Resisting Temptation


(Brook Hill UMC – Oct. 25, 2015)

(from the series “God’s Messages – They Ain’t Spam”)

Matthew 4:1-11 (NIV) 1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” (Deuteronomy 8:3)

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ ” (Psalm 91:11-12)

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” (Deuteronomy 6:16)

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ ” (Deuteronomy 6:13)

11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.


Every day most of us are bombarded by messages. Billboards urge us to eat All-Day Breakfast at McDonald’s. Yard signs urge us (I saw this sign yesterday) to vote for Bernie Sanders. Television commercials urge us to drink Bud Lite in the new Redskins or Ravens beer cans. My email invites me to buy a Creo Food-Stacking tool from The Daily Grommet. Last night Facebook was trying to sell me a T-shirt that says “Made in Canada – a Long Time Ago.”

In the midst of all these messages God also speaks to us. He speaks to our hearts by His Spirit. He speaks to our minds and hearts by His Word.

God says to us (through the prophet Isaiah): “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.” (Is. 45:22)

He says to us (through His Son Jesus): “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Mt. 16:24)

In the midst of a thousand voices, we must hear – we must obey – the Word of the Lord.

This morning we look at the topic of temptation, and how to resist it. The scripture we use is Saint Matthew’s account of Jesus being tempted by the devil.

And we’ll look at this subject under three headings:

  1. The Bible teaches that Satan is real.
  2. Satan tempted Jesus directly, but usually tempts us indirectly, through our own self-centeredness.
  3. Knowing scripture can help us resist temptation.

So, here we go!


In this passage, and in more than 50 other scriptures, Satan is identified as a real being.

A 2011 Gallup poll showed that nine in 10 Americans believe in God.

But a Barna Group survey that same year found that only 43% of Americans believe the devil to be a “living entity,” as opposed to a symbol of evil.

But C.S. Lewis believed in Satan. Lewis was an intellectual, a professor at both Oxford and Cambridge Universities. He is the author of 74 books, including the Chronicles of Narnia and “The Screwtape Letters.”

In his original preface to “The Screwtape Letters”, Lewis warned of:

“…two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils.” One error “is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.”

Lewis concluded that the devils “are equally pleased by both errors…”

And in his 2nd preface to that same book, 20 years later, he wrote:

The commonest question [I am asked] is whether I really “be­lieve in the Devil.” Now, if by “the Devil” you mean a power opposite to God and, like God, self-existent from all eternity, the answer is certainly “No”. There is no uncreated be­ing except God. God has no opposite. No being could attain a “perfect badness” opposite to the perfect goodness of God; for when you have taken away every kind of good thing (intelligence, will, memory, energy, and existence itself) there would be none of him left.

The proper question is whether I believe in devils. I do. That is to say, I believe in angels, and I believe that some of these, by the abuse of their free will, have become enemies to God and, as a corollary, to us. These we may call devils. They do not differ in nature from good angels, but their nature is depraved. Devil is the opposite of angel only as Bad Man is the opposite of Good Man. Satan, the leader or dictator of devils, is the opposite, not of God, but of [the archangel] Michael.

And (for what it’s worth) Pope Francis believes in the devil. A recent article by a Catholic priest on the CNN website says:

“His tweets and homilies about the devil, Satan, the Accuser, the Evil One, the Father of Lies, the Ancient Serpent, the Tempter, the Seducer, the Great Dragon, the Enemy and just plain “demon” are now legion.

…Francis refers to the devil continually. He does not believe him to be a myth, but a real person…

The Pope has stressed that we must not be naïve… Francis has been warning that whoever wants to follow Jesus must be aware of the reality of the devil. The life of every Christian is a constant battle against evil, just as Jesus during his life had to struggle against the devil and his many temptations.

…Francis wishes to call everyone back to reality. The devil is so frequently active in our lives…, drawing us into negativity, cynicism, despair, meanness of spirit, sadness and nostalgia.

[The Pope says] We must react to the devil… as did Jesus, who replied with the Word of God… one cannot dialogue [with the Dark Prince]; one can only respond with the Word of God that defends us.

(Rev. Thomas Rosica, July 20, 2015)

In reporting on the life of Jesus (in the four letters of Matthew, Mark and Luke and John), the Bible gives us about a dozen places where Satan is identified by name and spoken of as a real being.

So the Bible teaches that Satan is real.


The Bible says that “each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.” (James 1:13-14)

So often when we’re tempted, it’s through our own inner desires, our own inner yearnings.

Why do 70% of Christian men and 30% of Christian women say they struggle with Internet pornography?

Why can’t you resist going back to the buffet and getting three or four helpings of those candied yams? That’s not the enemy directly at work – it’s our own desires.

