Introduction: Welcome to Calvary Albuquerque. We pursue the God who is passionately pursuing a lost world; we do this with one another, through worship, by the Word, to the world.
Nate Heitzig: Tonight my message is "Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself." Let's open in up a word of prayer.
Lord, we come right now thankful for the opportunity we have to open your Word and see what it is that you would have to speak to us tonight. Lord, we come eager, ready, Lord, not just to take notes, not just to learn, but to change. God, we want to be changed tonight. And I believe that each and every person in this room has something specific that they struggle with. And, Lord, I pray that tonight you would loose the chains that Satan has on their life, Lord. You would take the captives and you would free them. You would breathe life into the lifeless, hope into the hopeless, Lord, grace to those who are imprisoned. God, I pray that tonight would be a night where people leave renewed, transformed through your grace, through your power, in Jesus' name we pray, amen.
Well, tonight we're going to talk about a subject that is never fun to talk about. It just plain stinks. There's no other way to say it. And that subject is temptation. Wouldn't it be great if there was no temptation in life? Wouldn't it be fantastic if the second you gave your life to Jesus Christ, all of a sudden temptation was gone and the Christian life was just easy? If when you woke up in the morning you just really wanted to read your Bible for two hours? If when you went to church, you just wanted to greet your brothers and sisters in Christ who were mean to you with a "Hey, I love you. Everything's okay. All is forgiven." Wouldn't it be great if you didn't desire to sin? Wouldn't that be fantastic? Hey, be honest, who in here desires to sin? Liars, all of you who aren't raising your hand.
I desire to sin when I get cut off driving in my car and somebody then cuts me off and hits their brakes on top of it. I desire to sin when I'm late for work and the speed limit says forty-five. But I know if I go sixty-five I can get there two minutes late instead of ten minutes late, I desire to sin. There's times when---preach! Right? We got a speeder in the room. There's times even--- I love my wife dearly, but there's times when my wife and I will get in a fight and I desire to take the low road instead of the high road. I desire to sin. Life is filled on a daily basis with desires to sin, and if you say otherwise, you're lying to yourself. And I think the first step to battling temptation is realizing that we have on a daily basis, pretty constantly through the day, a desire to sin. Because sin is all around.
The temptation is constantly there. Everyone faces temptation in one way or another. As a matter of fact, as a Christian you face temptation even more than before you were a Christian. So if you're too ashamed to raise your hand when I say, "Who desires to sin?" well, man, you're really kidding yourself, because as Christians the desire can be even greater because Satan targets us even more. Temptation is so dangerous, because temptation leads to sin, and sin leads to death. I'm going to say something to you tonight and it could be life changing for you. Tonight you are either dead to sin or you are dead in sin. You're dead. Which one? Are you dead to sin or are you dead in sin? We're going to hear more about that later on.
But it seems that many Christians, no matter how many times they fall, no matter how many times they get caught in that sin, no matter how many times they pray for deliverance from that sin, they get out of it for a little bit, no matter what they do, they always seem to fall back into it. Have you ever felt like that in your life? Does it ever seem like sin is just a vicious cycle that you can't get out of no matter how hard you try? No matter how many times you come up for prayer, no matter what verses you read, no matter what books you get from the bookstore on the subject, you can't get out of the cycle of sin. Temptation is there. And you might say, "No, Nate. Not me. I'm a good Christian. All those other guys that raise their hands, they're bad Christians. I'm a good Christian. I grew up in the church. I'm in ministry. I'm on staff."
It doesn't matter if you grew up in the church, if you go to church, or if you work for the church. Samson worked for the Lord, and he fell into sexual sin with Delilah. David worked for the Lord, and he murdered a dude because he had sex with his wife. Peter worked for the Lord, and he denied Christ publicly. Just because you work for the Lord doesn't make you exempt from temptation and sin; actually it makes you a bigger target for it. So the closer you get to Christ, beware, Christian, because Satan wants to punch you in the face. Right? That's like the way the translation should go: Satan wants to punch you in the face. Satan wants to put you down for the count. You know, the verse should say: Lead us not into temptation, because we can find it on our own pretty dang well. We don't need to be led to it. We can find it.
You don't need help. It can seem too hard to effectively resist temptation, because, well, it's temptation. It's tempting, right? Good is good, bad is bad, and temptation tempts, and the effect is devastating. By giving into temptation, you can lose in a moment what it took you a lifetime to gain. In one moment you can lose what it took a lifetime to gain. You know, I don't think it would be a stretch to say we live in a tempting world, would it? We live in a tempting world. We live in a fallen world. It seems like every year boundaries get pushed further, crimes become more shocking, the headlines become more depressing, and the moral line becomes more blurred. You know, I love---one of my favorite things to do every morning when I wake up is read USA Today. Does anyone read USA Today on their iPhones?
It's like my favorite, I think, like a guilty pleasure to do. USA Today is like the Fifty Shades of Grey of news. Like it has all the stuff that you kind of feel like, "Oh, that's like---I don't know if I should read that. That's gnarly stuff." Well, I read USA Today every day. It's my guilty pleasure. And I always tell my wife crazy news articles, crazy news stories. I'm like, "Babe, did you hear about this guy in Maryland who did this or that? Or have you heard about what's going on here?" And it's fascinating to me to get a look into what culture is like. And I get a lot of my sermon illustrations from USA Today. But here's a few top headlines from today. This is just today to give you an idea of what the moral climate is like in our country today, in our world today.
Here's what I found the top four headlines today. Number one: "Miley Cyrus Named Inspiration for LGBT Activism," "Prosecutor Gets 18 Months for Raping Teenage Boy," "Josh Duggar Breaks Silence Following Molestation Scandal," "Daughter Kills Mom and Gloats on Facebook." And that's just today. That's not like these are the worst of the year. That's just today. Every day you can find news articles like that. And let me tell you something, it's only going to get worse. I read one article online that was titled "Young Adults Struggle with Morality." And it said this: "A nationwide survey by the Barna Group indicates that Americans have redefined what it means to do the right thing in their own lives." The article continued to say, "Researchers asked adults which, if any, of eight behaviors with moral overtones they had engaged in during the past week."
