to not do a certain thing? I came across what could best be described as wacky warning labels. They're real, but maybe they've gone a little bit too far. As an example, this is a real warning label on a baby stroller, "Warning: remove child before folding". That means somewhere someone folded the stroller with the baby inside still. A warning on a brass fishing lure with a three pronged hook on the end, "Harmful if swallowed". I think that's true of the fish. I hope a human didn't swallow it. A flushable toilet brush warns, "Not to be used for personal hygiene". Ugh, gross. A can of self-defense pepper spray warns users, "May irritate eyes". That was kind of the plan.

If I'm gonna spray someone, I hope it irritates their eyes. On a chainsaw, this is a real warning on a chainsaw, "Warning: do not hold the wrong end of a chainsaw". That's good advice. Warning on a hair dryer, "Do not use while sleeping". How do you use a hairdryer while you're sleeping? Well, someone apparently has done it. And one more, well, actually, two more. "Warning: this Superman costume does not enable you to fly". Oh, great. So someone thought they could just jump off the roof because they were wearing that costume. Here's another one, it says, "Warning: never try to catch a falling knife". Yeah, that's a good idea. You drop a knife, let it hit the ground. "Well, I'll catch it". No, don't, don't. And then one final one, and I should have heeded this one because I didn't listen to this warning, warning on a household iron, "Never iron clothes while they're being worn".

I have ironed clothes while wearing them. Has anybody else done this? Raise your hand if you have. So, you know, you get everything ironed and then you look in the mirror and there's one little wrinkle. "Oh, I'll just iron it". Well, what I did was even worse because I have a heavy duty steam iron. I mean, this is a next level steam iron. It has a base, a reservoir water, it's nuclear powered, okay? So, when you fire a burst of steam, it's like, poof! Like that. So, I'm aware, two people just woke up, I noticed, when I did that... So, I'm wearing this shirt and I thought, oh, it's a wrinkle. I'll just blast it with steam, but I pulled it away from my skin, I'd be okay. And I gave it a blast of steam and I screamed like a little girl.

Later that night I had my shirt off, don't try to visualize that place, and my wife looked at me with this red welt. She said, "What happened to you"? I said, "Don't ask". Okay, so that's good advice. Well, you know, there's warning labels, if you will, in the Bible as well, things that God tells us not to do and instead things that we should do in their place. Let me give an example. Someone says, "Happy is the man or woman who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of the scornful". Those are things you should not do, "But his or her delight is in the word of the Lord, and in it, do they meditate day and night".

So, don't do these things. Instead, do these things. Well, we're gonna look here now at the very familiar story of our first parents sinning against God because they didn't listen to the warning label. That brings me to point number one, the theme of this message is what happens when we don't follow the warnings. So, the Lord placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. It was literally paradise. They could eat of any tree. I mean, imagine, God said, "This is all yours to enjoy. You can eat of all of the fruit of the trees of the garden and behold the beauty I placed in it. One restriction. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, don't eat from that tree".

Scene two, Adam and Eve standing at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The one place God told them to stay away from, that's where they were. Already, they're setting themselves up for trouble. They were in the wrong place and then they heard the wrong voice and then they did the wrong thing. So, here they are standing by that tree and, of course, the devil comes and he tempts them. And we see what happens when you don't listen to the warning. Genesis 3:6 says, "When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes and desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. And she gave to her husband with her, and he ate".

That brings me to point number two, every temptation in life fits into three categories. It's identified for us in 1 John 2:15 to 16. It says, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. For all that is in the world, the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, the pride of life, is not of the Father but of the world". The lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, the pride of life. Every temptation is in one of those categories.

First, there's the lust of the flesh, things that feel good. We read in Genesis 3:16, "When the woman saw the tree was good for food," it feels good. The lusts of the flesh would include temptations that are physical in nature, whatever appeals to you, you're drawn to that thing. It's the pleasures of life. Now, you can have legitimate pleasures in life as a Christian. The Bible even says, "In his presence there are pleasures forevermore," but they are good pleasures, godly pleasures, satisfied. But then there are ungodly pleasures, sinful things that we might pursue. The Bible even warned, "She that lives her pleasure is dead while she is living".

