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James Merritt - Help Me With Temptation

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    James Merritt - Help Me With Temptation
TOPICS: So Help Me God, Temptation

I wanna tell you a sad story I have a dear friend. I actually was his pastor when he was just a teenager, one of the finest young men I've ever known, and he's in prison today. He didn't kill anybody, he didn't rob anybody. He's really is no danger to anybody. He's one of the finest young men I've ever known, raised in one of the finest homes I've ever seen. He's in jail today because he got romantically involved with a young lady who was just under the age of 18 which as you know, is the legal age of consent in America.

Now the silver lining in this very dark cloud is he is remorseful, he is broken, he has repented. He is walking with the Lord, he has asked for forgiveness and he's ministering right there in the prison where he is. But I wanna talk to you today about the reason why he's in prison. I'm not talking about the crime that got him there. I'm talking about the decision that he made to commit the crime that got him there. See, he's not really in prison today just because he broke the law. He is in prison today because he broke God's rules concerning temptation. If you're a guest of ours today we are in a series we've been calling So Help Me God.

Pastors and doctors have something in common. Whenever someone goes to a doctor primary is because they need medical help. Most of the time when people come to see the pastor, it is not that they went out of their way to tell him what a great preacher he is, it's not that they went out of their way to say go, is not that they went out of the way to talk about anything like that. They come because they need help. They either need relational help, they need marital help, they need financial help or they need self-help. Sometimes they say help me with me. Usually it's because of a self-esteem problem, a self image problem. We dealt with that a couple of weeks ago. Sometimes they'll say, "Hey, help me with worry". We talked about that last week, and they're worried about all kinds of things, we just mentioned that, I told you I have a battle with it as well. Today I wanna deal with that third area that I have found where most people need help, and that's an area where we all need help, and that is in the area of temptation.

Now you may think you don't have a big problem with temptation. I'm gonna prove to you just what a problem you have. I want you to go back right now in your mind's eye, I want you to think about everything you've ever done in your life you wish you could do over. I want you to think about every regret that you have in life. I want you to think about all the things you wished you had not done, and all the words you wished you had not said, and all the places you wish you had not gone, and all the people that you wish you had not hurt. And I will guarantee you, you will find that the reason why you did what you shouldn't have done, said what you shouldn't have said, hurt who you should not have hurt, is because you failed to overcome temptation.

Now, the good news is everybody who knows Jesus and loves Jesus and follows Jesus can overcome any temptation because of Jesus. And Jesus shows exactly how to do it. If you brought a copy of God's word, or you look on some other electronic device, we're in Matthew, the gospel of Matthew 4. Now if you don't anything about the Bible, the Bible is a big book that's divided into two parts, Old Testament, New Testament. Just go to the New Testament, you'll find the very first book in the New Testament is the gospel of Matthew, we're in Matthew 4.

Now lemme set this story up. It's really fascinating every time I think about it, every time I read the gospels, I'm always amazed at how Jesus started out His ministry. Because if you think about it you would think that here's the son of God, He's about to enter into a three-year ministry, He's about to do the greatest work anybody's ever done. He's about to do things nobody's ever seen before or will ever see again. You would think He would come in with a big bang. That's how a PR agent would do it, that's how Hollywood would do it. You would think, all right if the son of God's about to start His work, surely He's going to be ushered in or thrown and held up by angels. Surely He's going to be greeted by all the paparazzi, taken all the pictures, He'll be on the front page of all of the papers. Surely He'll be met with adoring crowds as He goes down mainstream in this big ticker tape parade. But no, that's not how He enters, in fact there are two great surprises to the way that Jesus starts off His ministry.

