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Temptation

 

Today, trials and temptations surround us in our everyday world. Through his word, God tells us to resist Satan the Devil and he will flee from us. Have you ever asked yourself, though, what it is, specifically, that we are supposed to resist? What is the root, what is the cause, and what is its result? If we are not to cause an offense, what is an offense?

We normally think of an offense as an occurrence relating to our feelings: in short, it is virtually synonymous with an insult or something that causes resentment. In a legal sense, we think of the word offense as relating to a criminal activity. The word offend (and its similarities: offense, offended, and offender) is used 79 times in the Bible. Of those 79 times, it is used 21 times in the Old Testament and 58 times in the New Testament. So, we can see that the topic of offenses is addressed more than twice as often in the New Testament than in the Old Testament.

If the subject of offending is addressed so many times in the Bible, what does it really mean? Beginning at the most modern usage of the word and working our way backward in time, Webster's English Dictionary defines offense first as "[5] an infraction of the law, a crime, then [4] the act of displeasing or affronting, then [3] the act of attacking, assault, then [2] something that outrages the moral or physical senses, a nuisance; and finally [1] the oldest definition is an act of stumbling, a cause or occasion of sin: a stumbling block.

Weíll use the King James Version of the Bible more often today than normal because the New American Standard has generally broken down the Hebrew and Greek words translated offend into their more appropriate individual definitions. There are eight different words used in the Old Testament relating to offense in the King James. Let's go through them one by one. It may be a little tedious but I think it will show us some important differences in the shades of meaning.

 

Old Testament Examples

The first Hebrew word translated offend is:

Strongís #816. 'asham, to be guilty or to be punished. This word deals with guilt and punishment for the guilt.

Strongís #2399. chet', a crime or its penalty. This word deals more specifically with the infraction and the consequences of the infraction.

Strongís #2254. chabal, to wind tightly (as a rope), that is, to bind; specifically by a pledge. This word deals more with personal responsibility.

Strongís #898. bagad, to cover (with a garment); figuratively, to act covertly. This word seems to deal more with the motive.

Strongís #2398. chata', to miss; or to sin. This word deals more with the attainment of the goal or standard of righteousness set by the law of God.

Strongís #819. 'ashmah, guiltiness or a fault. This word deals more with the state of the person.

Strongís #6586. pasha', to break away (from just authority). This word deals more with escape from punishment.

Strongís #4383. mikshowl, a stumbling-block. This word has to do with a personal test, an obstacle or hardship.

 

In Psalms 119:165, we can see one of the better-known scriptures which uses the word offend. Letís see if thatís what it really means.

(Psa 119:165 KJV) Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them [the word is mikshowl, a stumbling-block].

So, the verse could be more appropriately translated as it is in Young's Literal Translation.

(Psa 119:165) "Abundant peace have those loving Thy law, And they have no stumblingblock."

You can see now, that the more precise translation of the Hebrew word for "stumbling-block" gives us a different understanding of the authorís intent than our modern misuse of the word offend.

In Ezekiel 3:20, we can see the same Hebrew word used in the well-known Ezekiel scripture about the watchman and personal responsibility.

(Ezek 3:20 KJV) "Again, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock [mikshowl] before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand."

When we looked at all eight Hebrew words translated offend in the Old Testament, something was missing. There was not one word whose definition was in line with our modern day perception of "the act of displeasing or affronting."

 

New Testament Examples

Now let's look at the Greek words in the New Testament. There are nine different words relating to offend. Letís look at them one by one and see if they can give us additional insight into a more precise understanding.

The first Greek word translated offend is:

Strongís #4624. skandalizo, to entrap or to trip up; to entice to sin

Strongís #4625. skandalon, a trap-stick or bent sapling, that is, a snare

Strongís #677. aproskopos, inoffensive; that is, not leading into sin

Strongís #264. hamartano, to miss the mark; that is, to err or to sin

Strongís #91. adikeo, to be unjust; that is, to do wrong

Strongís #3900. paraptoma, a side-slip, a lapse or deviation; that is, either (unintentional) error or (wilful) transgression

Strongís #4348. proskomma, a stub; that is, an occasion of apostasy

Strongís #4349. proskope, a stumbling, an occasion of sin

Strongís #4417. ptaio, to trip; that is, to err, sin, or fail

 

In James 2:10, we can now see the root meaning of the Greek word that underlies our word offend.

(James 2:10 KJV) "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend [thatís ptaio, to trip; that is, to err, sin, or fail] in one point, he is guilty of all."

Notice also Jude 1:24; look closely at the real Greek meaning.

