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The Gospel for Busy People | Overcoming Temptation

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
March 11, 2024 3:00 am

The Gospel for Busy People | Overcoming Temptation

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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March 11, 2024 3:00 am

It’s never a mistake to follow Jesus’ example. In fact, that’s implied in the definition of
“follower” or “disciple.” We’re walking in the footsteps of Jesus. And today on A NEW
BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie takes us to the dramatic moment when Jesus had a confrontation with the Devil himself. It was the moment the Savior of our souls crossed paths with the accuser of the brethren. But Jesus chose to make it a teaching moment for all of us as believers who encounter the scourge of temptation.

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A New Beginning is the daily half-hour program hosted by Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California. For over 30 years, Pastor Greg and Harvest Ministries have endeavored to know God and make Him known through media and large-scale evangelism. This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

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giving us a model. This is what you do when you're tempted. You quote the Word of God. This is why you need to study the Bible. And then when you are tempted, you can pull out the appropriate scriptures to defend yourself. This is the day, the day when life begins. It's never a mistake to follow Jesus' example.

In fact, it's implied in the definition of follower or disciple. We're walking in the footsteps of Jesus. And today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie takes us to the dramatic moment when Jesus had a confrontation with the devil himself. It was the moment the Savior of our souls crossed paths with the accuser of the brethren. But Jesus chose to make it a teaching moment for all of us as believers who encounter the scourge of temptation.

This is the day, the day when life begins. Sometimes the question is asked, well, why do we have four gospels? Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John?

Well, the answer is each gospel has a different objective. Let's start with Matthew. Matthew was written primarily to the Jewish person. There are many passages in Matthew that show how Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecies, how he was the long-awaited Messiah of Israel. It begins with the genealogy showing that Jesus is Messiah.

Now Luke, in contrast, written by Dr. Luke, a physician by trade, is very poetic. We have some very unique passages in his gospel that are not in any other gospel. For instance, the story of the prodigal son and the beautiful Christmas story, as Luke tells it, is like no other. It was primarily showing the sympathetic ministry of Jesus. Now John, he comes from a completely different perspective. He goes back to eternity and starts his gospel with these words, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And John was specifically written to convince a non-believer to believe. So where Matthew was written more to the Jewish mindset, showing Jesus was the Messiah, John is written more to a secular mindset, showing that Jesus is the Son of God. And that brings us to the gospel of Mark.

It stands apart from the others. Unique to Mark is he does not record all that many sermons of Jesus. In fact, Mark focuses more on what Jesus did than he does on what Jesus said. It's a record of the achievements of Jesus, if you will, and it's action-packed from beginning to end. It's a short, concise book of 16 chapters, and by the way, it's probably the first of the gospels that was written. So let's read some of this gospel together. Grab your Bible or your phone or your tablet or wherever you have your Bible, and read these words with me if you would.

I'm in Mark chapter one. Look at verse nine. It came to pass on those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and he was baptized by John and immediately coming from the water. He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. Then a voice came from heaven which said, You are my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Now look at this. Immediately the Spirit drove him into the wilderness where he was tempted by Satan for 40 days.

He was out among the wild animals, and the angels took care of him. We all know what it's like to be tempted. We've all felt the presence of temptation, haven't we? I heard about a guy whose wife yelled from upstairs and asked her husband, Honey, do you ever get a shooting pain across your body like someone's got a voodoo doll of you and they're stabbing it? He said, No. And then she yelled, What about now?

Now look, that's just a silly joke. Voodoo dolls aren't real, but Satan is, and temptation is real as well. Question. Where is the best place to be when you're being tempted?

Here's the answer. In the will of God. Jesus was in the will of God. I mean to the point Jesus was always in the will of God. Jesus said, I always do the things that please my Father. He was never out of harmony with his Father.

Let me correct that. There was one moment when Jesus was separated from the Father, and that is the moment when all the sin of the world was placed upon him as he died in our place as a substitution, our substitution. And he cried out those words, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

But apart from that moment, Jesus is always in sync, always in harmony with the Father, always doing the things that please the Father, and the Holy Spirit led him to this place that he was in. Now, here's the thing. The reason I bring this up is a lot of times when we're tempted, we're being tempted because we put ourself in a place of vulnerability. You know, you put yourself in a place you should not be. You find yourself hanging out with the wrong people at the wrong time, about to do the wrong thing, and then you scratch your head and say, how did that happen?

How did that happen? You set yourself up for the fall. Well, that's not what Jesus was doing. He was led by the Spirit. Now he faced three temptations by the devil. And in effect, you and I will face these same three temptations in life.

