Bible Church

Madison, Tennessee




Sermon by Thor F. Carden

April, 2008


This is your heart obeying God.



This is your heart disobeying God.

Any questions?
Just say yes to God!

A public service message from Love Bible Church

Do you feel like something has got a hold on you? Do you feel like you have been captured in some kind of Spiritual spider web, with Satan being the Spider? The person you want to be, is not who you are. The vision you have in your mind of the person you want to be, is not who you are turning out to be. It is frustrating, perhaps even a little frightening. You have been like that for years, and you still do not seem to be able to get a handle on it. You may begin to think there is something wrong with you.

You are right. There is something wrong with you. But it is the same thing that is wrong with all of us. I face it every day. We all do. The great apostle, Paul, who was inspired to write over a fourth of the New Testament, and whose disciple and protégé, Luke, wrote another fourth of the New Testament, had the same problem. Listen to his anguish in this passage:

Romans 7:14-25 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. (15) For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. (16) But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. (17) So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. (18) For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. (19) For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. (20) But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. (21) I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. (22) For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, (23) but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. (24) Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? (25) Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

Our desire to not sin is a gift from God and evidence of the Holy Spirit within us. If the Holy Spirit is in you, that means you are destined to spend eternity with God. God will not give up on you. He will continue to work on you, until he has created in you the perfect image of Himself, and you are finally the person, you always hoped you would be. One day you will be given a brand new body, one that does not even want to sin. Until then we will struggle. We will all struggle.

If our destiny is already decided, if we are on our way to heaven, why bother to struggle? Why not just give into temptation? Well, you can try that, if you want, but I do not think it will work. God has put into you the desire to be a better person. You have been drafted into the army of God, and fight you will. Otherwise, hope will gradually die, and your assurance of your destiny will become a dim memory. If your desire for goodness is God given, you will continue the struggle. If you made it up yourself, it will fade and go cold.

You know saying "Yes," to temptation does not work. You can not take enough drugs today where you will not want them again tomorrow. You can not drink enough wine, whiskey and beer today that you will not want more tomorrow. You can not cuss enough, fight enough, be angry enough, lust enough, or gossip enough today, where you will not be tempted again tomorrow. My experience is that the more you give in to temptation the more temptation you get.

God has given us in the Bible many very useful tools or weapons to use in our struggle to stand against the temptation to do wrong. Let's briefly review six of them.


(1) Ask God to help you before you are tempted.

Matthew 6:13 "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil …"

This is from the Lord's prayer. We are expected to pray this way often. Remember the "daily" part of the prayer?

Matthew 26:41 "Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

"Keep watching and praying..." That means to continue to do it. That last part, "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak," sounds like what Paul was saying in the passage we read before. It sounds like me, anyway. Do not wait to start praying until temptation is upon you. When a policeman is going into a dangerous situation he calls for back-up before he goes in or as he is going in. He does not wait until somebody's foot is on his throat. An infantry commander calls for armor, artillery, and aerial support as soon as he knows where the enemy is. He does not wait until he is fighting with knives and pistols to call for help.

You know what your weaknesses are. Some things tempt you more than others. Gambling is a temptation for many people, but not me. I put a quarter in a slot machine once. I did not even get out a candy bar. I'm too cheap to be tempted by gambling, I guess. However, I have many other weaknesses, for which I need prayer. So do you. Start praying now. Do not wait.

Say, "Yes," to the Lord's words by praying.


(2) Read and/or quote Scriptures

Familiarize yourself with passages about your weaknesses.

Say, "Yes," to God's words. Agree with God about what He says, or pray for understanding.

Memorize a few key verses. When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness he quoted scripture for each temptation.

Matthew 4:10 "Then Jesus said to him, "Go, Satan! For it is written, 'YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.'"

Tell Satan, "Yes, you may go now. You are excused." Resist the Devil and he will flee from you.

(3) Praise the Lord

Colossians 3:1-2 "… Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth."

Focus you attention on the fulfilling pleasures of God, rather than the passing pleasures of sin.

Say, "Yes," to God's way.

You can not control who knocks on your door. But you can control who you let in. You can not control what thoughts come into your mind. The things around us remind us of things. We can not help it. But you can control what you dwell on. You can control what you meditate about. You can control what you continue to think about.

A man trained a dog not to eat until he was told to, no matter how hungry the dog became. The dog could have been without food since the day before and a fresh piece of raw meat could be set before him, but he would not eat it until his master told him. If you observed them, man and dog, you would notice something very interesting. The dog is looking at the master's face not the meat. Keep your eyes on your master. Keep your eyes on Jesus. You will be tempted much less.

Think about something else. Think about the beauty of God's creation. Listen to some nice Christian music. Call a Christian friend and ask for prayer. Think about a loved one's face. Better yet, think about the look on the face of your loved one, who will be most hurt by what you are about to do.

(4) Ask God to show you the alternative.

1 Corinthians 10:13 "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"

God has promised in this verse that with every temptation will come a way of escaping that temptation. Ask God to show you the way of escape. It may not be comfortable or easy, but it will be good and right. When he shows the way to escape your temptation, take it.

Say, "Yes," to God's alternative.

(5) Ask your Christian brothers and sisters to support you in prayer.

James 5:16 "Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much."

Say "Yes" to praying with God's people.

Lift each other up in prayer. Be careful though. Many people do not know how to be discreet. Some people do not know how to mind their own business. Do not confess your sins to a gossip or back biter. The church needs more people who do not gossip. Why don't you be one of those people?

Find a good Christian friend or group of friends that can help you by praying for you, giving you ideas of what God's alternative might be, and accepting you and loving you as you struggle to overcome your weaknesses. The church needs more people like that. Why don't you be one of those people?

(6) Cleanse your life

2 Tim 2:21-22 "Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart."

Say "Yes" to God's promise.

Remove all filthiness from your life. If there are places you go that make it easy for you to sin, do not go there. If there are people in your life who encourage you to sin, do not hang around them anymore. If there are things in your house that you use in your sin, get them out of your house.


If you are successful in beating your temptation, praise and thank God for it.

If you fail,
(A) Ask God's forgiveness,
(B) Make amends for what you did wrong, and
(C) Start again to pray for deliverance from evil. (Step 1 above)

It is important to clean up your own mess. When I had children who were small, they made a mess when they ate. You do not punish them for that. They are children. They can not help it. What you do is make them help you clean it up, even though it would be easier to do it yourself. That way they learn not to make the mess in the first place. It is the same with ourselves. If you clean up your own mistakes, instead of relying on others to rescue you, you will learn much quicker not to do it again. Make amends for what you do wrong, replace what you break, pay for what it cost them, apologize, beg for forgiveness, and most important, make a sincere effort not to do it again.

Let me review the main points.

(1) Ask God to help you before you are tempted.
Matthew 6:13 & Matthew 26:41

(2) Study and/or quote Scriptures related to your weaknesses.
Matthew 4:10

(3) Praise the Lord, count your blessings.
Colossians 3:1-2

(4) Ask God to show you the alternative.
1 Corinthians 10:13

(5) Ask your Christian brothers and sisters to support you in prayer.
James 5:16

(6) Cleanse your life of stumbling blocks.
2 Tim 2:21-22

If you are successful, praise and thank God for it.

If you fail, ask God's forgiveness, make amends for what you did wrong, and start again to pray for deliverance from evil.

Say, "Yes!" to God.