And these behaviors included: exposure to pornography, using profanity in public, gambling, gossiping, engaging in sexual intercourse with someone to whom they were not married, retaliating against someone, getting drunk, and lying. And the majority of adults had engaged in at least one of those eight behaviors during the past week. And here are some of their findings from the poll: 65 percent of those polled admitted to using profanity in public, 38 percent had engaged in sex outside of marriage, 37 percent had lied. Crazy that more people are having sex outside of marriage than lying. Thirty-three percent admitted to intentional exposure to pornography, and 25 percent had gotten drunk. And here's the startling statistic.
The article concluded by saying: "We are witnessing the development and acceptance of a new moral code in America. The consistent deterioration of the Bible as the source of moral truth has led to a nation where people have become independent judges of right and wrong, basing their choices on feelings and circumstances. It's not likely that America will return to a more traditional moral code until the nation experiences significant pain from its moral choices." You know, you look at the researchers who are doing that, the article, the news story, and you're like, "Yeah, it sounds familiar, doesn't it? It sounds like a passage I know in the Bible where it says something about everyone doing what is right in their own eyes." And what does that always lead to? The judgment of God.
Throughout history God has judged cultures for doing what is right in their own eyes. And they're right. There's going to be no change until the world experiences consequences for the moral behavior that the culture is engaged in. Unfortunately, they don't realize that consequence isn't going to be a slap on the wrist; that consequence is going to be the judgment of the Lord. And so the question is: In a world like that, in a world where we judge what's right based on what we feel, in a world where you have news articles like that every day, can temptation be resisted? Can it be resisted? Is it possible? Are we fighting a losing battle? Are we going to cop out and like Oscar Wilde say, "The only way I know how to get rid of temptation is to give into it." Is that the solution? No.
The Bible says temptation can and should be resisted. The Bible promises a special blessing to the person who does so. James 1:2 says, "Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love him." Did you know that testing and even temptation can have a positive effect on your life? It's been said Christians are a lot like tea bags, you don't know what's inside of them until you put them in hot water. And it's very true. I think temptation, testing shows us who the true Christians are and who's not quite there, who's just pretending, who's faking it. I did a message on judgment and I talked about before the judgment is meant for the church.
And I think temptation and testing shows the true believers, those who are in our midst, who are faking, those who are pretending, those who really don't have the right motives to do what they do. And in the story before us, we see how Jesus faced temptation as a man, and he show us how it's done. Let's turn to Matthew chapter 3 verse 13. And before we see the temptation, we're going to see the precursor, the prequel, if you will. John 3:13 says, "Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent him, saying, 'I need to be baptized by you, and you're coming to me?' But Jesus answered and said to him, 'Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.' Then he allowed him." That's funny, "Then he allowed him," like John really could have done anything to stop it.
Verse 16, "When he had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon him, and suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, 'This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.' " Let's stop there. We're going to get into chapter 4 in a second. But, man, you look at that story and it's like, what a triumph. Right? And I've titled point one triumphs. Triumphs. We see here in chapter 3, verse 13, one of the great triumphs at the beginning of Christ's ministry. In verse 13 it says that he came to be baptized. And as he comes to be baptized, John immediately recognizes Jesus and he doesn't want to baptize him.
And that's because, what is baptism? We talk about baptism frequently within the church today. Baptism is an acknowledgment of sinfulness and a desire to repent of it. And John, knowing that Jesus is the Son of God, knowing that he is without sin, doesn't want Jesus to make such a step, Because John, no doubt, feels like, "Jesus, if you do this, you're, like, acknowledging that you're one of us. You're acknowledging that you're a man." Jesus is like, "Yeah, that's the point. Yeah, that's why I have to do this, to identify myself as man." We know one of the basic tenets of theology is that Jesus Christ is both God and both man. And John tells us that John the Baptist saw Jesus coming and he said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!"
And so imagine John's surprise when he's like, "Hey, behold! The Lamb of God who takes way the sins of the world, who wants to be baptized for sins that he doesn't have. Wait is second, how does that work? Why are you doing that?" But it was because John recognizes Jesus divinity that he tried to prevent him, or literally "he kept trying to prevent him." So it's not like, "Hey, you can't come in here." It's like this: "Hey, hey, no, no, no. No, don't---no, don't come over here. Don't get baptized," like, "You can't do it." He kept trying to prevent him. So why did Jesus want to go into the process of water baptism? Well, most likely it's because he wanted to give an example of obedience to his followers. See, Jesus came into the world to identify with men. That was the purpose of Christ coming. Christ came to man.
No longer was Christ---no longer was God sitting on a pedestal, a throne saying, "You've got to reach your way up to me. You've got to work your way up to me. You've got to do a certain number of things to get up to me. You've got to sacrifice animals. You've got to go to the temple at this time and that time. And unless you do that, you can't have a relationship with me." The purpose of Christ coming was to identify himself with man and say, "Hey, not only do I want a relationship with you, but I want to help you." And I think this is such a great illustration, because to me this plays perfectly into what we're talking about as far as temptation. Because Hebrews 2:18, my favorite ver---one of my favorite verses in the Bible, speaking of Jesus, says, "He is able to aid those who are tempted, because he himself was tempted."
And we're going to see that temptation that he endured in just a second. But not only did he endure temptation, but he can help us with temptation, because he identifies with us. It's not like we come to Jesus and say, "Lord, I'm being tempted. Lord, I'm struggling with this." And he's like, "Stupid humans. Pfft! Temptation, what is that?" No. He identifies with us. He came on to our level. He experienced what we experienced. He submitted himself to the same thing that we submitted ourselves to--- authority of the church, undergoing baptism, authority to God the Father. He who was without sin submitted a baptism designed for sinners, so that when sinners needed him most, we could come to him. Verse 16, we see a great triumph. And this is also a great theological verse you can use when you get questions.
