A. The world’s greatest and ugliest problem is sin
1. Sin contaminates every accountable person
a. Ecclesiastes 7:20
b. Romans 3:23
2. Sin is very broad in scope
a. It includes anyone who violates God’s word in some overt way… 1 John 3:4
b. It extends to words… Matthew 12:36-37
c. It includes evil thoughts and motives… Matthew 5:27-28
d. An action that violates our conscience is sinful… Romans 14:23
e. And even religious tenets that are taught or practiced without divine approval is sinful… Colossians 3:17
f. Sin is also done by an omission of our God-given duty… James 4:17
3. Sin deceives… Romans 7:11
4. Sin spreads… 1 Corinthians 5:5-6
5. Sin has awful consequences on a nation that is afflicted with it… Proverbs 14:34
6. Sin has an awful penalty for those who die guilty of it… Romans 6:23
B. The awfulness of sin exemplifies the importance of our lesson on “Overcoming Temptation.”
1. The best answer to sin is to avoid it completely, never to fall victim to it. But since this is impossible for
accountable people, another response is needed.
a. The gospel is God’s remedy for the guilt, the consequences, and the practice of sin… Romans 1:16
b. But to avoid future sin, one must learn to overcome temptations as they present themselves to us.
2. While none of us can live above sin, the gospel provides the guidance and help to conquer temptations…
1 John 1:7-10
A. TO UNDERSTAND SIN, WE NEED TO KNOW THE PROCESS BY WHICH SIN IS COMMITTED
1. Sin is the transgression of God’s law (1 John 3:4). Its definition is “to miss the mark.” Sin was used
originally to describe what an archer did when his arrow failed to hit the target.
2. James 1:13-15 gives the technical process by which sin is committed
a. God is not the instigator of sin; rather the lust of man lies at the heart of every sin.
1) Many of the appetites of our fleshly beings have God-given methods of gratification, but when they are
appeased by unlawful means, or when they are given priority above spiritual requirements (Matt. 6:33),
sin is the result.
2) But many appetites we develop have no sinless means of satisfaction (gambling, drinking, killing, etc.).
b. Our lust is allowed to come to the forefront; it is enticed by some situation or development; when we
succumb to the enticement, we transgress God’s will; at that point, we are separated from God… Isaiah 59:1-2
c. When sin has run its ultimate course, and we die still in its grasp, we are consigned to the Devil’s Hell,
forever separated from God (Matt. 25:30-46; Rev. 20:12-15).
3. The key to overcoming temptation is to identify and subdue the lusts (the strong desires) of the mortal part of
us… Matthew 26:41
B. TO UNDERSTAND TEMPTATION, WE NEED TO KNOW THE PATHS BY WHICH IT CAN COME
1. Temptations approach us through three different avenues… 1 John 2:15-17
a. They can come by means of the lust of the flesh. These are appeals made through the desires which arise
from the evil appetites of the flesh, and find expression through the flesh. Flesh is used here, not in
reference to skin, muscle, bone, and tissue, but to the lusts which are gratified by means of the works of
the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21).
b. They can come by means of the lust of the eyes. These are desires which are aroused through the appeal of
objects by the way they look. We lust for them because they are very appealing to us in appearance.
c. They can come by means of the pride of life. These are evil desires for worldly honor; they appeal to our
vanity. Evil actions are often produced because of our desire for the praise of men, to have something that
will cause others to honor us or be jealous of us.
2. Eve was tempted through these very avenues… Genesis 3:6
a. She saw that the forbidden fruit was good for food, and she thought that she just had to have it! There was
more than enough food in Eden to satisfy her hunger, and God had warned them against eating from this tree.
Her hunger was not sinful, but her desire to eat this fruit certainly led her astray.
b. She was tempted through the lust of the eyes. She saw that the forbidden fruit was pleasant to the sight.
Prohibited things often are pleasant to see.
c. She was tempted through the pride (vainglory) of life, the desire to be as wise as God. But what a lie the
devil had told her!