Okay, so that's the lust of the flesh. Then there's the lust of the eyes, things that look good. We read in Genesis 3, "Eve saw that it was pleasant to the eyes". Most temptation comes through your mind first. You are the air traffic controller of your mind. You decide what thoughts are gonna be there and what thoughts are going to be rejected, but you'll find that most sins that people engage in, they think about first, they contemplate it first, they fantasize about it first, right? And so, this is why we have to guard our thoughts and be careful about what we expose ourselves to. David fell into sexual sin when he was on his balcony, looking around, and he saw the beautiful Bathsheba bathing herself.

Now, he couldn't have seen the first thing, but it's that second look that gets you into trouble, or maybe the super long first look, depending. And that is why Job says, "I've made a covenant with my eyes that I will not look on a woman lustfully," so the lust of the eyes. And finally, there's a pride of life, things that make you feel and look good. The devil says to them, "Go ahead and eat of this fruit. It's desirable to make one wise and you'll be as a God," he says to Adam and Eve, "knowing good and evil". No, it's not wrong to want to look good. You know, it's fine to want to give some attention to the way you appear.

In fact, some of you should give more attention to that and I'm looking at you right now. No, I'm not actually, I'm not, but I'm thinking about it. No, I'm not. But then there are people that are obsessed with that. That's all they think about. You know just by visiting their Instagram page, right? So, here's the thing. We have to find the balance in all of these things. The pride of life is an obsession with self, wanting to appear more important than we are. This is what got Lucifer, once a high ranking angel, ejected from his former position in heaven. And then he became Satan, or the devil. He wanted to be worshiped. So, these are the things we should stay away from. The world with its allure is the external foe, the flesh with its evil desires is the internal foe, and Satan with his enticements is the infernal foe.

My next point, because of Adam's sin we all suffer. Because of Adam's sin we all suffer, but let me make this point. If you were in the garden, you would have done the same thing, and so would I, so it's easy to blame them but this is just human nature, all right? But we're all affected by this decision he made. Romans 5:12 says, "When Adam sinned, sin entered the world and Adam's sin brought death and death spread to everyone, for everyone has sin". Death, illness, disability, age, all a result of the Fall. If Adam and Eve had not sinned, we would never get sick. If Adam and Eve never sinned, we would never die. If Adam and Eve never sinned, I would have hair. You see, it's all connected. We all share in this.

Now, let's see what happens after sin is entered the world. Go to Genesis chapter 4, starting in verse 1. I'm reading from the New Living Translation. "Now Adam knew his wife Eve and she became pregnant. And when she gave birth to Cain, she said, 'With the Lord's help, I produced a man!' Later, she gave birth to his brother and named him Abel. When they grew up, Abel became a shepherd, while Cain cultivated the ground. When it was time for harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord. Abel also brought a gift, the best portions of the firstborn lambs from the flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry and he looked dejected. 'Why are you so angry?' the Lord asked Cain. 'Why do you look so dejected?'" Then the Lord gives this ominous warning. "'You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out, because sin is crouching at your door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.'"

Okay, we'll stop there. The book of Genesis can be divided into three sections. Chapters 1 and 2, generation; chapters 3 to 11, de-generation; chapters 12 to 50, regeneration. In chapter 3, we saw the beginning of man. In chapter 4, we read of his progress and results as he sins against God. Bottom line, mankind wrecks everything he touches because we're sinful by nature. If history tells us anything, it tells us this. Man is not basically good, man is basically bad. Bad to the bone, sinful to the core. History is a space in which Cain's acts ultimately became thrown nuclear weapons. We just take new technology and find ways to use it to make things even worse. And it's not the way it began. I mean, here's Adam and Eve, they're having their first child and they'd never seen a pregnancy before and much less a birth.