Verse 16, "When he had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.' " Here we're given one of the few examples in the Bible that gives us a glimpse into how the Trinity all work together. There are some, who when you talk about the Trinity, will point that the Bible doesn't mention the Trinity. They'll point that the Bible doesn't talk about the Trinity, and we kind of have it confused as to what it really is. And there really isn't a Trinity. And though the term is not used, the teaching is clearly here. God said in Genesis, "Let us make man in our image."
Not "in my image," "in our image," speaking of a plurality. And here we see them in action, them---Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. We see Jesus Christ being baptized, the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and alighting upon him. Which also is very much consistent with what we see in Acts of the Holy Spirit coming down and alighting upon the apostles. And then we see God the Father saying, "This is my Son, in whom I am well pleased." We see a clear picture of the Trinity. Now you gotta imagine after this happened, after Jesus had done this, after the voice of the Father had spoken audibly, meaning that not just Jesus heard it, but everyone who was there getting baptized with John heard God say, "This is my Son, in whom I am well pleased.
So either they thought, "Man, I had a bad falafel today," or, "Oh my gosh, that's the Son of God!" Right? This incredible triumph, this incredible thing that God had done. You gotta imagine Jesus was like, "Yes. My ministry's finally begun. My public ministry has started." There had to be anticipation looking forward to what God was going to do. And after this glorious experience, a time of difficult testing follows. We're going to see this in chapter 4. It was immediately after this moment of blessing that a time of difficulty came. After the dove, came the Devil. Does it ever seem like that happens to you? Yeah. That's an amen, right? Preach. No, it's good. I love it. Things are going great, the world's in order, doves are descending, the world is as it should be, and then bam! the semitruck of suck hits you in the face. [laughter]
And it's like, man, I have problems I didn't know I had. And there's people that I knew that I wish I didn't know. And all of a sudden life is hard. And you say, "Wait a second, God, like, doves were descending, shouldn't you keep that happening? Like, let's keep that going." You want to pull, like, an apostle move and say, "Hey, let's just camp on this mountaintop. Let's make a temple here. Let's just stay in this area. Lord, I'll worship you so much more passionately if I can just be happy all the time." Man, I could sing "Oceans" real good what I'm not in the oceans. And then all of a sudden we're in this trial. We're in this temptation right after a triumph. Times of greatest temptation always follow times of greatest triumph. Right after the Father said, "This is my beloved Son," the Devil was there.
You know why? The Devil always opposes those who God approves. The Devil always opposes those who God approves. Let me ask you a question: Are you living your life right now in a way that would get God's approval? Heh, the Devil opposes you. One of the scariest verses in the entire Bible is when it says that Satan is like is roaring lion, going to and fro, seeking whom he may devour. Okay, I've watched Discovery Channel, and that's terrifying. Did anyone watch Discovery Channel the past few weeks? They were doing like this "Best of the Predators." They did this one show talking about lions killing cheetahs. And it was terrifying, because they show these images of these big lions, and they do go to and fro. They walk back and forth looking at their prey and licking their lips.
And then what happens is they're just walking back and forth and then bam! They're crushing, like, a baby cheetah's head and pulling chunks off of it, like, instantly. My son and I were at the zoo with my wife and Kaydence and some of our friends. And we were over with the mountain lions. And the mountain lions, it was apparently feeding time, because they were prowling and they were going to and fro. And they're walking around and they're looking out the glass, looking at us, licking their lips. My son's like, "Dad, they're hungry." I'm like, "Yeah, for you. Yeah, they're hungry. They want to eat you. They want to kill you." Look, Satan wants to kill you. Satan wants to eat you up. He wants to snap your neck. He wants to pull chunks off of you slowly until you're nothing left, until you're just skin and bones of the person you were before.
He wants to get you addicted to drugs, let you wind up in the street with nothing. He wants to bring some hot babe into your life that causes you to stop looking at your wife, so you stop and start looking at her and saying, "Oh, man, I need her," so that you lose your wife, you lose your kids, you lose your job. Satan wants to get you to cheat on your taxes, so that you can get everything taken away, and so you can curse God and blame God for it. Satan wants to kill you and he will do everything in his power to do so. He will not stop. He will not relent. He is like a roaring lion going to and fro seeking you, Christian. Prepare yourself. But---there's always a "but." You're like, "Man, this message is stupid. Hate this." But the Bible says, "The eyes of the Lord run to and fro . . . to show himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal."
Can I get an amen for that? Satan is going to and fro seeking how to devour you. God's searching to and fro seeking how to show himself strong on your behalf. And so that, Christian, means that if Satan's a lion, God's the zookeeper with a tranquilizer gun ready to take Satan down, ready to put him in his place. If Satan's that big, bad dinosaur from Jurassic World, and Satan wants to eat you alive, then God's the bigger, badder dinosaur that's living in the ocean that's going to come up and eat him in one bite. Now you say, "Nate, I can't do it. I can't fight the temptation. I can't fight the sin in my life." And you're right. That's the point, you can't. You finally get it. You against Satan, you're always going to lose. You go to battle with the lion, you're going to get eaten.
But you and God against Satan, Satan doesn't stand a chance. Satan's done. He's toast. He cannot prevail. Nothing in heaven or earth, principalities, or powers in this air can fight our great God. And our great God fights on your behalf. Our great God is seeking those who trust in him, those who are willing to say, "God, I can't do it. God, I'm going to stop trying to fight the battle on my own, because every time, I lose." God is looking for you when you have that kind of heart. And he says, "Hey, if you have that heart, I'm going to fight for you." And having God in your corner is better than having Floyd Mayweather. He doesn't talk as dirty, either. He'll put the Devil down for the count. He'll put him in his place as long as you call upon his name.