(Jude 1:24-25 KJV) Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling [and the word is Strongsí #679 aptaistos, which is the negative form of ptaio, to trip; that is, to err, sin, or fail], and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, {25} To the only wise God our Saviour [notice, it is God the Father who is referred to as "God our Savior], be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and for ever. Amen.

 

So, weíve seen that in all cases, both in the New as well as in the Old Testament, there is not one word translated offend that really means offend as we perceive it normally in today's society. In actuality, weíve seen that an offense, both in the Old and New Testaments, falls into one of two broad categories. All of the Hebrew and Greek words weíve studied deal with either the attainment or transgression of one of Godís laws. In short, they deal with oneís motivation toward achieving Godís standard of righteousness.

 

Avoiding Offenses

How important is it, though, to avoid offenses? As we can see by Christís own words in Matthew 18:1, it is very important. It has everything to do with our inclusion or exclusion from the Kingdom of God and eternal life.

(Mat 18:1-9 KJV) At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? {2} And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, {3} And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. {4} Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. {5} And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. {6} But whoso shall offend [skandalizo, to entrap or to trip up; to entice to sin] one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. {7} Woe unto the world because of offences [skandalon, a trap-stick or bent sapling, a snare] for it must needs be that offences [skandalon, again, a trap-stick or bent sapling, a snare] come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh [skandalon, again, a trap-stick or bent sapling, a snare].

So, we can see that the subject of offenses [ensnarement or stumbling blocks or the enticing to sin] is very important to God and is so important that it can keep us from entering the Kingdom of God and receiving our gift of eternal life. How, though, do we avoid stumbling blocks and enticing ourselves or others to sin?

Most of us, at one time or another in our childhood, were taken to religious services by our parents. Whether that was done just on special holidays once or twice a year or on a weekly basis throughout the year, we were probably taught or were, at least, exposed to what the Christian world calls "the Lordís Prayer" in Matthew 6:9-13. In fact, many of us memorized it as part of our studies and still know it by heart. Letís look at it again.

(Mat 6:9-13 KJV) After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. {10} Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. {11} Give us this day our daily bread. {12} And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. {13} And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Youngís Literal Translation of the Bible sheds a bit more light on our topic today by its phrasing: "Our Father who art in the heavens, hallowed be thy name. Thy reign come; Thy will come to pass, as in heaven also on the earth. Our appointed bread give us to-day. And forgive us our debts, as also we forgive our debtors. And mayest Thou not lead us to temptation, but deliver us from the evil, because Thine is the reign, and the power, and the glory Ė to the ages. Amen."

This model prayer given by Christ as an example to his disciples and to us can be divided into several major parts. First, we are to acknowledge Godís greatness and power and the inevitability of his righteous governmental rule over the earth. We are to ask for our daily provisions as well as daily forgiveness but only as we are willing to work toward the similar forgiveness of our neighbors. We are to ask for Godís protection from being led into temptation as well as his deliverance from the evil that surrounds us in Satanís world. Finally, we are to close with another acknowledgement of Godís greatness and power and the inevitability of his righteous governmental rule over the earth, even to the distant reaches of time.

 

Deliverance from Temptation

In the model prayer are all the necessary subjects to address before the throne of our Creator, the Most High God, El Elyon. As we are to continually ask for forgiveness from the weight of sin that is around us, so we are to avoid such sin by asking Godís protection from being led into temptation and the evil that is in the world around us. I think we often read right over that without considering its gravity. We are to ask for protection from being led into temptation. Why? Itís because temptation easily leads to the sin from which we need forgiveness.

The Greek word translated temptation in the Lordís Prayer is Strongís #3986 peirasmos, a putting to proof; or adversity. Thayerís Greek Lexicon defines peirasmos as: an experiment, an attempt, a trial, a proving, an enticement to sin. So we see by its definition, that peirasmos is much akin to skandalizo, the entrapment or enticement to sin, which Christ warned his disciples could keep them out of the Kingdom of God.

What do you know about temptation? In our day to day lives, we often talk about being tempted. We can say we are tempted by enticing foods, such as chocolate or rich desserts but foods, just by themselves, do not entice one to sin, except when taken to extremes. What kinds of temptation, then, can entrap or entice us to sin?

In Psalms 15, we can see how David looked at the qualities God desires us to maintain in our lives.

(Psa 15 NASB) O LORD, who may abide in Thy tent? Who may dwell on Thy holy hill? {2} He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, And speaks truth in his heart. {3} He does not slander with his tongue, Nor does evil to his neighbor, Nor takes up a reproach against his friend; {4} In whose eyes a reprobate is despised, But who honors those who fear the LORD; He swears to his own hurt, and does not change; {5} He does not put out his money at interest, Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken.

