Understanding and Overcoming Temptation

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ABOUT THE EPISODE

Do you know how to resist temptation and protect yourself from the enemy’s lies?

Join us as we explore the patterns of temptation and reveal valuable tools to strengthen your relationship with God.

We dive into the story of Adam and Eve, uncovering how the enemy tries to divide us, exaggerate God’s prohibitions, and downplay God’s generosity.Learn how Sun Tzu’s quote, “if you know your enemy and yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles,” applies to our spiritual battles against temptation.

We also discuss the dangers of isolation and how to break free from the enemy’s traps.

Through the story of Adam and Eve, we see how the enemy attacks God’s character and our belief in Him.

Discover how temptation led to sin and death entering the world, and how the enemy whispers that it’s God’s fault when bad things happen. Empower yourself with the tools to resist temptation and shield yourself from these destructive lies, as we delve into this insightful conversation on understanding temptation patterns and fortifying your faith in God.

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Transcription: Understanding and Overcoming Temptation

Josh: 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 experience sexual temptation, it can feel like that which is before us. The thing that’s tempting us looks so good, looks so right, looks so appealing, looks harmless, looks like it’s worth it. It has this magnetic pull to it. We’re in this force field that’s pulling us in. It’s a tractor beam that’s 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 I want 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 in 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 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 in and out of how he does that, but that he employs similar strategies for you and me when he’s tempting us with sexual temptation today as he does when he tempted Eve in the garden. 

Josh: The Chinese general Sun Tzu in his book what was his book called? Come on, oh, the Art of War, Sun Tzu. He said this if you know your enemy and yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained, you will also suffer a 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 a hundred battles, and we’re big here at Regeneration, on knowing yourself, on knowing God, and we’re going to talk a little bit today about knowing your enemy and his tactics so that you can be ready for battle with him. All right, so we’re looking at Genesis 3. And you can pull this up if you want. I won’t go verse by verse here, but hopefully you’ll see some of the patterns. 

Josh: The first thing that the enemy does in his attack on us is he divides us. He wants to isolate us. This is interesting, isn’t it? Because in Genesis 2, 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’s side, and the two become one flesh. They belong together. They’re naked and unashamed. They fit like puzzle pieces. They are made for each other. 

Josh: But when the enemy comes, the crafty serpent comes, in Genesis 3, what does he do? He just comes to one of them. He just comes to Eve. Why is that? 

Josh: The main part of it is because he wants to draw her away from her core identity as someone who is made for a 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 isolate her, and he does the same to us. He does it in a million ways. He attempts us when we’re alone. He attempts 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 going to tell anybody what’s going on in my life. I’m not going to confess my sin to others. It’ll destroy me. Why? Because he wants to isolate you. He wants to get you alone because 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, and I’ll come back to that later. 

Josh: 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 elevate, to draw attention to the things that God has forbidden, and not just the little bit that God has forbidden, but also to make it seem like God’s forbidden a lot. He tries to exaggerate God’s prohibitions. We see that in Genesis 3 when he says to Eve did God really say that you can’t eat from any tree in the garden? We know that’s not true. God said you can eat from all these trees, everything is yours, just don’t eat off this one tree. Eve’s attention went from all that 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 forget about all that was allowed to her and to focus with him on just the one thing that God said no to. He does the same thing to us And we’re tempted to look at pornography, tempted to lust, tempted to act out sexually in some way. 

Josh: I know for married people when they’re tempted to act out outside of their marriage with pornography or with another person. 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 too, 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 or forget all the blessing they are in your life, all the good things about them? I’ll come back to that later too. The third thing the 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. 

Josh: So he does that with Eve by saying did God really say? I mean even those words, did God really say? Did God really say? You might hear there either like, did you hear him right? You might also hear in those words, like he didn’t say that, did he? I mean that’s ridiculous. 

Josh: 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. She’s already playing. 

Josh: 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’ll not. You will surely not die, you will surely, for God knows that you will be, that if you eat from it you’ll be like him, knowing good and evil. 

Josh: So what’s he doing there? He’s doing a lot of things. He’s so crafty, i mean, but part of what he’s doing is he’s 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, that you’re 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. 

Josh: 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, 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 started going through your head, like God doesn’t, 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. 

Josh: Where we question God’s character, bad things happen. It’s crazy to me, because why do bad things happen on the earth? because of 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 and 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 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 value. So now he’s attacked 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 was Eve’s 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, created in his image and his likeness.

Josh: There’s one creature on the planet that God has determined will be like him, not in all ways, 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 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 this in order to be something special. He’s attacking Eve’s value And he does the same to you and me in a million ways. The wounds you experienced at the harsh words of parents or friends, the rejection you experienced, the abandonment you experienced 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 with sexual sin, not according to the enemy. 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’d 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 can 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 did he do this? So let’s just snowball these up ready. He divides you. He makes you isolated. He exaggerates God’s prohibitions, gets you focused away from God’s blessings and folks, 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.

Josh: What’s left for you to do then, when he puts that temptation in front of you, that object that it looks like it satisfies, that sexual temptation that makes it look like you’re gonna 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 are you 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 no hope for you, and so you might as well just grab at the fruit. This is 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 in God’s favor, 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 hope 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 of temptation? first thing I want in the moment of temptation, i want you 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 the swirl of stuff around you so that you increasingly feel the shame and despair, and so you are more tempted to grasp. 

Josh: So number one connect with others. Connect with others. Stay connected with others. Make it a part of your life to have relationships with people, but also have some people on speed dial that you can reach out to in the moment when you’re 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. Today I’m feeling like God doesn’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 and union with Him. Yes, genesis three sin has gotten in the way, but that does not negate the original good. You are beloved by God. You are God’s beloved And you want to find some praying friends too, 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 six billion people on the 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 are uniquely defective. God wants you to know that you’re uniquely blessed, uniquely valuable to Him And you’re 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 your blessings, and Voskamp has taught that those who are serious about counting their blessings actually 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 out every time it’s God. You have vision to see the sun. You can feel it on your face.

Josh: You have breath in your lungs. You can walk. If you can’t walk, you can wheel. You can get yourself around. 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 in temptation is not a friendly voice. He sides up to you like he’s on the inside wanting to offer you a little favor. He’s not. He’s not your friend. This enemy is against you And so where he’s trying to convince you 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 to 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 the beginning, jesus says in John 8. 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 gets you focused where he wants you focused, 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, a entirely different story, if Eve had said huh, these are really good points you’re bringing up, god. God, can I talk to you about these? I have questions. Boy man, all of history would have been different if she and Adam had done that. So bring your questions, bring your concerns 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, he undoes, he reverses 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 the family of God. You are a part of the union of the family of 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.

Josh: 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 in San Corinthians, one. He says in Jesus. The answer, god’s blessings, are always yes and amen. There is 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 he gives infinitely. His love is infinite. His prohibitions are some boundaries to keep you in his love. And not only that. But the law is just a tutor. Jesus has come to set you free from the law of sin and death, and it’s said to give you his spirit that you would be obedient to God, because it’s part of your true nature, and so his heart is not the law. Jesus said the law. Man is not made for the law. The law is made for the man. It served its purpose And no, no jot or tittle will be taken away from the law. It’s gonna 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 where the Jesus shares is the parable of 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 the parable the father says to him everything I have is yours. 

Josh: What a beautiful expression. Those are 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. Does that sound like a God whose character is flawed? who’s withholding from you? Not at all. Jesus has come, and he gave everything for you, including 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 valuable something is by what somebody’s 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 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 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 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 and Holy Spirit. Amen.

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