Is Scripture a Reality to You in a Time of Temptation?

Category: Questions & Answers

It’s possible to be stirred up and excited when talking to others about spiritual things, but are these matters real and deep enough to where they keep you from falling under temptation? How can a Christian draw out transforming power and strength from the Scriptures to hold them up in resisting temptation?


"I was reading through John 4, and during Jesus' discourse with the Samaritan woman where He says, "he who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water I will give him will never thirst." I can read that and believe it and so clearly affirm it. I can have a conversation with another believer about it and its implications and be stirred up full of desire to live in such a way where we aren't drinking from the broken cisterns of the world and are satisfied in Christ and the living waters that come only from Him. But then, I can go home and in a moment I find myself struggling with temptation and sin and feeling overwhelmed even in things that can be so trivial. My question is about how can a Christian draw out this transforming power and strength from the Scriptures?" He says, "It's one thing to read your Bible, but it's another thing entirely to lay hold of a text like that in John 4 and wield it powerfully and draw out strength in the time of trial and apply it to your life in such a transforming way." Tim: What do you say? I mean, here's the thing, you get in a conversation with somebody. You get all excited. You're talking. These doctrines - they excite you. Why do they excite you? That might be worth asking - why you get excited. Is it an intellectual exercise? Is it that you've learned some new thing? Then you go home and you fall into all sorts of temptations. Now, I might read between the lines, but I suspect they're sexual temptations and probably computer-related temptations. There's failure and there's falls, and it's like how can this be? Now you know, I heard a guy one time say - preacher, old preacher - what was his name? He's that guy that preached in Corpus Christi for years. He was on the radio. Arminian. But I heard him say one time - he'd be on the radio at lunch when I worked as an engineer. I heard him say one time, if a man goes out and he prays and he comes in and he barks at his wife, what does it say about his praying? I guess the same kind of thing. What do you say if you have a conversation and you're talking about John 4 and the water - the living water - and you get all stirred up and you go home and you watch Internet pornography? It's kind of the same thing. (from the room) It seems like it's selfish. (unintelligible) Tim: Like the previous guy said, there's a disconnect somewhere. So, what's the magic formula? Is there one? (from the room) Is he praying for power, for strength from the Lord? Is he praying for deliverance and protection from temptation? Tim: I don't know. But here's the thing, let's not complicate this too much. Were you going to say something? (from the room) I was going to say the first thing that popped in my mind - the most exciting aspect of his walk should not be happening outside the doors with somebody else in a conversation. But it should be happening in his home personally with Christ Himself. And that's what struck me. Because for me, it's going out of the house. That's where I encounter the world. And in the home is where the strength and the life and the truth and the foundation should be. Tim: (incomplete thought) What is it that gets us stirred up when we talk to somebody else? Maybe you're talking to somebody exciting? Somebody's very exciting to talk to. They can make it exciting. But I would just say this, I don't think we want to make this overly complicated. You say, what do you mean? Well, think with me about Scripture. The psalmist says, "Thy Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against You." What is that assuming? It's assuming that I have read God's Word and I have sufficiently meditated on that Word or memorized that Word so that I can recall it when its needed. You know what that's saying? That's saying that when I'm tempted to sin against Him, I have His Word in my heart. I access it. And there's something in the truth of that Word that I have hid in my heart that when I think on it, there's such thought processes happening that I make a conscious decision not to sin based on that reality from God's Word. And you see, there's a disconnect here. Because if I go and talk and get excited about John 4, but here I've got the mouse in my hand or whatever it is, and now I'm tempted - do you see where the breakdown is? If I'm not able to produce the very Word right at that moment, what's it saying? What's happening? Where's the disconnect? Well, I don't sufficiently have that Word at my disposal. Or, I don't sufficiently believe that Word that I have at my disposal. You see, the truths of God's Word - they're falling at that point. You know, I often think - we're going to get to this - Ephesians 4. Have you ever thought about just how simplistic it is for Paul to say, any of you thieves? Quit it. Don't steal anymore. And he encourages the opposite. Work with your hands. Be productive. Not just so that you can be greedy, but so that you have something to give to those who are in need. But isn't that amazing? Just stop. Not: Oh, there's this deep, mystical formula. Listen, if you are regularly falling into sin, the reality is this, you're not applying God's Word. You either don't know it, you know it and don't believe it, or you know it and you believe it, but