Here's the first one. Now I'm going over to Luke, chapter 4, who fills in some gaps for us that we don't have here in Mark's gospel. In Luke, chapter 4, verse 3, Satan says to Jesus, if you are the Son of God, tell the stone to become a loaf of bread.

Now, by the way, in the original language, a better translation would be since you are, not if. So Satan was not challenging the deity of Christ. In a way, he was affirming it. So what he was saying is, since you're the Son of God, Jesus, and you've been fasting for 40 days and 40 nights, and obviously you're on the very brink of starvation, why don't you tell that rock to turn into a piece of bread?

Interesting. You know, it's worth noting that Jesus never did a miracle for his own benefit. You know, if Jesus had to get from point A to point B, he walked there like anybody else. You know, if they had to walk from Galilee to Jerusalem, he could have airlifted himself over there if he wanted to, but he would walk with his disciples. Thus, Jesus was tired like we are. Jesus was sleepy like we are. Jesus was hungry when we are. I mean, he could have done whatever he wanted. He could have been eating an In-N-Out Burger, gone forward in time, grabbed that thing, eating it, and the disciples would say, Lord, what is it that you're eating over there? And he could have said something like, it is not for you to know these things.

Just eat your fish and unleavened bread, and I'll get back to you. Or he could have just met them in Jerusalem, just popped over there, but no. He put himself under the restraints of human frailty. Now look, Jesus had a physical body. He was tempted and tested, but he did not have the inward vulnerability to fall.

So he felt the presence of temptation, but being God, he didn't really have a sinful nature that would incline him to give into it. The Bible says he was made in the likeness of sinful flesh. So yes, he had a body. Yes, he bled like any man. He had tears like any man, but he was God walking among us. Fully God and fully man.

There has never been a man that walked the earth like Jesus. So if this is the case, what is the point of him being tested? Here's the answer. Ready for it? To show us how to face temptation. He's giving us a model. He's showing us what we should do when temptation comes our way. Hey Jesus, says Satan, why don't you turn a rock into a piece of bread? What does Christ say? He says, it is written, men shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Now look, we face this temptation all the time. Here's the essence of what Satan was saying to Jesus. Put the physical before the spiritual. He'll come to us and say, hey look man, you need to have a little fun.

You know, you can play now and pay later. Don't worry about the repercussions of sin. You'll be okay.

You're the exception. God's okay with this. You can trust me, Satan says.

That was the hissing of a snake in case you missed it. Listen, the Bible says the devil is a liar and he is the father of lies. And sometimes people get their lives out of whack. You know, they put physical things before spiritual things. Look, there's nothing wrong with eating food. God has given us food to enjoy and to eat together. But there's a difference between eating to live and living to eat. Some people are obsessed by their appetite. They're obsessed by food.

They're obsessed by things. They're obsessed by sensual things and they let those things become more important to them than God himself. So just put God in his rightful place in your life. It's fine to have a career but don't put your career above God.

It's great to have a relationship but don't put a relationship above God. So by saying men shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from God, Jesus is simply pointing out that we should have our spiritual priorities in order and put God first. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. We're learning some important lessons today about temptation as Pastor Greg helps us consider the way Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness. Let's continue.

Here's another thing and we don't want to miss this. What did Jesus do when he was tempted by the devil? He quoted scripture.

Now remember Jesus was God. And be God he could have said Satan be banished and Satan would have left. He had that authority and power over the devil. In fact when he would encounter demons, the demons would say to him through the people they were possessing, don't send us to judgment before our time.

They recognized the power and authority that Christ had. But he didn't do this. He faced the devil as we should face the devil. He said well how? Well first of all we quote scripture.

He's giving us a model. This is what you do when you're tempted. You quote the word of God. This is why you need to study the Bible. This is why you need to memorize the Bible. Over in Psalm 119 verse 9 it says, How can a young man cleanse his way by taking heed according to your word? Psalm 119 verse 11 says, Your word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against you. Look it's good to carry a Bible in your briefcase or in your purse or have a Bible app on your phone. But the best place to carry the word of God is in your heart. So don't just get it in your mind. Get it in your heart.

Commit it to memory. And then when you are tempted you can pull out the appropriate scriptures to defend yourself. So the devil realizes that this first temptation is not working. Now he does something really strange or it seems strange to us perhaps. He's giving Jesus a hack if you will.

A shortcut. He's effectively saying in this next temptation, look Jesus we both know why you're here. You're here to purchase back that which was lost in the Garden of Eden. And I'm going to make you a deal you cannot refuse.

Bad Godfather imitation. I'm going to give you what you want. I'll give it to you on a silver platter. All you have to do is give me the satisfaction of worshipping me for a moment. Look at Luke chapter 4 verse 5. The devil took Jesus to a high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to him all this authority I will give to you and their glory.