It is those who are obedient, those who are well pleasing to God, who are the targets of the Wicked One. And many times in our lives the most difficult trials come after the greatest triumphs. After Jesus had his mountaintop experience of being transfigured with Moses and Elijah, a demon-possessed person was waiting at the bottom of the hill. After David took down Goliath, and he was met with praise from the people, a spear was thrown at him from Saul. Samson, after he destroyed a thousand enemies, met a girl named Delilah. Peter, who boldly stood for Christ and even hacked the ear off of a soldier, only hours later was ashamed to even acknowledge Jesus. You see it in the Bible over and over again. So often their greatest trial is after their greatest triumph.
You know why? It's because our successes can cause us to feel invincible. They can make us feel like we've got it all together. And it can cause us to let our guard down. And then when temptation comes, we're not prepared for it. We're not ready for it. We trick ourselves into thinking we're some kind of super soldier for Jesus, and that nothing can get in our way. We're like, "That's right, Devil," like, "Yeah, did you see that? I went on a mission trip, a bunch of people got saved. I fed orphans. You got nothing on me." And he's like, "Oh, yeah, well, check this out." Bam! And he takes you down. Never let yourself drink your own Kool-Aid. You know, it was funny to watch LeBron James lose last night. Sorry if you're a Cavs fan. But, you know, this guy thinks he's---"Man, I'm the best," drinking his own Kool-Aid.
He gets beat by a team that hasn't been there since like the seventies. When you start drinking your own Kool-Aid, you stop preparing. You stop practicing. You stop realizing that what got you to that place in the in the first place wasn't you just being haughty and proud, it was you making a series of right decisions and right choices. And if you stop making those right decisions and right choices, what got you to that place in the first place is what's going to bring you down. It's going bring you to the bottom of that hill. So prepare yourself. In the contest between Elijah and the 450 prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, God personally worked in that very powerful and tangible way. God did something incredible.
Let me ask you, if you were with 450 of your worst enemies, and God consumed them in fire, you're like, "Yeah, God, could you do that maybe? It'd be awesome. I'd got some people I'm thinking of right now." If that happened to you, what kind of faith would that fill you with for like the next five years? For the rest of your life, you're like, "Man, if God did that, I'm good to go. I don't need anything else for the rest of my life." But in spite of that miraculous work of God, within a week Elijah was asking God to take his own life. So be careful about, like, "Elijah, he just wasn't . . . ." Oh, hold on. He was one of the greatest prophets in the Bible. And so if he's susceptible to it, you think you are? No sooner had Israel been delivered from Egypt than Pharaoh came pursuing them with an army.
No sooner had Paul had an abundance of revelations than he was struck with a thorn in the flesh from a messenger of Satan. The greatest tests and temptations, in the beginning and the end of a Christian's life. The greatest temptations, the greatest tests come in the beginning and the end of a Christian's life. In the beginning, because Satan wants to derail you from your walk with God. He sees that you are starting on a good path, and so he wants to derail you. He wants to make you feel like the worst is yet to come if you keep serving God. And so he hits new believers in predictable ways with heavy duty temptations, offering them all the kingdoms of the world, so to speak. He causes them to doubt their salvation.
But it's also at the end that some of the greatest attacks come, because if he can get you to fall on your last lap, he can discredit the whole race. If he can get you to fall on the last lap, then all those years of faithful running don't mean much. Satan knows the power and the influence of a life faithfully lived for God. There's a lot of those who don't finish well in the race of life. We lower our guard. We put our spiritual lives in cruise control, but we don't realize that we don't have our seat belts on. And Satan would love to scrape your dead body off the pavement. So don't put it in cruise control. Don't take your eyes off the road, because that exactly what Satan wants. You better check yourself before you wreck yourself, Christian. Better check yourself.
So, maybe you're sitting in here, maybe you're one of those people---I know I have been guilty of this---like, "Man, I know someone who really needs to hear this message." This message isn't for them. This message is for you. And every one of us has a struggle. Every one of us has a temptation. Every one of us gets tested. So stop thinking about your son or your daughter or your cousin or your brother or your coworker who really needs to hear this message, and start thinking about yourself. Start thinking about the temptation, the tests, and the trials that you are in or that you will be in soon, and check yourself before you wreck yourself. Prepare yourself for the warfare that is ahead. Hey, who in here ever forgets to wear your seat belt in the car? You're better people than I am. I constantly forget my seat belt.
I'm notorious for doing this. And for some reason I just cannot remember to do it. I just get in the car and, like, the first thing that I think of is what music do I want to listen to. And after that happens, nothing else really matters. And so my wife also rags on me because I'm a very distracted driver, and I don't wear my seat belt. So it's really, like, I better be careful. Well, the other day I was driving, a few months ago, with my mom, and we were driving around and we were doing errands. I was driving. She was in the passenger seat. And my mom is driving next to me and she randomly just starts saying, "Imminent death! Imminent death! Imminent death! Imminent death!" I'm like, "What?! Wha-wha--- Is there a tank? Are the Russians here? What's going on?"
I start freaking out, like, "Mom, what are doing? Why are you saying that?" To which she replied, "I could save your life, but you won't let me." "Stop talking in haikus. What do you mean, woman?" [laughter] And that's when I realized that my seat belt alarm was ringing out to me, and my mom was saying "imminent death" in tune to the seat belt alarm. "Imminent death! Imminent death!" I'd gotten so accustomed to hearing that sound that I didn't even hear it anymore. I just tuned it out. I didn't even hear the alarm, the ring, the chime. So often in our lives God tries to get our attention, but we become so accustomed to tuning him out, we don't even hear him anymore. And all the while he's shouting, "Imminent death! Imminent death! I could save your life, but you won't let me."
"What's going on? I'm fine. I've got it under control." Let me tell you, you better check yourself before you wreck yourself. So first point we see is the triumphs. Triumphs. Second point, we see temptations. Look at chapter 4, verse 1. "Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward he was hungry. Now, when the tempter came to him, he said, 'You are the Son of God, command those stones become bread.' But he answered and said, 'It is written, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." '
"Then the devil took him up into the holy city, and he set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, 'If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: "He shall give his angels charge over you," and, "In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone." ' And Jesus said to him, 'It is written again, "You shall not tempt the Lord your God." ' And again, the devil took him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, 'All these things I will give you if you'll fall down and worship me.' And Jesus said, 'Away with you, Satan! For it is written, "You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only you shall serve." '" Can I get an amen for that?
"Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and ministered to him." Here before us Jesus shows us that temptation can be resisted and that it can be overcome. He modeled for us the way to deal with temptation. And predictably Satan hits Jesus in a perceived area of vulnerability. And that's exactly where Satan hits us in a perceived area of vulnerability, a weak chink in your armor, a weak link in your armor. He'll size you up and he'll hit you where he thinks he can bring you down. And thus victory over temptation comes from, again, being constantly prepared for it. Satan's a liar. Satan wants to cause us to question the love of the Father. Satan wants to cause us to have doubt within our minds, to think that, "You know what? This whole thing is a sham. You know what? This whole thing is fake.
"You know what? If God really did love me, I would be okay. If God really did love me, my grandma wouldn't have cancer. If God really did love me, I'd have a way better job and more money." And Satan wants to cause us to doubt, to question. And this really strikes at the root of our faith and our dependence on God. He was being tempted to doubt the Father's worth, the Father's love, the Father's provision. It was that absolute trust and submission that Satan sought to shatter. Again, I said, you against Satan, you're going to lose; you're going to get eaten. You and God against Satan, you're going to win. So what does Satan do? He'll split up the team. And if I can get Kobe by and Shaq to fight, well, then I've taken down the Lakers. "If I can get God and mankind to fight, I've taken down mankind."
And that's been Satan's goal from the beginning. And so if Satan can get in the way of your relationship with God, then all of a sudden Satan can win. Notice this too: these temptations grew in intensity. Here it was a temptation to take things into his own eyes, into his own hands. God has let you down. Abraham and Sarah found out the folly of this kind of thinking. So did Jacob. To accomplish a good thing through questionable means. It was a good thing. Yeah, it's not bad to eat food, is it? There's nothing wrong with having bread. [microphone malfunction] But it was questionable means. That was close. I thought it was out again. Questionable means to get a good thing. See, Satan realizes that a little compromise today means a big one later on. That little one lustful look can lead to an adulterous relationship.
That one-night stand can lead to a lifetime of regret. That one hit can lead to addiction. And just so you know, it's always one of whatever it is. Again, here in this passage we see, "Just have one piece of bread. Just turn one stone into a piece of bread." And that's what I always hear people say. They say, "I'll just do it once. I'll just do it once." "You know, my girlfriend and I, we really love each other. We're just going to have sex once." Let's see how that works out. "Well, you know, my friends tell me that I'm a prude for not trying heroin, so I'm just going to do it once. I'm just going to experience it once, so that I don't like it." It's always just once. It's always just one beer that leads to getting hammered. It's always just one kiss that leads to waking up feeling dirty and defiled.
It's always just one look that leads to being addicted and depressed. With one, sin's never happy, because Satan doesn't want part of you, he wants all of you. Satan doesn't want just a portion of your life; he wants all of your life. Satan won't stop when you're down; he wants you dead. He won't stop when you fall; he doesn't want you to get back up. Satan won't stop when you look; he wants you to lust. And we're always better off to obey God and trust in his provision than to impatiently and selfishly provide for ourselves in ways that disobey or compromise the Word of God. Verse 6, Satan says, "Throw yourself down. For it is written: 'He shall give his angels charge over you. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.' "
Fascinating about this Scripture, this passage here, notice that Satan is quoting the Bible to Jesus. He's quoting Bible verses and they sound really good. They sound in context, but they're not. Again, another tactic Satan uses in your life, Satan will use Scripture in your life. Satan will use people who misquote Scripture in your life to say, "You know what? That's right. If I did have enough faith, I would never be sick." "You know, that's right. I bet if I did give that ministry a hundred dollars, I would have more money." You know, that all sounds good. That all sounds like a nice painted picture. And Satan will frequently within our lives use Scripture out of context to get us to fall into sin. With that subtle and clever twist, Satan thought he had backed Jesus into the corner.
He basically is saying, "Hey, you claim to be God's Son, prove it. Prove it. It's that simple. Prove it. I bet if you did it, everyone would believe in you. You claim to be God's Son, you claim to trust in his Word, prove it to me." Satan was saying, "If so, why don't you demonstrate your sonship and prove the truth of God's Word by putting him to a test, a scriptural test." He's basically saying, "If you won't use your own supernatural power, why don't you see if you'll let the Father use his. If you won't use your own power to turn a stone into bread, put God the Father to the test." You know, Satan is a master at Scripture twisting. And the only way to refute it is to be thoroughly saturated with what the Bible really teaches, thoroughly saturated.
That's why I love this group of people, people who are willing to come and sit through on hour-long Bible study, a verse-by-verse Bible study every week. You know, what my dad does here every week is so unique, not many pastors do that in the world, and none of them do it as well. And it's unique and it builds you up and it prepares you, so that when you hear that false teaching, when you hear that false Scripture brought out, you say, "Hey, no, no. That's not true. I know the truth. I read it myself. I heard it myself. I studied it myself." And you're prepared to refute even the greatest lies of Satan when you're prepared. Verse 8 through 10 continues and it says, "Again, the devil took him on an exceedingly high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, 'All these things I will give to you if you'll fall down and worship me.' "
Okay, I want you to get the scope of what Satan is promising Jesus, because it's huge. It's bigger than we realize. Satan now drops all his pretense. He makes one final desperate effort to corrupt Jesus. He comes up front with what has been his objective the whole time---to be worshiped. He had first suggested what Jesus ought to do for himself. Then he suggests what the Father ought to do for Jesus. Now he suggests what he could do for Jesus. Hey, you're not willing to help yourself, that's fine. You're not willing to let God help you, that's fine. Let me help you out. Let me give you what you came here for." What was the purpose of Jesus Christ coming to this earth? It was to save sinners. It was to save us. It was to save us from the power of Satan.