you willfully are choosing sin over that. I mean, that's what's happening. It's not a super-complicated formula. Think about this. I did a series on self-cleansing several years back. It primarily came from this text out of 2 Corinthians 7:1. It's interesting at the end of 1 Corinthians 6, Paul is giving these promises. Just promises about God being our Father; we belong to Him. And he says this, "Since we have these promises, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God." Now think with me there. What's Paul saying? You ought to be able to think on the promises of Scripture, and not fall into defiling activities. What does Scripture say? We are to be renewing our minds. And what are we doing as we're renewing our minds? We're figuring out what God's will is. You know, you come to Scripture. You find out what God's will is and you do it. And the thing is, as a Christian, we hunger and thirst after righteousness. There is a hunger. There is a hunger to do His will. There's a hunger to please Him. There's a hunger after what's good and righteous. And so, there's a huge disconnect if we find that in the moment of temptation, God's Word just isn't there. My mind doesn't go to it. You know, if you get there in front of the computer, and it's just like: Nope, I don't even want to think about it. I don't want to think about this. I don't want to think about what God says. See, that's not how I live my life. I'm studying the Word not just so I can get lathered up and all excited when I'm talking to you about it. I'm reading it and I'm trying to hide it away in my mind, in my conscience, so that as I'm going through life and there's something, I'm trying to evaluate everything through the filter of God's Word. And it's like: God doesn't like this. And this will not go well. And this will grieve the Spirit. And I will suffer for it. This is not good. You know, you convince yourself of that, that this is not good. I was just talking to a brother right before our study tonight, and he was telling me, you know I've been in some hard places. And he said there was a point in his life when he fell and he said there was just such darkness. And he said it was a battle. He talked about scratching and clawing to get his way out of that darkness. And he said he's in the light now. And he said he feels closer to God than he's ever felt, and the last thing he would want to do is go down that road into sin that would in any way harm that or take it away. And see, if these realities of Scripture: don't grieve the Spirit. You've been sealed by Him. Don't grieve Him. If you recognize, my sin is going to grieve the Lord. My sin is going to take me out of fellowship with the Lord. My sin is going to impact my prayer life. My sin - it's going to hold me back. It's going to weigh me down. It's going to make me less productive. I'm not going to be the vessel fit for the Master's use. It's going to pollute me. It's a defilement. Sin never does good. It never helps you. It never makes you better. It doesn't. It doesn't make you stronger. It doesn't make you run better. It doesn't make you more Christlike. It isn't. It's bad all the time. And if you've got enough Scripture packed away in your heart that you know that's true and you're confronted by that when you're making decisions - I recognize sometimes we're grabbed immediately by temptations, and we get swept away. I recognize those kind of things happen. Scripture says in Psalm 37, "The law of his God is in his heart. His steps do not slip." Why? Because the law's in his heart. It gives firmness to your step. I guess before I move on to the last one if I even get there, I would just say this. One of the thoughts that just came when I was thinking: what do you say to somebody like this? I got to thinking about the devil. We know that the devil snatches the seed. And look, the devil is a seed-snatcher. And he will seek to snatch it from the true Christian just as well as from the lost person. And I would say this, don't lose the Word of God. Don't go sit and read three chapters out of your Bible and then listen to garbage music, garbage TV, garbage Internet use, and social media - don't do that. It's like taking a bunch of seed and you've just thrown it there, and you want to see fruit come from it, and you purposely walk out to where all the ravens are. Just like daring them to take it all away. Don't do that. I mean, you hear the Word of God preached, I know - our church breaks out into immediate fellowship, but there can be a place to get out, get away. I mean, I felt that at the conference when Geoffrey Thomas preached. I just wanted to run away and just go be alone. Why? You just want it to soak in. I mean, don't throw away the Word of God. We're trying to cleanse. It's kind of like taking soap and water, and you're trying to clean something, and then throw a bunch of mud on it. It's counterproductive. Don't do that. If you're going to hide Scripture, do it effectually. Do it in such a way that it's readily retained and readily accessible. (Incomplete thought) Don't compartmentalize your life. What do I mean by that? Well, I've got to read my Bible. But now, okay, I'm done with that. It's kind of like the person that just splits up their week. Sunday mornings - religious. The rest of the week, I'm a pagan. But see, we can divide our days up like that too. We've got our little segment of prayer there, and we've got our Bible reading. We've got that done. Now I can go gossip with the people at work. Don't do that. Listen, we're Christians. Live Christian lives 24/7. Let Scripture permeate 24/7. Don't