Photo by dad. Conover Lake, Michigan 2011
The big idea: According to the Bible, what is the nature of sin and temptation?
1. Trials are also temptations.
Evey trial is a test of some kind and has temptation in it somewhere. Through every trial we will change but the question is, will we change for the ether or the worse? Both success and adversity present temptations to either pride or despondency and rejection of the faith.
2. Why is there temptation?
Because we live in a post Genesis 3 world, nobody makes me sin; I want it; I desire it. A student fails a test not because the teacher gave the test but because the knowledge was not in the mind of the student. Likewise, do not confuse the CAUSE and the OCCASION of our sin. We sin because we are sinners, not sinners because we sin.
3. How trials bring about temptation.
‘Evil desire’ in this passage is an OVER-DESIRE, an epi-desire. The essence of sin is not just wanting bad things but wanting anything too badly. Sin is self-esteem through anything else but God. Sin is believing the lie that I am not anyone as a person ‘until someone loves me.’ Or I am no good until I have a great family and a great house, etc.
Sin is adultery, not just breaking rules. Sin is in the fact that our affections are deeply intermingled with something else, and not just bad things. We have another lover other than God.
4. How can we escape temptation / how can we change?
The ‘just say no’ campaign is not enough to bring about true and lasting change from sin. We need a better lover. Thomas Chalmers wrote a great sermon entitled the Explosive Power of a New Affection.
Here is where the new affection comes from: seeing the beauty of Christ. In James, he tells us, “Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. In other words, the rich need to see that despite their wealth, they are spiritually bankrupt and needed not just a good person to die for their sins but a perfect God because they are so bad. Likewise, the poor rejoice that they are more loved by God than what their worldly positions would seem to warrant to some. Ephesians 2 says that we are seated at Christ’s right hand. That is love! That is power! We need this humble confidence that seeing both riches and poverty in this light at the same time brings each of us. We are at the same time worse sinners than we know but yet loved by God far greater than our deepest desires!
This is why every sermon that Tim Keller gives ends with the beauty of Jesus, his substitutionary life and death for me, and his eternal love. Unless we see him as our ultimate affection and as our lover, there will be no holiness.
We will be in love with something. The question is, will it sustain the weight of your worship or will it eventually let you down? Unless we move beyond merely an intellectual assent to this love of God in Jesus for us and REALLY experience it, we will not be changed.
Holy spirit, make this a reality in my heart and affections. Taste and see that God IS GOOD!