I was talking to a pastor friend of mine a while ago and he told me about his daughter's wedding and he wanted to say something very profound because he was performing the ceremony. So, there she is, standing with her groom, and he looks at her and he says, "I was there when you were conceived," and he meant to say, "I was there when you were born," okay? So, I mean, he was there when she was... but still, it's just not what you want to hear on your wedding day from your dad. But that's the way that went.

Well, Adam and Eve were present for both conception and birth. Now, you wonder if Adam's thinking, "What's happening to my beautiful wife? Eve, putting a little bit of weight on all of a sudden. Have you found, like, a high carb tree out there or something or? Why are you knitting those little socks? What's going on here"? Well, she was gonna have a baby and she had her first child, Cain, and then followed by Abel. And they both brought their offering one day and God accepted the offering of Abel and he rejected the offer of Cain.

Bringing me to point number five. Being exposed to truth does not guarantee you will follow it. Cain and Abel were both raised in the same home. They both saw the same things, but one walked with God and one did not walk with God. One was a true worshiper and the other was not a true worshiper. One was accepted, the other rejected. And this reminds us there's a right and wrong way to approach God. And it comes down to this: the why, or the motive. Because as far as God is concerned, motive is everything. One day, we, as Christians, will stand before the judgment seat of Christ. This is not a judgment about whether or not you get to heaven. In fact, it's a judgment in heaven where rewards are given out for faithful service.

And the Bible says God will test every man's work to see what sort it is. In other words, the why of what you did. So you think, "Well, if I have a beautiful voice and in worship I sing louder than everyone, that will be pleasing to God". Maybe and maybe not. Because if your heart's in the wrong place, it's not pleasing to God at all. And that person that's always off pitch may be more pleasing to the Lord than the person with the beautiful voice. Or, when we receive an offering and one person gives a lot of money and another person doesn't give as much, God will be impressed by the motive of why the person did what they did. God looks on the heart.

Bringing me to my next point. The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. It's all about the heart, the why of why we do things. And so, in the book of Isaiah it says, God's speaking, "These people draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me". See, Abel was a true worshiper. His heart was in the right place. Cain was not. And we're given an insight as to what really happened in Hebrews 11 when it says, "By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain". Well, Cain was ticked off, angry that God did not accept his sacrifice. In fact, and the word that is used for anger here in verse 5 means he burned with anger, causing the Lord to even say, "Hey, buddy calm down a little bit, you know, why are you so angry? Why do you look so dejected"? The fact is, Cain's true colors are beginning to show. The Lord is saying, "You need to not go this way because this is not gonna end well for you".

Bringing me to point number seven, God wanted confession because that's the only way to forgiveness. "Well, why are you doing what you're doing? You don't want to do this," and Cain should have said, "You're right, I'm overreacting. I'm sorry, Lord. I repent," but he's just angry and he's justifying his own anger. It's a weird thing about anger, isn't it? How you can feel so right about it until the adrenaline wears off. Like when you're driving and someone does some crazy thing, right? They offer a hand gesture in your direction and you just are so filled with rage or they cut you off or they, you know, roll their window down and yell something, you know, and then you do something you regret later and you need to just calm down.

That was Cain. He was just losing it. And God gives him this interesting warning in verse 7. "Listen, you'll be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what's right, watch out! Sin is crouching at your door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master". The Lord's saying, "Cain, you're flirting with disaster. Sin is like a crouching beast, poised and ready to strike and ruin your life if you don't get control of it".

Bringing me to my next point, the devil is always looking for trouble. He's looking for a life to ruin. Jesus said of Satan in John 10:10, "The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy". So, we have to keep our guard up and be alert to this fact. Let me ask you, are you filled with anger for someone right now? "Well, Greg, they hurt me". Okay. Maybe it's your parents, maybe it's your children, maybe it's a neighbor, maybe it's a friend, maybe it's someone else. But if that anger is controlling your life, the person that's being hurt is you, not them. It's eating you up inside. And the Bible actually says, "Don't let the sun go down on your wrath, because when you do, you give the devil a foothold".

