daily Broadcast

Overcoming Temptation: How to Deal with Desires that Destroy

From the series Rebuilding Your Broken World

Temptations - they come from all sides and in all forms. Some have the power to destroy your life - things like lust, greed, the desire for power, and sexual fulfillment outside of God’s boundaries. If you're struggling with overcoming temptation, there's good news! Chip makes it clear that there is hope and there is victory waiting for you right now.

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Message Transcript

What I want you to think of is we’ve been on a journey together.  In this journey in a fallen, difficult world where we learn that trials are inevitable, that trials and difficulties are going to make some people and they’re going to break other people.  That some people are going to go through all of their life as victims, and others as survivors and then even conquerors.  On this journey, we’ve learned to do something very counterintuitive – to consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials.

Why?  Knowing the testing of your faith produces endurance.  Let endurance have its perfect or perfecting result that you might be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  If by chance, that’s too hard and too difficult and you don’t know how to do it right now, if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all men generously and without reproach.  But let him ask in faith without any doubting.  For the one who doubts, the one who wants to know God’s will just to consider it, not to really do it, will be like a surf in the sea, tossed here and there.  Don’t let that person expect to receive anything from the Lord.

Then he goes on to say that those of you that are in a humble circumstance financially and wonder how you’re going to make it, it’s a high spiritual position.  Those of you that really have a lot of materially, you need to realize you have a low spiritual position.  Don’t fall to the temptation of trusting in material things.  Because just like a flower is here today and gone tomorrow, so you and me – rich people in our world, in our pursuits, we’re here and then we’re gone.  Instead, blessed is every single person in this room.  Blessed by God when you endure and persevere under trial, knowing for sure that when you have been tested and come through it, you’ll be approved and you’ll receive a clear reward now and forever at the crown of life for all of those who love him.

That’s God’s word to you and to me when your world is falling apart and broken.  Then what I want you to hear on this journey, as we’ve been on this road together of God helping rebuild our world.  Now we’re going to take a turn and we’re going to turn into the mountains.  As you turn into the mountains, I want you to visualize a bright, flashing light.  One of those caution lights.  There’s yellow ones and red ones that say, “Hey, danger, danger, danger.  Warning ahead.”

As you go around these mountains like I’ve done many times in California after it’s been raining for sometimes weeks, there’s falling rocks and there’s mudslides.  As you go around corners, you have no warning.  But as you come around the corner, the road is completely closed, and there are rocks.  If you don’t drive knowing that if you go too fast or if you don’t pay attention, you who are an excellent driver can end up in the rocks.  If you aren’t aware of even what’s happening above you and listening carefully, you can be driving in a road and have rockslide come down and take you, your car, your friends, your family over a cliff.

What James is going to say empowered by the Holy Spirit is there are falling rocks for people in vulnerable places.  He’s going to say to you that when you are in a broken world experience – and whether it’s going through a separation or a divorce, or whether it’s a bankruptcy or whether it’s cancer, or whether it’s just a normal stress and pressure of your wife having a baby.  You transfer from one community to another.  Whether you’ve just been on the road, and you’ve been traveling.  You’re tired and you’re under a lot of pressure and you got teenagers here and one through college.  And life keeps pushing and pushing and pushing.

He says, “When you are hungry, when you get angry, when you find yourself lonely or when you’re very tired, H-A-L-T.”  You need to halt.  Because when you are vulnerable during this broken world experience, when things are happening around you that are putting pressures and causing you to really be challenged about perspective and discouragement, he’s going to say that really, really good people can do some really dumb, un-Godly things.

You’re never more vulnerable than when you’re in a broken world experience.  What does He want to do?  He wants your faith to be tested and for you to pass the test to do something in you and through you to make you grow.  But the enemy is not on the sidelines going, “Oh, wow.  God has a wonderful plan through these difficult times that I have helped create.”

The same word in the New Testament that is trial, exact same word is temptation.  The only way you know is from the context of whether they’re talking about a trial that God wants you to grow through, or whether it’s a temptation that the enemy wants you to fall through.

