God On Film 2009 part 3
Enemies: Taming My Temptations
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
July 19, 2009
This was a week of
firsts for me. One thing I did for the very first time was crawl into
an inflatable pool filled with balls with my son. We had never done
that before, and instead of playing with the balls he decided to crawl
all over me for the next 20 minutes. It was painful, but it was fun.
thing I did for the first time was call someone on their cell phone
while they were at their brother’s wake. That wasn’t so much fun.
a third thing that I did for the first time was, I went to a movie by
myself. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but most people go
to movies with someone else. Of course, later in the week I was
flipping channels and I caught part of The Simpsons, and it was the
episode where Homer admitted that he sometimes goes to movies alone. So
I guess I’m a real Homer now.
Well, the movie I went to see was
Public Enemies, which is the movie we’re using today as part of our
message series, God On Film. During this series, we’re using the movies
that are popular this summer to launch into discussions about spiritual
things. This is not really our attempt to say you should see these
movies or you shouldn’t see these movies. We’re just acknowledging that
they’re there, people are going to see them, and they do raise issues
that are probably worthy of discussion.
Two weeks ago, we talked
about Star Trek. Last week, we talked about the movie “Up”. Today,
we’re talking about Public Enemies, and next week we’re going to wrap
this whole thing up with a look at the new Harry Potter movie.
in Public Enemies, Johnny Depp plays John Dillinger. Dillinger of
course is famous for robbing banks in the Chicago area back in the
1930s… in fact, this was back in the early days of what we know as the
FBI, and it was the capture of gangsters like Dillinger which was the
drive behind the FBI at the time and really impacted the formation and
expansion of the FBI. And Dillinger himself… He was public enemy number
And if you’re familiar with Dillinger, then you may know of
one of his most famous quotes. It’s disputed about who actually said
this, but as the story goes Dillinger was once asked why he chose to
rob banks, and his answer was… “Because that’s where the money is.”
was his weakness. That was his temptation. He wanted money, and he was
never happy with what he already had. He always wanted more. So he
Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever been tempted to
steal. Stealing isn’t an area where I’m tempted a whole lot. I’m
tempted in other areas. And everyone of us here this morning faces
different temptations. The temptations you face, may not be the ones I
face. And the ones I face may not be the ones you face. But we all face
Sometimes it is the temptation to steal, or
sometimes it’s the temptation to cheat. Sometimes it’s sexual
temptation, sometimes it’s the temptation to give in to an indulgence.
Sometimes it’s the temptation to take a shortcut. Maybe you’re tempted
to manipulate and use and step on other people. We all face temptations.
I want you to understand, this is a personal message this morning.
Because I face it, too. Just because I’m a pastor does not mean that
I’m immune from temptation. In fact, I think it makes me more of a
target. And there are times that I give in to the temptation and I
fail. So we’re all in this together. We all face it. In fact, the only
people who don’t face temptation are in the graveyard. And they’re not
We all face it. Temptation is common for all of
us. And since temptation is common for all of us, there are also some
That’s what we’re going to talk about this
morning… these common solutions… five ways to tame your temptations.
Not how to get rid of temptations, because we’ll always face them. But
five ways to tame them and deal with them.
Inside your Sunrise
Update this morning, you should find a sheet that looks like this.
Those are your message notes, and you can use them to follow along and
fill in the blanks as we go. And I want to start with these verses…
1 Corinthians 10:12-13 (NLT)
you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The
temptations in your life are no different from what others experience.
And God is faithful.
And how is God faithful? By giving us a way to tame temptation. Not to
remove it, but to overcome it.
Steps to Taming My Temptations:
Name my temptations
I’m not talking about giving them an actual name. “Hi, my name’s Greg.
This is my temptation Larry, and this is my other temptation, Larry.”
No, I’m not talking about giving your temptations names like that. I’m
talking about identifying them. I’m talking about acknowledging that
they exist. I’m talking about recognizing them and admitting that they
are there. But why would you want to do this? So you can begin to deal
Now, why would you want to deal with temptation in
the first place? I mean, why is this even important? Well, because of
the consequences of temptation. Because anytime you give into
temptation, it always leads to consequences. Consequences like
heartache… hurting others… guilt… shame… regret… And of course,
temptation always leads you away from God. And that has consequences
for this life and for the life to come.
