Dealing with Temptation
One of the things I love about youth group is that not everybody who is here is at the same place spiritually. We have some people sitting here who have little idea about what Christianity is or who God is. There are other people here who have followed God’s ways for years and will continue to do so. And there’s everybody in between, some who are caught between two worlds, wanting to be a follower of Christ but struggling to do so and others just checking it out to see if there is any truth to this Jesus.
Whatever the reason for your being here tonight I don’t believe it is an accident. I believe it is a heavenly invitation. God invited you here for a reason and I believe that is so you will get another chance to hear the word of God and accept His invitation of eternal life.
Tonight we are going to talk about fishing, who likes fishing? Have you ever been fishing? Who has actually caught a fish? Tell me what was it like?
Did you get to take the hook out of its mouth? That’s the hardest thing about fishing that hook gets right in there, with its little barbs on it and it is near impossible to get it out, particularly for the beginner.
I wonder how the fish feels when you catch it as you rip back on that fishing rod and the hook, which once contained a tasty feed suddenly, becomes the arch enemy, ripping into the fishes jaw as it pierces through the lip and starts to drag him towards the shore. This fish fights but very rarely escapes and eventually, exhausted, gives in until it is lying on the shore struggling for its final breath. It is hard for a fish to escape once it is hooked.
I am certainly glad I’m not a fish but I do love the image that this brings when we consider this is what happens to us when we fall into temptation. Temptation grabs us and drags us in, closer and closer, all the while digging deeper into us like a hook, hurting us, damaging our lives until eventually we tire of fighting and we give in and allow it to enter into our lives and sometimes even destroy us.
Let me put it this way, the bottom line of Christianity for you and I is this. We have decisions to make every day. Am I going to take the hook and be dragged in or resist the temptation. Do I base my decisions on the worlds ideas or Gods ideas?
Since the time I first realized how much Christ loves me and I decided to do things his way, I have never stopped being tempted. Everybody goes through temptations, right from the beginning of the bible when Eve was tempted in the Garden of Eden, a little further on Cain is tempted and a little further on David is tempted.
What I am saying is that from a woman in the garden to a great king, they are all tempted.
If you really study the bible, here is what you will find. God has an enemy who the bible calls Satan and it is his job to trip us up. His goal is to hook you into temptation so that he can drag you away from God. He does this by dangling bait before you. (Fishing rod with gummy worms, money, alcohol) Satan also dresses temptation up in nice clothes like gambling. If we just buy this lottery ticket we may become a millionaire.
Oh but he is subtle, sometimes we do not even recognize the fact we are being tempted and who is doing the tempting. Tonight I want to teach you how to stay alert to the devils tactics.
Matthew 26:41 Stay alert; be in prayer so you don’t wander into temptation without even knowing you’re in danger. There is a part of you that is eager, ready for anything in God. But there’s another part that’s as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire.
This verse is saying there is a part of us that wants to live for God but here is another part that gets lazy.
Give me an example of being alert and give me an example of being lazy. (Waiting for that special friend to knock on the door, checking out the window at every noise, lazy is being annoyed when you want to change channels and you and your brother argue about who is going to get up and get the remote.)
So you know what it’s like to be lazy, and you know what it’s like to be alert. That’s what this passage is saying. You’ve got a choice. I love the Bible; it’s so dramatic. “That you fall into temptation without even knowing it.” Can you picture that? You see the bait, that’s looks nice, I wonder what it tastes like, just a little nibble… then you’re gone, hooked!
Let’s take a look at where temptation comes from, Have you heard of the three R’s reading, riting, rithmatic, well we have 3 R’s of our own tonight
On Board – (a) Regular pressure + (b) Random temptations = (c) Real CONSEQUENCES
(a) The pressure to conform, perform and explore
What is regular pressure – the pressure that comes upon you every day in 3 ways
Pressure to Conform – be like others – to want to fit in. No one likes to be left out or isolated. This is where fads come from – Guy with pants around his bum – who thought of that and why did so many follow – to conform – if that’s what’s cool I need to do that also to be cool
Pressure to Perform – act like others for others – there is pressure out there from your peers and your friends to perform – to act like them but to act like them for them, this is not for you, it is for them to approve and say “yep you’re cool.”
If their smoking, well then I better smoke, if their drinking, I better drink because you need to be able to perform – to keep up with the others or else you’re not cool.
A lot of the times we wear a mask, at church a Christian mask, with our friends a worldly mask, we perform, we pretend, we pretend to be someone that we think others want us to be.
Pressure to Explore – do like others do – to push the boundaries – A friend says, “just try it” just once. You might like it. So you do and you like it…..Hooked
Temptation comes in a number of different ways. When you hear the word temptation, what do you think of?
(Sex, drugs, disobedience)
(a) Temptations: physical, chemical and emotional (sex, substances, rebellion)
I love this verse. Romans 7:15. Here’s what the Apostle Paul wrote, “I don’t understand myself at all. I really want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead I do the very thing that I hate.” Who can identify with that? Absolutely. I want to do that, but I don’t. The stuff I don’t want to do, I wind up doing. That’s the temptation. We are drawn in to temptation daily and randomly, we rarely know and rarely have a plan for it unless we have already seriously decided in advance what we are going to do. Say No.
There are 2 types of consequences. Growth consequences or Painful consequences
If you win against temptation, you grow, if you give in to temptation eventually there will be pain. We all go through pain and we all have opportunity to grow, the question is “where do you want to spend most of your time, in growth or in pain”
I’ll tell you as a dad who’s the age of your parents and somebody who cares about you. I will tell you if you look at your life and you’re spending most of your life in the green and not as much in the red; you’re going to live a better life. I don’t have to be brilliant to tell you that.
But if you spend a lot of your time living in the red, you’re living in the pain, guess what? You’re going to have long-term difficulty in life. I will tell you from experience that people who spend the majority of their time in the green have better lives, they have better relationships, they have better jobs, they have better emotional stability, and they have better futures.
Temptation is very real. And there are real pressures and real temptations, but there are very real consequences. So my question to you is where do you want to spend your time? You’re not going to live a life free of pain. Everybody’s going to go through pain. The question is what’s going to dominate your life?
Happy is the man who doesn’t give in and do wrong when he is tempted, for afterwards he will get as his reward the crown of life that God has promised those who love him” James 1:12
Have a happy life, don’t fall for it. God wants to reward you, don’t give it away.
Know beforehand how you will respond to temptation.
Why? because our God is deserving of our faithful obedience.