#2 “Journey of Faith” Series
TEXT: Gen. 12:10-20 1 Cor. 10:13 1 Pet. 5:6-10
INTRO: Temptation is something that we will have to deal with the rest of our life, and it has the potential of destroying us if we don’t master it.
ILLUS: In the spring when the ice breaks up a very unusual sight can be seen on the great Niagara Falls. Huge numbers of dead fish can be seen floating, encased in chunks of ice from the winter time ... the sea gulls are everywhere landing on the chunks of ice and picking at it with their beaks until they get the frozen treat they seek. Just as the floating ice chunks reach the edge of the falls the gulls would spread their wings and fly away from the danger of going over with the pieces of ice. If one watches however you would be shocked by the sight of some gulls that have stayed too long on the piece of ice, their feet melted into the ice and refroze in it ... they too go over to their destruction for having dwelt too long of these frozen desserts! – Source Unknown
Temptation and sin are like this! Sin can be so appealing, it can look like fun and even be attractive ... but when the time comes to flee and we have stayed too long we will find ourselves going over the edge to our destruction ... death results instead of life!
PROP. SENT: The biggest challenge of your life will be how you handle temptations! Those who succeed at refusing temptations to sin will be those who will live as victorious Christians ... it won't matter how well you can fly, just like those gulls ... when you dwell on temptation you're going to be frozen to it! FLEEING is sometimes the best solution for fighting temptation!
TRANS. SENT: Charles Spurgeon the great preacher once said this about temptation: “Learn to say 'no' … it will be of more use to you than to be able to read Latin!”
I. TEMPTATION TO STRAY! Gen. 12:10-11; 1 Cor. 10:13; 1 Pet. 5:6-10
A. Consequences Gen. 12:10; 1 Cor. 10:13; 1 Pet. 5:6-10
1. All Christians are tempted ... but not ALL Christians are successful at overcoming or fighting against temptations!
2. There is not a single Christian anywhere on this planet that will not be faced with numerous temptations in their lifetime!
3. There are also common experiences for those who overcome and those who give in to temptations!
a. The overcomer finds greater spiritual strength and resolve.
b. Those who give in find the same bitter experiences of loss and death!
c. Temptation and the results or consequences are no respecter of persons!
4. The poor and the rich man who give in to the same temptation will experience the same types of consequences just as those gulls, old or young, strong or weak, large or small … all go to their grave if they went over the falls by being frozen into those pieces of ice from dwelling on them too long!
ILLUS: You know the old story of how to boil a frog. You don't put him in a pot of boiling water. You drop him in the boiling water and he'll jump out before he's injured. So you put him in a pot of cold water, and he's perfectly comfortable. Then you put him on the stove, and little by little the water gets warm. It's very pleasant at first. Then it gets to Jacuzzi level, and he begins to be a little alarmed. Finally, when it's boiling, it's too late. Christians are like that, aren't we? We get into the world and it's oh so pleasant at first. And then it gets a little warmer and it's pleasanter yet. And one day we realize the danger: "This is going to kill me, and I haven't the strength to get out!" -- Donald Hoke, "The Stockholm Syndrome," Preaching Today, Tape 30.
5. This is the one aspect of sin most American Christians take too lightly these days ... THERE ARE REAL AND SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES for giving in to sin and temptation!
6. Satan has one single obsession ... to destroy God's children no matter how he can do it! ALL BELIEVERS ARE CANDIDATES FOR TEMPTATIONS!
7. For Abram ... his earlier “delay,” (remember "TERAH" means "delay" in Hebrew) now brought him to the Promise Land in a year that should have happened earlier ... his earlier delay therefore has created present consequences ... FAMINE HITS … and he is here now during it!
B. Clever!! Gen. 12:11ff
1. Abram was about to make a second mistake on his already earlier one! The delay of leaving Haran now brought him to this land during a famine, one he surely would have missed had he arrived in this land during the time he was supposed to have left Ur ... his DELAY brought him a new temptation ... to solve his problem and fear by shear human wisdom instead of trusting God to provide!
2. This side trip to
3. These stages would later prepare him for greater temptations!
4. Instead of turning to God in his need during famine ... he turns to Egypt which was in the natural nearly famine free due to the waters of the Nile -- this kept fertile lands along its banks!
a. Turning to Egypt instead of God was going to be costly, almost cost him his life and his marriage!