3. Christ was tempted through these same three avenues… Matthew 4:1-11
a. When the Lord completed his fasting, Satan enticed him to turn stones into bread. But he prefaced his
directive with the doubt-inducing thought, “If thou be the Son of God….” To obey the command of Satan
would be sinful; to misuse supernatural powers would be wrong; hence, Jesus reproved the injunction with a
reference to Scripture. This was an appeal to the lust of the flesh, an appeal that could not be satisfied
by the means propounded by the devil.
b. Satan then brought the Lord to a pinnacle of the temple, and directed him to cast himself down, for God had
promised in the Scriptures that nothing untoward would happen to him. Christ replied that to tempt God (to
put the Father to the test) was wrong, and cited the Old Testament reference to prove it. This was an
appeal to the lust of the eyes, and could not be gratified without violating the will of God.
c. The Devil took him up into a high mountain, and showed him the kingdoms of the world, promising that he
would give all these to the Lord if he would worship him. Christ replied that it was God who was to be
worshiped and served, not Satan, and again cited the proper scriptural authority. This was an appeal to the
pride of life, and could not be accomplished without committing sin.
C. TO MEET TEMPTATION, WE NEED TO KNOW THE SPECIFIC APPEALS TO WHICH IT CAN BE MADE
1. One of the most common today is through appeals to our sexual appetites
a. All sorts of sexual conduct (really, misconduct) is promoted by movies, songs, magazines, television
programs, advertisements, television commercials, current fashions, and perhaps in a host of other ways.
b. Lustful desires must be controlled… Matthew 5:27-28
2. A desire for wealth and the things that money can buy is prominent in our worldly society.
a. Money is required to provide the things essential to life and comfort, but contentment does not necessarily
accompany a big bank account.
b. 2 Corinthians 12:10
c. Philippians 4:11-13
3. A craving for political or social influence and the power that comes thereby, can lead unsuspecting souls into
sin and perdition.
a. Seeking the praise of men or preeminence over men has been the cause for many to forfeit the glories of
b. John 12:42-43
c. 3 John 9-11
4. Vainglory has led many of our brethren from the highway of holiness.
a. Why is it that some want to have elaborate church buildings and boast about huge offerings and large
gatherings? While we would not judge the motives of anyone, it is clear that pride is apt to be the motive
of some… 2 Timothy 4:1-5
b. When preachers, elders, and Christians are willing to accept any kind of compromised “gospel” because their
“numbers” will be enhanced thereby, we can know their real motive is not to please God and save souls; it is
a means of self-gratification!
c. Many bulletins contain “great swelling words” of boasting about the size of their crowds, the dimensions of
their buildings, the number of baptisms, and the amount of their contributions. Is this not self-exalting?
d. Without the support of truth, such achievements are utterly without meaning, for the Moslems can put anybody
to shame if only numbers and dollar signs are considered. God is glorified only if we follow his will!
e. By following God’s requirement to develop and maintain humility, this evil disposition can be overcome.
1) Matthew 5:3
2) James 4:10
f. Many are led astray from holiness by anger, malice, hatred, and resentment.
1) Ephesians 4:26-27
2) Colossians 3:8
5. Many fall victim to temptation because they have not learned to subdue their tongues (Jas. 3:1-12). ©
6. Many fall into sin due to trials and hardships.
a. Ill health, a severe or crippling injury, a fire, the death of a child, the loss of a job, or the traitorous
work of a supposed friend, can be enough to overturn our spiritual equilibrium.
b. Hebrews 12:6
c. Hebrews 13:5-6
7. An evil habit can lead to a thoughtless practice of sin.
a. The best solution is never to develop such a habit…but with diligence on your part, the encouragement of
your Christian friends, and with the help of God, you can beat such a habit is you have fallen into it!
b. Romans 15:1-2
c. Ephesians 3:20-21
D. WE NEED TO KNOW THAT TEMPTATIONS CAN BE SUCCESSFULLY MET
1. An understanding of the danger involved, if we are successfully tempted, will help us overcome enticement.
a. Depending on the nature of the sin involved, we stand to lose our happiness, our health, our family, our
spouse, our job, our friends, and our souls!