Plus, you can learn to
tame temptation for some positive reasons. You can develop discipline
in your life, you can be more mature in your faith, you can be a model
for others, you can be healthier emotionally, spiritually, socially,
and physically. There are good reasons for you to want to tame
temptations. But you’ve got to start by naming them.
this movie Public Enemies, the main temptation was money. And maybe
some of you face that same temptation. And when you follow that
temptation, it leads to the sin of greed. Some of you may regularly
face this temptation. Others of you, though, may never be tempted by
money. I joke that I never have enough of it to be tempted by it. But
actually, for those who face this temptation, it doesn’t matter how
much money they already have. They may be rich, they may be poor, but
either they don’t have enough. That’s the nature of this temptation.
And even if you don’t face this temptation right now, that doesn’t mean
that you won’t face it if your situation changes. I think a lot of
people who have never faced this temptation before have come face to
face with it over the nine or ten months with this recession. So maybe
you are tempted by money.
Or some of you may be tempted by
titles. You want to climb that ladder and get that promotion and
achieve that title. For others of you, you couldn’t care less about
Some of you are tempted by alcohol or by cigarettes or
by some other substance that holds some kind of attraction for you. And
you use them and abuse them.
For others, that may not be a temptation you face, but maybe you’re
tempted by violence.
a variety of temptations that each of us may face. And while the
temptations I face may be different from what you face, none of these
temptations are new. They’ve all been around for a long, long time. As
we’ve already read…
1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)
The temptations in your life are no different from what others
the truth is, even though there are a lot of different temptations,
there are some that are very common… ones that everyone faces or that
most people face.
I think sexual temptation is one of those.
It’s very rampant in our society. So I think most if not all of us here
this morning face that temptation in one form or another.
whatever temptations you may face, you’ve got to name them. It could be
money, it could be titles, it could be food, it could be fame, it could
be power, it could sex… whatever it is, you’ve got to name it.
got to look inside yourself and you’ve got to ask God, “God, bring to
light whatever it is that I face… the temptation that I am most tempted
Maybe you need to pray what King David prayed in the Old
Testament. King David… we know him as a great hero of the Bible, a man
after God’s own heart, but the greatest stain on his life was when he
gave into his sexual temptation and had an affair with a married woman.
They committed adultery, and it cost them dearly. So David knew what it
was like to be tempted and he knew that there were consequences to
giving into that temptation. And so this is what he prayed…
Psalm 139:23-24 (MSG)
my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test
me, get a clear picture of what I'm about; See for yourself whether
I've done anything wrong—then guide me on the road to eternal life.
turn to your neighbour right now and tell them what your greatest
temptation is. I’m kidding, don’t do that. But recognize it for
yourself. Ask God to bring it to light.
Okay, so once I’ve identified my temptations, then I’ve got to…
Recognize the source of my temptations
a lot of people blame temptation on other people. They like to say,
“The reason I’m tempted is because so-and-so offered me this.” Or,
“It’s their fault; if only they would dress differently.” Or, “They’re
the ones who push me in this direction.” We try to pass the blame on to
Well, certainly other people can influence you to move in
the direction of your temptation. But they are not the source of that
temptation. They are not responsible for your temptation. The
temptation is already there. So what is the source?
Romans 7:23-25 (NLT)
there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This
power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a
miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is
dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ
our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s
law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.
within you and within me, we each have a sin-nature that is the source
of our temptation to do evil and that draws us away from the ways of
God. The role of the Holy Spirit in your life is to help subdue this
sin nature and overcome it and break its hold on your life. But we’re
all born with this bent or this leaning or this inclination toward
temptation and sin, and so we all battle with it.
I know we
talked about Star Trek a couple weeks ago, but I’m going to bring it up
again. Way back in the original series, there was one episode where a
transporter accident split Captain Kirk into two people… One with his
good nature, and one with his evil nature. It was actually a pretty bad
episode, not one of my favourites, but it does acknowledge that we all
have these two natures within ourselves fighting against each other.
And I think that’s true. I think that’s what Paul was writing about.
that’s your own nature. That’s inside of you. That’s one source of
temptation, and it’s constantly trying to seize control. And the very
person who claims to not have that nature within them is the very
person who is most likely to fall and to give into it.
one source… the evil nature within yourself. And you need to just
recognize that it’s there and it’s real. But there’s another source of
temptation, too, and it’s outside of yourself. It’s an invisible force
that’s working against you.