And Satan now offers Jesus the power over all the people that he came to save in exchange for what Jesus could do for him. In offering all the kingdoms of the world, Satan was in essence offering on a silver platter that which Jesus had come for---to purchase back that which was lost in the garden, to bypass the death on the cross. Think about that. In the garden Jesus said, "Lord, if there's any other way, show me. But if not, let your will be done." Satan was showing Jesus another way. Talk about a temptation. It was the one time that we see Jesus questioning even the plan of God was in the garden of Gethsemane where he says, "Lord, if there's any other way." Satan knew that. Jesus knew that that was coming. Jesus knew that there would come a time when he would die on the cross.
Jesus knew that was the reason for which he was sent. And here Satan was offering him exactly what he asked for on the last day of his life---another way. "Here's another way, Jesus. All you gotta do is worship me. Just bow down. Just a little bit of worship and I'll give you everything you want, everything you desire." But God's method of doing that in fulfillment of countless types and signs, pointing to it throughout the Scripture, was to be his death on the cross. Satan was offering the world to Jesus, but on his own corrupt terms, not on God's terms. That which the Father promised to the Son for his righteous obedience, Satan offered to the Son in exchange for unrighteous disobedience. Why wait? You can have it now. Travel now, pay later. But with Satan there's always strings attached.
Nothing is ever free with Satan. For Jesus, the price was worship. For Samson, the cost was his strength and his eyes. For David, the cost was his son and his testimony. For Judas, the cost was eternity. The thing is that Satan will never tell you the cost of your sin before you do it. He lets you open up the beautiful gift-wrapped sin, it explodes in your face, and then he lets you know how much that cost you. He won't tell you about the cost of sex and lust, emptiness, a lack of self-worth. He won't tell you a cost of addiction, helplessness and slavery. He won't tell you the ultimate cost of sin, your eternity. That is how Satan always operates. He promised Eve that by eating the forbidden fruit she would not die as God had warned, but, in fact, she'd become a god herself.
"For God knows that in the day that you eat from it your eyes will be open. . . . knowing good and evil." He tempts us: "Why do you set your standard so high? Why are you so prude? Don't be so legalistic. You can get what you want by cutting a corner here, shading the truth there." This same temptation, no doubt, came to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. "Hey, just bow. You don't have to mean it. You don't have to do it in your heart, just bow, and then you can save yourself from dying." Yeah, they knew this would be denying the Lord. Or Daniel, knowing that if he prayed as before, his fate could be death. Better to face that than a compromise. You know the compromise is the most lethal of satanic traps that Satan has in his arsenal. It's perhaps his most effective tool. Just lowering your guard a little bit. Dropping your standard only a notch.
Satan has never come to someone and says, "Hey, do you want to be alone and depressed? Do you want to desire to commit suicide every night? Do you want to lose your family? Do you want to lose your friends? Do you want to feel like your life has no meaning? Satan doesn't do that. Satan comes and says, "Hey, you want to have fun? Come with me. Do this." It's a temptation to lower our standard in order to extend our reach. It's a sin to endanger our integrity in order to enlarge our influence. Graham Scroggie said of compromise: "It prompts us to be silent when we ought to speak out for fear of offending. It prompts us to praise when it is not deserved, to keep people our friends. It prompts us to tolerate sin and not to speak out because to do so might give us enemies."
Temptation's there. Satan's on the prowl. Satan wants to kill us. And now to close, how to resist temptation. You know, I believe the best way to fight temptation, what I said in the very beginning, is to recognize that you're dead. Satan wants to kill you; let him know you're already dead. Satan wants to destroy you; let him know you've already been destroyed. Satan wants to pick you up and pluck you and put you in the palm of his hand; let him know you're already in someone else's hand. Let's contrast this with Romans 6. It says, "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace might abound? Certainly not! How shall we who have died to sin live any longer in it? For he who has died has been freed from sin. Likewise you also reckon yourself to be dead to sin, but alive in God through Jesus Christ."
You're dead. Which kind are you? Are you Ephesians 2:1, "dead in trespasses and sin," or are you Romans 6, "dead indeed to sin"? You know, I know you can hear a message like this and say, "You know, that's pretty hopeless, Nate. You basically told me for the rest of my life Satan's going hunt me down. He's going to try to destroy me. He wants to kill me. Okay, I understand that. Satan is a creep and he doesn't like me." It sounds pretty depressing. It sounds pretty hopeless. And this is the part of the message where I'm supposed to insert some spiritual preacher quote. It's not hopeless brothers and sisters. The night is darkest before the day and a new day is coming! Can you see it? That's what I'm supposed to do there. But the truth is sin is hopeless. Sin destroys. Sin murders. Sin rapes. Sin lies. Sin sucks.
It literally sucks the life from you. Whereas, Christ gives life, Christ gives hope, Christ gives joy, Christ gives assurance, Christ gives grace, Christ gives a future. All the things that Satan wants to take from you, Jesus wants to give to you if you'll die to sin and live in Christ. If you truly believe and understand the effects of sin, then belief will inevitably lead to sanctification and holiness, or as John says, "walking in the light." But the opposite is also true. If you're belief is false, your life will not be marked by righteousness, but your life will be marked by sin. And you might be in here tonight and you might be a really good faker. You might be like Judas. None of the apostles thought Judas was who he was. He did the right things. He said the right things. But inside he constantly gave in a little bit more.
He constantly dropped his guard a little bit more until Satan was able to take over the life of Judas. Satan was able to fill the heart of Judas. If your belief is false, your life will be marked by sin. You will continually find yourself taking one step forward and two steps back. You'll be, as John says, "walking in darkness." And, friends, the light has no fellowship with the darkness. Now, again, that doesn't mean it'll be visible. The person sitting next to you right now might never know who you are inside, but Jesus does. You might have your friends fooled. You might have your pastors fooled. But you'll never fool yourself and you'll never fool God. And you might say, "Nate, how could this happen? How is that possible?" Slowly. Sin always starts slowly.
