Robert Jeffress - The Temptation Equation
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Let me just say it straight and cut to the chase. Christians can be very naive. Here's what I mean. Sometimes we treat temptation likes it's a piece of chocolate cake. It's our guilty pleasure. But behind every seemingly innocent temptation stands an enemy who's working overtime to bring us down and today, I wanna reveal three deadly variables that make up Satan's plan to lead us down the path of destruction. My message is titled "The Temptation Equation" on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
After spending 69 days trapped in a Chilean mine, Mario Sepulveda said this week, shortly after his rescue, "I am a changed man". He said "I buried 40 years of my life down there and I'm going to live a lot longer to be a new person". During the time Sepulveda was trapped in the mine, he said he saw both good and evil at work. Quote, "I was with God and I was with the devil. They fought and God won". You know, it doesn't take being trapped in a mine for 69 days to realize that you are in a battle, a battle between good and evil. Satan has a devious desire for your life but not only does he have that evil desire, he has a plan to fulfill that desire to destroy every good thing in your life.
Remember Ephesians 6:11, Paul said put on the full armor of God that you might be able to withstand the schemes of the devil. And we saw that words schemes, the Greek word "methodeia" literally means a strategy, a plan, a blueprint if you will. Right now in hell, there is a personalized plan with your name at the top of it. It is Satan's plan to destroy every good thing in your life. We don't have to wonder what that plan is. As we look through scripture, we discover that Satan really isn't that original. He doesn't have to come up with unique plans because the old ones work very well and last week, we started looking at Satan's three pronged blueprint for your destruction.
We looked at the first two strategies and if you forgot what they are, write them down on your outline. Strategy number one, Satan would love to discourage you from worshiping God. If you're a Christian this morning, he would love to send so many problems in your life and your family, with your finances, with your health, so many problems that you turn your back on God and say it's really not worth following God. He tried that with job, it didn't work. The question is will that strategy work with you? Strategy number two, if Satan can't get you to reject God outright, he would like to distract you from serving God. That is, get you so focused on the details and delights of living in this world that it strangles out your love and service for God.
We saw in Luke 8 last time how Satan distracts us. It's through worries, what if, what if, what if? Or through money. Or through the pleasures of this life. He distracts us from serving God and now today we're going to look at the third and the most powerful strategy Satan has for our destruction and that is to deceive you into disobeying God. If you have your Bibles, turn to James 1. He wants to deceive you into disobeying God. Do you know what Satan's strategy is to deceive you into disobedience? Look at James 1:13. James said let no one say when he is tempted, I'm being tempted by God. For God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself does not tempt anyone. But here it is, verse 14. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.
Now in just a minute we're gonna look at what I call the temptation equation that's found in this verse. But let me say a word about that word tempt in itself. That word that is translated tempt in the English language is a word that means to entice to do evil with the promise of gain. To entice to do evil with the promise of gain and that's what Satan does. He lures us into disobedience by dangling the proverbial carrot in front of us. Do this and your deepest desires will be satisfied. Yet what Satan the tempter doesn't disclose to us is that temptation actually will never satisfy us. In fact, when we disobey God, it not only doesn't satisfy our cravings, disobedience actually increases our cravings until we destroy everything important in our lives. Let me say that again, sin does not satisfy your cravings. Sin, in fact, increases your cravings for disobedience until you're destroyed.
Now that's exactly what James says happens with sin in our life. Look at verses 15 and 16. Then when lust has conceived, it brings birth to sin and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Disobedience always leads to death. Disobedience to God always results in the death, the destruction of everything important to you. Your relationships, your family, your career, your dreams for the future, your relationship with God. To be carried away and to be enticed by our own lust is to be drawn toward a trap that is both appealing but is also lethal.
Now let's look at this temptation equation in detail in verse 14. James says but each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Now here's the temptation equation. Write it down on your outline. The first factor in the temptation equation is corrupt desires plus, second, the right bait, plus, third, the wrong choice equals sin. Corrupt desires plus the right bait plus the wrong choice equals sin and death. Now let's look at each of those factors for just a moment. First of all, the first factor in that temptation equation is corrupt desires. Corrupt desires.
Now all of us have within us certain desires. We have a desire for food. We have a desire for shelter. We have the desire for sex. We have the desire for intimacy with other people and there's nothing wrong with any of those desires. Those are God given desires. He planted those desires within our heart but what happened with the first couple is this. Satan tempted Adam and Eve with this thought and the thought was this, if you follow after God, if you follow his plan for living, you will be robbed of some wonderful experience in life. God really doesn't care about you. God really doesn't want you to be satisfied. God is some cosmic killjoy who's really trying to rob you of a satisfying life. Therefore, you can't follow God's plan or you're gonna end up unfulfilled so Satan said to Eve, if you want to be fulfilled, follow my plan. Go ahead and eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And of course, Eve and Adam fell for that trick and the result was death.
Now Satan continues that same line with us and that sets us up perfectly for the next factor in the temptation equation and that is the right bait. Remember what James said, each man is tempted when he is carried away. That means we're drawn by these corrupt desires, we're drawn towards sin. Each man is tempted when he is carried away and the second word is enticed. Now that refers to the right bait. In fact, that word enticed in Greek is a fishing term that means literally to hook a fish. That's the picture here.
Now hear me this morning. When James is giving us this equation for temptation, he says the way we fall into sin is by being carried away by our inward desires and then by being hooked by the master fisherman Satan. Satan is a master fisherman. He knows exactly what bait to dangle in front of you. No, he's not omniscient, he can't read your mind but guess what, he doesn't have to do. All he has to do is observe you, observe what's going on in your life and he knows what lure to take out of his tackle box.