I’ll never forget a young pastor.  I was in seminary and was in charge of a high school group, then a college career group.  He would meet with me about every other week.  I was in school and we’d go across to the little fast food place.  He would buy me lunch every two weeks and mentor me and pastor me.  He just believed in me and cared about me.  This one last particular time, we had lunch.  He actually prayed out loud in this fast food place, and really encouraged me and told me, “I believe God’s got his hand on your life.  He’s really going to use you.”

Then he got in his car and drove off like normal.  About three or four hours later, I happened on my way home to go by the church.  It was a large church, multi-staff.  I would learn later this guy’s area had grown and grown and grown.  His wife had recently had a baby that was now about three months old, and I walked into that church.  I don’t know if you’ve ever walked into a room and people were in the lobby.  It was like everybody knows something that I don’t know, and what they know isn’t good.

Then the senior pastor said, “Chip, can you come here a minute?”  I walked in.  He put his arm around me.  We went into his study and sat down.  Then he began to tell me about the pastor that I had met with left our meeting and went to one of the leader’s homes of our church, picked up his wife, that the two of them were having an affair for an extended period of time shortly after the birth of his child under this stress and pressure.  They packed their little suitcases, and drove off into the sunset.

The man that had encouraged me, that God had used greatly in my life, that had built this amazing ministry in this church.  He and this elder of this church’s wife both abandoned their families, and he his newborn, and they took off.  In my younger years, I used to hear about stuff like that and get angry and say, “I can’t believe that.”  People faking the Christian life.  “That’s so terrible.  They let all those people down,” and all the chaos.  I’d get really angry.

The older and the older I’ve gotten, see I knew that guy.  He was not a bad guy.  He was a good man at a weak moment.  Some of you men know what it’s like the first three months of your first child when they’re born.  Your wife was head over heels after you and then pretty soon she’s got this little baby in her arm.  Remember this one?

You’re real excited for about the first month.  “Oh, this is great.  This is great.  The little baby.  The little baby.”  But to her it’s, “Baby, baby, baby, baby.”  After about two months, you wouldn’t say this to anybody else ‘cause as Christians we’re supposed to be loving and kind and generous and selfless and all that jazz.

In your heart you’re going, “Hey, what about me?  Man, I ain’t got a kiss in so long.  Does the world revolve around this baby?”  Well, pressure of ministry, things not going so well at home, he’s vulnerable.  Someone takes a little bit of an interest.  She’s vulnerable.  Two really good people from two really good families do two very un-Godly things.

You say, “Well that could never happen to me.”  Well, ha ha ha ha ha.  I remember I didn’t grow up reading the Bible.  I never opened it ‘til I was 18.  There was a real big thick part – Old Testament – and sort of the skinnier part – New Testament.  I went with the skinnier part.  I couldn’t understand a lot of the old part, anyway.  So the first couple years, I read through the New Testament two or three or four times.

Then I was challenged that there is a big part that has a lot to say.  So I started reading the big part.  I didn’t have eyes that these were familiar Bible stories.  So I read 2 Samuel 11.  By now, David’s my hero.  He’s a warrior.  He’s a songwriter.  He’s a poet.  He’s brave.  He’s courageous.

I’m thinking, “Man, I want to be a David,” until I got to 2 Samuel 11.  He’s Godly.  He’s God’s man.  Then I read some of those Psalms before.  Does this guy know God.  I’m going to be like David someday.

2 Samuel 11 opens.  At the time when kings go out to battle, David was in his palace.  He’s in the wrong place at the wrong time, which is how a lot of real sin happens.  In a window of time where he’s vulnerable, and then he looks down and sees a very beautiful woman which leads to having sex with her, which leads to her getting pregnant, which leads to him trying to get her husband to believe that he’s the father, which leads to his loyalty won’t work that out so he has him killed.  One of the most Godly men in all of the world commits adultery and murder and then hides it for over a year.