In the scripture we read, Satan directly tempted Jesus.

He said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” It looks like the enemy was trying to get Jesus to even doubt His identity as the Son of God.

If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from the top of this temple.” The enemy was appealing to Jesus’ vanity and pride, for surely such a miraculous sign would have caused many people to begin following Jesus.

But Satan had never dealt with a man like Jesus. In John 14:30, Jesus told his disciples: “…the prince of this world is coming, and [he has] nothing in me.

But the enemy has something in us! Our lives have been broken by sin, and our self-centeredness and pride often consume us.

Since the fall of humanity in the Garden of Eden, humans have been largely self-focused and self-centered.

Every time I preach at Brook Hill, I want to preach the best sermon ever preached. And I want that sermon to be used by God to help and encourage and teach God’s people.

But if I’m honest, hidden somewhere in the middle of those motives, is the motive of pride. I want people to think well of me. I want to polish my own apple. I want to be seen as a capable preacher, someone worth listening to.

That is pride. At its worst, that is vanity. God, forgive me! Cleanse my heart again! Make me pure in Your eyes.

So Satan tempted Jesus directly, but he usually tempts us indirectly, through our own self-centeredness.


The Word of God is our sword in the spiritual fight! We should be reading it every day.

We should look for opportunities to study it, to memorize it, to get it our hearts and minds. It is the best weapon in resisting temptation.

(1) For we do not have a high priest [Jesus] who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15) It’s a comfort to know that Jesus has been there. He faced every temptation that you or I will face.

(2) Because [Jesus] himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Hebrews 2:18) So Christ is able and willing to help us. When we ask Him, He gives us strength to resist and overcome.

(3) I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16 – NKJV) As we actively focus on loving the Lord and walking in obedience, we will be able to resist temptation more easily.

(4) For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age (Titus 2:11–12) God wants to help us and give us victory in our struggles with sin.

(5) Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:5–6) Lord, help us to live in synch with Your Spirit! Help us daily to offer our minds to You, to submit to You as our Governor.

(6) “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2) As we allow God to remake us, to renew our minds, He will transform us more and more into His likeness.

(7) “Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. (Romans 13:13–14 NKJV)  Father, help us to put on the Lord Jesus Christ! Give us spiritual power to live holy lives, lives that please You!

(8) Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:31) Lord, help us to remain often in Your Word, to live there, to abide there!

(9) “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) We will not be tempted beyond our ability to withstand. The Father gives us the power to overcome the wiles of the enemy.

PRAYER: “Lord, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the power of the evil one…”

Jesus Christ, Our King Victorious

(Brook Hill United Methodist Church – November 22, 2015)

Revelation 19:6,11-16 (The Message) Then I heard the sound of massed choirs, the sound of a mighty cataract, the sound of strong thunder: Hallelujah! The Master reigns, our God, the Sovereign-Strong! 

11-16 Then I saw Heaven open wide—and oh! a white horse and its Rider. The Rider, named Faithful and True, judges and makes war in pure righteousness. His eyes are a blaze of fire, on his head many crowns. He has a Name inscribed that’s known only to himself. He is dressed in a robe soaked with blood, and he is addressed as “Word of God.” The armies of Heaven, mounted on white horses and dressed in dazzling white linen, follow him. A sharp sword comes out of his mouth so he can subdue the nations, then rule them with a rod of iron. He treads the winepress of the raging wrath of God, the Sovereign-Strong. On his robe and thigh is written, King of kings, Lord of lords

Revelation 11:15 (The Message) 15 The seventh Angel trumpeted. A crescendo of voices in Heaven sang out, The kingdom of the world is now the Kingdom of our God and his Messiah! He will rule forever and ever!

This weekend Hood College presents music from Handel’s “Messiah” as they have for many years.

Their selections include the “Hallelujah Chorus”, whose words are from the scripture we just read, in the older King James Version:

“Hallelujah! For the Lord God the Omnipotent reigneth! The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. King of kings, and Lord of lords!  Hallelujah!”

These strong words tell of the day when Jesus’ Kingship is fully manifested. This morning I want to think with you about that day.

Today is Christ the King Sunday, the last Sunday of the liturgical year.

Next Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent, the beginning of a new liturgical year.

On this Christ the King Sunday, I’m asking you to think with me about Jesus our Victorious King, under four headings:

  1. Jesus Is Our King Victorious.
  2. Jesus’ Victory and Kingdom are Real, but Only Partially Manifested.
  3. It Makes a Difference for Us that Jesus is Both Victor and King.
  4. We Will See the Day when Jesus’ Victory and Kingdom are Fully Manifested, and This Moves Us to Give Thanks.

So here we go:


(a) Because of His lineage as the only begotten Son of God, Jesus is rightful king of the universe.

