This week we will talk about breaking the allure of temptation. We will unpack it through the pattern that the enemy uses to tempt us.
We can look at our sexual experiences and think that it’s just something that’s before us. But it is actually tempting us. It looks so appealing and harmless.
Yet it has this magnetic pull that draws us in. So by talking about the patterns the enemy uses to pull us in, it will provide us the tools to get out of his tractor beam.
It will expose the reality of what’s happening. Hopefully this podcast will illuminate some things and draw you towards God in ways that will bring help and healing.
Scripture reference: Genesis 3
Know your enemy’s tactics
1. He divides and isolates
2. He exaggerates God’s prohibitions
3. He attacks God’s character, attacks God’s character
Does this sound familiar?
Your divided, you feel isolated. He exaggerates God’s prohibitions. Gets you focused away from God’s blessings and focus instead on the things that you’re not allowed to do. He attacks God’s character, making you believe you can’t trust God, he attacks your value making you think that you’re less than everybody else.
What’s left for you to do, when he puts that temptation in front of you? That object that looks like it satisfies that sexual temptation. It makes it look like you’re experiencing a little bit of bliss, a little bit of attention, a little bit of love or pleasure from somebody.
Maybe a little bit of joy in a moment? Well, why does it look so good? What else are you supposed to do? You can’t trust God, you have no value and you’re all by yourself. You’re surrounded by these heavy burdens of moralistic thinking that you need to obey. There’s no hope for you, so you might as well just grab at the fruit.
In the moment of temptation, first I want you to begin practicing, “this is not God against you, this is the enemy.” He is trying to get you to believe all of this stuff around you, so that you increasingly feel shame and despair. And so you are more tempted to grasp of that fruit.
What do we do from here.
1. Connect with others. Have some people on speed dial that you can reach out to in the moment when your tempted or the moment you start hearing the accusations about yourself and God.
2. Practice gratitude and count your blessings. Secondly, practice gratitude. This is not just another moralistic thing to do. Those who are serious about counting their blessings don’t struggle to believe that God gives more than the enemy gives. Count your blessings, you’ll find out who gives more between the enemy and God. You’ll find every time it’s God.
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This Episode’s Transcription
Hey, everybody. Welcome to this week’s podcast this week I want to talk about temptation. And I want to talk about it through the grid of unpacking a bit more the pattern of how the enemy tempts us. And I want to do that because I know I know, I know that in the moment that we experienced sexual temptation. It can feel like that which is before us. The thing is, it’s tempting us. Looks so good looks so right looks so appealing, looks harmless. Looks like it’s worth it. It’s it has given us magnetic pull to it. We’re in this. This, this force field is pulling us in its tractor beam is pulling us in. And it’s hard to say no, because it looks so right. And so by talking about the pattern of how the enemy tempts us, part of what to do is provide you with some tools on what you can do to get out of that tractor beam. But also to help expose the reality of what’s happening. So that it pulls down some of that illusion of this is so appealing, this is not so bad. So you can see really how sinister the enemy is. And this process makes sense. So if you wrestle with temptation, and that struggle, like man, it looks so good. It’s hard to say no to. Hopefully, this podcast will help to illuminate some things and draw you towards God in some ways that will be really, really helpful for you. So here’s my my theory for the day. That the way that the enemy tempted Eve in the garden, Adam and Eve in the garden, is the way he tempts us today. And I’m not suggesting that I know all the ins and outs of how he ins and outs of how he does that, but that he employs similar strategies for you and me when he’s tempting us for sexual temptation today, as he does when he tempted Eve in the garden. The Chinese general Sunsoo in his book, what was his book called? Come on, oh, the art of war. Sunsoo. He said this, if you know your enemy, and yourself, you need not fear the result of 100 battles. If you know yourself, but not the enemy, for every victory gained, you will also suffer defeat. If you don’t know either your enemy or yourself, you will be defeated in every battle. So if you know your enemy and yourself, you need not fear the result of 100 battles. And so we’re big here at regeneration on knowing yourself and knowing God. And we’re gonna talk a bit today about knowing your enemy and his tactics so that