You know what I’ve discovered?  In the right circumstance, when you’re hungry or angry or lonely or tired, and you’re having a broken world experience, if you’re not super aware of falling rocks, the enemy will take this trial that was designed to help you grow and he will make it a temptation to destroy your life and the people around you.  So it is not surprising to me that as we go through James 1 is that he’s going to start talking about temptation and deception.

The thesis I’ve put in your notes is that under pressure, we’re tempted to abandon God’s character building program of endurance and opt for shortcuts that promise immediate relief but provide devastating consequences.  I’m going to read that again, and I want you to read along in the notes.  I want you to read along in the notes, but I want you to read along not with just your cognitive brain.  I want you to read along in the notes, asking yourself, “What am I going through right now?  Where are the pressures in my life?  Where am I vulnerable?”  Then I want you to think to yourself, “What potential falling rocks are out there?”

For some it might be food.  For some it might be sex.  For some it might be just opting out.  But what are the thoughts that have gone through your mind as we heard earlier?  Here’s a mom of three little girls.  Of course she’s not going to do it, but the just thought was, “I’m going to move to Europe.”  What’s she really saying?  “I just can’t endure anymore.  Let me just get out of this situation.  I love these girls.”

This is a good mom who loves these girls, who was vulnerable with us to say, “There are days and times when I start to lose it.  Those thoughts come into my mind.  Desires get planted in my brain that feels like everything would be okay.  I could just get some relief if I could take this shortcut.”  What would that be for you?

Now follow along as I read it.  Under pressure, we’re tempted to abandon God’s character building program of endurance and opt for shortcuts that produce immediate relief but provide devastating consequences.  How does that happen?  How does that happen to a pastor?  How does it happen to a David?  How does it happen to someone like you or me?

I would suggest that the answer is deception.  I’ve met with a lot of men, a lot of women, a lot of broken marriages.  Done a ton of counseling.  I’ve yet to have a couple that had an affair or someone who’s logged on and is addicted to pornography or a woman with an eating disorder.  I just have never had them in the counseling room, sat down.  “Bob, Mary, tell me a little bit.  Let’s get to the roots of this.”  Bob turned to me, “Well, I woke up one Tuesday and I thought, ‘  Tuesday would be a good day to have an affair.’ I’ve got a great marriage, I’ve got wonderful kids.  I’ve got a good job.  But it’s Tuesday.  I just thought to myself, ‘I think I’ll just kind of systematically destroy anything that’s really mattered to me.’”

I’ve just never had anybody do that.  I’ve never had a teenage or not so teenage girl talk about how she just woke up one day and decided to jam food down her mouth and then go to bathrooms and stick her finger down and throw up.  “It was a Wednesday, and I thought, ‘I’ve read about that.  Sounds like a lot of fun.’” What I’m telling you is no one ever ends up in the spiritual ditch or the relational ditch or the addiction ditch like that.

It’s always a subtle, deceptive process.  The definition of deceptive means you don’t see it.  You don’t know its happening.  You are absolutely convinced while you are in this that nothing is wrong.  What I would like to do is tell you that the enemy will feed you lies.  He will dupe you.  He will provide juicy opportunities to ease the pain your difficult life breaking experience.  But every option he gives you will multiply the pain.

So James writes to people that are under pressure, and they’re under duress.  They have financial and relational difficulties.  They’ve been relocated.  He’s going to tell them in this next section, verses 13 through 18, there are three lies that will destroy your life.  You gotta consider it all joy.  You need supernatural wisdom.  You need to keep God’s perspective.  But as you’re going on this journey, you better know there is falling rocks and you better drive your life in such a way to be aware very quickly of these three lies.

Let’s read the passage together and then let’s unpack it and look at each lie.  “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I’m being tempted by God.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil.  He Himself does not tempt anyone.  But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.  Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin.  And when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.  Do not be deceived, by beloved brethren.”

Underline that phrase.  It is the key phrase in this text.  Do not be deceived.  That’s the warning.  But listen to the heart behind it.  Literally, it’s “my dearly loved one.”  Don’t read this passage with a God whose arms are crossed or James getting a little angry going, “Do not be deceived during this difficult time.”