ILLUS: It has been said that rivers and men become crooked by following the line of least resistance. -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).
b. Sin has real price tags on it! Don't kid yourself when Satan advertises “FREE FOR THE TAKING ... YOU MAY HAVE ALREADY WON!”
c. The only thing truly free in this universe is God's gift of GRACE!
5. While Abram's logic is flawless ... his character at this point wasn't!
II. TEMPTATION OF SELF! Gen. 12:12-13
A. Carnal! Gen. 12:12
1. Abram looks upon logic as his savior in this situation!
2. The fact that Sarai was a knockout at 65 indicates the natural beauty of a lady who knew how to take care of herself.
3. Of course since they lived at the time to around the age of 175 ... her 65 then was probably like our 35-40 now.
4. Abram’s scheme and solution to this potentially life threatening situation is to do whatever he has to do to save HIMSELF!
a. This is a good indicator that we are on the wrong path to a solution for temptation!
b. The goal of a temptation is not to save self ... but to show CHRIST-LIKE-NESS even to the point of self sacrifice!
c. Setting "self" as the chief importance of all things only makes "SELF" our own God!
5. Abram's carnal approach to a difficult situation would only bring grief to his own life ... and even to those around him, INCLUDING STRANGERS & FAMILY!
6. How comforting this solution must have seemed to Sarai! He was asking her to not only lie about who she was ... but to allow herself to be placed into a situation where she may easily be raped later ... all to save his own skin!
7. Some things are more important that just saving our own skin! There are values to live for and even to die for!
ILLUS: Our train rolled into Kansas City at 1 a.m. Dim lights came on to help the new passengers find seats. Many of us who had been riding home through the night had spread out to occupy two seats apiece.
An attractive woman made her way down the aisle with her bags. She was looking from side to side, hoping for someone to move. I turned toward the window and watched her in the reflection.
"May I sit here?" she asked.
"Sure." I looked up and smiled as I moved over. She threw her things into the rack above and sat down. Near the back of the car, only one of my colleagues had managed to keep his extra space. Lucky guy.
"My name's Kathy. What's yours?"
I told her, and we talked quietly for a while. She was on her way to visit her mother after some rough spats with her husband. I was eager to get home and see my wife and family after an exhausting church leadership conference.
Soon we had both slipped off to sleep. At some later stop, I awoke to find Kathy cuddled next to me. "You don't mind if I lean my head on your shoulder, do you?" she said sleepily.
"Uh, no. I guess not." She was just tired ... wasn't she? And besides, I had a wonderful wife and a great marriage and would be home before noon. I looked around to see if anyone was noticing.
She cuddled closer. I wondered what she really wanted -- or would allow. At first I couldn't believe what I was thinking. But then it was her fault. She knew exactly what she was doing. I might as well enjoy it. After all, what could happen on a train full of people? Nothing, nothing really ... except what Jesus warned about happening in the heart.
Finally, I excused myself so I could go back and talk with my friend -- the "lucky" one with the empty seat beside him. Or maybe I was the lucky one since that extra space was still available. I only knew I didn't need to stay where I had been.
Perhaps it wasn't luck at all. Maybe that was the "way of escape" that 1 Corinthians 10:13 talks about, which God had provided from the beginning. -- Dave Jackson in Leadership, Vol. 9, no. 1.
8. It is easy to know when a nation is doomed to collapse ... these high values are gone and everyman is looking out for #1 -- himself!
a. No matter whom you hurt ... save yourself!
b. This is a person or country that is fast approaching collapse!
c. Jesus gave the best example of NOT saving self and in the process He made a way of salvation for us!
d. "SELF" is not the highest goal of life ... the denial of "SELF" should be!
B. Capitulate! Gen. 12:13
1. Abram capitulates to his carnal nature, he asks Sarai to endanger her own life and their marriage to protect his own life!
2. He knows this might not only spare his life but result in riches for him, he was giving in to the logic of the moment because of fear!
a. He might have thought, "What will I gain by dying?"
b. Or ... "God promised me the Promise Land ... this must be ok because it will keep me alive so later God's Will can be done!"
c. There is a temptation by some today to say, "Even if I do commit sin, God can use it later as a great testimony to help others ... so it might be helpful in the end!"
d. Paul probably answers this type of logic the best in Rom 6:15 “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!”
3. Logic like this is NOT FROM GOD ... but it sure sounded good!
4. Let's be honest ... Satan is successful only because he is good at deception!
a. Like the logic I’ve heard from some psychologists who say an affair can often improve a marriage!
b. We are living in the days of great lies ... the prophets of old said such would exist in the last days, "DECEIVED AND BEING DECEIVED..."
c. This is a time when believers need to be sure of their faith and STAND IN IT!
