Temptations To Sin

Temptation has been a part of this world from the beginning. Adam and Eve were tempted in the garden which led to sinning against God. All men face temptation in some form or another. John wrote in 1 John 2:16, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” The world we live in is troubled by temptation and sin.

But where does this temptation come from? There are only two forces in the world: Good and evil. James tells where temptations come from (James 1:13-15). The one behind temptation is Satan. And he is always seeking opportunity to tempt us with something (cf. Luke 4:13).

But we do not have to succumb to temptation. We can overcome it by choosing to follow God and seeking His help. Paul tells us, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). There is no “I couldn’t help it” or “the devil made me do it.” Giving in to temptation is a choice. And if we want to please God and not sin, then we will choose not to give in to temptation.

In our battle against temptation and sin, Jesus gives us two serious warnings that we need to be always mindful of.

1) “Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!” (Matthew 18:7). We must be sure we are not causing others to be tempted to sin. Because of such, we need to be very mindful of how we dress, our speech and our conduct.

2) “If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire. If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell” (Matthew 18:8-9).

What was Jesus emphasizing by using such a strong illustration? I believe He was stressing the fact that we need to do whatever it takes to remove anything from our lives that is a temptation for us and will cause us to sin. Each of us must fill in the blank for ourselves of what it is that we need to get rid of seeing that we all have different temptations. Maybe it’s certain shows that are on TV. Maybe it’s the time you spend online which lures you in to viewing things you shouldn’t. Maybe it’s the people you are currently spending time with. The list could go on. The answer is this: find out what tempts you and then do everything you can to keep it away from you. Remember the words of 1 John 2:17, “The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” If we continue to give in to temptations, we will be destroyed like the world. But if we follow God and reject the temptations of this world, we will live on in eternity with God in Heaven. We must ask ourselves which is worth more: the fleeting pleasures of sin or the eternal blessings of God. When in doubt, look to the example of Moses who choose “…to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin….” (Hebrews 11:24-26).

The Church Is the Kingdom

We have heard a lot about the kingdom and the church over the years. The thoughts and teaching have ranged from “the church is a substitute for the kingdom” to “the kingdom is more comprehensive than the church” These have all been espoused in one form or another by many “learned men.” Yet, we need to look at God’s word to find the answer to the questions surrounding the church and the kingdom.

The Essential Elements of a Kingdom

Every entity has certain elements that are essential to the entity. If you remove any of these elements, the entity ceases to exist. But on the other side those same elements that make up the entity can exist separate from each other. For instance, let’s take water (good old H2O). These elements have nothing in common with each other, except when they unite to form water. Either of these chemical elements may exist separate from the other but water cannot exist without both. Each has its peculiar qualities but when united in water these qualities are lost in the liquid formed. Hydrogen alone cannot slake thirst but as an essential element of water it makes physical life possible.

Likewise, a kingdom cannot exist without a king, subjects, laws, and territory. Remove or destroy any one of these essential elements and the nature of the institution itself is changed. It takes all of these — king, citizens, statutes, and territory — to constitute a kingdom in the complete sense of the word, and this is as true of the kingdom “not of this world” as it is of “the powers that be of the world.” It is also possible to use metonymy and speak of a part and mean the whole or speak of the whole and mean a part or parts. Jesus and the apostles frequently used metonymy in the Bible. Sometimes it was used in reference to the kingdom. But in no instance is the kingdom of Christ on earth contemplated as existing with all its essential elements prior to Pentecost and nowhere is this same kingdom contemplated with its same essential elements following the second coming of Christ and the judgment of the world.

In any kingdom authority must reside somewhere and in an absolute monarchy it is vested always in the king. The king is the source of all authority or power. It is his prerogative to will and decree. Laws or statutes are how he declares his will. Subjects are the recipients of his will through the laws he makes known in words. Territory is properly the area which the king rules.

When the kingdom of Christ is analyzed in view of the foregoing considerations it is found to coincide in every detail. Jesus Christ Himself is the king claiming and possessing all authority (Matthew 28:18). He has made know His will through words supplied directly by the Holy Spirit; hence, His law. Those who willingly yield their hearts and lives to the Spirit’s law (Romans 8:2) are His subjects. This earth is the territory of the kingdom or, to be more explicit, wherever a willing subject of the king is found on earth there the scepter of the kings holds sway.