No, this is someone saying, “Look.  Don’t be deceived.  My dearly, precious loved one.  You are vulnerable.  You are really vulnerable.  He just walked out on you.  You’re vulnerable.  You just lost your job.  You’re vulnerable.  You’ve just come out of that rehab.  You’re vulnerable.  You know what?  Your daughter just had a baby out of wedlock.  You’re vulnerable.  Right now your 401K is like a 201K.  You’re vulnerable, my dearly loved one.”

Then notice he goes on and gets on the solution side.  “Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above.  Coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.  In the exercise of His will,” here’s the demonstration of the extent of God’s goodness.  “In the exercise of His will, He brought us forth,” literally He birthed us, “by the word of His truth so that we might be, as it were, the first fruits among His creatures.”

Isn’t it interesting?  We’ve talked about trials, trials, trials.  Then he starts to talk about temptation, about the falling rocks, about the shortcuts.  Lie number one – we are deceived about the source of our sin.  When you’re in a broken world situation, you get deceived about the source of your sin.  The lie is, “I’m not responsible for my sin.  It’s not my fault.”

This line – “Let no man say when he’s tempted,” the literal word order in Greek is, “No man,” it’s moved to the front for emphasis, “No man being tempted let him say from God I am tempted.”  In the New Testament, there are two little words that you can use for the word “from.”  One means from by way of direct inference.  The other means from by way of indirect inference.  That’s this word.

So this isn’t a Christian saying, “Oh, I’ve fallen and I’ve sinned sexually or with this issue or with greed or with pride because God caused it.”  He’s saying, “No, no, no.  God has arranged the circumstances in my life.  He ultimately created things.  These circumstances came into my life and that’s why I sinned.”

You say to yourself, “Now people really do that?”  Oh, yeah they do.  “I’m not responsible.  See, what you don’t understand is I came from an alcoholic family.  I came from a dysfunctional family.  My dad screamed and he was abusive.  I’ve abused my kids because he abused me.  It’s my circumstances.  It wasn’t my fault.  It was the circumstances.  In that company, yes I took a little bit of money, but everyone was taking money.  If you didn’t take money, you would have been fired.  It’s not my fault.  It’s the circumstances.”

Indirectly, we blame God.
Tempted is not sin.  Tempted means, a thought, or something comes into your mind.  A lure out there for the fish doesn’t mean the fish has done anything wrong.  This is when the fish does something wrong . . .  You get tempted all the time.  Don’t feel guilty about being tempted.  If you’re getting tempted a lot, it means maybe you’re doing a lot of good stuff for God, and the enemy is out to get you.

But I want you to think of what that is.  Now, here’s the picture.  You know, God has said, “Don’t go there,” and you walk into it – maybe it’s sexual sin.  You say to yourself, We’re just talking.  I’m flirting a little bit.  It’s water, and you go out up to your knees.  And you think, Man, this feels kinda good.  Why is everyone talking like this is such a dangerous thing?  This feels kinda good.

And then, you say to yourself, You know, it feels so good, maybe we’ll have dinner once or twice.  I mean,  I haven’t touched her; I haven’t . . .  And then, you do a little backstroke in the water, and it feels kinda good.  And you’re saying to yourself, You know, I just don’t know where all these prudish legalistic...  I can handle this!  This isn’t a problem for me.

And then, pretty soon, you get up off your backstroke, and you look up – and your campsite is right here – and then, all of a sudden, you realize you’re downstream, and didn’t even know it.  That’s what happens.  Then, you have that little warning that says, Ooh, maybe this is a little bit dangerous . . .  Nah.  Feels too good.

And then, pretty soon, you realize you can’t see the campsite.  And you realize, It’s time.  I’m going to get off at the shore.  And then, now, there’s a current, and you are in the current.  You try to get out of the current, and you can’t.  Now, the current has become whitewater.  Now, you bang off of a rock, and bang off of that rock, and . . .  There’s guilt happening here, and there’s breakdown in relationship here.  And you look into your kids eyes over here, and . . .