shut down. If you're using your Christian liberty and it's like yeah, I feel like I can take rest and I can camp out with my family, and I can watch Little House on the Prairie - I only say that because my daughters had that on last night. I mean, look, assess it. After you watch three shows of Little House on the Prairie, are you messed up? Does it pollute you? Then don't do it. I mean think, think, think. We're to be renewing our minds. What is God's will? Run everything through that filter. Through God's will; through God's will; through God's will. What's pulling me away? What grabs my heart? So that my mind goes off it? What are the idols? What are the things in life? You know, somebody could watch a football game, and it's like, they're thinking about the Lord through it. Now they might focus on the game a little bit, but they're feeling like I need to go outside and pray. There's some people: how could you ever go outside and pray during a football game? What? Are you crazy? You're so excited. You're so into it. And then all you can think about is football stats and everything for the next week. You need to stop. Listen, Paul said, we've got liberty, but you don't let anything bring you under its power. You need to live your life that way. If you're living your life where it's like all you can think about is - whatever it is, put it in there, but if it's distracting, we need to live - and it doesn't mean that every song you listen to has to be specifically be the Christian song. But, it certainly doesn't hurt if you're singing Christian songs all through the day, and you're reciting biblical truths. Look, the more you can permeate your mind - I recognize, we don't read and we don't pray every hour of our waking day. I recognize we have lives to live where we have to work and we go to school and we shop and we get gas. I recognize that. But listen, if you're storing up and treasuring that Word in your heart, it's there when you're at the gas station. It's there at HEB, and it's there in the classroom. It's there in the workplace, and it's there at home when you're taking care of the kids. And it's there and it's permeating, and it's regulating, and it's guiding. The Word is a lamp unto my feet. You imagine walking around, pitch black outside. A lamp to your feet - it means I can see. I can see where I should put my next step. Notice it's a lamp to your feet, not just a lamp to your eyes; not just a lamp to your body. It's a lamp for your feet. What does that mean? It's showing you the ground - where to step, where to avoid. Fill your heads with it. Fill your minds with it. Don't just put it on the walls because that's the thing to do. Memorize it. Hide it. (From the room) Brother, can I read this verse in Job? In Job 23:11-12, Job says, "My foot has held fast to His steps. I have kept His way and have not turned aside. I have not departed from the commandments of His lips. I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my portion of food." Tim: Yep, and you have the New Testament version, "Man shall not live by bread alone..." Well, actually that comes from the Old as well, but it's recited by our Lord in His temptation. Man doesn't live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Remember that. The thing is Scripture is putting the Word of God in a more important category than food. We don't do well without food. We're constantly thinking about it. We need it. The thing that you don't want to do - what is it that kills physical appetite? Have you ever had times in your life when you're not hungry? Never? I mean you get sick? You know if you have a child and they're not hungry, that's bad. Like just recently this family, their little Abigail - she was in bad shape. They had her in ICU and transfusions. She wouldn't eat. But you know, that's not healthy. And when you get Christians and they don't eat, that's bad. That's your sustenance. That's your life. The Word. The Word. We had a sister here beforehand, she was talking about coming to our church, or coming to the conference, and she was making comments about how Scripture seems to be the focus. It's got to be. It's our only source of truth. There's no other source of truth in this world. This is it. God has given us one place. This is the only place we know for certain that's true. Even the stacks of books and stuff - yeah, they're written about the Bible, but you don't know if they're always right and the way men are interpreting it is always right. But here, we have a sure foundation. I mean, look, this is a treasure. People have died over it. Tyndale - his blood ran for trying to put this in our language. Many people have given their life for this book. There's no more precious book because of the truths held in it. These are the truths of life. There's places in the world where they have one Bible or a part of one Bible for a whole church. Most of you probably have multiple Bibles in your home. Don't take this for granted. Well, I think we'll call it a night right there. Let's pray. Father, we thank You that You've given us the Word. Lord, help us. Help us. We never want to take it for granted. Lord, open it up. May it become more alive, more real, more gripping. Lord, give us eyes to see. Give us hearts to dig. I pray for these brothers and sisters in this room that they would hide and continue to hide the Word of God in their hearts; that they would not be hearers only, but doers. Hearers and doers. Lest they deceive themselves. Lord, we thank You for this treasure that You've committed to us. We thank You in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.