It's been delivered to me. And then the devil says and I can give it to whomever I wish. Therefore if you will worship before me all of this will be yours. Notice Jesus did not refute it. Notice Jesus did not say you're wrong devil.

You can't do that. And I'll tell you why he didn't say to the devil that he was wrong. Because the devil was actually telling the truth in this instance. The Bible says that Satan who by the way is a fallen angel. A very powerful fallen angelic being is the God of this world.

The prince of the power of the air. When our first parents Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden. And fellowship with God was cut off. A curse came upon the world. It's effectively under the control of the devil.

Jesus came from heaven on a rescue operation to planet earth to buy back that which was lost in the garden. The devil is saying look I'm going to make this easy for you Jesus. No pain. No suffering. No crucifixion.

I'll give it to you if you'll just worship me. See Satan was telling Jesus to test the Lord. Not trust the Lord. But here's what Jesus did.

He refused this offer. Look at verse 8 of Luke chapter 4. Jesus answered and said get behind me Satan.

For it is written you shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve. I heard the story of a woman that was going to go down to the mall and look at the new outfits that were coming out. And her husband said no I don't want you going to the mall. Every time you go you buy something. She said no I'm just going to browse. I won't buy anything. No you always buy something. I don't want you to go.

We can't afford it. I'm just going to look. He said all right look but don't buy anything. She said okay. So she comes home a few hours later with a brand new outfit. He goes well I asked you not to go buy an outfit.

What happened? She says well I walked by the store. There was this cute outfit in the window on the mannequin. And so I walked in and asked if I could try it on. He goes ah I can't believe you did that.

Well what happened? She says the devil himself appeared. And he came and appeared in the dressing room and said you look great in that outfit. And then the husband said you should have said get behind me Satan.

She said I did. I said get behind me Satan. And then the devil said hey it looks good from the back too. No but seriously when the devil tempts you you don't want to listen to him. You don't want to have extended conversations with him.

You want to put him behind you. And that's exactly what Jesus did. Now we come to the last temptation of Christ at least in the wilderness. And this is in Luke chapter four verse nine. The devil brought Jesus to Jerusalem.

Set him on the pinnacle of the peak of the temple. And Satan said if you are the son of God throw yourself down from here. Notice the devil then says for it is written he will give his angels charge over you to keep you.

And in their hands they will bear you up lest you dash your foot against the stone. Wow. The devil is quoting the Bible. Did you know the devil knows the Bible too?

The story is told of the famous comedic actor W.C. Fields who was known to be an alcoholic. And one day someone was surprised to see Fields actually reading from the Bible. He said I can't believe that you W.C. Fields are reading the Bible.

Why? And Fields responded looking for loopholes. That's what the devil has been doing for a long time. Reading it. Quoting it out of context. Misusing it.

Looking for loopholes if you will. Question. Can temptation be resisted? Answer. Yes.

All caps. Yes. In fact God will not allow you to be tempted above your capacity to resist. Because first Corinthians 10 13 says there is no temptation taking you but such is as common to man. But God who is faithful will not allow you to be tempted above your ability to resist.

Listen. But will with the temptation make a way of escape that you may be able to bear it? Think about it. Think about the last time you were tempted. Was there a way out? Answer.

Of course there was. Sometimes it's as simple as walking out a door. Sometimes it's as simple as hitting the off button. Sometimes it's as simple as terminating a conversation. There's always a way out.

And listen to this. Not only is there a way out but there's a blessing attached to the man or woman that resists temptation. James 1 12 says happy is the man who endures temptation. For when he has been approved he'll receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love him. So if you're going through a trial right now. You're going through a time of testing or temptation. Know this.

You can get stronger through it instead of weaker. Let me conclude with this thought. We're talking about Jesus. We're talking about how Jesus began his public ministry. Why did Jesus come?

Let me go back to what I said earlier. Jesus came to buy backed up which was lost in the Garden of Eden. What was lost? Our relationship with God. We're separated from God by our sin. But Jesus paid the price on the cross for each of us so we could come into this relationship with the Lord.

And you can come into a relationship with him right now. I've talked a little bit about the devil. Let me say something that might shock some of you. The devil is real.

I think you probably know that. The devil is powerful. The devil is more powerful than you. And if you're not a Christian you have no protection against Satan. You say well I'll just wear a cross.

You think Satan cares if you wear a cross or not? Well I'll wear garlic around my neck. Well that might keep your friends away but it won't keep Satan away. Well I'll use some holy water. There's no such thing as holy water.

What do you need? You need Jesus. The only thing that can protect you from the power of Satan is Christ himself.

