Four Temptations That Lead Men to Hell
Over the years I have preached many times on the passage of Scripture I am going to introduce to you this morning. I say I am going to introduce it to you. That does not mean that you have never heard it before, though some of you may not have. But, it is possible that you have never thought about it before or that you have never thought about it in the same way I am going to share it with you. If any of these conditions apply to you then the Scripture will have been introduced to you. You have the golden opportunity today to gain an insight into the Word of God, and not only that, come to an understanding about a Biblical truth that is very important to you. So, if you pay attention to what I share with you this day, it just might change your life. Here is the Scripture. Listen to it if you will, then turn to it in what I hope is your King James Bibles:
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able: but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1Corinthians 10:13)
What I have preached to people in many places and on many days, from the years that I was first and Itinerant preacher, during the years I was a pastor, and since, is that when you encounter a temptation it is not something new. The devil is not so smart that he is always coming up with new temptations. He is sending people to hell and destroying the testimonies of saved people year after year with the same old temptations. Sometimes he puts a bit of fancy packaging on things that makes it seem new to the ones he wishes to delude, but it is really the same old temptations with a new coat of paint. I tell people that they should resent that and every time a temptation comes along they should take a look at it, see it for what it is and say “Hmph, old devil, that’s a same old temptation. You cannot fool me none. I am not so stupid as to fall for that and miss out on what God has for me.”
Today, I am going to tell you something new about that same old temptation, something I have never preached before. So if you have ever heard me preach on 1Corinthians 10:13, and were preparing to lay back in your pew and disregard what I am about to say, do not get too comfortable. You need to pay attention because I am going to tell you something you have never heard before. Today I am going to give you the four categories of temptation, any one of which category the sin you get into is liable to fit. This is true for saved people as well as lost people. The difference between saved people and lost people, is not the kinds of sin they commit, it is the impact of those sins. Lost people’s sins demonstrate their worthiness for the hell they are going to and taking many of their loved ones to along with them; Saved people’s sins take away from the reward that might be theirs, is a sign that they are spiritual adulterers, and help to send their loved ones to hell without them. The impact and pain of the same old temptations are different slightly between saved people and lost people, but the temptations are common to both. Now, I am going to give you the four categories you might find your sins in and when I am finished you will be better equipped to recognize them than you ever have been before.
The four categories of sins you can find yourself in are:
Now that seems pretty simple doesn’t it? Some of you may have gotten some idea about what these sins are all about simply from the titles we have given them. That could be because you are already starting to find yourself within the categories just from the titles. Others might be scratching their heads about some of the names I have given the categories, but cheer up you will soon understand and will have the opportunity to find yourself as well. I am going to say something to you this morning you will probably not like to hear. That is if you are not caught up in one of these categories of sins, you are at least tempted within the areas those categories represent. So no one can sit back all self-righteous. Self- righteousness, because it is not God’s righteousness is a sure fire way to get into trouble. I heard an old time preacher say that, “There are going to be some people in heaven that are saved by the blood of Jesus that nevertheless came so close to the fires of hell they are going to show up at Heaven’s gate with the smoke of the fires of hell on them. They are going to need that garment of white linen because the shroud they came in is all sooty!”
The Temptation of Treasures
I hope you are ready because here we go with the first category of temptation, that is the category of treasure. The temptation to focus on the treasures of this world is a real big temptation to sin. It is such a big temptation that the Lord Jesus Christ addressed it directly. He said:
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal.” Matthew 6: 19 &20
Some people hear those words, nod sagely, and go their way never getting it. One of the reasons they do not get it is because they have a question about treasures they either never get around to asking, or if they ask, never get a good enough answer to understand. The question is what are treasures? People often think that because they do not have rubies or gold, because they do not have lots of stocks and bonds, or because they do not have some other of the luxuries of this world like a boat or a big house they do not have treasures. That is not so. Some people have things that they treasure and others have things that are treasures. The Lord Jesus Christ described treasures as being things where your heart is. Now I know I cannot do better than the Master in giving a definition to the subject, but since the Lord called me to preach, to be an expositor of His word, I think I can expound on that a little bit.