Things are starting to get out of control.  And, man, you are in the rapids, and you can’t get out!  What you don’t realize is, it’s not just rapids; there are falls.  And there’s a 200-foot drop – bam! – and you’re going to die.  And you know where it started?  Wading in the water.  If you don’t get in the water, you never end up in the current, and you never go over the falls.

But the average believer is trying to figure out – if this, right here, is sin, the average believer spends their life doing this . . .  How close can I get?  Okay, was that a PG-13, or an R, or . . . ?  Oooohhhh!  How close can I get to sin?  And the heart of God is, how far can you run away?

But here’s the lie, and here’s the truth.  I can handle it.  It’s not hurting me, is a lie.  The truth is, it’s not an act.  It’s the result of a process.  Application?  Nip it in the bud.  Nip it in the bud.  You’ve gotta stop it at the desire level.  You’re thinking . . .

Romans 12:2: “Don’t be conformed to this world.  Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  Don’t let this world mold you.  Be transformed by what you put in your mind.  Then your life will demonstrate what God’s will is, “that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Second Corinthians 10:5.  “Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”  It starts out with a little thought, a little desire, a little design, a little playing around, a little something . . .  And then, you end up going over the falls.

Will you remember something with me?  You’re convinced this can’t happen to you.  That’s why it’s called “deception,” okay?  Even what I’m talking about – I’ll guarantee you there are probably people in the room, right now, involved in a number of things that I’ve already said.  And a little light’s going on, and you’re struggling with – part of it is the guilt, going, Ooh, wow.  This guy’s talking like he’s reading my mail. 

No, I’m just reading the Bible, and you’re human.  Many in this room are struggling with, I don’t really buy this.  I don’t think this is right.  I can handle this.  It’s really not impacting anyone.  What’s the text say?  “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren” – My cherished one, My precious child.  This is God saying, “I brought you to this conference, on this day, at this time, to wave this red flag and red warning – yellow warning sign.  Please stop!  Get out of the river, right now!”

If you need to change jobs, change jobs.  If you need to break off a relationship, break off a relationship.  If you need to get a filter on your computer, get a filter.  I have a personal friend who will not have a computer, even in his home, because he went through a time of addiction of pornography on the internet.  And by the way, if you’re involved in an adulterous relationship – and this is happening more in the church than ever before – don’t have a meeting to break it off.  Okay?  Phone.  “I’ve sinned.  I’m wrong.  I’m sorry.  It’s over.”  Bang.

“Oh, that’s not very loving.”  Well, neither is anything you’ve been doing for the last weeks, months, or years.  Just get right, get clean, and stop.  That’s when Jesus said, “If your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off.  If your right eye causes you to stumble, to poke it –”

What’s He saying?  I mean, you can poke out your right eye, and still lust with your left, right?  So, what He’s saying is, be as drastic as you need to be, to deal with the sin in your life.

There are some things that you can kind of tweak, and gradually move to.  There are some things, you’ve just gotta go – whew! – “I’m outta here.”  You say, “Well, then, how would I pay my bills?”  I don’t know.  “What if I have to change that?”  Well, I don’t know.  “Well, when someone finds out, we’re going to have these consequences.”  Absolutely.

But the longer you stay in the situation, you are adding uranium to the bomb that is being built, that will explode.  And there may be some consequences now, but I’ll tell you what: You just keep feeding it . . .  There will be an explosion beyond your wildest dreams.  And God says, out of His love, “Please, don’t go there.  Stop.”

The third lie is, we are deceived concerning the nature and the character of God.  See, at the heart of temptation is a shortcut.  And at the heart of a shortcut is, God doesn’t have my best in mind.  The very first temptation, in all of the Bible, starts here, doesn’t it?  The serpent speaks to Eve: “Oh, God doesn’t want you to have that.”  “Well, why?”  “‘Cause you could be like Him.”

Translation: “God doesn’t have your best in mind.  Look at all this beautiful place.  You can do anything, except this one thing.”  The attack is on the nature and the character of God.  And you’re thinking to yourself, I’ve gotta have it, now.  Immediate gratification.  This will make me feel better, now.  Behind that is a belief that, if you do life God’s way, He’s going to keep you from the best in life.