First, it begins with apathy, apathy with where God has you right now. So how do you fight apathy? Contentment. Where does God have you right now? Where does God have you right now? And let me tell you, where you might be right now might really, really, really stink. Where God has you right now might not where God wants to bring you, but it's where you are right now. And in your current situation where you are right now, do you find yourself struggling with apathy, struggling with discontentment? Fight that discontentment, that apathy with contentment given from Jesus Christ. I've used the illustration before, but if you've ever watched a Disney movie and you turn off the movie in the first twenty minutes, those movies are really sad.
Bambi's mom is on the wall of, you know, Duck Dynasty. Right? Aladdin is thrown into a big, giant monster cave. They're all sad. Nemo doesn't have a mom and he's lost in the ocean by himself. Disney movies are pretty sad in the beginning, but there's something great about a Disney movie. You know who directed the movie, and it's Walt Disney. And guess what? Walt Disney does not make sad endings. Walt Disney only makes happy endings. Christian, in your monologue right now, and your movie, which is life, right now, if you turn the TV off, it might end really sad. You might look at where you're at now and say, "How can this be God's plan for my life? Guess what? You know the director. His name is Jesus Christ. And Jesus Christ only makes happy endings. He has a future. He has a hope.
He wants to bring you that hope if you trust in him. So don't be scared of what act you're in right now. Look forward to the act which is ahead. It begins with apathy. Then comes the atrophy, the wasting away of your spiritual state. The apathy, the discontentment leads you to stop trying, to stop doing, and then you begin to waste away again. I said Satan's like a lion. He wants to pick you apart till you're just skin and bones. Atrophy. He doesn't want you to go forward. And if you're not going forward, you're going backward. Satan wants to get you to stop. Again, another illustration, I've use it before, but my kids and I every once in a while will take a road trip to visit Nana. That's my wife's mom. And she lives in Orange County, California, the most beautiful place in the entire world.
To get to Orange County, California, you have to drive through Prescott, Arizona, the worst place in the entire world. Like the only cool thing is, like, a fake dinosaur that my son looks at and says, "Hey, it's a dinosaur." And he continues on with whining in the rest of the car ride. My son hates that road trip. And when we're in the middle of the desert, he wants me to stop the car and he wants to get out. If I let him do that, he will waste away in the desert. But if he trusts dad and he trusts that we're going to continue to persevere, we're not going to stop, we're not going to stay where we are, we're going to push forward, then where we're heading is Disneyland and it's the happiest place on earth, the best. Doesn't get any better. The same principle is true in our life.
We say, "God, where I'm at is so hard. I'm just going to stop. Just going to rest." God's like, "Don't stop. Where we're going is really, really cool. You just gotta trust me. You gotta trust my plans for you." And, finally, comes the agony, the agony of being stuck in a state of sin. It happens slowly. At least that's how it happened in my life. There have been times in my life where I've been stuck in sin, blind to my own sin. And it never happened immediately, it was a slow progression. It didn't happen overnight, but for a long time there were moments in my life where was stuck in a state of apathy, atrophy, and, finally, agony. So where are you today? Are you dead in sin or are you dead to sin. And as we close, I just want to say this. Do you know what dead things do? Nothing. They don't do anything. They're dead.
Dead things don't fight. Dead things don't complain. They just are dead. And again, you say, "Nate, I can't do it." And, again, I said before, you're right, you can't. You finally get it. You're dead. Stop trying to fight Satan yourself and let God fight for you. When Satan comes knocking at your door, let him know, "Hey, I'm dead to sin. But I've got a buddy in here you might want to meet. His name is Jesus. He's been looking for you." [applause] You're a dead thing, start acting like it. Jesus met Satan on ground that you and I can occupy. He resisted Satan's temptations and so can we. May God help you if you're a true believer to trust his Word, to not be sidetracked by the enemy of your souls. May God help you to not run your spiritual life on cruise control, but rather finish your race.
May he help us resist the subtle, yet powerful trap of compromise. And if you're not a Christian tonight---and when I say you're not a Christian, I don't mean that you've never said a prayer. You might have said a prayer, but you might be sitting here, you are stuck in a state of apathy, atrophy, and it is leading you to agony. To you, check yourself before you wreck yourself. Don't you leave here tonight without knowing that you have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Maybe you say, "Nate, you know, I'm not ready to do that right now. I'm pretty comfortable. I wonder how comfortable we'll be before we stand before the Lord on judgment day when every knee will bow, when every tongue will confess, when we have to give an answer for our relationship with Christ.
And I know the tendency is to say, "I'll do it later on. I know you're right. I know I'm stuck in sin, but not yet. I just got to wait a little bit longer. I just got to do a few more things, then I'll come to Christ." What if you don't have a chance to do a few more things. What if tonight's your last night? What if tonight on your way home you get hit by a car and you end up standing before Jesus Christ? Will you be ready? You say, "You're right, Nate, but, man, I came with a friend, and I've been doing a really good job of tricking them into thinking that I am a Christian. And if I put my hand up, my cover's blown." Guess what? Your friend doesn't judge the sin in your life, Jesus Christ does that. Your friend didn't die for your sins. You friend can't get you to heaven.
Jesus Christ did that for you and only Jesus Christ can forgive you of that sin and give you a peace that you've never experienced in your entire life. So if you're stuck in your life through a series of giving into temptation through a series of compromise, tonight's the night to get your life right. Tonight's the night to repent and to know---to know that if you were to die, you would go to heaven. Lord, we thank you for your Word. We thank you for the truth that is in it, for what it reveals to us, Lord, for how it changes us and transforms us. And, God, we pray that we would be receptive. I pray for everyone here right now, including myself, Lord. Let us not harden our hearts in moments like these. Let us not say someone else needs to hear this.
