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Sunday September 19th
What package does your temptation come in?

What a joy to be with all of you today.  I’m Pastor Ben of The Journey Church.

July 3rd 1991 was the last day that I used drugs. Many of you have heard my "boat story" of deliverance, but if you haven't, I'll offer a brief story on what happened that day.

1 Peter 5:8  Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

This particular passage took on some new meaning to me when I began to understand some of the habits of a lion.

A lion doesn't like to feed on dead prey. He will if there isn't anything alive to hunt. A lion enjoys the hunt just as much as the kill. A lion is relentless in the hunt until he does kill his victim.

So what does this look like in our lives. Is the devil really after us? Can he really kill and destroy us?

 

I do some property management in Cottage Grove, and during my work at the mall, I have found many interesting items in the parking lot. Bags of weed, crack pipes, syringes, and other drug paraphernalia. Pornographic materials, prescription meds, alcohol, you name it, I've found it.

I was headed up to do my work on a Sunday morning before church. I started to thank the Lord for 30 years of a drug free life. I was reflecting on how my life had changed since my boat encounter.

I was walking across the parking lot and I saw a package laying on the ground. I picked it up, shook it, I heard something inside, and I just put it in my pocket.

I got back in my truck and I decided to see what was inside. Let me preface this for you.

I have found drugs before, but it has never been such a complete package of temptation. My main drug of choice was weed and the devil knows that. He has tempted me before in the last 30 years, but he hasn't had any success in luring me back to that old life style.

This particular morning was different.

Not only did he supply the drug, but he gave an instrument to use it and even a way to light it, and then put it in a nice leather pouch to boot. Oh, he's smooth.

What was my reaction to this temptation? Keep in mind 30 years have come and gone. I thought to myself ...... nobody would ever know if I tried a one hitter, just to see what it was like.

I'll wait until Luann goes to visit the kids for a few days and I'll just see what it's like. Nobody will know.

Do you really think that Pastors are immune to temptation? What do I do, what do you do, when temptation comes knocking on your door?

 

Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

People often think that temptation is sin, it's not, it's what you do with the temptation. Do you think, plan and act on it or do you submit to what you want, what the enemy wants or do you submit yourself to God?

James 4:7  Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

The word resist means to "fight against" to "oppose or withstand".

The older crowd will remember a catchphrase from the 70's made popular by Flip Wilson ... " the devil made me do it." We would laugh when his character, Geraldine Jones, said "The devil made me buy this dress. I didn't want to do it!"

Eve tried the "devil made me do it" excuse in the garden of Eden. It didn't work for her and it doesn't work for us either.

Make no mistake - the devil is our enemy. How do we fight against the devil? What do we do when the devil attacks?

1) Run to God.

Our first and greatest defense against the schemes of the devil is to live in a right relationship with God.

Notice several key ideas from

James 4:4 “You adulterous people! Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the friend of the world becomes the enemy of God”.

James was saying: Stop your love affair with the world! Quit flirting with the devil! Instead, make the intentional choice to live as an enemy of the world (and of the devil) by aligning yourself with God.

“Submit to God” (v. 7). This means to “put yourself under God’s authority.” The intent is: “stop resisting God and resist the devil!”

“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (v. 8). We can’t resist the devil if we are not living in close fellowship and intimate communion with God.

2. Humble yourself before God.

Pride makes us vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. Pride was the devil’s downfall, and he wants us to be prideful. It is one of his chief weapons in his warfare against us.

That particular Sunday on my way to the mall, I was thanking God for saving me. God knows my heart. I don't think I was being prideful, but sometimes we are and we don't recognize it?

I have heard many believers misquote the following scripture and say that "pride comes before the fall."

Proverbs 16:18 says “Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall."

 James teaches us …

James 4:6 “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble”

James 4:10 “Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up”.

 

To humble ourselves before God means to stop resisting Him.

James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

God has to be the most important person in your life. You have to put Him before you.

The call to draw near to God in verse 8 suggests James’s audience had moved away from Him. Verses 8-9 are a call to repentance and purity of heart.

James 4:8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.

 

The person who lives in friendship with this world, does not view sin as a big deal. And it is through the sins we tolerate that Satan gains a foothold into our lives. Therefore, James urges us to take sin seriously. Grieve over it. Weep over it before God.

3. Take up the Word of God.

We have the Word of God to fend off the enemy's attacks.

Put on the whole, full, Armor of God!

Ephesians 6:10-17 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

 In Matthew 4:4-11 Jesus responded to the devil’s temptations by quoting the Word: “It is written … it is written … It is also written”. Read how Jesus handled the devil!

If our Lord resisted Satan’s attacks with Scripture, we also should meet the tempter’s attacks on the same basis.

Jesus was able to use God’s Word because He knew God’s Word. If we do not know the Word, we cannot use the Word.

A sword can deflect an enemy’s attack only if we are able to handle it skillfully and precisely; otherwise, we are left vulnerable to Satan’s deception.

James 4:7  Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

This promise not only eliminates the "devil made me do it" alibi, but it assures us that we can resist him.

1 John 4:4 “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” Jesus is our victory over temptation and the enemy.

 

In a couple of weeks, we are going have Minnesota Teen Challenge join us for a service.

You will hear amazing stories of deliverance from many types of addictions.

When these people get out of the treatment facility, do you think the devil is just going to roll over and play dead? Oh no, he'll be sitting on the curb waiting.

No, he wants them back. He never has a good day, he never plays fair, he has one goal, to seek and devour, to kill and destroy.

When they are in Teen Challenge, they have Bible study every day, they have church every day. Teen Challenge knows they need to get the Word of God into these men and women as soon and as much as possible.

The Word of God is our sword, it's our way to fight off the enemy.

I don't know what kind of package your temptation comes in, drugs, a bottle, a prescription, your cell phone, the internet or any other form .... only you really know that..... let me correct myself, only God and you know that.

What's important is, when temptation comes, do you know how to defend yourself?

You might be wondering what I did with the temptation that came my way ....... I fought it off with the Word of God and His promises, and the memory of what happened in my boat ..... then I threw it away. Praise the Lord.

Greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world.

I love the way Billy Graham said it : “When Satan knocks, I just send Christ to the door."

  

Let’s pray today that God will love others through us so that the world will know Him and find peace.

 

Next week Pastor Paris will speak to the Bible’s answer to Cancel Culture.