First of all, He starts being baptized in a river called Jordan. And then He immediately goes from a river called Jordan to a desert where He's tempted in the desert by of all beings the devil. Now lemme just stop right here, I know some of you may check out on me right now, you're rolling your eyes you're going, don't tell me you believe in the devil. I mean, don't tell me you talked about this guy in a red suit and a pitchfork looking for people bending over. I mean, surely you don't believe. I mean, I just saw that guy at Halloween just the other day. Surely you don't believe in the devil. Well, that's another message for another time, you may not believe in the devil, I had a guy came up to me when I was pastor in my last church and I was preaching, I preached a message on the devil and he came to me after church. He said, "Pastor, I know there's a devil. I don't even need the Bible to tell me there's a devil". I said, "Really? How do you know there's a devil"? He said, "I married his sister".

Whether you believe in a devil or not, you do believe in temptation because we've all been tempted. Now the amazing thing about this is, Jesus does not start His ministry out by healing the sick, or raising the dead are walking on water, or preaching a great sermon. He starts off His ministry by running headlong face first into temptation. Now the whole store we're gonna look at takes up less than 200 words, but it is one of the most remarkable stories, and one of the most encouraging words, you'll find anywhere in the Bible, because Jesus shows us something. He says, "Look, even though temptations comes to all of us, it doesn't have to defeat any of us". We really can overcome temptation the same way Jesus did it. The American Board of Medical Specialties recognizes 24 medical specialties. One of those they recognize is what is called preventative medicine. Simply put, preventative medicine is engaged in the discipline of preventing disease, rather than curing it.

So what I wanna do today is this, I want to give us preventative medicine against temptation, and lemme tell you what some of us have learned this the hard way. You're a lot better off fighting and beating temptation on the front end than you are for paying the price of it on the back end. Can I get an amen to that? All right you're a lot better off fighting it on the front end than paying the cost of it on the backend. So what Jesus has done is He's given us three simple things we ought to do every day, constantly, continuously, And I guarantee you, if you do these three things you can overcome any temptation that you face, all right the real, real suffering. We're gonna say these three things together. Number one, say it with me, expect it, all right first thing you gotta do with temptation, you've got to expect it.

Now let's listen to how this story begins, Matthew 4:1. "Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil". Now you see that little word "then" very important, because what Matthew is saying is, "Hey you need to realize what just happened before this to understand what's happening after this". Well, what has just happened before that? Well, what's just happened before that is Jesus has just been baptized, just like those folks we saw a moment ago, Jesus has just been baptized. He's still ringing wet and He's on this spiritual high, I mean, He's just been baptized. If you ever get baptized you will know what a great feeling it is to know that you've done that. And He's just been baptized and He's so excited, and He's so thrilled, but there's no celebration party, there's no steak dinner, there's no plaque, there's no watch, there's just this blast of temptation.

Now think about this, here's the son of God being led by the Spirit of God, He is submissive to the will of God, He is under the power of God, but He's still being tempted, which ought to tell us all something about temptation. Nobody is immune to temptation. By the way, I've got some bad news for some of us guys out there, you never get too old to get tempted. You never too strong to be tempted, you're never too spiritual to be tempted, you're never too good to be tempted. I've learned that the engine of temptation never runs out of gas. As a matter of fact, the gospel writer Luke added this little detail for us. "Jesus full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for 40 days He was tempted by the devil".

See, we think we read the story many times, we think okay He was tempted three times. We only know the three times, He was actually tempted every single day for 40 days He was tempted. Here He is led by the Spirit, full of the Spirit, walking hand in hand with God, But every day He is being tempted, now that tells us something else about temptation which is good news. It is not a sin to be tempted, nothing wrong with being tempted, nothing abnormal about being tempted. But however, now here's what I'm about to say to you is very important and if you don't remember this, this story is not going to mean very much to you at all. Jesus was not being tempted as God, He was being tempted as man. He was not being tempted in His deity, He was being tempted in His humanity. Lemme put it to you this way, He wasn't being tempted as Superman, He was being tempted as Clark Kent.

