March 8, 2015 – “I Should Have Known…You Were Temptation”

Sermon: “I Should Have Known…You Were Temptation”

Story #1 At the conclusion of the sermon, the worshipers filed out of the sanctuary to greet the minister. As one of them left, he shook the minister’s hand, thanked him for the sermon and said, “Thanks for the message, Reverend. You know, you must be smarter than Einstein.” Beaming with pride, the minister said, “Why, thank you, brother!”

As the week went by, the minister began to think about the man’s compliment. The more he thought, the more he became baffled as to why anyone would deem him smarter than Einstein. So he decided to ask the man the following Sunday.

The next Sunday he asked the parishioner if he remembered the previous Sunday’s comment about the sermon. The parishioner replied that he did. The minister asked: “Exactly what did you mean that I must be smarter than Einstein?”

The man replied, “Well, Reverend, they say that Einstein was so smart that only ten people in the entire world could understand him. But Reverend, no one can understand you.”

Story #2 A minister parked his car in a no-parking zone in a large city because he was short of time and couldn’t find a space with a meter. So he put a note under the windshield wiper that read: “I have circled the block 100 times. If I don’t park here, I’ll miss my appointment. FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES.”

When he returned, he found a citation from a police officer along with this note. “I’ve circled this block for 10 years. If I don’t give you a ticket, I’ll lose my job. LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION.”


My talk today assumes a lot about you, its audience. I believe and I trust that in coming to this church on a regular basis, you seek to become closer to God, to live a life that is more and more in tune with the precepts of our faith, to learn more about God and his Son Jesus and to be God’s disciples in our society and our world. If these, or some of these are not our reasons to be here, then I wonder what has drawn us to this place, this worship, this morning. Because today’s message is about sin and the temptation that causes us to sin. Sin is common to all people, but God is faithful and just to forgive us for these sins. But it is also incumbent on us to improve our relationship with God, and work diligently to become the children he wants us to be.

Now, if you’ve been paying attention so far, or have read through the bulletin already, you are aware that this is a talk on temptation. First of all, so as not to put an immediately negative spin on the word, I should point out that not all temptation is negative. Food can be tempting…look at any menu in any restaurant…or a recipe book with color pictures…offers for new employment can be tempting, moreso if your current employment is unsatisfactory. A swimming pool can be tempting on a hot day. Remember those? These and so many other examples offer choices that, should we yield to them, do not compromise the health of our faith.

And even the other kind of temptation is not in itself sin, when it enters our minds or confronts us in certain situations. Jesus himself was tempted by the devil, and He was sinless. It is the response to this

temptation that can lead to sin.

Every Sunday in repeating the Lord’s prayer, we ask God not to “lead us into temptation” which can be interpreted to mean that we as believers want to avoid the dangers of falling into sin. And there is ample evidence right here in our worship services that suggests we nonethless often do fail. Besides the Lord’s Prayer , I can offer three others:

>We recently took part in the lovely ceremony of baptism for baby Evelyn. During that ceremony, we identified ourselves as renouncing the spiritual forces of wickedness, rejecting the evil powers of this world, and repenting of our sin.

>During Communion, in the Confession and Pardon reading, we confess to violating any number of strictures laid down throughout scripture, which are sins.

>and lastly, I attended the recent Ash Wednesday service, and was struck by the many references to our sin and the need for recognition of that sin, confession and change.

From all this, I can ascertain that as a congregation we believe that

  1. There is sin in this world, and
  2. Though we ought not, we often do sin. And when we do,
  3. We should confess that sin to God and receive forgiveness,
  4. Make good effort to avoid its repetition and
  5. Become more attuned to the kind of lives God wants us to live.

You may be saying “Well, I don’t remember a particular sin that I have committed, I do live the best life that I can.”

OK then, let’s see just what sin is, or can be.

The Bible describes sin as the a breaking, or transgression, of God’s law (1 John 3:4).