you can be ready for battle with him. Alright, so we’re looking at Genesis three. You can pull this up if you want, I won’t go verse by verse here. But hopefully, you’ll you’ll see some the patterns. The first thing that the enemy does in his attack on us is he divides he divides us, he wants to isolate us. This is interesting, isn’t it? Because in Genesis two, we read that it’s not good for mankind to be alone. And so God puts the man to sleep, and creates the woman out of the man side and the two become one flesh. They belong together. They’re naked and ashamed. They fit like puzzle pieces, they are made for each other. But when the enemy comes, the Crafty serpent comes in Genesis three. What does he do? He just comes to one of them, he just comes to Eve. Why is that? I think part of it is because he wants to draw her away from her core identity as someone who has made for relationship. He wants to draw her away from her closest companion, the one that she is naked and unashamed with Adam. He wants to pull her away from the relationships that are best for her and, and isolate her and he doesn’t seem to us does it a million ways he attempts us he tempts us when we’re alone. he tempts us by making us feel like we don’t fit in with others. He brings all sorts of accusations against us to try to get us to isolate ourselves to dissociate from others. He gives us experiences in our past where we did open up to others, and we found it unsafe to do so. And so we’ve made little vows to ourselves that it’s better to go alone. I’m not going to be vulnerable. I’m not gonna tell anybody what’s going on in my life. I’m not gonna confess my send to others. It’ll destroy me. Why? Because he wants to isolate you. He wants to get you alone, because you are you are much more susceptible to succumbing to temptation when you’re on your own because you can’t know yourself as you really are on your own. I’ll come back to that later. Second thing he does is he exaggerates God’s prohibitions the things that God says no to he exaggerates those things. He tries to downplay God’s generosity, God’s big, generous, magnanimous, yes. to humanity, and tries to to elevate to draw attention to the things that God is forbidden and not just the little bit that God is forbidden, but also to make it seem like God’s forbidden a lot. He tries to exaggerate God’s prohibitions, and we see that in Genesis three, when he says to Eve, the God really say that you can’t eat from any tree in the garden. And we know that’s not true. God said, you can eat from all these trees, everything is yours. Just didn’t don’t evolve this one tree. And so Eve’s attention went from all there was allowed to her down to this one little thing that God had said no to and that is exactly what the enemy wanted. He wanted her to to free Get about all that was allowed to her and to focus with him on just the one thing that God said no to. And he does the same thing to us. You know, when we’re tempted to look at pornography, tempted to lust and to act out sexually in some way, I know for for married people when they’re tempted to act outside of their marriage with pornography with another person. They’re the enemy wants to draw their attention away from all the blessing that God has brought, and focus just on the little thing. Have you ever noticed to even in your core relationships, how the enemy will get you to focus on the little bit of bad things that your spouse does or that your friends do? And ignore, forget all the blessing they are in your life, all the good things about them? I’ll come back to that later to the third thing that enemy does. So the first is he wants to isolate. Second, he wants to exaggerate God’s prohibitions. Third thing he does, he attacks God’s character, attacks God’s character. He wants to get us believing that God is not trustworthy. So he does that with you by saying, Did God really say I mean, even those words, Did God really say? Did God really say? And you might hear they’re either like, Did you hear him? Right? You might also hear in those words, like he didn’t say that. Did he? That mean That’s ridiculous. And then he goes on to say, when she says, No, God didn’t say that. He said this, he said, don’t eat off this one tree or touch it or you’ll die. Interesting, by the way that she adds or touch it. God doesn’t say that that might fit with the he she’s already playing the enemy’s hand wants to increase the prohibitions God has brought. And yet nonetheless, she refused. She says, No, God didn’t say don’t eat from any of those trees. He said, Don’t eat from this one tree. Or if we do, we’ll die. And the enemy says, You will not you’ll you will surely not die. You will show that for god knows that you will be that if you eat from it, you will be like Him knowing good and evil. So what’s he doing there? He’s doing a lot of things. He’s that he’s so crafty, I mean, but part of what he’s doing is he is he’s attacking God’s character. He’s saying to Eve, you can’t trust