Now you say, okay why is that so important? By the way how do I even know that? How do I know He wasn't being tempted as God? Well, because number one, He was fasting, God doesn't fast. Number two, He was hungry, God doesn't get hungry. Number three, He was tempted and you cannot tempt God. And this is why this is an encouraging story to me, there would be nothing encouraging about this if He was being tempted as God, because I'm not God. There'd be nothing encouraging about the story if He's being tempted to superman because I'm not superman. But when I know, He's Clark Kent, He's wearing glasses, He's in a serous sucker suit and He works at the daily planet and He's getting tempted, now that encourages me, because that tells me I could face it just like He faced it because he faced it just like I faced it.

That's why the first rule you've got to follow If you're going to defeat temptation, you have to expect temptation. You should never be taken by surprise by temptation. Have you ever noticed this? You decide you're gonna go on a diet, and you're gonna lose weight. That next day you'll get a coupon in the mail for $10 off for a box of donuts at Dunkin Donuts. It'll happen just like that. So you should never be surprised by temptation. every day, when you get up in the morning, have your spiritual antenna up, have you spiritual radar on and just knock it, mark it down, some way, somehow today I'm going to be facing temptations.

As a matter of fact, in the Secret Service manual I just read a book on this not long ago, we find these words, listen to this. "Every practical precaution and safeguards should be taken to prevent the actual perpetration of an attack because, A, there's seldom any assurance that an attack can be suppressed before its objective has been reached. And B, even if the President escapes unharmed, the cost and other lives, injuries or property damage is usually very great before the attacker is subdued". In other words, here's what you may not know, when you go to work for the Secret Service, they will tell you here's your job. No matter where the President is, banquet room, getting on an airplane, in a motorcade, you got to maintain what's called a safe zone around the President. They call it an outer perimeter, they call it a zone of security, they call it a sanitation zone.

Now the Secret Service will tell you theoretically, they would love for that to be the size of a football field, that rarely is ever the case but that's really what they would like. The point is they've always got that presence surrounded 360 degrees in what they call that safe zone. Every day when you walk out of your house, you ought to have a safe zone. You ought to say "There are certain boundaries I just can't cross, there are certain lines I just can't go over. And there are certain boundaries and lines I can't let anybody cross into my life". So it could be anything as simple as things I practice and practice all the time ministry. I don't have lunch with a woman alone, I don't counsel with a woman alone, I don't go into a house with a woman alone, I don't ride in a car with a woman alone, unless it's my wife, I don't do that. Why? I call it my safe zone. You know why? I expect temptation.

Now here's the second thing you have to do. Not only expect it, but what? You got to detect it. You got to detect it. You got to go okay, "how am I gonna be tempted"? A lot of times we let temptation take us by surprise, we don't realize exactly how this temptation process works. So for example, again go back to the Secret Service, if you ever decided to apply and you go to work for the Secret Service, here's what they'll tell you. They'll say the most important part we have to learn about you as a Secret Service agent, is this, do you have what we call a sixth sense or not? Now that may sound a little bit sapphires, lemme explain what they mean. What they'll tell you in the Secret Service is your two greatest weapons to protect the President are instinct and training. And they'll tell you, you've got to combine perception, what you see with reaction, how you respond.

So they'll say you gotta be alert for signs of danger, you gotta look for persons who are acting unnaturally. You've gotta look for unnatural appearance or places of objects and situations 'cause they know that the best Secret Service agents they have this sixth sense. They have this ability to anticipate danger and take quick preventative action. And they will tell you that is the real cornerstone of a good agent. Now they'll give you advanced equipment, they'll give you the best intelligence, they'll give you protective techniques, they'll give you bulletproof vest. They'll give you state of the art weaponry, but you know what they'll tell every agent at the end of their training, you're best friend is detection. Detect it before it's happened. Well, that's what we do to temptation.