The lie is, I’ve gotta party, and have my good times now.  I’ll get serious with God later.  Restated: Following Christ means missing all the life, and all the pleasure. It’s a view of God, like God is this giant, cosmic killjoy.  Anything good, anything fun, anything rewarding, anything that could be really great – obviously, God’s not for that.  And boy, that is blasphemous thinking.

What’s the text say?  “Every good and perfect gift comes down.” There’s a phrase – grammatically, this is a very interesting phrase: “coming down from the Father of lights.”  I love what one commentator says: “It’s a picture of lavish goodness and grace descending, one upon another, upon another, upon another, upon another, upon another, with endless supply from Heaven, to bring out the highest and the best for His cherished possession, His children.”

That’s the God Whom you serve.  God wants you to have a good sex life.  God wants you to enjoy a great steak, and a great salad, or a pasta – whatever you like – in the right time, and the right way, with a great group of people.  God wants you to be significant and secure, and understand, it’s a stewardship and a gift from God.

And He may give you tons of stuff, that all belongs to Him, that you use to help lots of people, and live in a nice place, and drive a nice car, and be one of that top three or four percent called “Americans,” who have about 80 or 90 percent of the world’s wealth, so that we can help the rest of the world.

But those things, in and of themselves, or as a goal, have nothing to do but to crush your relationship with God.  And so, He says, “The truth is, God is good, and His will always has my highest and my best in mind.  “Every good and perfect gift.”

And the proof is – look at verse 18.  I mean, talk about a perfect gift.  He gives the example, “In the exercise of His will” – or His choosing, His kind will, what God decided to do is, “He brought us forth” – or birthed us – “by the word of truth” – which was the Gospel – “so that we might be” – as it were – “the first fruits among His creatures.”

This is the first book of the New Testament written.  It’s written to Jewish people, who really understand the festival of first fruits.  And immediately, their minds clicked: Oh, this new birth, this Gospel, this new relationship –  Jesus died for me.  He forgave my sin.  I have a new relationship with God.  I have access with Him.  That’s like the first fruits.  Oh!  When we have the first fruits festival, as soon as the grapes come in, or as soon as the harvest begins to start, we take the very first parts of it, and we go to the Temple, and we offer it to the priest, and we say, “Thank You, God, for what You have done.” But what we also are saying “thank you” for, is that this is just the beginning of a huge harvest of grapes, and a huge harvest of wheat.  And we want to thank You with this small part.”

Through the Spirit of God – He writes through James and says, “This new birth, this forgiveness, this new joy, this new purpose” – it’s like the beginning taste of what God has for you.  There’s a thing called eternity, and there’s a thing called Heaven.  There’s this thing called this “awesome God” that we’ve sung about here.  And it is so rich, and so deep, and so great, and so wonderful, that you can’t even fathom it.  And the greatest little moments of intimacy on earth, and the greatest moments of joy, and looking into another person’s eyes, or seeing kids who turn out in a way, and they still love you, and want to be around with you . . .  And little windows of success and significance that came from God, and opportunities to be generous, and the flow-back of God using your life – those are first fruits.

“Every good and perfect gift comes from Him, the Father of lights, with whom there’s no variation or shifting shadow.”  And He’s already demonstrated, to you and to me, by what He’s done.

I went to a school that had four girls for every guy.  One of my great struggles, as a young Christian, was personal purity.  And as I meet men, I realize that – I’m not sure we ever grow out of that one.  But I made a commitment before the Lord, as I began to grow, that I would be pure, sexually, and that I would do life God’s way.

I played on a college basketball team, where every player on that team, except one, who became a Christian, thought I was the village idiot.  They said, basically, “Chip, you don’t even have to be good looking on this campus.  I mean, there are four girls for every guy.  Even a guy like you . . .  I mean, you could have sex any time, any way.”