The Kingdom and the Church

Just because the word “church” and the word “kingdom” defined the same does not necessarily indicate they are not the same thing. Words may signify different meanings yet refer to the same institution. The words “church” and “body” have different meanings, yet the church is called “the body” of Christ (Ephesians 1:22). The church is also called the “house of God” (1 Timothy 3:15), a “temple” (1 Corinthians 3:17), “building” (Ephesians 2:21), and “household” (Ephesians 2:19). These various terms emphasize different features of the church — its family, worship, fellowship features, etc. Likewise, when the church is called a kingdom, its governmental feature is brought into prominence.

When the church and kingdom are studied, they are found to agree in the following particulars: 1) The source of authority or the Head; 2) the laws; 3) the subjects; 4) the territory. As observed above each of these is an essential element to the kingdom’s existence. It can also be seen that the church has these same essential points.

When the above passages are studied in context, we see the church and the kingdom are identical in the chief executive, His laws, His subjects, and His territory or realm of influence. Thus, it is impossible for one to be in the kingdom and not be in the church and equally impossible for one to be in the church and out of the kingdom. Members of the church are citizens of the kingdom and vice versa. Christ does not have one institution on earth called the “kingdom” and another called the “church.” The law of admission into both are the same and the laws governing conduct of subjects are identical. Both are confined to earth while their chief executive is in heaven and the heart of the subject is the realm of influence in this world.

Further identity of the church and kingdom as one and the same is revealed in Matthew 16:18,19 where the Lord declares, “I will build My church” and said to Peter, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom….” In one breath He calls it “My church” and in the next “the kingdom of heaven.”

Confine the reign of Christ to the abode of men and it is impossible to distinguish between the kingdom of Christ and the church of Christ except as to the feature emphasized in each term. To further emphasize this point the duration of both may be considered. I know of no one who argues the church will continue beyond the second coming of Christ and judgment. At that time, men will cease to be “called out” of the world “by the gospel” with that event (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10), but at that point shall also come Christ’s delivering up of the kingdom to God the Father (1 Corinthians 15:24-26); thus the church ceases on this earth at the same time the kingdom comes to an end on this earth.

It is argued that Peter speaks of “the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:11). While this is true, that is not the “kingdom” under consideration here for the context shows that kingdom is one that shall be entered as a result of adding the so-called “Christian graces” (2 Peter 1:3-10). That kingdom will not have the same laws nor the same territory nor men in the flesh as subjects, nor will Christ reign in that kingdom in the same relationship to the Father as He reigns now (1 Corinthians 15:24-26).

Originally by James R. Cope
Adapted by Jack Critchfield

A Commitment For The Day

With every sunrise and the awakening of the eyes, the war with Satan begins. A man uttered a prayer to God saying, “So far today, I’ve done O.K. I haven’t lost my temper and I haven’t gossiped. I haven’t been grumpy, nasty or selfish, and I am really glad for that! But in a few minutes, Father, I’m going to get out of bed, and from then on, I’m probably going to need a lot of help. Thank you!” Overcoming temptation and the power of sin is a struggle in which the child of God is continuously involved.

Many times, we find ourselves overcome by temptations and struggles again and again. With each day, new challenges face the Christian. To fight the good fight is to continue the struggle each day as the one before, because Satan is never tiring in his work. Peter tells us to add perseverance to our faith (2 Peter 1:6). For a continued spirit of diligence is needed to make our calling and election sure. James tells us, “That the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).

As we look at our lives and wonder how we can ever overcome temptation and sin, the outlook seems bleak. We resign ourselves to accept our sin and pray for God’s mercy. Often, we become despondent over the possibilities of truly being what God wants us to be. When that happens, we in effect have decided that it is not possible to defeat Satan and it is easier to give him the victory than to continue fighting.

Many Reasons for Failure

The reasons for failure are numerous and shared by all men alike. Many know the answer to overcoming sin and even amid combat – armed with the weapons of defense against sin – lay them down to be overcome. Can we be victorious? Can we truly have the hope of eternal life burning within us? Can we be all that God wants us to be? Is that power of faith available to me?