Now here's the good news, Jesus shows us that we're all basically tempted in the same three ways. There are only three ways you'll ever be tempted in your life, and once you know what those ways are, you'll be equipped to battle temptation. All right, first of all, temptation will appeal to our physical side, that's the first way temptation will hit us. So for example, let's read how Jesus was tempted first. "After fasting 40 days and 40 nights, He was hungry". Hey, you fast 40 days, 40 nights, you won't be hungry, you'll be hungry. He was hungry. "The tempter came to Him and said, 'If you are the son of God, tell these stones to become bread.' Jesus answered, 'It is written: "Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God"'"

Now think about it, 40 day fast, no bread, no meat, no food, 40 days. You think He's ready for a filet baked potato, apple pie, Alamo. Do you think He can handle that? So what does Satan do? He comes to Jesus and he says, "You're hungry, I know you're hungry". And that's a legitimate physical desire. So he says, "Here's what I want you to do. I want you to fulfill that legitimate physical desire in an illegitimate way. I want you to do it your way. I want you to take matters into your own hands. I want you to do your own things".

And by the way, Jesus had the power to do that. His hands were like ovens, He was an instant bakery. He could have taken all those stones and turned them into bagels just like that. You say, well then why didn't He? Because remember, why is He fasting? To lose weight? No. Why is He fasting? To prove he can do it? Nope. Why has He fasting? Because the spirit of God had led Him to fast. It was the will of God that He fast. He was simply doing what God wanted Him to do. He was just obeying the will of God, and see He knew, okay I wanna fulfill this desire, and this a legitimate desire, I am hungry, I ought to hungry. However, there's a right time and a right place and a right way to fulfill that desire. But He knew something, this is not the way, here is not the place, and now is not the time.

Well, guess what? From the time you and I are born, how are we tempted? I mean, right off the bat, we're attempted physically, lemme give you an example. You're a young little boy, young little girl. What does your mommy want you to eat? Somebody tell me, vegetables. Your mommy wants you to eat your vegetables. But if mommy's not looking, what do you do? You steal from the cookie jar. You eat the Milky, you eat the three Musketeers. You drink the vanilla shake, and then you sit at the table and you go, "You know mom, I'm just not hungry". Why aren't you hungry? It's not that the vegetables are bad for you. You've already eaten, you've already fulfilled your desire in your way rather than your mom's way. Guess what? We all know what I'm about to talk about if you don't get ready because you don't get too much older and you face the greatest temptation of all, which is sexual temptation, the hormones start to rage and puberty kicks in.

And even though God's very plain, God's not hesitated to equivocate it. God has said all sexual relations should be confined to marriage between a man and a woman. That's not the day we live in. The day we live in as you all know if it feels good you do it. The day we live in is it's your body, you've got the sexual drive, you were born with it, and it's just natural to fulfill it whenever you want to, wherever you want to, with whomever you want to, because Hugh Hefner may have died, but I'll tell you his playboy playgirl philosophy is still alive and very well even today. Now that's exactly how Satan is tempting in Jesus. It's the same old way he tempts us. It doesn't matter what God wants, what matters is what you want. It doesn't matter what's God's way is, you take your way.

Now lemme just to be clear, there's nothing wrong with physical desires, as there aren't all being hungry, there's nothing wrong with being thirsty. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be sexually intimate with another person. However, what is wrong is when you fulfill those desires at the wrong time, at the wrong place with the wrong person. That's when temptation attacks the physical. Now let's suppose you say, "Okay I really think I've got that under control". Well, he doesn't stop. Then temptation will appeal to our emotional side. If he can't get to you physically, he'll try to get to you emotionally. If Satan cannot land his plane on your physical runway, he'll turn to the emotional runway so let's keep reading.

"Then the devil took Him to the holy city, had Him stand on the highest point of the temple. 'If you're the son of God,' he said, 'throw yourself down for it is written. 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.'" Been to this place many times, it's the pinnacle of the temple, it's a 450 foot drop. Satan says to Jesus, "Why don't you do a double back flip off this thing right now? Why don't you do a swan dive? Cause you know, what's going to happen, You'll land on your feet because God's already promised He will not let anything happen to you". And guess what will happen? You do that And all the people that have gathered to watch you, man they'll adore you, they'll worship You. You'll become the talk of the town, and you will have them eating off the palm of your hands.

