daily Broadcast

It's Tempting, Part 2

From the series Resilient

We all struggle with behavior patterns that repeat and repeat until we just want to give up and give in. If you’re tired of the depressing cycle of try hard-fail, try hard-fail, if you’re ready to shed the weight of guilt, in this program, we’re gonna learn how to break that pattern.

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Message Transcript

What happens is if you allow sin to grow, if you allow it to build in your life, ultimately what it will produce or what it will give way to is death. It will kill you. It will keep you from who you are made to be and it will destroy the relationships around you. And here’s what happens. Our natural – our natural is to dismiss or diminish sin, to act like it’s no big deal. We say that.

I think there are two important questions we need to ask here – the progression of sin and temptation.

What does this sin full-grown look like in your life? Maybe it’s lust. What is it full-grown look like? Maybe it’s lying. Maybe it’s gossip. Maybe it’s cheating. Maybe it’s an addiction. And right now it’s just like coping to get by in this season. But what is it full-grown look like?

And then the second question: what are the ultimate consequences? When it’s full-grown, what are the ultimate consequences? See, we buy into the myth that that could never happen to me. That would never happen to me. I would never do that.

And the truth is, is that’s the story of so many people whose lives have been broken and shipwrecked. “That could never happen to me.”

I learned so much from my dad growing up and I remember him saying this, because as a pastor, he saw other pastors who shipwrecked their lives through moral failures. And he never wanted his story to end that way, his ministry to be undermined. And I remember him sharing, actually, publicly teaching this as I was sitting and listening to him.

And he would literally visualize, this is what he would say, he visualizes what the ultimate consequences of a moral failure would be. And so he would visualize and walk this through of having to sit his kids down and going to them and – I’m his kid – so and going to us and just going, “Hey, Dad is not going to be around.” Seeing, visualizing the consequences of his marriage. Losing the ministry that he gave his life to build.

See, what happens is when we address the progression, we all of a sudden become painfully aware of these hooks. The shiny doesn’t look so attractive anymore.

See, what do we do when temptation knocks? We’ve got to recognize the source of temptation and then address the progression. We’ve got to move beyond the moment and just go, okay, where is this headed?

And then he’s going to go on to say: identify the lie and bring it into the light. Identify the lie. Get clear on what is the lie that we are buying into? And then bring it into the light. That’s why he says, “And don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.” Don’t be duped. Don’t buy into the lie.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights who does not change like shifting shadows.” See, most of us, I think, are not clear about the lies that we believe or have bought into.

See, the root lie, when it comes to temptation and the things we buy into is about God, His character, and His Word.

If you go all the way back to the Garden when the enemy, Satan, the serpent was tempting Eve, there are two main things that he wanted to undermine.

He said, “Did God really say you must not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Did He really say it?” wanting to undermine God’s Word. But fundamentally, what the enemy wants to do is undermine the character of God.

God wants to keep you from the knowledge. I think at the root for us of sin and brokenness and temptation is a belief that God isn’t good. It’s always an attack on the goodness of God and that we can get good outside of God and His ways.

See, he says, “Every good and perfect gift is from your heavenly Father who loves you.” He wants to – He doesn’t want to keep good from you. He wants only the very best for you. And He is the Father of heavenly lights. Like, bring it into the light. He doesn’t change like shifting shadows. He’s not changing His mind. He’s not inconsistent.

Think about the character of God, just in this text alone that James is telling us. One, that God cannot be tempted. He is morally pure. He doesn’t tempt anyone. He is not putting things out to try to trip you up. He wants the very best for you. He is the giver of every good and perfect gift. God doesn’t change. He is absolutely consistent.

In fact, in the next verse we are going to see He is the giver of new life, not death. See, sin births death, it creates death. He wants to give you life. See, what we think is offering us a good and a way outside of God is actually creating great harm. God says, No, I just want you to experience life.

And so, and so, identify the lie. It’s always an attack on the character of God. And then bring it into the light. Nothing good grows in the dark, by the way. Secrets keep you and I stuck.

As long as it stays a secret, you will remain a slave to it. Nothing good grows in the dark. You’ve got to bring it out into the light. That’s why James was saying in 5:16, a little bit later on, he’ll say, “Confess your sins one to another and pray for each other that you may be healed.”

This is why we do community. You can’t afford not to do community. You were never intended to do this life on your own. And in community of believers who love you and are for you, you bring the real you and say, “This is where I’m at. Would you help me?” He says in that process, God brings healing.

Would you identify the lie and bring it into the light? Well, you’re asking, “Well, I don’t know what exactly to bring into the light.” Well, let me give you a little litmus test.

Is there anything in your life that you wouldn’t want your wife to find out about or your husband to find out about? Is there anything in your life that you wouldn’t want your parents to find out about? Is there anything in your life that you wouldn’t want your friends or your mentors to find out about?