1) Nothing is worth an eternity in Gehenna!
2) No pleasure or earthly advantage is worth obtaining at the cost of heaven!
b. Matthew 16:26
c. Luke 12:4-5
2. We must be able and willing to recognize temptation for what it is: an allurement of the devil to entice us
away from our Savior.
a. Temptation is presented in such a pretty package that we often fail to see it for what it is.
b. Or in the heat of a moment of anger or passion, we act wickedly before we take thought.
c. Genesis 4:8
d. 2 Samuel 11:1-4
3. We must have a desire to overcome the temptation.
a. We are not apt to defeat the devil’s allurements accidentally.
b. And it is certain that we cannot successfully meet a real temptation without wanting to overcome it.
c. Daniel 1:8
d. 1 Timothy 5:22
4. We must believe what God has said in his word.
a. If we do not believe the Bible, we will think there is no reason to flee from temptation.
b. In our mind, we would say there is no such thing as sin or the penalty for sin
c. 2 Corinthians 5:10-11
5. We must know the Bible if we want to be fully equipped to defeat temptations.
a. The Lord used the word of God to put Satan to flight (Mt. 4:1-11).
b. Psalms 119:11
c. 1 John 2:1
6. We must pray with regularity to avoid temptation.
a. How many of our troubles could have been eluded if more prayers had been offered?
b. How many problems have been averted because we did pray?
c. Matthew 6:13
d. Mark 14:38
7. We need the support and encouragement of our fellow-saints to overcome many of our temptations.
a. If we seek their company, and keep away from unsavory people, places, and situations as much as possible,
much less temptation will befall us
b. With the influence of our brethren to hearten us, we are more apt to remain loyal.
8. We need to worship regularly with the saints, so that the greatest depth of strength may be developed within
a. No one can worship God sincerely and scripturally, and not receive strength.
b. The songs will build us up; studying God’s word together will supply us with resources with which to do
battle with Satan; giving will develop a spirit of sacrifice so that we are better prepared to forego some
of the desires which could otherwise lead us into sin; in eating the Lord’s Supper, we are reminded of his
tremendous gift and our relative unworthiness, and thus inspire us to loyalty; and prayers to God cannot but
9. We need to trust God to live up to his promise to help us in temptation
a. 1 Corinthians 10:13
b. He reminds us that we are not the only one to face temptations. From the Garden of Eden to the end of time,
Satan busily does his evil work! Christ faced every kind of temptation, and did not falter (Heb. 4:15).
Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, the prophets, the apostles, and all of the New Testament saints,
c. God is faithful to his promises.
1) 2 Peter 2:9
2) Each person has his own special strengths and weaknesses, and we all have a breaking point. An aged
person does not face the same temptations as a young person; ambition and sins of the flesh may assail
the young, and the old may have to overcome cynicism, loneliness, and resentment. Satan will attack us at
our weakest point. Often, our weak points are counterbalanced by strengths.
d. God will make a way of escape. He does not say he will remove the temptation, but will make a way to
escape. The escape might be through flight (2 Tim. 2:22); it might require fighting (Jas. 4:7); prayer will
be needed (Matt. 6:13; 26:41).
A. When we are overcome by temptation, God has provided the remedy.
1. For the alien sinner, one who has never known God, the requirements are plain…
2. For the erring Christian, the requirements are plain…
B. Temptation is not a sin of itself; it is the occasion for sin to develop.
1. Our Lord was tempted on many occasions, but that did make him sinful. It is the yielding to temptations that
2. The devil does not spend much time on those already securely in his clutches; he is after those who are holy to
C. Therefore, when temptations come, that may indicate that Satan needs to work on you some more; you are not yet
under his control.