And co-ed dorms were coming in, and you could go into the bathroom with a towel around you – whoa, whoa, just wait a minute.  I mean, it was wild!  This was late ‘60s, early ‘70s.  And I remember just battling with God, battling with God, saying, “God, You know what?  Like eight out of the Ten Commandments are really pretty good.  There are a couple that we just need to . . .  Why did You give me these desires?”  Have you ever felt this way?  “Why have You given me these desires?”  And not just sexual ones, but other ones.  “Why give me these desires, and then all these rules, where I can’t have any fun with them?”

Behind that is this idea that God doesn’t have your best in mind.  I remember just struggling, struggling, struggling, memorizing Scripture, and hormones raging, and, “Oh, God, what do I do?”

And this little couple – they were brand new Christians, maybe about three years old in the Lord – lived in a tiny little farmhouse.  I went to a small school, up on top of this mountain, with about 3,000 or 4,000 students.  And you’d go out a little country road, and a little white house . . .  I mean, this is a Norman Rockwell picture.  Tiny little house, little red barn, brand new in the Lord.

We sat down.  Remember those old tables that were sort of, like, plastic, and had the curved legs?  We had a real, very homespun, homemade meal, with homemade apple pie.  And I watched this guy look into the eyes of his wife – you know, thirty-four, thirty-five, thirty-two– been married about six or eight years.  A four year old, two year old.

And as I sat at that table, what I realized is, This is what I want.  I can have sex back on campus any time I want.  This is what I want.  But I’ve got a Bible that tells me, if I go back and have sex on campus, and violate what God says, and –  You know, long before we knew about HIV, or herpes, or psychological damage, or anything about sex before marriage, God knew.

Every command God gives you is not to prevent you from fun.  It’s to protect you from getting second best.  But that’s hard –  When your hormones are raging and you’re 19 or 20, that sounds good for your head, but not so good for your heart.

And as I was at that table, they got up from the table and said, “Will you excuse us?”  And looking back, they must have been pretty poor, because they didn’t have a door.  They had a sheet with a string for the little one, two bedroom.  They got down, and I could see, just through the angle –  All four of them got on their knees, and I watched the mom, and the dad, and the little kids fold their hands, and pray.  There was something in that room that I thought, God, that’s what I really want.

I was driving back in my little green Volkswagen Bug.  My dorm was at the very bottom of this steep hill.  And I can tell you, I got right in the middle – and I was just learning to memorize Scripture.  I was a little slow.  But I didn’t realize how valuable that was.  And – boom! – a verse pops into my head – Romans 8:32: “He that spared not His own Son, how will He not with Him freely give you all things?”  “He that spared not His own Son . . .”  If God is loving you, cared so much to give His Son, how will He not freely, lavishly give you all things?

And something happened that helped me the whole rest of my life: Instead of me being on one side of the net, and God on the other side of the net, and Him trying to keep something good from me, I realized it was the enemy on the other side of the net, and a world system trying to seduce me into a lie.  God was on this side, with His arm around me, saying, “Don’t go over there, because that’s second-rate, cheap stuff that produces pain and death.  What you saw tonight, I have for you.  Just trust Me.  I’m good.”  And by the grace of God, I did.

And now, I think about the relationship I have with my wife, and the lack of guilt.  I think of four kids that, as they grew up, how I could talk to them and how God, by His grace, caused them to turn out, and the kind of wives they married, and these little kids that have come afterwards.

And all I can tell you – don’t settle for second best.  “Every good and perfect gift is from above.”  What we learned earlier is, you may say to yourself, I’m kind of in the current right now.  The enemy’s lie is, “You’re in too far.  You can’t get out.”  God has helicopters.  All you’ve gotta say is, “God, save me!  Please!”

He’ll lower a rope, and you’ve gotta grab on, and you’ve gotta repent, and you’ve gotta turn, and you’ve gotta run.  But He’ll pull you right out of that.  Because the current may hurt, but the waterfall is devastating.

And we even have a God who – you could be sitting here, and realize, You know what?  I already hit the waterfall.  He will take the pieces, and pick you up, put you over on the shore, and He will patch you back together.  He will put His arms around you, and He will love you again.