I would describe a treasure like this. A treasure of this world is anything in this world that occupies your heart and that has the possibility of either being corrupted in some form or stolen. Let me give you an example of that from my own life. When I was a boy I had some things I treasured. One was a Tiki idol like the man wore who starred in the television series “Adventures in Paradise.” Now knowing that this preacher once treasured a Tiki idol even sounds to you sinful I know, but most of the people here who are under fifty are saying I never heard of that television show either. Another thing that I had that I treasured was a starter pistol. It shot blanks and was for starting races. Something else I treasured was my Chinese silk smoking jacket. I liked to lounge in it around the house though mom and dad would have never allowed us boys to smoke.
I think I had bought it at an estate sale for some fancy price like six dollars. That was a good deal of money for a boy in those days, so don’t laugh. And, another thing that I treasured was a pair of fancy riding boots that had been ordered by my friend Rip Adams. When they had come they did not fit him right, so I bought them from the shoe store for the then outrageous price of seventy-five dollars. They were probably the most expensive pair of footwear that had ever come into my parent’s house in those days. Well, I left home as boys will do, and two years or so later when I was home and going through my stuff I discovered my mother had thrown all my treasures out. Every reason for doing so made perfect sense to her and as she told me why she had thrown away each item I felt more and more traumatized. I had lost my treasures you see. That is the thing about the treasures of this world, they can and will eventually be lost somehow. And that is the difference between the treasures of this world and those in heaven that can never be lost.
I hope you understand that treasures that can cause a lost man to miss heaven and worldly treasures that can cause a saved man not to have treasures in heaven do not have to be anything of any real value, even as far as the world is concerned. Now it is possible that you have made your treasures something somebody else would value. Cheer up, there is always someone willing to steal it. Sometimes they just sneak in and take it openly and sometimes they just try to sneak it away. I had a man build a building just a foot over on my property. He was raised in the house right next door to the property where he did the deed. He knew where the property line was, but he has the heart of a thief. He thought it was alright to steal just a little bit of it. A man can have the finest cheese in the world. He can cherish that cheese and enjoy it, but a little mouse can get in and nibble that cheese away a little bit at a time corrupting what he does not take. If you make property or anything else your treasure there comes a day when you must get rid of it, or lose it to the tax man, or little mice. It is for sure when your head is laid down in the coffin that houses or land or any other thing in this world will serve you no good. If that is the treasure of your life, you have made a poor bargain.
The Temptation of Pleasures
Now if you followed me when I was talking about treasures you might have figured out that the treasures of this world that delude men and send them to hell really aren’t much when you look at things clearly. I would suggest to you that the world’s pleasures that tempt people are much the same sort of thing. What we think are the pleasures of this world, that we simply cannot do without, are really not much when you get right down to it.
There is a fellow in the Bible that I have thought about from time to time, but I really don’t think I have ever preached about him. Maybe I should have. Maybe we should have more preaching about him. He only gets a piece of a verse of Scripture in the Bible and I would not care to be him standing before the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible does not say he is lost or damned or anything like that. In fact there is a good chance he really believed the Gospel message. But what gets him into the Scripture is the record of his failure because he succumbed to the temptation of pleasure. Paul wrote about him this way:
“For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica.” 2Timothy 4:10
I have spent a lot of time thinking about old Demas and the present world whose pleasures he loved so much. Most people do not know much about the world of Paul’s day. I think a lot of people, young people especially, think the world has been full of amenities for everybody all down through history. Now, that is just not so. Paul told Timothy that Demas had taken himself to Thessalonica. I want you to understand that this old boy did not climb into a Lincoln Town Car, neither did he jump onto the bed of a chariot to get there. People usually got where they were going in Paul’s day by shoe leather express, that is, if they could afford sandals. Most people did not even have a donkey. Folks that did not make up part of the trade caravan business in those days or had the use of donkeys for work went by foot. Hertz Rent a Donkey was not in business yet.