This is probably something we don’t
talk about enough here. But I believe in an invisible spiritual world.
I believe in the existence of God, and that He is all-powerful and
all-good. But I also believe there are opposing forces led by a
spiritual being that we call the Devil or Satan. In cartoons and in
movies and even TV commercials, the devil is often portrayed as being a
comical being, with red skin, a pointy-tail, and a pitchfork. But that
image that we have of the Devil really does a disservice to just how
evil and how dangerous he really is.
And he commands an army of
fallen angels or demons that are fighting against the forces of God.
It’s a losing battle, but they are doing everything they can to oppose
God and to sabotage what He is trying to do in this world. And that
includes presenting you with all kinds of temptations to draw you away
from God… away from Jesus. Satan is working against you and is trying
to take you down.
1 Peter 5:8 (NLT)
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around
like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.
actually going to be talking about this more in August as part of our
You Asked for It series, but for now let me just mention a few things.
First of all, the Devil and God are not equals. God is all-power, the
Devil is not. So it’s not like they’re equal yet opposing forces.
They’re just opposing.
And the Devil is pretty predictable in
how he works. For example, if you’re here this morning and you are not
yet a follower of Jesus, then he’s going to do whatever he can to draw
you away and to distract you and to keep you from Jesus. If you are a
Christ-follower, then he’s going to do whatever he can to weaken you
spiritually. He’s going to try to keep you from being fed spiritually
and he’s going to throw obstacles in your way to keep you from praying
and reading the Bible and he’s going to try to lure you away and entice
Have you ever noticed that on Sunday mornings everything
seems to work against you getting here? It seems to me that families
fight the most on Sunday mornings, trying to get ready and on the way
here in the car. It’s almost as if something or someone is trying to
keep you away or trying to prevent you from being engaged in what’s
going on here.
So the Devil is always going to be working
against you. He’s going to try to keep you from growing. He’s going to
try to keep you from getting involved in a LIFE Group. He’s going to
try to convince you to put off being baptized. And if he can’t keep you
from becoming a Christian, he’s going to try to keep you from becoming
a mature, fully devoted, effective Christian.
And he’s going
to constantly try to trip you up with temptations. So you have him as a
source of temptations, and you have your own nature as a source of
temptations. So what do you do about it? Well, let’s see…
Avoid the people or places that fuel my temptations
named you’re temptations and you’ve recognized the sources. Now you’ve
got a choice to make. Are you going to fuel that temptation like
pouring gasoline on a fire, or are you going to pour water on it
instead? Are you going to go to places and hang around people and put
yourself in situations that make that temptations stronger, or will it
be places, people, and situations that make the temptations weaker?
example, if your temptation is alcohol, the worst place for you to
visit is a bar. You might tell yourself you’re only going for one
drink, but you know it never stops there.
Or if pornography is a
problem for you, it’s probably not a good idea to be surfing online
late at night with no one else around.
If you’re tempted with
greed, then you’d better be avoiding the Racino and slot machines and
really any form of gambling. I think we should all avoid those things
anyway, but especially if this is an area of weakness for you, you’re
only going to make it worse. And it has spiritual consequences.
best example of this is one I’ve used before. In Genesis 39 it tells
about a man named Joseph. Joseph was working as a slave for a powerful
Egyptian named Potiphar. And Joseph was always being tempted sexually
by Potiphar’s wife. And she hit on him relentlessly day after day after
day, and she constantly tried to seduce him. Do you know what Joseph
Genesis 39:10 (NLT)
She kept putting pressure on Joseph
day after day, but he refused to sleep with her, and he kept out of her
way as much as possible.
Joseph didn’t even want to be around
her, because he knew that temptation was going to be there. So as much
as possible, he kept his distance. He couldn’t avoid her altogether,
but he did as much as he could. He knew the truth of what Paul would
write some 1300 years later…
1 Corinthians 15:33 (NLT)
…“Bad company corrupts good character.”
avoid those people, avoid those places. Hey, you know what situations
you get yourself in that make you more vulnerable. You know the places
you go, the things you do, the people you’re with. You know how tired
you get and how that lowers your defenses. It’s like going grocery
shopping when you’re hungry… not a good idea.
take you further than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to
stay, and cost you more than you want to pay. So don’t put yourself in
those situations. Build some safeguards in your life.
you know what? Even when you do this… even when you do everything you
can to avoid those people and places… you can’t always avoid them
completely. Joseph tried to avoid Potiphar’s wife as much as he could,
but he still worked for her husband and there were times he simply
couldn’t avoid her. And when that happens, here’s what we need to do…
Take God’s “out” from my temptations
God will always provide an out. You see, even when Potiphar’s wife
physically grabbed Joseph and urged him to go to bed with her, God
still provided an “out.” In fact, do you know what Joseph did? He
literally ran from the room. He didn’t stick around to show that he was
above temptation. He didn’t try to prove he could resist it. He ran
from the room. Even in that pressure filled situation, God provided
Joseph with an “out.” He provided Joseph with the opportunity to get
out of there.