In other words, what Satan was saying to Jesus was "Just think about how you feel when you pull this off. Can you hear me the roar of the crowds? Can you feel them put you on there shoulders and do a human wave with you? Can you just imagine the newspapers that you'll be in and all the interviews that you will do? Think about how you will feel". And how many times have we all blown it in our own life because we followed what we felt rather than what we knew? So here's a good example, Mr. Jones, our next door neighbor drives home, and we do a double-take because he's coming in in a brand new Mercedes. And you say to yourself, "You know I deserve a brand new Mercedes". And you feel like you ought to go out and buy a brand new Mercedes. So what do you do? You go out and borrow money that you don't have to buy car that you don't even need because it makes you feel good. And then the next day you just realize now I am stuck with a car payment I can't make. Or, you felt like you were in love with this person.

Now you knew deep down this person was not a very good person, or you knew deep down this person has some real bad severe flaws, or you knew what's even worse, this person was not even a follower of Jesus but you felt so in love and you marry the person. Now you're stuck in a miserable marriage. Or you felt like it will be okay just to experiment with these drugs one time, or you felt like it would be okay to look at this pornography one time, and now you're a prisoner in the jail of your own addiction. So here's a lesson, emotion are meant to be felt, they're never meant to be followed. Emotions make very, very poor leaders. If you live your life based on how you feel, I promise you you're gonna wind up a train wreck some way, somehow, somewhere. So Satan will appeal to the physical side, then he will appeal to the emotional side, and if that doesn't work temptation will appeal to our spiritual side.

So look what happens now to Jesus. "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'll give you,' he said, 'if you about down and worship me.'" Now he turns to Jesus and he says, "Look, I'm gonna make you an offer You really can't refuse". And he said, no wait a minute, I'm a smart guy. He just offered Jesus exactly the same kingdoms that His father was going to offer Him. That's true, but there's one exception. He says, "Do it my way. No cross, no crucifixion, no beating, no scourging, no rejection, no humiliation, You just become the shortcut savior. If You'll bow down and worship me, no blood, no being whipped with a cat of nine tails, no hanging all across naked when you can't even control your own bodily functions, no being spat upon, no crown of thorns. Nobody laughing at you, nobody mocking You, just be the shortcut savior", because the devil is the master of shortcuts.

And see, one of the ways he loves to tempt us, is to take spiritual shortcuts. So here I'm gonna give you an example. So we hear the pastor get up and talk about tithing, and we hear God says we ought to tithe, and God says, "Honor the tithe". Then God says, "I promise you I'll bless the tithe," but you just don't feel like you can afford the tithe, so every now and then the bucket comes by and you'll throw a $20 bill in the bucket 'cause it makes you feel better. And it makes you feel like you're being somewhat spiritual. Or, we never read our Bibles, only time we ever crack open this book is when I cracked open my book. Or you may listen to a podcast every now and then or you may live stream of pastor every now and then. But as far as getting into God's word yourself, no you do the shortcut route, I just wanna be honest with you.

There is no shortcut to God's will, and there's no shortcut to God's way, and there's no shortcut to God's work. There is no shortcut, so just remember, when you go out and you're tempted, you will always be tempted in one of three ways. It'll be either me to the physical, or it'll be to the emotional, or it will either be to the spiritual. All right, so first of all, you got to expect it, then you've got to detect it, but if you expect and detect it if you don't take the third step you're still whip, what do you think the third one is? Reject it, you have to reject it. So, I've got to reject it. Now what's encouraging to me in this story is to see how Jesus defeated temptation. And you read the story, you have to admit, He just did it easy. Just hardly any effort, no struggle, no strain, I love to play golf, many of you know, and some of you play golf and if you don't play golf, you can at least appreciate this.