Put it a little differently, is there anything in your life that you wouldn’t want your pastor to find out about? That’s probably the areas where you’d say, Man, God, bring that into the light. Get a trusted friend who loves Jesus who can walk with you through that.

And some, I think just even as we are talking, I want to give a little word of hope in this moment. Because I think if you’re anything like me in that college kid, you just felt so defeated and you felt like: this will never change. You feel like you’re the only one going through this.

And the apostle Paul would say in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you or seized you except what is common to mankind.” See, we have all been in this. We are all going through this. We are all struggling.

And God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. He is faithful. He is going to meet you right in that moment. If you would just recognize instead of running from God in the middle of that moment, you bring Him into it.

But when you’re tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. And it’s often the community of God around you that is His way out for you.

Okay. So, what do we do when we are – when temptation knocks? Recognize the source, address the progression, identify the lie, bring it into the light.

And finally, we need to remember what is true of you in Christ Jesus. You’ve got to remember. You’ve got to reorient your life back to what is fundamentally, foundationally true of you.

He says this, “He chose to give us birth through the Word of truth that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all He created.” He chose – think about this. God chose you! It wasn’t just like, “Man, I’ve just kind of got to be a part of this.” God says, I chose you to and to give you new birth. So what God has done, you can’t undo. Have that confidence. “To give you new life through the Word of truth,” His gospel in you.

Well, you have a spiritual enemy who wants you to live in shame and guilt. Here’s how the enemy works, by the way. He likes to set out the lure, we are responsible for biting on it, but he likes to set it out and lure you in and go, “Hey, come on, get this.” And then you bite on it and you’re stuck and you’re experiencing all the consequences and you’re like, “Ahhh!” And then you know what he does? The jerk! He’s a jerk! Let’s just say it. He’s a, yeah, he’s a jerk.

Because he is known as the accuser of the saints. And so, you know what he does? Is he entices you and you bite on it and then he accuses you. He goes, “How could you? What were you thinking? Are you kidding me?” He accuses you and he wants you to live in shame and guilt.

Romans 8:1 says, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those of us who are in Christ Jesus.” See, the accuser is wanting to speak lies to you about who you are to keep you from running to your perfect heavenly Father who has every good gift for you. He wants to keep you hiding! See, that’s what Adam and Eve did in the Garden. The minute we blow it, we hide.

He says, “Come out of hiding. Come to your heavenly Father who loves you.” See, remember what is true of you in Christ Jesus. What is true of you is not what the accuser says. No. He’s a jerk. Stop listening to him.

What is true of you is that you are adopted into the family of God if you’re a follower of Jesus. What is true of you is you are a daughter and a son of the King most high. What is true of you is you have been completely forgiven. There is no condemnation. There is no place for the accuser’s word in your life.

What is true of you is you are loved unconditionally by a perfect, good heavenly Father. That is what is true of you. And by the way, that will keep a backslide from becoming a landslide.

How do you have resiliency in the face of temptation? Friends, you’ve got to get back to what is true of you in Christ Jesus.

I love this quote by John Bunyan and on Easter Sunday, my kids and I or our family, really, Jenny had us – we watched The Pilgrim’s Progress movie, which was great. And he writes this in his autobiography. He says, “I never saw those heights and the depths in grace, and love, and mercy as I saw after this temptation.” Did you catch that? “I never saw those heights and depths in the grace, and love, and mercy as I saw after this temptation.”

“Great sin,” he says, “draw out great grace. And where guilt is most terrible and fierce, there the mercy of God in Christ, when shown to the soul, appears most high and mighty.” Great sin draws out great grace.

I like how Tim Keller says it about the gospel. He says, “The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.”

Remember, remember, get back, would you get it in your heart, would you remind yourself the minute the accuser is speaking to you, you’re like, “No, that’s a lie. You’re a jerk. Shut up.” Get what’s true of you in your heart and your mind.

I remember the turning point for me in my battle with lust as a college student. That idea of shame, that was a reality for me. See, shame says this, not that you failed but you are a failure. It becomes your identity. Not that you are – you know, made a mistake but you are a mistake. And my identity started to become that I’m a failure. This is who I am and I’ll never change. And I began to have such dark thoughts. Like the world might just be better without me. And as this heartache, broken moment. And the turning point was actually a dream I had.

And I remember having this dream and in my dream I was walking into my dorm room and as I opened the door, the room was pitch black. And there was an eight-year-old child who was me, as a kid – an eight-year-old me. Blonde-haired, scrawny – and the room is completely black, but the computer is on and all you can see is the blue hue of the computer on the kid’s face. And I remember in the dream going, No! No! Don’t go there! Don’t reach out! You have no idea. You don’t understand the hooks that are awaiting you that are going to get into you and the heartache and the pain.

And it was the first time that I finally saw myself a little bit the way God sees me. Not as a screw-up or as a failure, but as His kid. Not that He was mad at me or down on me, but that His heart broke for me. And it was in that moment where then I finally said, Okay, God, I’m going to run to You and bring all of me to You.