You see, you always have a choice when it comes to
temptation. John Dillinger had a choice. In fact, at any time in his
life he could have resisted the temptation and taken God’s out. But he
consistently chose to obey the temptation and it led to his demise.
Earlier we took a look at part of a verse in 1 Corinthians. Let’s go
back and look at the entire verse. Read it with me…
1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)
temptations in your life are no different from what others experience.
And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than
you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that
you can endure.
Temptation never takes away your free will. You
always have a choice. You have the choice to leave, you have the choice
to stop, you have the choice to say no, you have the choice to flee…
you always have a choice. God always gives you an “out.”
listen, God is never surprised by temptation. He’s always aware of it.
So when you’re tempted, don’t be too embarrassed to pray about it. God
knows about it anyway, so ask Him for help in finding the “out.”
besides, Jesus Himself was tempted. That’s why we know temptation
itself is not sin. Jesus was tempted but He never sinned. You don’t sin
until you give into the temptation. So when you’re tempted, pray about
it and ask God for strength and for wisdom and for guidance to find the
Hebrews 2:18 (NIV)
Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help
those who are being tempted.
the word “help”. Jesus Himself was tempted and He understands
temptation. So he’s there not to condemn you or to embarrass you or to
scoff at you… He’s there to help you.
Focus more on God than on my temptations
what you focus on longest becomes strongest. In other words, if you
continue to focus on the temptation, then you’re giving that temptation
more power in your life. But if you focus on God and on His Word and
what He’s doing in your life, then His influence in your life becomes
Philippians 4:8 (NLT)
Fix your thoughts on what is
true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.
Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
as an example, let’s talk about a very common temptation today…
pornography. If you’re tempted by pornography, and you’re always
thinking about buying those magazines or going to those websites, and
your thinking about ways to maneuver around the safeguards on your
computer, and you’re not even looking at pornography but you’re
thinking about it… then you’re feeding that temptation and it’s getting
So what you want to do is, as soon as you recognize
the temptation is there, catch yourself and begin to shift your
attention toward God. Instead of looking at pictures or thinking about
them and filling your mind with them, go to God’s Word and fill your
mind with Scripture instead. Or you could start praying, or you could
call a Christian friend. Or try memorizing some verses so you can
internalize the Word of God.
Psalm 119:11 (NLT)
I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
see, you always have a choice of focus. If your focus is on the
temptation, then it’s going to lead you into sin. But if your focus is
on God, then He’s going to give you the strength to overcome. The
choice is up to you.
So, maybe today is the day for you to
refocus your life. Maybe you have been a Christ-follower, but your eyes
have gotten off of Him and onto someone else or something else. Maybe
today you just want to refocus yourself.
Or maybe for the first
time today, you want to turn your heart and your attention to Jesus
Christ. Maybe you’ve never done this before, but you can turn your
focus to Jesus Christ and follow Him as the leader in your life. Why
not today? Why not put your full faith in Him? You place your faith in
Him, and in return He gives you forgiveness, He gives you life, He
gives you purpose, He gives you Heaven. You can do that right now.
pray together. You can bow your heads, and close your eyes, and just
silently, why not pray like this… using your own words…
Let Jesus know you want to focus on Him
Tell Him you want Him at the centre of your life
Admit you can’t do it on your own
Acknowledge to Him the temptations you tend to face most often
Invite Him to help you with those temptations
Ask Him to help you as you limit the influence those temptations have
in your life
Ask for His power to overcome temptation
If you’ve never turned your life over to Jesus Christ, you can just
pray something like this…
I’m placing my full faith in you. I’m choosing this morning to follow
you. Be my leader and my Lord. And show me what it means to follow You
from this point forward.”
[This message drew heavily on resources
by Nelson Searcy]