Volume. XIX, No. 29
Sunday, 30 January 2005

How to Handle Temptation

(Matthew 4:1-10; James 1:13-15)

Evil temptation is as old as the hills. It made its first appearance in the Garden of Eden where Eve was tempted by the serpent (Genesis 3:1-6). Even the Son of God faced it when He was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. In fact Christ was tempted in all points by Satan (Hebrews 4: 15). He tempted Him with “the lust of the flesh”, with “the lust of the eyes” and with “the pride of life” (1 John 2:3, 8-9, 5-6). In both accounts found in Mark 1:12-13 and a longer one in Matthew 4:1-10, we learn how Jesus handled temptation and how He overcame it.

What is Temptation?
The word "temptation" can be used in two senses: one is that of trial or testing and the other is temptation to sin, which is evil temptation. And it is in this sense of evil temptation that we are dealing with in this message.

The Source of Temptation
When God confronted Adam in the Garden of Eden as regards his sin of disobedience, Adam directly blamed his wife Eve and indirectly God for it. Adam said, “The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat” (Genesis 3:12). Behind it all was the Devil who was the father of lies: “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Genesis 3:1b). “And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die” (Genesis 3:1-4). The first lie was committed in the garden by the serpent.

Don't ever blame God if you are enticed and yield to it. "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death" (James 1:13-15). “That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man” (Mark 7:20-23). God may try you, but He never tempts you to sin. God is not the author of sin and He will never lead us to be sinfully tempted.

How did Jesus handle temptation?
The Lord was tempted by the devil in the wilderness but He did not yield to any one of them. It is not sin to be tempted but to yield to it is sin. He overcame the various temptations the devil offered Him. How did the Lord handle and overcome temptation? "And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” Here the temptation was through “the lust of the flesh” (1 John 2:16). But he (Jesus) answered and said, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:3-4). The Lord used the Word of God which is “a double-edged sword” to answer Satan.
Then Jesus was tempted through the avenue of "the pride of life." “Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone: (Matthew 4:6). Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (Matthew 4:7). The third temptation came through the eye-gate, "the lust of the eyes." "Again the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountan, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou will fall down and worship me" (Matthew 4:8-9). Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Matthew 4:10). Notice the Lord used God’s Word (“…It is written…” Matt.4:4,7,10) to answer Satan each time He was tempted by the Devil.

How Does a Christian Handle Temptation?
A sign on the dormitory wall reads: "Lead me not into temptation- I can find it myself." A petition in the Lord's Prayer consists of this phrase: "Lead us not into temptation." This is to daily remind us that we ought to be careful because temptation is our common experience as long as we live. It is part and parcel of life. It was Martin Luther who remarked that you can't stop birds from flying over your head, but you can stop them from building a nest in your hair. You can handle temptation with the help of God. The story of Joseph is a classic example of how we can handle evil temptation (Genesis 39:1-20).

Here are some lessons on how we can handle Temptation:
Keep God's Word close to your heart. It is the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17).1t is also known as a double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). Delight in His Word; get yourself saturated with it (Psalm 1:1-2). It is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. (Psalm 110:105). "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word" (Psalm 119:9). "Thy word have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin against thee" (Psalm 119:11). Jesus Himself used God’s Word to answer Satan each time He was tempted by the Devil (Matt.4:4,7,10)

Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil (Eph 6: 11-18)

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you (James 4:8)

Shun evil companions for they ruin your character. "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners" (1 Corinthians 15:33).

Keep yourself separated from worldly ways (Psalm 1:1).

Flee from youthful lusts. "Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart" (2 Timothy 2:22).

Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7b).

May God help each one of us to handle temptation and live a victorious Christian life to His glory and honour. Let us not be self-reliant but God-reliant in handling evil temptations. "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths" (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Prepared by Elder P.K.Khoo.

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Shorter Catechism Question 87: What is repentance unto life? Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavour after, new obedience.

Please pray for healing for Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren, Rev Peter Clements, & Sisters Myung Ki, Aranka Rejtoe & Susan Varadi “Hear my prayer, O Lord, and let my cry come unto thee” (Ps 102:1).

Please pray for - Journey Mercies for Elder & Mrs Peng Kiat Khoo (S’pore), Missions Team members leaving Phnom Penh on 31 Jan (El Michael Lee, Dns Tony Law, Stephen Lim, Chiew Tan, David Yeo, Sisters Sally Law, Rachel Soon, Brothers Joseph Lo, Raphael Ng, Jason Tan) & 1 Feb (Brothers David Law & John Wong), Sis Min Yen Chia (Adl); Mission Team as they minister to the Cambodians today; All Hopefuls away.

Praise and thank God for - the Ministry of Elder & Mrs Peng Kiat Khoo at Hope Church for the past 3 months. May the Lord continue to bless and give them strength; journey mercies granted to Ps Ki & family (USA, Phnom Penh, S’pore, Adl), Bro Leo Lam, Bro Eu Jzin Tan, Teng Family, Sisters Clara Sim, Lauren Ko, Lisa Zhu, Mr Chee Chong (Adl), Dn David Yeo (Cambodia), Sisters Wendy Gong (Alice Sp), Jasmin Chua (Syd), Bro Chilton Chong, Sisters Emily & Roslie Gan (Siem Reap, S’pore), Tina Cheng (HK), Joyce Gong (S’pore), Yu Yuet Teng (KL), Mag Yu (S’pore), Rachel Volvricht (Siem Reap, S’pore, Adl) & and all those currently on the Missions Trip; All those who helped out at Working Bee.



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