In Psalm 39:1, we can see how David acknowledged the necessity to guard himself against sinning.

(Psa 39:1 NASB) I said, "I will guard my ways, That I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle, While the wicked are in my presence."

In Psalm 120:2, he went on to acknowledge his need for Godís assistance in helping him to guard himself from sinning.

(Psa 120:2 NASB) Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips, From a deceitful tongue.

As David spoke about temptation and sin coming from the misuse of the tongue, so in James 3:5, the apostle James addresses the subject of the tongueís proclivities.

(James 3:5-10 NASB) So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. Behold, how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! {6} And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. {7} For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed, and has been tamed by the human race. {8} But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. {9} With it we bless our Lord and Father; and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; {10} from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.

We all know of Satanís temptation of Eve in Genesis 3 in the Garden of Eden, and how he enticed first Eve, and then Adam through his wife, to sin against God. With what, though, did Satan tempt Eve?

(Gen 3:4-6 NASB) And the serpent said to the woman, "You surely shall not die! {5} "For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." {6} When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.

So, Satan tempted Eve with the promise of immortality, the delight of the eyes, the promise of the hidden knowledge of good and evil, the allure of wisdom and the pleasure of the senses.

As Eve was tempted by things appealing to her mind, in Joshua 7:19, Achan was tempted by the allure of wealth.

(Josh 7:19-21 NASB) Then Joshua said to Achan, "My son, I implore you, give glory to the LORD, the God of Israel, and give praise to Him; and tell me now what you have done. Do not hide it from me." {20} So Achan answered Joshua and said, "Truly, I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel, and this is what I did: {21} when I saw among the spoil a beautiful mantle from Shinar and two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold fifty shekels in weight, then I coveted them and took them; and behold, they are concealed in the earth inside my tent with the silver underneath it."

Not even great kings who seem to have everything they could possibly need are immune from temptation. In 1 Kings 11:1, we can read how even the great King Solomon was tempted by the allure of women, particularly foreign women from outside Israel.

(1 Ki 11:1-8 NASB) Now King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, {2} from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the sons of Israel, "You shall not associate with them, neither shall they associate with you, for they will surely turn your heart away after their gods." Solomon held fast to these in love. {3} And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned his heart away. {4} For it came about when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. {5} For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians and after Milcom the detestable idol of the Ammonites. {6} And Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and did not follow the LORD fully, as David his father had done. {7} Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable idol of Moab, on the mountain which is east of Jerusalem, and for Molech the detestable idol of the sons of Ammon. {8} Thus also he did for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods.

In 2 Timothy 2:22, Paul also addresses the subject of seduction and the lusts of youth.

(2 Tim 2:22 NASB) Now flee from youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

 

One of the greatest temptations of all time occurred in Luke 4 when Satan directly challenged the Messiahís authority to rule over the earth, administering the government of God.

(Luke 4:1-13 NASB) And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led about by the Spirit in the wilderness {2} for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days; and when they had ended, He became hungry. {3} And the devil said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread." {4} And Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE.'" {5} And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. {6} And the devil said to Him, "I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. {7} "Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours." {8} And Jesus answered and said to him, "It is written, 'YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD AND SERVE HIM ONLY.'" {9} And he led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; {10} for it is written, 'HE WILL GIVE HIS ANGELS CHARGE CONCERNING YOU TO GUARD YOU,' {11} and, 'ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, LEST YOU STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.'" {12} And Jesus answered and said to him, "It is said, 'YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.'" {13} And when the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.

In the parable of the sower in Luke 8:13, Christ showed how temptation can cause even those who receive the blessing of the knowledge of the gospel to possibly lose it.

(Luke 8:13 NASB) "And those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away.

Does that mean we are all subject to falling away from the truth we have received? Are we just walking on a tightrope, subject to slipping off at any moment? While that possibility does exist, 1 Tim 6:6 shows us how to ward against it.

(1 Tim 6:6-10 NASB) But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment. {7} For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. {8} And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. {9} But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. {10} For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang.

 

Maintaining Godís Standards

If we maintain the standards of righteousness established by God, 2 Peter 2:4 shows us that we can be protected and even rescued by God.

(2 Pet 2:4-9 NASB) For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; {5} and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; {6} and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly thereafter; {7} and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men {8} (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day with their lawless deeds), {9} then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment,

So, we can be rescued from temptation, if we are godly. Solomon knew a lot about temptation. Even though he did not use it as he should have, the wisdom God gave Solomon was written down for our instruction and training in Godís righteousness.