Most of the time travel was a dangerous business too, even with the Romans patrolling the roads and keeping the peace there were plenty of people laying in wait to rob and steal, and you did not have to have much to be a target. They would steal the clothes right off your back. Most people did not have a closet full of clothes. They had what they had on. The point I am trying to make to you this morning dear friends was there was not a whole lot of pleasures in the world of Paul’s day, but they were enough to appeal to Demas. Of course there were things like the brothels attached to the temples of the pagan gods, and there were the Greek baths, but Jewish boys usually did not hang out in such places because when their clothes came off it was plain they did not fit in.
The pleasures of this world are what appeals to the person who pleasures in them. When I bought land in South Carolina, I went to see the man who had the property I wanted. I came up to his house; it was well over a hundred years old. It was a large country place, not a mansion, but a nice old house out in a semi-rural area. A middle-aged black woman, plainly the housekeeper, showed me into the house that was cool and dark. I noticed as she lead me back to where the man was that the house had lantern lamps such was used when the house was new, and the man lived amongst antiques that were not for show, but part of his day to day existence. This very wealthy man lived with little exception very much like people lived in homes back at the time of the Civil War. It was not that he could not afford modern conveniences. He chose not to have them in much of his day-to-day existence. That was his pleasure. It was his pleasure to live that way, and as I got to know him I learned that the pleasure of his lifestyle ruled his life. Maybe that was why he did not have a wife. Most women like antiques but they want their electric lights and central heating as well. They want the pleasure of this so-called modern age, and as much of it as they can get. Demas had none of those things, but the pleasures of his world led him away from serving the Lord. It is not in the abundance of things that people often falter but in the value or pleasure we place on them.
It is the temptation of pleasures that often destroys marriages. One of the biggest problems marriages have when they start out are problems cause around finances. Young people think they have to possess everything their parents had or what they wanted their parents to have but they never got. They get in debt and start chewing on each other about money till there is no pleasantry left between them, Then they get a divorce and get even further into financial problems. Many people also build their relationships in marriage around the physical. They do not build any depth into what is between them because they never realize that physical relationships are intended to help an intimacy of mind and heart to develop. Marriage has to be something your heart is fixed on. I tell
young people who get all in love and plan to marry that they need to make the Lord Jesus Christ first in their lives and the person they marry a fast second. If you make the pleasure of the physical more important than the spiritual depth of the relationship, then when things…chins and other things…begin to sag… people start looking around for replacements. I have seen marriages of twenty and twenty-five years fall apart. Often they say that the man had a midlife crisis or the woman had menopause and her personality changed. The real midlife crisis that breaks marriages usually is really because relationships have been built on the pleasures of this world instead of higher and more lofty things. When the pleasures no longer meet the worldly standard a replacement is looked for and people have gone all the way into the temptation of pleasures.
The Temptation of Measures
Now if you are following what I am saying as I preach about those old common temptations that take people you have understood that the examples I have used are not the only ways that the temptations of treasures and pleasures might work themselves out. I have tried to use examples that are less than the obvious for the most part because I want you to appreciate just how sneakily temptations can get into our lives. The categories of temptations are broad categories because it is a broad road that leads to destruction. The temptations of measures is much the same way. Measures are the way that we measure ourselves in this world and it is the more dangerous because it seems to have a certain necessity to it. Measures are things often used to tell us something about people and what we might expect of them, but the temptation of measures is the temptation to acquire things that make us feel good about our image in the world.
The Lord Jesus Christ said a lot about the temptation of measures. The most famous one is where He condemned the scribes and the Pharisees saying:
“But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments. And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues. And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.” Matthew 23: 5-7.
But I like another statement of our Lord that really points to the danger the sin of measures presents:
“I receive not the honor from men. But I know you that you have not the love of God in you. I am come in My Father’s Name, and ye receive Me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. How can ye believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only?” John 5:41-44.
