Temptation, Sin, and the Storyline of the Gospel

Temptation, Sin, and the Storyline of the Gospel

Originally posted on October 29, 2010

I made the point in the sermon that we fight our temptations just as Jesus did, with the Scripture. Jesus quoted from Scripture to resist the devil, but he also had the entire storyline of the Old Testament in his soul to direct him in every decision and in every temptation. I said that the point was not that Jesus wasn’t to ever eat bread, but that he knew from the Scripture that God the Father called him to suffer temptation as a human, and to rely on God and not upon his divine power for his bread. Turning the stone to bread would have meant that Jesus was bypassing the suffering of temptation that was necessary for him to be a perfect yet empathetic Savior. Jesus resisted the temptation because he knew and yielded to God’s purpose for his life, which was confirmed for him in Scripture.

Now, what’s the point for us? We need the whole gospel storyline found in Scripture in our souls to fight temptation.

We often focus only on what we should not do: overeat, drink too much, look at porn, say unkind things to our spouse, lie our way out of trouble, gossip, etc. We do not often think about the storyline of the gospel when we are fighting these temptations. So really the only motivation we have to resist temptation is the potential embarrassment, shame or sense of failure that comes with sinning.

But the gospel storyline runs like this. God saves us from our sins and the condemnation we deserve as sinners. He did this through the death of the perfect one Jesus, who obeyed God when tempted and was thus a perfect human substituting for us on the cross. God saved us to be a people who reflect the glory of his grace in the world. God saved us to conform us to the image of his perfect Son so we will enjoy the glory of Jesus for all eternity. The great end for which we are saved is to give glory to God and to enjoy the glory of Jesus.

Sin is utterly opposed to this great gospel story of God. Jesus knew that listening to the devil was in opposition to the grand and good purposes of God. When he pulled out the three quotes from Deuteronomy, he did so with the big picture in mind, which he got from reading the rest of the Old Testament.

So, when tempted, remember the whole story of God in the Bible. Think of how the sin you are tempted to commit is interfering with the purposes of God in your life and in the world. See the sin as bigger than an isolated bad choice that carries the potential of feeling bad or being embarrassed. See sin as a competitor to the glory of God being expressed through you and enjoyed by you. See sin as at odds with the reason God saved you. Then you will be motivated, like Jesus, by the goodness of God’s grand plan to fight every temptation.