God. He’s not looking out for you. He’s not reliable. He’s holding out on you. He wants for himself, something that you can actually have your actually made for. Right? Like he he doesn’t want you to know good and evil, like he knows good and evil. So you can’t trust him. He attacks God’s character. Well, how does he do that for us? Again, a million different ways. You’re having a bad day, you’re catching every light on the way to the office and and you’re already late. And and what do you end up doing? You end up? Like sometimes if you’re a prayerful person, you might even end up yelling at God about it. God, why won’t you just make the lights green? What are you why are you doing this to me? You get sick, or someone you love gets sick, and you pray for healing and they’re not healed. And you start to think these thoughts are going through your head like, God does isn’t listening to me. God doesn’t care about me. God doesn’t doesn’t. He doesn’t hurt when I hurt he does. He’s indifferent to my suffering. Maybe he doesn’t even exist. Where we question God’s character, bad things happen. It’s crazy to me, because why do bad things happen on the earth? Because the enemy because of this exact scene that we’re reading in Genesis three, he brought sin and death into the world through his temptations of Adam and Eve, this is exactly what he wanted. He wanted the earth to be fallen and broken all of creation be fallen and broken for bad things to happen. And then when bad things do happen, he whispers in our ear, it’s God’s fault. He could prevent this he could he could do he could make this happen differently. He attacks God’s character. Why does he do that? Well, we’ll come to it. But the next thing he does, he attacks your value. He attacks your values. Now he’s attack God’s character. And now he attacks your value. Well, where does he do that in Genesis three. It’s subtle. He’s so subtle, but look where he does it. He says, if you eat from this tree, you will be like, God. Now I’ve heard a lot of sermons about that. People have said like, oh, that’s that was his problem. She wanted to be like God that she was being proud. Maybe so maybe so pride is a terrible sin. But I’d like to suggest something different. In Genesis one. What does God say about this creature that he’s making in His image and his likeness? It’s human beings. He wants to make them in His likeness. He says, Let us make humankind in our image. And so God created mankind in his image, male and female, he created an image in His image and his likeness. There’s one creature on the planet, one creature on the planet, that God has determined will be like Him. Not always, but in some ways, who reflects God on the planet? Most according to Genesis one, man and woman do man and woman. And so for the serpent to come in Genesis three, and say, if you do this, you’ll be like God, I think it’s a it’s an underhanded backhanded way of saying, you’re not already. God may have told you, he made you in His image. He’s holding out and he’s lying. You’re really not that special. You’re just like all the other animals. You just like the rest of us. God’s holding out on you. You need to do that. This in order to be something special, he’s attacking Eve’s value. And he doesn’t seem to you and me in a million ways, the wounds you experienced at the harsh words of parents or friends, the rejection you experience the abandonment you experience and the messages, the lies that came to you about your value and worth in response to those. The demotion, the lack of promotion that you experienced at work. It’s just a thing that happened. But the enemy ties it to your identity and tells you something about your worth, the struggles you’re dealing with and with sexual sin, not according to the enemy, you wouldn’t you wouldn’t know from the enemy’s temptations from his accusations against you that these temptations are common to everybody. Rather, he tells you, you are uniquely defective, uniquely different. Nobody struggles like this. If you were like everybody else, you do better. You compare your insides to other people’s outsides your secret moments to everybody else’s public moments, and you determine I am not like everybody else, I’m worse. Nothing could be further from the truth. But that’s what the enemy wants you to think he attacks your value. So he’s attacked God’s character, he’s attacked your value. Why does he do this? So let’s just let’s just snowball these up ready, you divide you he makes you isolated. He exaggerates God’s prohibitions gets you focused away from God’s blessings and focus instead on the things that you’re not allowed to do. He attacks God’s character, making you believe you can’t trust God, he attacks your value making you think that you’re less than everybody else. What’s left for you to do, then when he puts that, that temptation in front of you, that object that it looks like it satisfies that sexual temptation, it makes it look like you’re an experience a little