(Prov 1:1-10 NASB) The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel: {2} To know wisdom and instruction, To discern the sayings of understanding, {3} To receive instruction in wise behavior, Righteousness, justice and equity; {4} To give prudence to the naive, To the youth knowledge and discretion, {5} A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel, {6} To understand a proverb and a figure, The words of the wise and their riddles. {7} The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction. {8} Hear, my son, your father's instruction, And do not forsake your mother's teaching; {9} Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head, And ornaments about your neck. {10} My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent.

Look in the second chapter of Proverbs.

(Prov 2:1-16 NASB) My son, if you will receive my sayings, And treasure my commandments within you, {2} Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding; {3} For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding; {4} If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; {5} Then you will discern the fear of the LORD, And discover the knowledge of God. {6} For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. {7} He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, {8} Guarding the paths of justice, And He preserves the way of His godly ones. {9} Then you will discern righteousness and justice And equity and every good course. {10} For wisdom will enter your heart, And knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; {11} Discretion will guard you, Understanding will watch over you, {12} To deliver you from the way of evil, From the man who speaks perverse things; {13} From those who leave the paths of uprightness, To walk in the ways of darkness; {14} Who delight in doing evil, And rejoice in the perversity of evil; {15} Whose paths are crooked, And who are devious in their ways; {16} To deliver you from the strange woman, From the adulteress who flatters with her words;

In Proverbs 4:10, Solomon spoke directly of wisdom and the reward of long life that comes from following it.

(Prov 4:10-15 NASB) Hear, my son, and accept my sayings, And the years of your life will be many. {11} I have directed you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in upright paths. {12} When you walk, your steps will not be impeded; And if you run, you will not stumble. {13} Take hold of instruction; do not let go. Guard her, for she is your life. {14} Do not enter the path of the wicked, And do not proceed in the way of evil men. {15} Avoid it, do not pass by it; Turn away from it and pass on.

In Proverbs 5, Solomon continued to extol the virtues of wisdom.

(Prov 5:1-8 NASB) My son, give attention to my wisdom, Incline your ear to my understanding; {2} That you may observe discretion, And your lips may reserve knowledge. {3} For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, And smoother than oil is her speech; {4} But in the end she is bitter as wormwood, Sharp as a two-edged sword. {5} Her feet go down to death, Her steps lay hold of Sheol. {6} She does not ponder the path of life; Her ways are unstable, she does not know it. {7} Now then, my sons, listen to me, And do not depart from the words of my mouth. {8} Keep your way far from her, And do not go near the door of her house,

The allure of foreign women was one of the downfalls of Solomon. He didnít learn to resist that temptation. Even so today, the wrong allure of women is one of Satanís tools used throughout our world. We see it on a daily basis in television shows, such as Temptation Island, where the whole premise is to willingly submit to temptation through the allure of temptresses.

 

What are we to do to be right in Godís eyes and to resist temptation? In Romans 12:9, Paul gives us insight into what God requires of us.

(Rom 12:9-21 NASB) Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. {10} Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; {11} not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; {12} rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, {13} contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. {14} Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not. {15} Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. {16} Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. {17} Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. {18} If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. {19} Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord. {20} "BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS UPON HIS HEAD." {21} Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

If we overcome evil with good, does that mean we are immune from temptation? No, it doesnít. Temptations will still come but, in 1 Corinthians 10:13, Paul gives us confidence.

(1 Cor 10:13 NASB) No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.

 

Avoidance Through Our Actions

Job was one of the most righteous men of all. In chapter 31, he described how he avoided temptation. It was through his actions. By living a life framed by the righteous standards of God every day, he avoided the allure of the temptations that were all around him. This time, weíll read from the Hollman Christian Standard Bible.