ILLUS: People do
not decide to be drunkards, drug addicts, prostitutes, murderers, or thieves,
but they pitch their tent toward
d. Sometimes the best LOGIC when tempted is to RUN! FLEE!!!!!!
(1. 1 Cor. “Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.”
(2. 1 Cor. “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.”
(3. 1 Tim. 6:10-11 “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.”
5. Your success as a Christian will be how well you stand up against temptations!
III. TEMPTATION OF STUFF! Gen. 12:14-20
A. Culture! Gen. 12:14-15
1. The reason Abram came up with
this scheme was because he was familiar with the culture of Egypt and so he
argued with himself, "WHEN IN ROME, DO AS THE ROMANS DO!" (Or
a. You can hear Christians talk like this today ... "well, everybody was doing it ... I didn't want to lose their friendship or I would never have had the opportunity later to share Christ with them, so we just did what they did!"
b. This is not a time to flow with culture ... but to stand up with CHARACTER!
2. We are not of this earth, we are not to accomplish Christ's goals by earthly means!
3. Just because some do something doesn't mean you should, even if there are some Christians you know that participate in questionable activities doesn't excuse your participation!
4. This is the moment to SHOW CHARACTER, NOT CULTURE!
5. Abram knew this plan would result in SARAI'S possible situation of becoming a part of Pharaoh's harem.
6. And after all ... IT WASN'T A COMPLETE LIE, SHE WAS HIS HALF SISTER!
a. Boy is this good! He could lie while telling the truth!
b. This kind of logic defies God's logic but flows smoothly with Satan's!
c. Only carnal logic could possibly say, “YOU CAN LIE BY USING SOME TRUTH or AS LONG AS I TELL SOME TRUTH IT CAN'T BE COMPLETELY A LIE!”
7. When any deception is involved to save your own skin you should know you are on shaky ground!
ILLUS: In one scene of the popular movie Robin Hood, The Prince of Thieves, Kevin Costner as Robin comes to a young man taking aim at an archery target. Robin asks, "Can you shoot amid distractions?"
Just before the boy releases the string, Robin pokes his ear with the feathers of an arrow. The boy's shot flies high by several feet.
After the laughter of those watching dies down, Maid Marian, standing behind the boy, asks Robin, "Can you?"
Robin Hood raises his bow and takes aim. Just as he releases the arrow, Maid Marian leans beside him and flirtatiously blows into his face. The arrow misses the target, glances off the tree behind it, and scarcely misses a bystander.
Distractions come in all types, and whether they are painful or pleasant, the result is the same: we miss God's mark. -- Penney F. Nichols in Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Baker), from the editors of Leadership.
8. Perhaps ole Abe thought, "Well, by doing this I will become rich ... perhaps I can buy the entire Promise Land when I get back ... obviously this is how God is going to help me get it mortgage free!” This certainly would be logical!
a. Like all those Christians who gamble the lottery promising God that they will pay off the Church's mortgage if they win!
b. God is more concerned over your faithful and cheerful giving in tithes now than what you might do by winning a lottery!
B. Compensation! Gen. 12:16
1. Sure enough, plan "B" works! (Plan "A" is always, TRUST GOD!) Plan "B" is outfox the fox!
ILLUS: At an evangelistic meeting someone was converted. The next day one who was at the meeting saw the newly converted man put his hand into a chicken coop. "Say," called the older Christian, "I thought you were converted last night." Of course, it was evident that he was about to steal a chicken. His answer was, "I was converted sir, certainly I am, but I am just trying out the strength of my resolution." The wise reply of the older Christian was, "It is safer to fight Satan on your own ground than on his." – Source Unknown
2. Abram becomes a rich man ... while Sarai waits her turn in Pharaoh's harem to have a date with the Egyptian leader – and thus lose her marital sexual sanctity thanks to Abram’s scheme!
3. All the servants, gold, camels, or wealth can not replace a loving healthy marriage!
a. These "things" would not solve Abram's woes ... they would increase them!
b. Too many people today are trading their marriages for what they consider worthy compensation only to find that these "THINGS" mean nothing once they have them, they are just as empty when we have them as we were before we had them!