If you watch a pro golfer, you'll see what I'm talking about. I've had the honor and the privilege of standing up close more than once, and see one of the finest golfers in the world, Stewart Cink, our own Stewart Cink, I've been able to watch him hit golf balls, by the way for those that do not know Stewart, just by way of, this is my own opinion, but he's an even better guy than he is a golfer, and he's a great golfer, but he's a super guy. But I've got to watch him hit golf balls up close, you know, it's amazing. He'll take a 7 iron or a 3 wood or a driver or whatever and he's hitting lasers, just rockets, I mean the balls, and you don't want just irritates the fire out of me? It's so easy, I'm trying to rupture a disc when I hit the ball.

Stewart just easy and the ball just go, boom! Just easy. And that's exactly the way Jesus defeated temptation, and you know how He did it? Listen to this, the only weapon He brought to the fight was this. That's it. No psychobabble, no positive thinking, no you can do it, just scripture. 'Cause it look at this, every time Satan tempted Jesus, listen to what we read, listen to this. "Jesus answered," Say that with me. "It is written man shall not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God". All right, let's try it again. "Jesus answered him, it is also written. Do not put the Lord, your God to the test". Say it is okay, third try, Jesus said to him "Away from me, Satan. For it is written, worship the Lord your God and serve Him only". Three words here, it is written, it is written, it is written. You know why? Because temptation is powerless against truth, has no power against true.

See here's the problem, temptation is based on a lie and because it's based on a lie the only thing that will defeat temptation is truth. Lemme tell you what I mean. Here's what temptation will tell you, it will tell you a truth that covers up the lie that comes right behind it. Now here's the truth temptation will tell you, temptation will tell you if you'll commit this sin, it will feel so good, and it will. I hate to tell you this, I probably shouldn't tell you it's gonna break some really dirty little secret, sin can be fun. If it wasn't fun, nobody would sin. So here's what temptation will do, temptation will say, "You ought to do this, it is so much fun". It will make you feel so good, but then it comes behind you, and then it says, and you can get away with it. But you can't. Nobody ever gets away with it. Nobody has ever gotten away with it, and nobody will ever get away with it.

And see every time you're tempted it, just remember this, every time you're tempted, one or two things is going to happen, mark it down. One of two things will happen. You're either gonna submit to what your eyes see, and your ears hear, and your heart feels, and that's what you're gonna do, or you're going to follow the truth of God's word. And I don't care how spiritual you are or how spiritual you think you are. If your gun is not loaded with a bullets of God's word and you don't carry around with you and your sheath the sword of God's word, I'm telling you you have no hope to defeat temptation. You're already with, lemme ask you a simple question, Jesus is the son of God, He is led by the spirit of God, He is filled with the spirit of God, He is totally submitted to the will of God, and yet if Jesus wouldn't face the devil and temptation without this book, what makes you think you can face temptation without that book?

What makes you think well, I've got willpower. Do you really think your willpower can stand up against the devil? Your will power can even stand up against a chocolate filled donut. The only power that can defeat temptation is the word of God. That's why I will tell you this, this is the central theme of my whole message. This is my point, the best and the only preventative medicine you will ever take against temptation is to get into that book and get that book into you. To be able to come to a place of temptation. When you know that temptation hits, and you go, you know what? Well my heart feels like I wanna do this, and my mind tells me I wanna do this, but I know what God's word says about this, and I'm not going to do this 'cause lemme tell you that this is the good news, for every temptation that comes into your life, there is a truth from God's word that counteracts that temptation, I'm not making this up.