bit of bliss, a little bit of attention, a little bit of love from somebody, a little bit of pleasure from somebody, a little bit of joy in a moment? Well, why does it look so good? What else he’s supposed to do, you know, you can’t trust God, you have no value. You’re all by yourself. And you’re surrounded by these heavy burdens of moralistic thinking that you need to obey, there’s, there’s no hope for you. And so you might as well just grab at the fruit. This is the ad the snowball effect the enemy does. So you have to take matters into your own hands you grasp, for your own life, for love for worth for identity. Or another way of looking at the exact same thing is you despair, you lay down and die, right? Like if I can’t achieve heaven, if I can’t get when God’s favorite if I can’t have his attention. If I can’t be with other people, I might as well just lay down and die. Eat this forbidden fruit. It’ll feel good for the moment. Who cares? There’s no for me anyway, this is the tact of the enemy. And you can hear how it can really snowball into something horrendously bad. That even leads people to things like suicide, things like major depression. So what do we do? Right? What do we do from here. Instead, in the moment temptation, first thing I want in the moment of temptation, I want you to to begin practicing what I’ve just described, this is not God against you. This is the enemy against you. He is trying to get you to believe he’s putting a swirl of stuff around you, so that you increase increasingly feel the shame and despair. And so you are more tempted to grasp. So. So number one, connect with others, connect to those stay connected with others make it a part of your life to have relationships with people, but also have have some people on speed dial that you can reach out to in the moment when your temptation or the moment you start hearing the accusations about yourself and about God. These are friends who are close enough that you can call and say, Hey, listen, I’m spiraling. Could you remind me who I am? Because today I’m feeling like I’m alone. To them feeling like I didn’t care about me today. I’m feeling like I don’t have a lot of value. Would you remind me who I am? Remind me who I am. It’s a great prayer to pray, by the way too. And you want to find people with good theology, you know, that the story of human beings began in Genesis one and two, not in Genesis three. You’re not primarily a sinful wretch. You’re first and foremost created in God’s image, beloved of Him unique on the planet, created for blessing in union with Him. Yes, Genesis three sin has gotten in the way. But that does not negate the original good you are you are beloved by God. You are God’s beloved. And you want to play it find some praying friends to if you can, people who can help you really hear from the Lord about how God sees you uniquely. You’re not just a cog in the wheel. You’re not just one of the you know, 6 billion people on planet, you actually have a unique DNA unique fingerprint. There’s something unique about you, and God loves you uniquely. The enemy wants you to think you’re uniquely defective. God wants you to know that you’re uniquely blessed, uniquely valuable to him and your unrepeatable and irreplaceable in his eyes. So you want to connect with others who can help you remember that and you can help pull you up in that way. Secondly, practice gratitude. And this is not just kind of another moralistic thing to do, like, look around and count Get your blessings. And Voskamp has taught that, that those who are serious about counting their blessings. Actually, don’t. Don’t struggle to believe that God gives more than the enemy gives. She’s like, do it count your blessings, you’ll find out who gives more between the enemy and God, you’ll find it every time it’s God. You have vision to see the sun, you can feel it on your face. You can you have your you have breath in your lungs, you can walk, if you can’t walk, you can wheel you can get yourself around. Even Even you who are in dire situations where there’s a lot going poorly in your life, there are still things that you can look around. And you can see these little first fruits of God’s blessings in your life, the ways he’s loving on you, learn to practice those things. Because through those things, you’ll hear God’s still small voice loving on you. You’ll see his small little gifts left for you throughout the day. practice gratitude. Second, recognize that the voice you’re hearing intimidation is not a friendly voice. He sided sides up to you like he’s on the inside wanting to offer you a little favor. He’s not why would what he’s not your friend, he’s not your friend, this enemy has is against you. And so where he’s he’s trying to convince you of otherwise, come against him with strength. In Jesus name. No, I know so many times for me, when I’m beginning to kind of falter into either temptation or just negative thinking about God and others. Sometimes it literally helps