You will notice please that the temptation of measures is not anything new by any means. It is as old as the condition of fallen man itself. It has a mention in the book of Job and a form of the temptation of measures was used to tempt the prophet Balaam to curse Israel. And, it was promised to Daniel for the interpretation of a dream. Why Satan was so dumb that he even tried to use the temptation of measures to tempt our Lord when He went out into the wilderness and fasted. The temptation of measures is no small thing at all and it has been used for a long time. The forty-ninth Psalm specifically mentions the temptation of measures at some length. Among other things it said:
“For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him.” Psalm 49: 17.
When I was meditating on the temptation of measures in the Psalm I happened to think about something that goes on in England. If you are some person with a little money and fame, and want to spend the money to buy it, you can get a title from the queen herself. Those titles are honors that you can hold in your lifetime so that people on certain occasions might address you as Sir so and so or Lady so and so. Those purchased titles are not passed down to your heirs. They end with you. What they are all about is a person’s ego. It is kind of funny isn’t it? But people have a lot of ego. When two men meet for the first time one of the first questions they usually ask of each other is “What do you do for a living?” It is part of what we call taking the measure of the man, part of the temptation of measures.
Now, let’s take a moment and talk about the temptation of measures in what I do. Measures have been around in education for a long time, for one thing it is how we assess the progress we have made toward a goal. Part of that is called grades and part is called degrees. Degrees are used as a standard that says someone can be expected to be knowledgeable in a certain area to some degree. That is a measure and it is not bad in and of itself, but how we use those measures sometimes becomes sinful. For instance it is a lot of fun sometimes to get around people with graduate degrees and watch them talk. (I am going to concentrate on the preachers with my example.) One of them will come up and say that they got their degree from Southeastern, another will say they got theirs from Moody, and some proud soul will chime in and say “well I got mine from Dallas!” If they cannot one upmanship one another by the degree they hold they will try to do it by the supposed prestige of the school they graduated from. We can laugh at them but this does not change the fact they are acting sinfully. And, this prestige seeking is not anything new. The big deal with Paul was that he was from the school of Gamaliel. But he had enough sense to know that a good degree from the Lord was the most important thing. It is too bad that more people do not realize that the value of a degree is only in the doors it opens and the opportunities it will present. It should not be about the state of a person’s ego because I can promise you that all the degrees that man gives do not impress God. (The humility that drives a person to want to know more about the things of God and to recognize that they have something to learn might.)
I could go on and talk more about the sin and temptation of measures. It is a big subject. I could talk about the sin of measures and how it appeals to the women folk to sin since I have already mentioned the men. But I will keep half the group on my side for right now.
The Temptation of Pressures
Our final temptation this morning is the temptation of pressures. It probably the biggest area of temptation of all in the day we live in, and it is the more dangerous because of how little time we have spent on understanding it. In this world, there are all kind of pressures. For instance there is the pressure of performance at work and play; there is the pressure of expectations, your own and others; there is also the pressure of those about you, what we call your peer group, to go along with the crowd, which usually means the things of this world. And, this is not all the temptation of pressures either, it is only just some that come to mind at the moment.
A certain amount of rightly placed pressures that we call stresses are important to us. They help to keep us motivated. Things like love of family will provide the motivation to keep going to a thankless job instead of just quitting while we look for another one. Too much stress is a bad thing though. That type of pressure can cause a person to break down. Some people claim they need a lot of pressure or stress in their work, that they like it and need it to perform. What you usually find when people talk that way is that while these folks might do a lot, many of the nice touches, what we often call finish work in carpentry, of what they do is missing. Often they leave some parts of their work undone, the things they do not see as applying any pressure on them. I have known a number of Christians who had otherwise spotless reputations, but because they had surrendered to the sin of pressures they were spoken badly of.
We are all familiar with stories about people who had been living a spotless life,
but were one day faced with an old temptation and the pressure of some ungodly friends and they gave into it. One of my favorites is the story about a young man who had been a rough womanizer before he professed a call to preach. On the Sunday he was to give his first sermon some of his “lay about” friends came by the church and told him of some loose women at a roadhouse down the road. They told him that he should go meet them. Without so much as hesitation he caved in to the pressures of his old friends to pursue the pleasures of sin for a season and he climbed in the car. The church people never saw the boy again. He gave into his particular weakness of pressure, the pressure from his worldly friends.