You may think, you know, and by the way lemme give you an example. I'm gonna make this as mundane as I can. I've known people, you know people, maybe people. Maybe you try to lose weight, you lose it gain it, you all know yo-yo diet, lose it, gain it, lose it, gain it, lose it gain it. And some of you've already gotten your mind, you've already convinced your so I can't lose weight. I just can't do it so I'm just going to Dunkin donut my life out. And yet I'll read God's word and God's word says, you know the fruit of the Spirit is self-control. And I'm full of the Spirit, Spirit lives in me. So Spirit, I want you to bear through me right now the fruit of self-control, or listen, I'm living testimony, a year and a half ago I dropped 25 pounds and I've kept it off. I did three things. No more bread, no more sweets, no more fried foods.

Lemme tell you, you think that's easy. I'm from the South, no fried foods, no sweets, that means no pecan pie, I mean no apple pie, no M&M peanuts I mean, are you kidding me? Now I'm sneaking by it every once in a while, but here's my point. So how did you do that? 'Cause there was a time I thought, Lord I can do anything except overcome M&M peanuts, I just can't do it. And to prove I couldn't do it, I'd keep a jar on my desk. And then one day I thought, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I really can't do that. So for every temptation you face, there is a truth in God's word that counteracts that temptation because notice something, Jesus didn't argue with the devil. He didn't debate the devil, He didn't negotiate with the devil, He didn't use any magic words or magic formulas.

All He said was it's written. I don't care what you say, I don't care what I feel. It is written so what's your next step? It's real simple. There are many of us in this room and many of us on our campus and many of us listening right now you really do need to understand why it's a big deal you read that book every day, every single day, you don't wait for me to preach it to you, you don't listen to some podcasts. Everyday you need to be in that book, and you need to know that book 'cause here's what will happen. There'll be so many times you'll face that temptation. And then that word will come to you and you'll say, "Nope, God You said this, God You said that".

So, you know what? I put the sword of God's truth in my sheath, everywhere I go 'cause I've learned one thing, the only thing that will cut through the devil and temptation like a hot knife through butter is God's word. By the way, lemme just tell you this the word there for devil and the Greek language is the word Diabolus, we get the word diabolic from that. Do you know what the word Diabolus literally means? It means to split. The devil is a splitter, the devil is a divider. The devil is a wedge driver. See that's why the devil loves to split marriages, the devil loves to drive a wedge between parent and children. The devil loves to split solid friendships and what the devil wants to do from the time we're all born, he wants to drive a wedge between us and God and between God's will and our will, and between God's way and our way.

So from the time that we're born, guess what? The very first thing that Satan tips us to do when we're born is to reject the son of God. That's the very first thing. Matter of fact, he doesn't really care if you ever give in or don't give in to any other temptation. If he can get you to give into the ultimate temptation of refusing to trust Jesus Christ, refusing to give your heart to the son of God, refusing to surrender your life to Him, he has done all he really wants to do. So I want you to know if you're not a believer, if you've never given your life to Jesus Christ, if you're one of these people that say "I'm not buying that crucifixion business, I don't believe a man came back from the dead. I just don't believe He was born of a Virgin." that's okay, just understand, you just fell prey to his number one temptation. Because if you don't give your life to Jesus Christ the devil doesn't give a flying rip whatever else you do or don't do with your life. He has won, but you say, well I have given my life to Jesus.

Well He's not through with you either. Matter of fact He just getting started with you. 'Cause you see until you get saved, you and the devil are going in the same direction. But once you get saved guess what? It's head collision. So he says, okay, I'm gonna attempt James Merritt not to give his life to Jesus Christ, but as a nine year old boy I said "No, it is written that if you will confess through your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you'll be saved I'll think I'll do that". So then here's the second thing he said, Oh, it's okay. So I failed in my temptation to get you to reject the son of God so now I'm going to tempt you to reject the will of God. And every day he tries to do that very thing, 'cause see every temptation is a test. It's a test of your loyalty to God, and a test of your love for God.