Bringing me to my next point: Sin is crouching at our doors, too. He's ready to strike. He's looking for vulnerability. So, we want to be careful and protect our homes from the power of the devil. Starting with this simple fact: I can't do this on my own. I need to pray and ask God to help me. And I want to say a word to fathers and mothers out there. You need to protect your home in every way. I know you may have alarm systems and you put all your locks on and you've got everything right, and that's fantastic, but also remember to have spiritual protection. Have a time where you get together with your family and have a meal together and get rid of the devices. No phones, no tablets, no TV playing in the background. Let's just talk to each other. Let's pray together. Let's read the Bible together.

And men, I wanna say a word to you. You should be taking the initiative and leading in this area. Men need to be the spiritual leaders in their home, right? You can do this. You must do this. So, sin has now entered the world and Cain acts on this envy and this anger, and you all know the story: He killed his brother Abel. Horrible thing. But God had a solution for Cain's sin and all our sin, and that takes us back to Genesis chapter 3 because the Lord promised he was gonna send a deliverer. After Eve and Adam ate of the forbidden fruit, the Lord made this profound statement and this is the first Messianic passage in the Bible. By Messianic, I mean the first verse in the Bible that spoke of Jesus's coming.

Genesis 3:14 to 15. Let's look at it together. After Adam and Eve have sinned, "The Lord said to the serpent, 'Because you've done this, you're cursed more than all cattle, more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed; he will bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.'" That's the one. "He will bruise your head and you will bruise his heel".

So, this is the Messiah. So, here's what God is saying. "Devil, I'm now putting you on notice. There is coming one who's gonna crush your head, but you'll bruise his heel". And sure enough, Satan struck out at Jesus. He thought he had the ultimate plan. "I'll infiltrate their ranks," Lucifer thought, "I'll get one of Jesus's very disciples to betray him," and he did, Judas Iscariot, who betrayed our Lord for 30 pieces of silver. "I'll make sure Jesus is killed and murdered in cold blood on a Roman cross and that'll be the end of it". No, that was the fulfillment of it because Jesus came to die on the cross and he said so repeatedly. In fact, the Bible says of Jesus, "He was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the earth".

What this means is, before there was a solar system, before there was a planet called Earth, before there was a garden called Eden, before there was a couple named Adam and Eve, a decision was made in the councils of eternity that God would send his own Son, that God would walk among us as a man and live a perfect life and die a perfect death and rise again from the dead. This was the plan and the devil didn't know it. And actually, in his weird way helped to bring the plan about. It blew up in his face. As we close now, let me ask you this: Has sin been bringing havoc into your life? Is there some sin or some vice that has gotten the control of you? Remember what God said to Cain? "You better master it or it's gonna master you". And the same is true for all of us.

Now, I cannot master sin in my own power. I cannot overcome my sin in my own strength, but through the power of God I can do it because greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world, all right? So, take whatever issue you're dealing with, whatever sin you're struggling with, whatever vice seems to have a permanent hold in your life, and I wanna tell you something. God is bigger than that problem, he's bigger than that sin, he's bigger than that addiction, and you can overcome it through Jesus Christ, okay? But keep something in mind. Don't unnecessarily put yourself in a place of vulnerability. Don't unnecessarily put yourself in a place where you could be pulled down.

Where did Adam and Eve get tempted? At the place God told them to not be. So, I cannot avoid the influence of culture in the world. It's everywhere, right? But if I'm on a diet, should I hang around at Krispy Kreme Donuts? If I have a weakness in another area, should I be in a place where I could be more easily tempted, right? So, make practical decisions because 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, "There is no temptation taking you but such as is common to man; but God who is faithful, will not allow you to be tempted above your capacity to resist, but will with the temptation make a way of escape, that you may be able to bear it".

Let me just paraphrase that. There's always a way out of every temptation. There just is. Sometimes it's as simple as the door. Sometimes it's as simple as the off button. Press it. Sometimes it's as simple as terminating the conversation. But then, instead of being in places of vulnerability, be in places where you're being built up, like you are in church right now, worshiping together, hearing the Word of God together.
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