March
10
2019

"Temptation Versus Reliance on God" Pastor Gus Lohrum

Temptation Versus Reliance on God Luke 4:1-13 Deuteronomy 26:1-11 Romans 10:8-13 March 10, 2019
 
Vic’s temptation “The donut holes are still warm.”
 
Point – Most of us usually think of temptation being experienced in a similar way.
 
The Serendipity Bible posed a question about being tempted and based on the story of temptation of Jesus which we are about to read.  The question was, “If the devil had 3 shots to tempt you, what 3 temptations would he use.”  
 
On this first Sunday of a season for reflection, which we know as Lent, we’re going to cover the story of the temptation of Jesus.
 
Luke 4:1-13
 
The temptation story of Jesus reminds us of a few principles.   1. No one is above temptation – Jesus was tempted all of us have something that temps us. 2. The story ends with a warning that the devil would return = temptation is an ongoing battle.
 
But also notice from this story the name Luke uses here for the devil.  Luke uses the Hebrew name for devil which means adversary.  One take-away from this story is to take seriously that there is a spiritual reality to life that desires to oppose God and see any who follow God, fail and fall.
 
Temptation is the tip of the spear of spiritual forces against God and any who would follow Christ.  
 
So, a story like this meant to encourage us to take temptation seriously because it can be the small failings, dismissals and tolerances of that which isn’t best for us that can lead to a greater fall.
 
Illustration:  See the stack of books on the communion table?  They are there because most of those books are written by pastors who since writing those books has stepped down from their church positions or they had to confront in their church, situations where temptation over money, power or sex won and dishonor was brought to God and the church.
 
THE TEMPTATIONS Let’s review what the temptations were for Jesus. 1. PHYSICAL NEEDS - V.3 “Command this stone to be turned into bread.” 2. POWER – V. 6 “I will give you the glory and all the authority…” 3. PROOF FOR GOD – VS. 9-11 “Throw yourself down…he will command his angels concerning you to protect you.”
 
Let’s look a little deeper at what temptation targets:
 
US: Temptation puts the individual first. The devil tempted Jesus.  Just as the devil tempted Adam and Eve. We live in a very individualistic culture which makes the conditions more right to think about self, and what we deserve and want.  Temptation is very egocentric.
 
Problem/Crisis: Temptation focuses on what seems we’re lacking or what is a problem. “Jesus you’ve been fasting for 40 days, you’ve proven your devoted, what’s one stone turned into bread going to hurt?”  Temptation finds the crack to wedge into and widen into a gap of discontentment.
 
Illustration/Contentment:  In preparation for the message I thought how the opposite of temptation is contentment.  I got on the internet to read some articles about what encourages contentment.  I found it to be a bit ironic that when I was trying to read articles on the internet about the dangers of advertising disrupting our sense of contentment, the webpages containing the articles were loaded with advertisements, like Kohl’s, car insurance and the list went on – it’s like you can’t get away from it and it tries to tell us we have a problem we lack something. 
 
Suggestion for something within our grasp: Temptation seeks to make us think we alone can solve the problem.   The devil said to Jesus if you’re the son of God, turn a stone into a loaf, you want all these kingdoms, just kneel and worship me, If you’re the Son of God, throw you’re self-down off the roof, his angels got you.”   “Jesus take matters into you own hands.” • Temptation tells us we don’t need God to do want we want to do. • Humanistic; rather than theistic motivations.
 
SUMMARY ABOUT TEMPTATION Problem centered – there is something you don’t have that you should have. It mixes a little truth with a lot of error. Promised pleasure is short lived – ask Aaron, David, Peter,  Temptation over promises and under delivers
 
C. S. Lewis once said, “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us. . . . We are far too easily pleased.”4
 
THE RESPONSE OF JESUS
 
Let’s look closely at how Jesus responded to temptation. Luke says, “Jesus was filled and led by the Spirit” meaning how he responded to anything always starts with consciousness of God’s will.
 He put God first.
 
He was fasting - self-denial, not putting his needs first for the sake of focus on the will of God.
 
He used the word/sacred scripture of his day to respond to temptation.  He pointed to godly wisdom over personal preference.
 
Listen to the messages Jesus sent toward his temptation.
 
“Man does not live by bread alone” 
 
“Worship only the Lord.”
 
“Do not put God to the test.”
 
Jesus refused to be desperate. He slammed the door shut because he was rock solid on who he placed his trust and confidence. Jesus responded to temptation with full reliance upon God.
 
Illustration: Lord’s Prayer vs Temptation: Distinguished scholar on Luke’s gospel, Joseph Fitzmeyer makes an interesting point.  He said, you compare how the devil tempted Jesus to how Jesus taught his disciples to pray you find two opposite directions.  
 
When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he began with teaching them to start by honoring God and worshipping him, then moving toward the request and need of daily bread. 
 
The adversary started out with the need, the problem.  Temptation is the opposite order in which Jesus taught the disciples to pray.  
 
The way he taught us to pray was the also the way he maintained his reliance and trust in the Father first and foremost to defeat temptation.
 
 
Conclusion So, maybe temptation is more than just something we want?  Maybe temptation is displaced, misplaced confidence/trust? If we say I was tempted, I lusted after, I just had to have… what we are really saying, we are putting our confidence all in on….; rather that what God says I need to do or have. Temptation is not just about lust; it’s also about trust/confidence. Our point of reference reveals who and what we trust, Jesus referenced God and godly wisdom. Many times, we give into the wrong things because our motivations shift from being on God to pleasing ourselves or the wrong thing in others.
 
Martin Luther’s classic statement.  “We can no more avoid thoughts of temptation entering our minds than we can keep birds from flying over our heads, but we can stop them from building a nest there.”
 
Jesus defeated temptation through fully relying on God whether he was hungry or full.

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