me just out loud, Loudly say no, in the name of Jesus. No, I’m not believing this. This is not true. No, I’m not going down there with you. You’re a liar from beginning Jesus says in John eight, you are a liar. And I’m not listening to you in Jesus name. Don’t stay too long there though. Because again, the enemy wants to pull you into conversation like he did with Eve and get you focus where he wants to focus and he’d be happy for you to be focused on him. Instead, turn your attention back to God. Wouldn’t it have been different? an entirely different story of Eve had said, Hmm, it’s a really good point you bring up God, God, can I talk to you about these? I have questions. Boy, man, all of all of history would have been different. If she and Adam had done that. So bring your questions, bring your returns back to God, and focus here on Jesus. focus here on Jesus. Because if you look at the life of Jesus, the character of Jesus, he really negates the undoes he reverses all all these lies all these tactics of the enemy, where the enemy wants to get you isolated. What does Jesus do? Well, first of all, he comes to you, He is God with us. He became flesh and dwelt among us. He gives you His Holy Spirit. When you ask, he is for you and with you. He places you into His family, the family of God, you are made to be in union with others as part of family, God, you are a part of the Union, family, God. Scripture uses the metaphor of the body, you are the body of Christ. You can’t remove part of the body and be a whole body. You belong. Brother and sister you belong. This is what Jesus does. You belong with him, you belong with us. Where the enemy wants to exaggerate God’s prohibitions. Jesus came and fulfilled the law for you. He fulfilled the law on your behalf. Paul writes and send Corinthians one, he says, in Jesus, the answer, God’s blessings are always yes and amen. God got there’s not more prohibition with God than there is blessing. If we were to stack up the things that God has said no to, compared to the things that God gives, you would find that the that he gives infinitely, His love is infinite. His prohibitions are some boundaries to keep you in His love. And not only that, but but the law is just a tutor. Jesus has come to set you free from the law of sin and death, and and said, to give you His Spirit, that you would appeal obedient to God, because it’s part of your true nature. And so his heart is not the law. Jesus said, the law may not make for the law, the law is made for the man it served its purpose. And no, no jot or tittle be will be taken away from the law, it’s going to remain,
and yet we are free. We are in relationship with God and out of that we are obedient. And we live in obedience from the law from the heart. This is what Jesus has done for us. He took on the full brunt of the law for us, where the enemy attacks God’s character. Jesus comes and displays God’s character. He doesn’t come nitpicky. He doesn’t come to condemn. He doesn’t come to withhold. He comes and gives generously. One of my favorite parables that Jesus shares is the peril the prodigal son, and the lavish love of the Father and this beautiful phrase he gives to the older brother, interestingly, the older brother who has done everything right, right. When he’s upset at the end of parable, the father says to him, everything I have is yours. What a beautiful expression. There’s a right from the mouth of Jesus. Jesus is giving this parable and he’s basically saying, this is the Father’s heart toward you. Everything I have is yours. Is that sound like a God whose character is flawed, who’s withholding from you? Not at all. Jesus is calm and he gave everything for you including in his life, so keep focusing on Jesus, the fourth, where the enemy attacks your value, Jesus becomes God’s manifestation of how valuable he sees you. By giving his life someone has once said that you know how value how valuable something is by by what someone is willing to pay for it. And God is willing to give his own son for you, what does that mean about how much he values you? And then fourth, where the enemy urges us to take matters into our own hands. Jesus repeatedly submitted his his will to the Father did nothing except what He saw the Father doing and in the end, gave his life up not my will, but Yours be done to the Father. Jesus reverses the attacks of the enemy, for your sake for my sake. So brothers and sisters, as you experienced temptation this week, I pray that you will remember that the voice speaking to you is not friendly. Instead, reconnect with others who can remind you who you are. practice focusing on God’s blessings, not not ignoring the hardship, but practicing gratitude. And focus your attention back on Jesus who manifests the true character of God and your true value. Lord, would you help us to do this lead us away from temptation and deliver us from this evil one we pray in the name of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Amen.