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How to Say No to Temptation
Tough Questions - Part 6

- A guy was late for a meeting & couldn't find parking spot. He drove the around block several times, finally he parked illegally & left note on windshield "Dear Mr. Policeman, I've circled this block 10 times and my boss will fire me if I'm late for this meeting. Please don't give me a ticket." (he added a spiritual twist) Forgive us our sins. He came back and sure enough a ticket was on the windshield. On the back was written "Dear Sir, I've circled this block for 10 years and my boss would fire me if I DIDN’T give you a ticket." (he added) Lead us not into temptation.

- Temptation is common to all of us - we all face it.

- Some come to faith in Jesus and think everything will be wonderful – all their temptations will go away and life will be so much easier.

- The opposite’s often true. Satan works that much harder to get us back.

- Temptations get stronger - life can be hard and painful.

- Today we’ll ask the tough question - How do I say no to temptation.

- It can be hard to learn to say no to some things and to some people.

- We may feel a twinge of temptation toward an affair.

- Or our minds may get filled with ugly and hateful thoughts.

- Or we’re tempted to drink even though we know what it does to us and to our family.

- We’re tempted toward anger, or inactivity or laziness, and we wonder if we’ll ever be able to conquer these temptations.

- We may act as if everything’s under control and everything’s OK but inside we’re wondering, "Why can't I stop this?"

- Some even use the excuse, "That's just the way I am."

- But they’re simply allowing temptation to control their lives.

- They've tried, and failed, and got knocked down again and again - so they’ve just given in and given up.

- Today I hope to give you some practical advice from an expert in temptation. No it’s not me – although I’m a close second.

- God is an expert in dealing with temptation, and helping us to overcome it and grow through it.

- The bible gives us four practical steps to face daily temptation.

* Step 1. We must recognize the source of our temptation.

- Where does it come from? What causes me to say yes to temptation?

- Who's responsible for this temptation being so strong in my life?

- Some blame God. I just can’t help it - God made me this way.

- He gave me these desires - so God must be the source.

- Some blame Satan - like the great theologian - Flip Wilson - “The Devil made me do it.”

- Now the Devil definitely sends the invitations - but we accept them.

- Some blame others - If he hadn't done this or if they hadn't done that…

- Blame is simply a way of putting responsibility for our own actions onto someone else.

- We'll never fix our problems as long as we fix blame on others.

- So, how do we recognize the source of temptation?

- James 1:13-14 says, “When you are being tempted, do not say, ‘God is tempting me.’… Temptation comes from our own desires.”

- So don't blame God - our own desires are the root of our temptation.

- Be honest, we’re the one making the choice to do the wrong thing.

- This verse says temptation is a lure - that’s of course a fishing term.

- Lures have hooks and sin works much the same way.

- Sin looks so good and tempting but there's always a hook attached.

- Now, experienced fish recognize the lure and stay away from it.

- Likewise it’s a sign of maturity in our lives when we quickly recognize the lure of temptation and stay away from it.

- There are three main sources of temptation.

- The world - the ways of society and what they’ve accepted and do.

- 1 John 2:16 explains, "These are the ways of the world: wanting to please our sinful selves, wanting the sinful things we see, and being too proud of what we have."

- Our self - our wants and our desires as James stated earlier in 1:14.

- Paul also says in Gal. 5:16, "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature."

- Our sinful nature within us is the source of our desires.

- The devil - there really is a source of evil in the world.

- There really is some­one wanting to ruin our lives and especially the life of a new believer.

- So first we must recognize the source of our temptation.

* Step 2. We must refuse to feel guilty about temptation.

- We don't need to feel guilty when we're tempted.

- Some do - they say - How could I think like that or about that?

- They think something's wrong with them to think such thoughts.

- But <st1:bcv_smarttag_14>Heb. 4:15 says, "(Jesus) has been tempted in every way, just as we are -- yet was without sin."

- If Jesus wasn’t exempt from temptation why should we think we'd be?

- But there IS a difference between temptation and sin.

- Jesus was tempted - but didn't sin - so it's not a sin to be tempted.

- The goal is, like in Jesus’ case, not to let temptation cause us to sin.

- Rom. 8:1 states, "So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus."

- Jesus says if you come to me and trust in me, I'll take your sins away, and I'll pay the penalty for your sin.