Will there be some things you have to deal with?  Of course.  There are consequences.  But He will restore your soul, the way He did for David.  “Restore to me the joy of my salvation.  Use me again.”  I’ve got a New Testament that looks back on a murderer, and an adulterer, and a warrior, and a poet, and the greatest king in Acts 13, that says, “I chose David, a man after My own heart, who would do all My will.”

You say, “How could you write that after I look at his history?”  Because doing all God’s will sometimes means, you repent when you blow it, and you find forgiveness, and you get restored.  And maybe that’s what God has for you.

I’ve given you a little game plan that may be very helpful, because you may be sitting here going, You have no idea where I’m at, and the struggle that I have.  I want to give you a promise, to close our time, and sort of – I guess what I’d call it –  If we were at a restaurant, this is a to-go package.  I mean, it’s just a little to-go package, because, for some of you, there’s nothing theoretical about what I’ve said.  Man, you are saying, “Oh God, I need the helicopter, now.”

So, here’s a promise God will make you about temptation: “No temptation has overtaken you but such as command to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond that which you are able, but with the temptation” – every temptation you face – “will provide the way of escape, that you may be able also to endure it.”  Nothing will come into your life that God will not provide a way that, if you will grab the bottom of the rope on the helicopter, He’ll deliver you.

You say, “Well how will He deliver me?”  I’ve put just a list of things of escape.  One is your conscience.  The moment you have a little something inside that says, Mm-mmm, I shouldn’t go here, don’t go there.  This show doesn’t seem very good, but let me watch it.  No, just turn it off.  This movie . . .  We’ve gotten into this thing, and I’m with some people, and it would be embarrassing to get up and leave.  I’ll tell you what: Just get up and leave.  This relationship – break it off.

Second is Scripture – Psalm 119:9-11.  I know nothing more powerful.  “How can a young man” – or a young woman – “keep his way pure?  By guarding it according to Your Word.  Your Word I’ve laid up” – or memorized – “into my heart, that I might not sin against Thee.”  It’s a tremendous, powerful – Psalm 119:9-11.

The next is prayer.  Jesus said, the very last night, “Watch and pray,” right?  To His disciples.  “Lest you fall into temptation.”  In the Lord’s Prayer, what does it say?  “Lord, deliver me from evil,” or, literally, “the evil one.”  And so, you listen to your conscience, and you dig into Scripture, and you pray.

And then, flight – 2 Timothy 2:22: “Flee anything that gives you the lustful thoughts that young men often have.  Stay close to anything or anyone that makes you want to do the things that you know are right.”  Some things you need to fight.  The enemy, lust and these things – flee.  Run.

And then, finally, pre-decisions and planning.  Romans 13:14 says, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh.”  If you’re an alcoholic, you can’t hang out with your buddies at the bar, saying, “I don’t drink anymore.”  If you’re a meth addict – I’ve got two good friends who are now clean – they can’t hang out –  Meth people hang out with meth people.  You can’t go to the parties.  One of my friend says, “But they’re our friends.”  I said, “No, no.  They used to be your friends.  What’s meth done?  Stop it.”  You can’t be friends with the person you had an illicit relationship with, or that you lust over.  Make no provision for the flesh.

So, if you need to get rid of the computer, get rid of the computer.  If you need to get a new job, get a new job.  All I know is, for some reason, God gave me a real, real sensitive mind.  I can’t watch junk.  It just sticks with me forever.  I’m just ruthless about movies I’ll watch, books I’ll read, even television shows.

We are living in the age of cesspool media.  You put it in your mind, I’m telling you, it’s gonna come out in your life, or the ones whom you love.  And what we thought was blasphemous ten years ago, the average believer looks like this . . .  “Pass the popcorn, honey.  Yep, that’s sure kind of terrible, don’t you think?”  “Yeah, what’s the world coming to, Fred?”  “I don’t know.”

Someone has rightly said – and I pray that God will use you – “Where is the outrage?  Where are the Phineases of our world, who cry out and say, ‘This is wrong, and I won’t tolerate it for me’?”  Be winsome, and in a pure and loving way, say, “We are going to be God’s people.”