(Job 31:1-28 CSB) I have made a covenant with my eyes. How then could I look at a young woman? {2} For what portion [would I have] from God above, or [what]  inheritance from the Almighty on high? {3} Doesnít disaster come to the wicked and misfortune to evildoers? {4} Does He not see my ways and number all my steps? {5} If I have walked in falsehood or my foot has rushed to deceit, {6} let God weigh me with an accurate balance, and He will recognize my integrity. {7} If my step has turned from the way, my heart has followed my eyes, or impurity has stained my hands, {8} let someone else eat what I have sown, and let my crops be uprooted. {9} If my heart has been seduced by [my neighborís]  wife or I have lurked at his door, {10} let my own wife grind [grain]  for another man, and let other men sleep with her. {11} For that would be a disgrace; it would be a crime deserving punishment. {12} For it is a fire that consumes down to  Abaddon; it would destroy my entire harvest. {13} If I have dismissed the case of my male or female servants when they made a complaint against me, {14} what could I do when God stands up [to judge]? How should I answer Him when He calls [me] to account? {15}Did not the One who made me in the womb also make them? Did not the same God form us both in the womb? {16}If I have refused the wishes of the poor or let the widowís eyes go blind, {17} if I have eaten my few crumbs alone without letting the fatherless eat any of itó {18} for from my youth, I raised him as [his] father, and since the day I was born I guided the widowó {19} if I have seen anyone dying for lack of clothing or a needy person without a cloak, {20} if he did not bless me while warming himself with the fleece from my sheep, {21} if I ever cast my vote against a fatherless child when I saw that I had support in the [city] gate, {22} then let my shoulder blade fall from my back, and my arm be pulled from its socket. {23} For disaster from God terrifies me, and because of His majesty I could not do [these things] {24} If I placed my confidence in gold or called fine gold my trust, {25} if I have rejoiced because my wealth is great or because my own hand has acquired [so] much, {26} if I have gazed at the sun when it was shining or at the moon moving in splendor, {27} so that my heart was secretly enticed and I threw them a kiss, {28} this would also be a crime deserving punishment, for I would have denied God above.

Notice how Job regulated his lifeís actions by the righteousness of God. He made it his duty to do good to others. He was always focused outwardly to see to the wellbeing of others. So much of our tendency to succumb to temptations is because we are focused inwardly. We are concerned too much with the self: it is selfishness. Job overcame selfishness by being continually concerned with the benefit of others.

 

Escape from Temptation

Though temptations will come, God will provide us with a way of escape so that we may be able to endure them. As Paul notes in Ephesians 4:22 though, we should live our lives in a manner seeking to avoid the cause of temptation, which is a lack of love.

(Eph 4:22-32 NASB) that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, {23} and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, {24} and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. {25} Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH, EACH ONE of you, WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another. {26} BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, {27} and do not give the devil an opportunity. {28} Let him who steals steal no longer; but rather let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good, in order that he may have something to share with him who has need. {29} Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear. {30} And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. {31} Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. {32} And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Continue in chapter five.

(Eph 5:1-8 NASB) Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; {2} and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. {3} But do not let immorality or any impurity or greed even be named among you, as is proper among saints; {4} and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. {5} For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. {6} Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. {7} Therefore do not be partakers with them; {8} for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light

In James 1:2, the apostle James addresses the trials and temptations we encounter in life.

(James 1:2-5 NASB) Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, {3} knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. {4} And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. {5} But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

So, as we read before from Solomon in the book of Proverbs, the heart of the matter is wisdom; but itís not human wisdom. Itís the true wisdom that comes from God. The fact that mankind lacks the wisdom of God is due to the refusal to submit to Godís authority in our lives and a lack of asking, in humility, for Godís wisdom.

Continue in verse twelve.

(James 1:12-18 NASB) Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. {13} Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. {14} But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. {15} Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. {16} Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. {17} Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow. {18} In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we might be, as it were, the first fruits among His creatures.

In James 4:7, we see what to do to really avoid temptation.

(James 4:7 NASB) Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

Satan, the devil, is the real source of evil and temptation in this world but God says that if we submit to Godís authority in our lives and resist Satan, he will flee from us.

In Hebrews 2:16, we are given confidence that we can call for help in our time of need and temptation.

(Heb 2:16-18 NASB) For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. {17} Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. {18} For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.

Continue in Hebrews 4:14, where we are told to draw near to Godís throne of grace in our time of need.

(Heb 4:14-16 NASB) Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. {15} 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, yet without sin. {16} Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.

 

 

Our Resolve

Today, weíve learned much about temptation, enticements, stumbling blocks and sin. Weíve seen that, as a matter of course in this life, temptations will come our way. We know that we can diminish the frequency and severity of those temptations, though, by living godly lives, staying close to God, and asking for both Godís wisdom and his protection from temptations and evil.

Weíve also learned that we are not to place impediments, enticements to sin or stumbling blocks before our brothers. While we should avoid them personally, we certainly should not place them in front of others. We have a high priest in heaven who has experienced the temptations and stumbling blocks common to our lives. He comes to our assistance in presenting our petitions for relief and forgiveness before the throne of God Most High.

That fact should give us confidence with boldness and assuredness to daily conquer the challenges that face us and to withstand all the temptations that come our way.

 

 

 

Sermon given by Philip Edwards

February 23, 2008

 

Copyright 2008, Philip Edwards

 

 

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