- There is no need to feel guilty anymore for past sin and no reason to feel guilty if we’re tempted.

* Step 3. We must remember we’re not alone - we're all tempted.

- Sometimes we may feel like we’re the only one with the problem of temptation, but I assure you, you’re not.

- 1 Cor. 10:13 says, "Remember this -- the wrong desires that come into your life aren't anything new and different. Many others have faced exactly the same problems before you."

- The bible assures us that temptation is common to all of us.

- A survey asked Christians, "What are the common temptations that you've faced?" Here are the top responses.

1. Materialism; 2. Pride; 3. Self-centeredness; 4. Laziness;

5-6. Tie between anger and bitterness and then lust; 7. Envy;

8. Gluttony; 9. Lying - actually that was #1 but I lied about it.

- Same survey asked "What is it that made temptation worse for you?"

- 81% - when I didn't spend time with God;

- 57% - when I was physically tired.

- We need to be aware of that - when we don't spend time with God and when we’re physically tired, we’re much more susceptible to temptation.

- They were also asked "What helps you overcome temptation?"

- 84% - talking to God about it - prayer;

- 76% - avoiding compromising situations;

- 66% - looking at what the bible says about it;

- 52% - talking with another person about it & being held accountable.

- So, let's be real about who we are, and how we're tempted.

- There are three major areas of temptation.

1. Passions - when we allow our body and mind to control us in regard to sex, or food, or drink, or anything.

- Or also, when we use something good in a wrong way or for the wrong reason and we let our desires control us.

2. Possessions - when things become our reason for living and we can't keep from buying more things.

- When we're driven by what we have and who we can impress.

3. Pride - the temptation to have power or influence over others and to get our own way at any cost. So what is the real solution to temptation?

* Step 4. We must choose God's way out.

- First let’s look at a promise from God found in 1 Cor. 10:13, "God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."

- The key to temptation is finding God's way out from it.

- God promises that there will always be a way out.

- He promises that there's no temptation that's irresistible.

- The problem is, we often wait until we're 9/10's of the way in, before we ever ask God for his way out.

- That’s too late and the temptation will be extremely strong by then.

- We buy doughnuts, bring them home, set them on the table, and then ask God to help us on our diet.

- We need to ask before we buy them – while we’re thinking about it.

- Matt. 6:13 encourages us to pray, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one."

- But we need to pray and ask for the help to never get into the situation in the first place. We need a strength outside of ourselves to do this.

- James 1:2: "When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives… don't resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends!"

- How can we welcome temptation as a friend?

- Well, when temptations come and we say the right thing, and we do right thing, and choose God's way out of it, it actually grows us.

- We become more of who God wants us to be – a stronger believer.

- So what is God's way out of temptation?

- The way out of temptation is a three letter word – RUN!

- Listen to 2 Tim. 2:22, “Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.”

- This verse tells us three things.

1. We must run away from the temptation.

2. We must run toward righteousness, faith, love, peace.

3. We run "enjoying the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts."

- In other words you surround yourself with people who want to live the same pure lifestyle.

- Now, how do we deal with a habitual sin?

- We have to break the pattern - instead of saying yes to the temptation, we say yes to God's way out of it.

- We run away from it, and run toward righteous things.

- We run with the right crowd that will support and encourage us and not add to the temptations.

- Stop thinking about the temptation and start thinking more about God.

- The more we think about it and struggle with it the more we're fighting this tug of war with Satan.

- How do we win the tug of war - we drop the rope.

- We stop fighting it and walk away from it.

- We remove our self from the battle and stand up with God.

- Have you ever been driving down the road and something catches your eye to the side of the road and you look that way. What happens?

- The car starts drifting that way. I had an accident that way.

- What we focus on, we're drawn to.

- Stop focusing on temptation and start focusing on God.

- Jesus did this when he was tempted by Satan - he quoted scripture.

- His focus was on God and his word and it kept his thoughts on track.

- So how do I say no to temptation? I say Yes to God!

- Yes to his formula for dealing with temptation and his plan for my life.

- Yes to my marriage, to my words, to my attitudes, to the way I handle money, and to the way I treat people.

- And it all begins with saying yes to God's gift of a new life.

- Saying yes to Jesus Christ and to his gift of eternal life and his promise of power and strength to overcome any temptation. Say yes today.