Let us realize that we need to hear this, that we need to be changed, that we need to stop pretending and start being real with you and with others. As we're praying right now, if you're in here, your eyes are closed, your head is bowed and you realize right now you need Jesus Christ. Maybe this is a rededication for you and this is going to be the second or third time you've said this prayer. Maybe this is the first time you've said a prayer like this. But if you want to receive Jesus Christ in your life, you want to know that your sins are forgiven, you want to know that when you die you're going go to heaven, I want you to raise up your hand and say, "Nate, pray for me. I need Jesus in my life." Raise up those hands if that's you. Couple of you to the left. Keep them up---over to my left . . . here in the center . . . the back, to my right . . . a few more over here to the far right.
If God's speaking to you right now---in the balcony, I see your hand. If God's speaking to you right now, don't harden your heart. Don't deflect. Let God do what he wants to do. Amen, over here on my far right to the back. A lot of hearts, God's speaking to a lot of hearts. Lord, I thank you for that. I thank you for those hearts and I thank you for the person that is behind those hearts and those hands. God, I pray that you would make them---lead them to make a bold move, a bold step of faith, in your name we pray, amen. Hey, will you just stand. We're going to close in a song. And as we close in this song, as we sing this song out together, if you raised your hand up acknowledging that you need Jesus Christ tonight, I want you to get up from wherever you are. I want you to come down here to the front and say a prayer to accept Jesus Christ in your life.
"Nate, hold on a second. I'm all about the 'eyes closed and the heads bowed" thing. That I can do. Raise my hand up, no one sees me, back down. But you want me to actually go forward and have people see me?" I do. And here's why: If you can't stand up for Jesus Christ in a room full of people that love him, how are you going to do it in a world that hates him? These people here love you. And they're going to show you they love you by cheering for you, by clapping for you, by letting you know that what you're doing is the coolest thing in the entire world. So right now, wherever you are, come down here to the front. Be bold for Jesus Christ. Jesus died publicly on a cross for you. He wasn't ashamed of you. He didn't hang his head for you. Jesus boldly died on a cross for you. He did not take the easy way out.
Jesus could have given into that temptation. He could have said, "Yeah, I will take the easy way out." But he took the hard way. Don't take the easy way out. If Jesus is speaking to you right now, we're going to sing this song together as a church. And as we do, you come down here and you get your life right with Jesus. Let's sing together. You come. [worship music playing] I saw more hands raised, so I know there's more people that God's speaking to right now. And I'm going to give you a second. Maybe you didn't raise your hand, but you know you need to be here. You do it. You make the same decision. You know, people talk all the time with what they've got to give up to come to God. "I've got to give it up."
You've got to give up a lot. You've got to give up your shame. You've got to give up your sadness. You've got to give up your despair. You've got to give up the tragedies in your life. You've got to give up the baggage, the addictions. You've got to give up a lot of stuff, but God's going to give you a lot of stuff back. He's going to give you in place of that tragedy, joy. He's going to give you in place of that addiction, sanctification and freedom through Jesus Christ. Let me tell you, you're getting the better end of the bargain. And, number one, let me tell you what you're giving up---you're giving up hell and you're gaining heaven. And that is a good deal, friends. In business terms that is a deal you do not want to refuse. And so, if you're still waiting, I wonder what's holding you back?
What is it that's holding you back? What is it that's keeping you from going forward. This is your moment. And we'll wait for you if God is speaking to you. We're going to sing this through. You come. Maybe your friend next to you will come with you, but they just need the boldness, that encouragement of someone else doing it. So, if God is speaking to you right now, stop delaying. This could be your night to get your life right with Christ. [worship song continues to play] Amen, amen. You come. If God's speaking to your heart, you come. There's always room at the cross. Amen. Now we're going to pray right now with those who have come forward. I've already kept you guys here longer than I should have, but to be fair, my mic went out, so I'm going to blame it on that.
Um, we're going pray right now with those who have come forward. We're not going to sing anymore. We're not going to drag this out, but I always like to throw the net out one last time, because I believe there's those people who wait for that one last moment. Maybe you're late for everything. You're late for work. You're late to turn in your taxes. Better get on that. You're late for everything in life. Don't be late for this appointment. This is one appointment you do not want to miss. And so before we close, is there anyone else right now in your heart you know you need to do this? This can be the start of a whole new life for you. Is there anyone else before we pray who wants to come forward and accept Jesus Christ? Now's your time. Anyone else? Amen, amen. [applause]
God's speaking and it's not just her time, it could still be your time. Last call. Amen. Praise the Lord. Amen. Well, right now I consider it the greatest privilege in the entire world to lead you in a prayer to accept Jesus Christ, because what we're witnessing right now is the most incredible thing that we could ever witness; and that is, souls being transformed and changed. We're seeing people come forward who now we know we're going to see in heaven. And that is unique. That is special. And that's why we're clapping for you. That's why we're cheering for you, because we're excited. We're excited that you're part of the family. And so I'm going to say a prayer, and as I say this prayer, I want you guys to just come around. I want you to repeat these words after me.
And there's nothing magical about this prayer. You're not going say this prayer and all of a sudden, you know, like, you [indiscernible] or anything. It's just a simple prayer from your heart to Jesus Christ acknowledging you're a sinner, acknowledging that you have messed up, but believing that Jesus Christ paid the price for those sins, asking him to come into your life to forgive you and to give you new life. So if you're over here on the wings, I'm going to ask you guys to come in. Let's just come in, a little group circle. I don't have cooties. I won't bite you. Let's say this prayer together.
Lord, I acknowledge that I'm a sinner. I acknowledge that I messed up. That I've done things that have hurt you. But, Lord, I believe that you died for those things and I believe that you rose from the dead. So, Lord, I ask you to come into my life. Forgive me of my sin. I turn from my old life and I turn to you. Fill me with your Holy Spirit. Give me the hope and knowledge that when I die, I'll go to heaven, and help me to walk with you, in Jesus' name I pray, amen. Let's give these guys a round of applause. [cheers and applause]
Closing: What binds us together is devotion to worshiping our heavenly Father, dedication to studying his Word, and determination to proclaim our eternal hope in Jesus Christ.
For more teachings from Calvary Albuquerque and Skip Heitzig visit calvaryabq.org.