Perhaps you're going through a particularly rocky time in your marriage. You have this craving for intimacy. Guess which lure he's gonna dangle in front of you. He'll bring that special somebody into your life at just that time and tempt you to seek intimacy outside of marriage. Or maybe he watches you. He sees you miss that promotion or that raise you think you deserved and knowing your needs, your craving for recognition, he dangles in front of you the possibility of a transfer to another job or another city that's outside of God's will for your life. Or maybe he sees that you're in financial difficulty, guess which lure he picks out of his tackle box? He lures in front of you the possibility, the temptation of dishonest financial gain and then he hooks you.
Let's go back to the temptation equation. First of all, it begins with corrupt desires. Secondly, it begins, it includes the right bait that Satan dangles in front of us. Each one is tempted when he is carried away, that is drawn, and enticed, hooked, but the third factor is a wrong choice. A wrong choice. Now the truth is, we don't have any real choice over our corrupted desires. We inherited those from our parents, Adam and Eve. Thank you very much, Adam and Eve. Secondly, we really don't have any choice about the bait that Satan dangles in front of us. That's something that he does.
Now again, we can flee those temptations but you know what? Even if we could isolate ourselves from everyone and everything, temptation would still be there. Remember, Jesus was alone all by himself in the desert when the tempter came. We don't have any choice about the corrupted desires. We have little control over the temptation but this third factor, we do have control over. That is the choice that we make. Yes, that bait that is dangled in front of us looks appealing to us, it draws us to it but we don't have to bite at the bait. We do have a choice and I'm surprised at the number of Christians who don't understand that we really do have a choice. Instead, most Christians have adopted a playwright, Oscar Wilde's way to deal with temptation. He said after many years of study, I've determined that the best way to rid yourself of temptation is to yield to it.
Now that's a pretty fatalistic view, isn't it? Want to get rid of temptation? Just go ahead and give in to it. Unfortunately, many Christians have adopted that practice as well. They feel like, well, I just don't have any choice. I have to obey my sin nature. I have to bite at the bait and God's word says no you don't. You see, Satan wants you, as a Christian, to think you're still under his control at least as long as you're alive in this world. No you're not. See, the Bible tells us that the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead is present in your life giving you the ability to say no to sin and that's what Romans 6: 6-7 are all about. Listen to what Paul said. Knowing this, that our old self, that is our corrupted desires, our old self was crucified with him in order that our body of sin might be done away with so that we would no longer be slaves to sin for he who has died is freed from sin.
The moment you become a Christian, that set of corrupt desires you had, they are dealt a death blow. They're not totally removed from our body but their power over us has been broken. We don't have to say yes to sin. Sin has no more power over your life than you choose to allow it to have. That's what Paul is saying here. By the way, speaking of traps, don't fall into the trap of thinking that because you're tempted, you're sinning. Lot of people, lot of Christians equate temptation with sin. They think because they are tempted, that that means they've sinned. They think the temptation itself is a sin.
Listen to me, if being tempted means you're a sinner than Jesus Christ was the greatest sinner of all time because he faced the greatest temptation of all time but it wasn't being tempted or rather it wasn't the absence of temptation that made Jesus the perfect Son of God. It wasn't the absence of temptation itself. It was the absence of yielding to temptation that proved Jesus to be the spotless Lamb of God and it's the same way in your life and my life. Listen to Hebrew 4:15. The writer says for we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses but one who has been tempted in all things as we are and yet without sin. He faced the greatest temptations any man has ever faced before and yet he said no.
Now I know what you're thinking. I can read your mind right now. You're thinking well sure he said no. He was the Son of God. What else would you expect him to do? But I am not the perfect Son of God. Listen to what the Bible is saying. The Bible is saying the same power that worked in Jesus Christ's life is working in your life right now. You have the same supernatural power over sin that Jesus Christ had. That's what becoming a Christian is all about. It's not just about a free ticket to heaven. It is about a brand new power that is in your life. You remember Romans 6:4. Listen to what Paul said. Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
Do those words sound familiar to you? Those are the words you hear almost every Sunday night from the Baptistery when we're baptizing somebody. Buried with him in baptism, raised to a newness of life. Now I bet you've heard all of your life, I know I heard it growing up, that baptism is a picture of our death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, that when we're lowered into the water, what we're saying is one day my physical body is going to die and it's going to be buried and one day I'm going to rise from the dead just like Jesus did. Haven't you heard that before?
Now that is certainly true but that is a secondary picture of what baptism is all about. Baptism is not primarily about some future event, the resurrection of our physical bodies from the grave. Baptism is about our spiritual resurrection that occurs the moment we're saved. When you become a Christian, when you trust in Christ as your Savior, you are dying to your old way of living and you are being raised to a brand new way of life and just like Mario Sepulveda, that miner, said I have buried my old life back there in that mine and I'm going to become a brand new person, when you trust in Christ as your Savior and when you're baptized, you're saying to the whole world, I am through with my old way of living, I am being raised to a brand new way of living but here's the great news.
That resolve is a resolve that has a supernatural power behind it. Resolves in and of themselves don't accomplish anything but the Word of God says with that resolve is the supernatural power of God, the same power that lifted Jesus out of that grave. That same power is working in your life right now to allow you to say no to sin and yes to God. If you don't hear another word I say today, hear this, Christian. You don't have to be a casualty on the spiritual battlefield. You don't have to become another notch in Satan's belt. You can resist the devil. In fact, James 4:7 says resist the devil and he will flee from you. How do you do that? In the weeks ahead, we're going to be looking at Ephesians 6 and discovering Paul's six simple strategies for defeating Satan's plan to destroy you. I hope you'll be with us.