Jesus gives us the answer. “Do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34). We tend to look at the “big picture” of our life and see what a great challenge we face to overcome sin. While we must be aware of the “big picture” and understand the whole, perhaps we need to focus more on today.

Each day is a big enough picture to look at and deal with. All the tomorrow’s that will ever exist have so many worries and anxieties about them that we can never deal with them. That is why someone said, “Don’t worry about tomorrow, God is already there.” God can deal with all the tomorrow’s and as His Son tells us to deal with the day at hand and we shall have enough to do. As the Danish proverb says, “The only mile we have to worry about is the next mile.”

From this realization that our lives are only understood by the day in which we have, we then must learn how to begin each day to help us through the remainder of the day. Health officials tells us that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it sets to tone for our day’s health. As with the body, we must feast upon spiritual matters to help us make a good day in the work of the Kingdom.

First, a realization of what lies before us is important to remember. As Paul pointed out in Ephesians 6, we face on onslaught of mighty forces that seek to destroy us. We cannot go out in the day thinking that we are fighting against a small, unprepared army.

If we awoke to the presence of 500,000 armed soldiers surrounding our home with every conceivable weapon of war at their disposal (2 Kings 6), would we just walk out the door casually and think we could defeat this whole army unprepared? That probably is not going to happen, but we must realize Satan is there with his army each day even though we may not physically see them.

A Commitment is Necessary

Jesus died on the cross to give us the victory over sin. We can repel the forces of Satan because the power that we have is greater than the power Satan has. One of Satan’s most effective tools is to convince us that he is too big to defeat. In our daily struggles, we give up because we believe it impossible to stop sin. On the contrary, we have such a great army at our disposal that Satan trembles at the knowledge of such.

God did not leave us alone nor unguarded to fight the host of wickedness. “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel” (Hebrews 12:22-24).

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). We can defeat ourselves if we do not make the proper preparation for the battle. Paul illustrates in Ephesians 6 that we must put on the whole armor of God to withstand in the evil day. Each day must be faced with the commitment to conquer the day. Again, the focus is not to worry about tomorrow but to face the day that is upon us.

A commitment for the day is needed to know the battle plan. We know we have the victory, but we must enact our will to follow the plan for victory. Each day must be faced with prayer. Our prayer is a commitment to overcome what we see approaching during the day. Prayer is not a generalization of some religious thoughts or saying “God, help me.” Rather, it is a specific declaration of truths. In speaking to God, tell him what you plan to do for the day and how you plan to carry it out.

Examine the day and its challenges and declare in specific terms how you will overcome the temptation or sin.

A daily reading of the Bible is not an option to learn how to fight against Satan – it is an absolute necessity! How many times have faithful Christians gone out to battle without a knowledge of God? How many Christians have been overcome by sin due to a lack of His Word? The word of God not only tells us about the wonderful grace and love of God, but it also tells us how the devil works.

Originally by Kent Heaton

Edited and adapted by Jack Critchfield

Are Some Sins Bigger Than Others?

We often hear people say that all sins are equal; that there are not any that are greater than others because no matter what the transgression–whether a lie or murder–it will still keep a person out of heaven.

Though it is true that any sin will keep one banished from this eternal home of the saved, is it true that all sins are equal? Let us consider this today.

From a human standpoint, we tend to rate sins, and some do seem worse than others. In fact, some terribly so. Murder, for example, would be much worse than hating a brother–though God would still see the latter as a type of “murder in the heart” (cf. 1 Jn. 3:15; Matt. 5:21,22). But the actual act of murder committed out of hatred or anger–in addition to sinful malice–also wrongly takes away a human life that was created in the image of God. So, isn’t this then at least a “double sin”?

Though sexual immorality was common in the days of the apostle Paul, there was one branch of this, incest, that he points out as “is not even named among the Gentiles” (1 Cor. 5:1). I don’t believe Paul is saying that it never existed, but as a rule, or generally speaking, it did not; and the implication also being that the Jews would have viewed it as even more abhorrent than these Gentiles. This would, therefore, seemingly be thought of as a sin which was worse than some other sexual sins (which would also still be our common view toward it today).

We could probably make our own list of rated sins, beginning with what seems to us as being the worse and working down; but does God view some sins as being greater than others?