4. Don't buy into the world's mentality that HAPPINESS comes from things!
5. You can be dirt poor and be happy or filthy rich and be miserable!
a. Abram now has great wealth ... but no wife!
b. She is about to become another man's wife by virtue of his half lie!
C. Caught! Gen. 12:17-20
1. Fortunately God cares too much about us to allow us to get away with sin!
a. Yes, in God's love God exposes Abram's lie and old Abe has to experience humiliation!
b. You know why God allows pain to come our way when we sin ... because He loves us too much to let us go and not learn ... the pain is to humble us so we have no choice but to trust in Him again!
2. Now comes the tough part, Abram's sin brings pain not only to his wife and himself, but to those who are innocent by-standers!
a. Pharaoh is struck by horrible diseases, and his entire household!
b. Our sins do affect other people ... often bringing pain on innocent people!
c. Satan likes to make saints believe they can sin and no one will be hurt!
3. So obvious is this plague on the entire household of Pharaoh that even he can figure out something unusual had just happened ... and the timing was oddly enough just when Abram showed up and Sarai became a part of his harem!
a. This is the terrible side of sin ... we can see this today with aids, there really are innocent people suffering because of the sin of some others who are spreading a horrible plague around from their loose lifestyles!
b. Homosexuals or heterosexuals ... it spreads principally through sex, mostly from multiple partners!
c. This is truly one of the rare times when a disease could be wiped out through sexual faithfulness in marriage as God intended!
d. They say there is no cure ... that is a lie, the cure is STAY FAITHFUL!
4. Abram's sin is exposed, as most sin usually is as time goes on!
a. Pharaoh turns out to be more valiant than Abram here; he quickly tells Abram to take his wife and keep the gifts and LEAVE!
b. His nobility however probably was helped along by a good dose of fear!
c. Usually the husband was killed to keep the beautiful lady, but who would want her if it meant the whole family was to be plagued by rampant diseases!
5. Pharaoh hurries Abram on his way toward the land God told Abram to go to in the first place!
6. Finally, Abram is back on course ... but only after being caught in his own folly!
7. Abram does learn from this experience however, later he refuses the wealth of Sodom’s kings who he later delivers ... no more seeking wealth from the hands of the ungodly for him! (At least for now!)
ILLUS: One of the ancient fathers, we are told, had lived with a woman before his conversion, and a short time after she accosted him as usual. Knowing how likely he was to fall into sin, he ran away with all his might, and she ran after him, crying, "Why do you run away? It's only me."
He answered, "I run away because I am not myself. I am a new man." -- Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Quotable Spurgeon, (Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, Inc, 1990)
8. The experience was humbling; this is what brought him back on course!
a. If the experience of being caught in sin does not humble us we will only repeat the error again!
b. It is a terrible thing to be caught by sin.
c. Satan is an old snake ... snakes are unique creatures, they have an ability of mesmerizing their prey so that they simply stay in place too long ... then they strike quickly ... and once caught in a snake’s mouth there is no way out! The fangs are tilted back at an angle so that every wiggle or move, any attempt to get out only causes us to move deeper into the snake's mouth until we are consumed ... in fact in nature when two snakes strike a meal at the same time from opposites sides one of them will have to eat the other because once they both have bitten into the prey and there is no way to let go; as they both swallow they move toward each other until one of them MUST be eaten by the other or they both would die! They never miss on a strike because beneath their eyes they have heat sensors that let them zero in on the heat of the victim ... that old serpent is still that way... he knows OUR "hot" spots and if we stand still long enough when he stares us down, we will become swallowed up and devoured by our inaction to flee in time from the tempter!
9. God in His great love for Abram gets him back on course, but there were lessons to remember, pain inflicted, loss of marriage security for a time, and finally great humbling before he got back on course ... costly lessons for what he got in return!
a. Ironically all his wealth never bought him an inch of land ... only God's promise fulfilled that, the only piece of property Abram ever bought with his Egyptian wealth was a grave side mountain called MACHPELAH from the Hittites (Gen. 23) for 400 shekels of silver ... an unbelievable price, way too high but which Abram paid for out of his grief ... he was taken advantage of!
b. So some of this wealth was used to buy a place of death! Such is sin when we yield ourselves to it!
CONCLUSION: Mastering temptation means control over your life! “Better a … man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.” (Prov. 16:32). Much of the "dross" in our lives can be avoided by not yielding to temptation! Sin exacts a high price ... and leaves us poorer as a result! We CAN avoid much of the agony of sin by simply fleeing from temptation ... learning to say NO!