It is also defined as b disobedience or rebellion against God (Deuteronomy 9:7), as well as

c independence from God. (“I don’t need God. I don’t need God or these rules.”)

The original translation of “Peirasmos” (temptations or trials) means in essence “to miss the mark” (fall short) of God’s holy standards.

Sins of Commission-doing the wrong thing

Sins of Omission-not doing the right thing

Jesus even said himself that sin can be thinking the wrong things, never mind doing them.

Matthew 5:21-22 “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not murder’; and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. I know that this is a hard concept to accept, that our very thoughts can be offensive to God…but there it is…in the scriptures.

A more often rendered “list” if you will of sins is found in the book of Galatians.


Galatians 5:19-21New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, 21 envy,[a] drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.


Galatians 5:19-21The Message (Eugene Peterson)

19-21 It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.

This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.

We can all agree, I think that Paul is correct when he says in Romans 3:23 that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

How do we then curb our propensity to do the wrong thing, that is, NOT yield to temptation

I First of all, I think we all know where our weak spots are.

I’m reminded of a children’s song from long ago:

Be careful little eyes what you see

Be careful little eyes what you see

For the Father up above is looking down in love

So be careful little eyes what you see.

Ears what you hear…mouth what you say…feet where you go

I’m quite aware of things I should not see, or watch, or read…things, ideas, jokes, opinions, language I should not listen to…language I should not use, things I should not say, and I certainly know of places I should never be found, people I should not be with, at least habitually. These things did not become aware to me all at once. It has taken many many years to sort these things out, and there have been missteps along the way. Hence the title of my talk.

But Satan, or if you prefer, the evil in the world, is powerful and deceptive.

He doesn’t come to us in a phosphorescent explosion dressed in red with horns and a spear, arrogantly annoying us with leers and gestures, threats and lies…

His presence is attractive, alluring, his promises appealing and convincing, and compromising with him is

often seen as harmless and temporary.

Be forewarned, !st Peter 5:8 says “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

For the determined Christian, he’s out there (point) waiting, waiting just for you

1.Know yourself and trust your instincts. They are probably spirit inspired.

2.Pray, daily, in the morning, that when these moments come you will recognize them and do the right thing.

3.Read your Bible. Read it!! It is a window to heaven and a mirror for your soul

1st Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

I will add a codicil to this verse. When you see the way out…take it. If not, you will have succumbed to the temptation, and will have sinned. Yes, forgiveness it there for all with a contrite heart, but an opportunity to grow in your faith will have been lost.

  1. Don’t give up and give in. Persevere. Nothing succeeds like success.
  2. Resist the Devil. Quote Scripture. Nothing bothers the Devil like the truth of God.

James 4:7 “Submit yourselves…to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.”

  1. Resist yes, but Retreat when necessary. Even Joseph of the Old Testament, who tried to resist Potiphar’s wife, eventually decided to flee. I would say here that when warning flags go up, turn and run.

Well, in our attempts to do God’s will and be His people, sin is the problem.

Temptation though it is not sin itself, is the precursor to sin.

God has provided ways to respond successfully to temptation.

Even when we fail, God forgives.

Hopefully we learn and grow from our errors and with God’s help, become what He wants us to be.

In the Lenten season I am reminded of the hymn in which the petitioner cries out

  1. Search me, O God, and know my heart today,
    Try me, O Savior, know my thoughts, I pray;
    See if there be some wicked way in me;
    Cleanse me from every sin, and set me free.

O Holy Ghost, revival comes from Thee;
Send a revival, start the work in me;
Your Word declares You will supply our need;
For blessings now, O Lord, I humbly plead.


– Richard Jensen


First Reading: James 1:13-18

No one, when tempted, should say, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it; then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death. Do not be deceived, my beloved.

Second Reading: Hebrews 4: 1-16

…. we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, [so] let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Third Reading: First Corinthians 10:13

No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.