We can answer this by making an inference with Matthew 22:35-40. In this passage, a lawyer had asked Jesus (actually, to test Him), “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” The Lord said that it was to “love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” He referred to this as the “first and greatest commandment.” Then He even added a second commandment (which, though important to obey, was not the “foremost” commandment). Would it, therefore, not be a “greater” sin to violate the “first” commandment than the secondary one? Most would probably think so. However, regardless of what sin one commits, heaven will be forfeited.

In the Old Testament, sins of ignorance or unintentional sins do not appear to be as bad as a willful sin, yet they still had to be atoned for (Heb. 9:7; Num. 15:22-31), We know that ignorance will not be an excuse in the judgment day (Acts 17:30,31); and even during Hosea’s time, many of God’s people were being destroyed because of “lack of knowledge” (Hos. 4:6).

Peter shows that it is worse for one who comes to the knowledge of the truth, becomes a Christian, and is set free from the world to then go back into sin than the one who never knew the truth. Though both will be lost in the judgment day, it will be worse for the backslidden Christian because he was on the road to eternal life with heaven almost within his grasp. Is it therefore worse for the Christian to sin than for the non-Christian who commits the same wrong? Some will say the child of God should not only know better, but also has much more to lose because of his sin. The bottom line, however, is that all sin is wrong; for sin is “the transgression of the law,” or simply, “lawlessness,” as the NASB states (1 Jn. 3:4); and the law being violated is God’s (the highest law of all).

Therefore, whether it is a “little white lie” or a monstrous murder, the eternal penalty is the same. If you remember, it was merely because of a lie (and the attitude of their heart that accompanied it) that caused Ananias and Sapphira to lose their lives as the consequence (Acts 5 1-11).

Though some sins do appear to be greater than others from man’s standpoint, as well as God’s, let us never take any sin lightly; but, rather, realize that no matter how small the transgression might seem, it required the death of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, to atone for that sin so that man could be set free from its bondage (Heb. 2:9, 14-15). Any sin, therefore, is a serious matter; and we must strive to avoid all transgressions at any cost.

May we never be found trying to extenuate, condone, or justify any transgression. Rather, if we are guilty of sin, we must face up to it and deal with it in our lives. For if we want to be forgiven of our wrongs and be saved, we must meet the Lord’s requirements.

Sadly, we live in a time when more and more people are trying to redefine that which God formerly called sin. Marriage, divorce and marrying again is running rampant in our time, and, unfortunately, the words of Jesus in Matthew 19:9 continue to be disregarded by the masses. Murder, violence, disrespect toward human life, homosexuality, cohabitation, fornication, stealing, cheating, vulgar speaking, jealousy, slander, lying, gossip, and numerous other sins are all too common today. Many of these are no longer viewed by society as being the sin in which God’s word clearly declares it as being.

The morals of our society are sinking low, while some of the immoralities are being exalted in the movie industry, and in many modern-day books, as well as in real life. There are already those who do not even accept the reality of sin. But remember, until one does, there is no way that that person can even begin to come to Jesus Christ, for the Lord did not come for the righteous, but the sinner (Luke 5:32).

If you have forgotten what sin is, please turn to the New Testament today. Don’t let society, the media, or merely your own feelings define it for you, let God, For He is the One that we each, who have reached an age of accountability, have sinned against (Rom. 3:10, 23). And He the one who, no matter how great your, sins might be, wants to save you from every wrong you’ve ever committed and provide you with an eternal home in heaven (2 Peter 3:9). The price has been paid (1 Peter 1:18-20). God’s salvation plan has been given (Rom. 1:16). It is now up each one of us to begin in our own hearts toward our destination of heaven by yielding in full allegiance–by our faith and by our obedience–to the gospel of Jesus Christ. For He is the “author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Heb. 5:9). And having done so, your sins, -whether – great or small, will each be forgiven, blotted out, and removed as far as the east is from the west (Acts 2:38; Psa. 103:12).

If you are still carrying your burden of sin, why not obey the Lord so that He may take that burden away? What greater blessing can there be than to have the remission of sins, which also results in becoming a child of God, having the hope of eternal life, and being in a Spiritual and harmonious relationship with the eternal Creator of the Universe who loves His people with an everlasting love and will bring them to a place of ultimate bliss.