Now here's the good news, we know we can pass that test every time. How do I know I can pass that every time? How do I know I can overcome temptation every time? Because Jesus did and Jesus lives in me. So I'll tell you if you remember this or not Halloween, this passed Halloween some of you probably read it, was the 500th anniversary of the Protestant reformation. Now I'm gonna ask you what I asked the nine o'clock crowd, it was kind of embarrassing. I said, how many of you have no clue what the Protestant reformation was? You ought to have seen the hands that went up so I'm going to ask you. And it doesn't matter, it's not a big deal don't worry about it. Well, it is a big deal, but don't worry about it. Matter of fact, maybe you ought to worry about it just a little bit.

Now listen, just quick history lesson, Protestant reformation was when Martin Luther grew up in another church that taught you had to be baptized, had to do good works, had to be religious, had to go to their church to be saved, to be right with God. Martin Luther reads a verse in the Bible, "It is written the just live by faith". And the light came on. He said, all of a sudden he realized the only thing I need to be right with God, is faith in Jesus Christ, that's all I need, and it totally changed the history of the church.

Well, so Martin Luther, he's the hero of the reformation, well what people don't realize is before Martin Luther became a believer, he had a terrible time with temptation. And I don't mean to be too graphic but it was, he had a horrific time with sexual temptation. He slept with anybody and everybody. I mean, he went to brothels, he slept with prostitutes. I mean he was a man of sexual immorality and carnal sensuality. He would have made Hugh Hefner look like Martin Luther. It was that bad. And then he met Jesus, and guess what? Like that, he gave it all up. He found a Christian woman. He got married, had a family, beautiful family. He was a faithful husband, a loving father. So later in his life people knew his testimony, he wasn't ashamed of it, always telling people about his past.

So he's having a conversation one day with a man and he said, "Martin, I wanna ask you a question". And he said, "How do you handle temptation"? I want you to listen to Martin Luther's answers, such a great answer. He said, "Oh, it's very simple". He said, "When Satan would knock on the door of my heart, I used to answer, and every time I answered, he would defeat me. But now when Satan knocks on the door of my heart, I let Jesus answer and Jesus opens the door, and He says, 'Oh Martin Luther used to live here, but I live here now and Satan runs like a scalded dog.'"

Now listen, we were all born Clark Kent. But if you're a believer superman lives in you, His name is Jesus. And every time Satan knocks on the door of your heart and has that temptation is his hand, don't go to the door, you just let Jesus answer the door. You let Jesus know for the tempter and that temptation who really lives in your heart and I'm telling you filled with the Spirit and armed with the scripture and enabled by the savior, we can expect it, we will detect it and we will reject it.

Let's pray together. With heads bowed and with eyes closed. Just be still for just a moment. Lemme talk to two groups of people. Number one, you've never given your life to Jesus Christ for whatever the reason, you've never given your life to Jesus. Maybe you've never thought about it this way but I just wanna let you know, that's not just your idea, you were born tempted not to do what you haven't done, every day Satan would give you a thousand reasons not to do it. You're not ready, you can't live up to it, it's a bunch of malarkey. It's just a crutch, but the fact still remains yeah there was a man named Jesus, He did live a perfect life, He did die on a cross for your sins.

God did raise him from the dead, He is alive right now and He can do for you what you cannot do for yourself, He can make sure all of your sins are forgiven, He make sure you have eternal life, He can make sure you have a relationship with God and He can give you a purpose for life you've never had before if you're willing to accept Him. And if you're one of those folks and you would say what I said when I was a nine year old boy, you know what I'm not giving into this temptation anymore. I wanna give my life to Jesus. I want this Jesus to live in me. I'm tired of living with Clark Kent, I wanna live with Superman. Now would you just pray this prayer with me right now? I'm going to pray it out loud, and you just pray it in your heart. Would you just say:

Lord Jesus, I'm a sinner and I'm lost and I need to be saved, I can't save myself, but I believe this, You were born of a virgin, You did die on a across from my sins. God did raise You from the dead, You are alive right now. And Lord Jesus, I ask you today, become my savior. I trust You as my Lord, I surrender my life to You, I repent and I turn away from my old way of living and I give all that I am to all that You are.

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