We continue with the sermon series ‘People who have encountered Jesus’, with preacher from Gareth Cheesman and our (virtual) service led by Beverley Sills.
This Service also includes Communion.
What is temptation, something that sacrifices our relationship with God for earthly gain.
What was Jesus tempted with? How may we experience these temptations?
– Comfort and convenience
– Testing God and expecting safety
– Power over others
Responding to temptation
Jesus did not blame himself. When we blame ourselves for simply experiencing temptations we can get into a spiral of shame pulling us away from God. We risk allowing temptations to be a wedge between us and God regardless of how we react to the temptation itself.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2
Jesus did not the blame the objects of his temptation. When we do this we risk externalising the temptation, blaming others and expecting people to change for our convenience. Instead we need to recognise that the temptation is something we are experiencing and something we need to respond to ourselves. Blaming others for the temptation we experience can lead us to treat people unjustly.
Jesus responded by drawing on his relationship with God, expressed by use of scripture.
- ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’
- ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’
- ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’
Scriptures that all say something about how we should relate to God. Relying on God, not testing God, worshiping God and serving him. We need to draw near to God, responding to temptation from that relationship with the word of God as our first line of response.
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:7-8
How is God asking you to draw near today? (Prayer, reading the Bible, sung worship, evangelism etc)
Finally we notice that Jesus did not keep his temptation a secret but shared it with at least the author of the Gospel, if not more people. Hidden temptation can fester, a growing wound that pulls us away from God. Which Christians in our life can we reach out to when we experience temptation? How can we take the sting of shame out of temptation so we can all draw ever closer to God?
Digger deeper questions
- In what ways are Christian tempted to compromise their relationship with God for the benefit of convenient comfort?
- What privileges do you hold in our unjust society? (money, class, race, education, gender, able bodied etc) How do you use the power this privilege comes with?
- Are you tempted to use (and maybe maintain) the power you have to make your life safer and more comfortable? How did Jesus choose to use his privilege and power? Philippians 2:5-8
- How do we find the balance between being convicted to change our behaviour to be better in line with God’s purpose and not wallowing in shame? What can help us recognise when we are being convicted to change and when we are allowing shame to distance us from God?
- In what ways do we see people blaming others for the temptations they are facing? Why do we try and abdicate responsibility and blame others? Does this behaviour reflect power structures and hierarchies in society and community?
- Which scriptures do you find most useful in responding to temptation? How do we keep the word of God on the tip of our tongues?
- Reading James 1:9-11 we hear how earthly privilege and power, in this case being rich, is temporary and fleeting. Immediately, James goes on in verses 12-16 to start talking about temptation. How frequently are the temptation we face made possible because of the privileges we have?
- How do we build ourselves as a Christian community that supports all of us to share with each other the temptations we experience?
Sermon Title: Temptation
Bible Reading: Matthew 4:1-11
Preacher: Gareth Cheesman
Worship Leader: Beverley Sills