Colossians 1:15-17 (New International Version)  15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together… 

When we look at Jesus Christ, we see God as we can see Him in no other human.

Everything in the heavens was made by Him: The star called Deneb can be seen in the night sky. It is the most distant visible star. It has been estimated to be as far as 3000 light years away from us. If that is so, then a light-beam which left that star in the time of King David is actually arriving on earth today. (Amazing!) And friends, Jesus made that star Deneb.

And everything on earth was made by Jesus: You have an average of 37.2 trillion cells in your body, and about 200 different types of cells (Smithsonian Online). Jesus knows each cell. He created each of them. He keeps them functioning at this hour and at every hour of your life.

Everything started in Christ and finds its true purpose in him. Everything is held together by Him. He is the rightful king of the universe, and the rightful Lord over all.

He knows you. Do you know Him?

So, because of His lineage as the only begotten Son of God, Jesus is rightful king of the universe.

(b) By His death and resurrection, Jesus has defeated death and all the dark forces of the universe.

Colossians 2:13-15 (The Message) …Think of it! All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s cross. He stripped all the spiritual tyrants in the universe of their sham authority at the Cross and marched them naked through the streets.

Let’s think about what this means:

When God created humans, He made us in His image. Then Adam and Eve disobeyed God, and their disobedience brought a kind of captivity to Planet Earth.

Our first parents’ sin brought death into the human race. First, physical death. And also spiritual death – separation from a holy God.

Sin brought spiritual darkness into world. Ultimately, it brought war into Afghanistan and Iraq and Syria. It brought ISIS into the world, with bombing in Paris and Beirut.

Sin brought addiction to America. It brought broken relationships to Frederick and right into Brook Hill Church. Sin brought illness and disease into your family.

But Jesus came to bring deliverance. He came as a human, with flesh and blood, just like us. He knew pain and sorrow and hurt and grief.

When He died, he took all the sin, all the pain, all the darkness into the grave with Him.


When He died and rose again, He overcame the powers that held us captive. He defeated the devils and all their dark schemes. He overcame sin and death. He made a way for us to reconnect with our Father God.

So I declare to you that JESUS IS OUR KING… VICTORIOUS!


If you are a believer in Jesus, He has forgiven all your sins. But you still struggle with sin and temptation.

If you have an addiction or an unhealthy compulsion, Christ can set you free from that destructive behavior, but you will still need to live your life “one day at a time.” You may still need to build your life on the wisdom of the 12 STEPS in your ongoing recovery.

As a follower of Jesus, your broken relationships can often be rebuilt, but sometimes the wounds and misunderstandings seem to make reconciliation impossible.

Jesus’ victory is real, but the wars on earth rage on, with an untold sum of human misery.

Why is that? Why is Jesus’ victory real, but only partially manifested?

I wish I had a magic answer for you. I wish I had a slick algorithm that could clear this up for you in 0.17 seconds. But there’s some mystery about it. Are you good with that?

Jesus gives us some clues about this mystery in His 15 kingdom parables (or stories). Here are two of them:

Matthew 13:31-33 (New International Version)  31 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” 33 He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

Let’s think about this:

Jesus says that his kingdom is a living, growing thing, like a mustard seed. It began very small indeed, with the birth of a baby in Bethlehem. It continued with His life of love – helping people, serving people, healing people, teaching them.

The kingdom of Jesus reached a greater manifestation when He died and rose again.

And now, for 2000 years it’s been working its way from person to person. The kingdom continues to grow, sometimes slowly, until now (and who knows what the number really is?) there are an estimated 2.5 billion Christians, about 1/3 of the earth’s population.

It takes a long time for a teaspoonful of yeast to work its way through 60 pounds of flour!

So Jesus’ victory and kingdom are real, but only partially manifested.


And that difference is HOPE. Pastor Wade spoke of HOPE last Sunday. Hope is an anchor for our souls:

Hebrews 6:19 (Living Bible)  19 This certain hope of being saved is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls, connecting us with God himself behind the sacred curtains of heaven…

So we do not DESPAIR, as many do today. It gives us HOPE when we remember that Jesus is our King, and He is Victor over sin and death.


Earlier we read the passage in Revelation 19:

The day is coming when Heaven will open wide. (And some of this imagery is both symbolic but also true.)

We will see Him riding a white horse, leading the armies of Heaven into battle. His eyes will be blazing with fire, and many crowns upon His head. (We sing a strong hymn of praise about this.)

His robe, soaked with the blood of crucifixion. A sword comes from His mouth to subdue and rule the nations. Does He have a tattoo? On His robe and on His thigh two phrases are written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS!

The kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ, And He shall reign FOREVER AND EVER!

And for this we give thanks, in this Thanksgiving season, and always.