There have been many times Christian people have given into pressures from fellow believers to do things that were wrong as well. You can probably think of times when Christians, maybe yourself, has done things you felt were wrong because of pressures from others. Pastors often fall into the temptation of knocking themselves out trying to be a soul winner, or get people who have quit coming back into church, when they should be spending time on their Bible study and preparation to preach. Church members will put pressure on the pastor to do visitation that they should be doing. I have even heard of churches where the pastor was fired because no one had been saved in a couple of years. All the other members of the church had forgotten that winning souls was their responsibility too, and when they pastor did not meet their pressure they decided to get one who did. Those church members were under a pressure of sorts as well, the pressure of covering their sin of failing to be witnesses for Christ.
When you surrender to the temptation of pressure it does not matter who the devil uses. It only matters that you have failed to honor the Lord with your life. The temptation of pressures can not only be varied but the instruments of that temptation can be equally varied, but we have seen that to be true in every type of temptation.
The word of God says to be not conformed to this world (Romans 12:2) That is what the temptation of pressures is all about, conforming you to this world. It does not matter what sort of package your personal temptation of pressures comes in, it only matters that it is tempting you to do something other than what God would have you to do. Surrender to the temptation of pressures keeps you from walking circumspectly in this world in whatever area you give into it in.
Now we have come to the conclusion of the matter. When I began the sermon a short while ago I introduced to you the Scripture:
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able: but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1Corinthians 10:13)
I promised you a new way of looking at the Scripture, and I gave you four categories of temptations people fall into:
The temptations of treasures,
The temptations of pleasures,
The temptations of measures, and,
The temptations of pressures.
I also gave you some examples of the kinds of things you might find in these categories. If I stopped right now I would fulfill what I promised at the beginning but I would also be rendering you a disservice, for in conclusion I must leave you with an understanding of the promise of the Scripture. It is not enough to simply understand something about the categories of temptations without having a clue about the way of escape from them. It is a substitutionary way of escape just as the Lord Jesus Christ has become our substitute in paying the penalty of sin. I am going to tell you the way, but the elaboration of this way is the subject of many sermons to be preached by many preachers in the future.
Here it is, pay attention to this:
Instead of giving into the temptation of laying up treasures upon the earth you focus on laying up treasures in heaven. The Bible has a lot to say about the matter and how to be rich toward God. Laying up treasures in heaven never gets boring, it is the occupation of a lifetime, and you do not have to worry about those treasures being corrupted or stolen.
Instead of giving into the pleasures of this world you learn how to enjoy the pleasures that the Lord has provided through Him. This means you will learn how to love people like wife, children, Christian family, and the lost more than you have ever loved them before. He gave us a new commandment of love in John 13:34 that makes us free from the temptation of the pleasures of this world and free to enjoy the pleasures of the Lord. The pleasures afforded by Christ, even the pleasure of loving the Word never get old, cease to satisfy, or makes one jaded. This is the great difference in loving the pleasures of the Lord rather than the pleasures of this world.
Instead of the temptations of the measures of this world, we make the pursuit of Christ our goal in life. That we might know Him becomes what calls us in the way we focus every day. The praise of His glory becomes the cause of our conduct and our cares in this life are cast upon Him instead of us relying on our own resources. Because we know that the true measure of a man is that he has a good degree in heaven.
Finally we have the temptations of pressures. The temptations of this world are exchanged for the pursuit of the holy. That we might be like Christ, and be His representative in this world. When we cease to compete with the world and take His yoke upon us we find the burden so much lighter and the goals so much more worthy. We are not free of pressure that we need, but we are free from the temptations of pressures the world affords. 8.
When we take the Scripture to its ultimate conclusion we find ourselves made free of the temptations of the world because we have a holy focus to our lives. We have found our way of escape and we have discovered that it is not just a relief from the temptation of this world but a liberation to that which is higher and nobler. Do these things allure your sight and draw you? Christ has made the way of escape from every temptation and the way of escape is altogether lovely, for He is altogether lovely.
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