Jesus died on the cross to destroy the works of Satan. And you can be free. You can be changed. You know maybe there's something you're doing right now that you're ashamed of. A lifestyle that you're trapped in.

An addiction that has a stranglehold on you. And you don't see any way out. Jesus can transform you. Jesus can forgive you.

Jesus can give you a second chance. Listen the same Jesus that was born in that manger and was tempted by the devil in the wilderness and died on the cross also rose from the dead. And he stands right now at the door of your life and he knocks and he says if you'll hear his voice and open the door he will come in. Would you like to have Christ living inside of you?

Would you like to be free from the power of the devil? Would you like to find this meaning and purpose in life that can only be found in a relationship with God through Jesus? If so I'd like to lead you in a simple prayer. And I would ask you to pray this prayer after me if you want Jesus Christ to come into your life. If you want to be forgiven of your sin or listen or if you want to make a recommitment to Christ because you've messed up like John Mark did earlier in his life God gives second chances and third ones and fourth ones and on it goes. So if you need Jesus in your life if you want his forgiveness if you want to know his certainty that you'll go to heaven when you die or if you want to make a recommitment to him why don't you pray this prayer with me right now. Just pray these words. Lord Jesus I know that I am a sinner but I know that you're the savior who died on the cross for my sin. I turn from my sin now and I choose to follow you from this moment forward as my savior and Lord as my God and my friend. In Jesus' name I pray.

Amen. An important prayer from Pastor Greg Laurie with those making a change in their relationship with God today. And if you yourself have prayed with Pastor Greg and made a decision for the Lord we'd like to help you get started in your new relationship with God. We'd like to send you Pastor Greg's New Believers Bible. It's perfect for someone who's new to the faith. It has hundreds of helps including Cornerstones a series of short articles on the basics of the Christian faith. And we'll send it your way without charge. Just ask for the New Believers Bible when you call 1-800-821-3300.

That's 1-800-821-3300. Or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514. Or go online to and click Know God. Well, it's our pleasure to have Lee Strobel in the studio with us. He's not only a good friend but quite an author. He's the former award-winning legal editor of the Chicago Tribune. He's a New York Times bestselling author. Of course, everybody remembers his book The Case for Christ from some years ago. But we're here to talk about a brand new book, Lee, called Is God Real?

that you've just finished. You mentioned a survey that said 44% of Americans are more open to God today than before COVID-19. That's a very encouraging fact given all the people that have turned their back on faith.

This book really comes at a pivotal time, doesn't it? Well, we see statistics in both directions. When I was a high school freshman in 1967, 98% of Americans believed in God. Now the number is 81%, which is the lowest in history. Only 6 out of 10 say they're sure that God exists. We have negative numbers like that. We see Generation Z where twice as many call themselves atheists as in older generations.

But then we see, as you mentioned, these positive statistics. One of the things that prompted me to write this book was that my publisher came to me and said, We've made a weird discovery. We found that 200 times a second, around the clock, someone on planet Earth is typing into a computer search engine. Basically, the question, Is God real? I thought, Oh my goodness, that just shows how much curiosity and interest there is. That was the motivation behind writing this book, to try to respond to that question in a way that reflects the most current thinking of science and history and philosophy. You call that question, in the book, you call it the most controversial issue of all. Why do you say that?

Because so much hangs on it. There was an atheist named William Provine. He was debating a Christian.

He got up and he said, Look, I'm an atheist, but I'll just be totally honest with you. If there's no creator, then five things are true. There's no evidence for God. There's no life after death. There's no absolute foundation for right and wrong. There's no absolute meaning for life. We really don't have free will.

We're just biochemical machines. Think about that. Those are some of the most fundamental issues that we can possibly consider. So much hangs on this question of whether God is real. I think that's what prompts people to really be curious about it. I think when we see statistics that are negative, we can't ignore the fact that there are still a lot of people who are spiritually curious. My friend, Shane Pruitt, who's an evangelist who travels the country and speaks to young people, high school students and college students, he said, Lee, in the last three years, I've seen more teenagers come to faith in Jesus Christ than in the previous 18 years of ministry combined. So we see these outbreaks of revival going on.

So we see positive things too. And that's what I hope this book will feed. And we're excited to make this available, aren't we, Pastor Greg?

We really are, David. The book, again, is called Is God Real? from Lee Strobel that you just heard from. And this is a book that you want. This is great for a Christian to reinforce your faith. And in fact, maybe you'll learn things you did not know before about what the Bible says and why you should believe what you believe. This book is going to help you believe your beliefs and doubt your doubts.

And it's also going to be a great tool to share with someone. After you've done, you might want to share it with a friend, a family member, a neighbor, or someone that does not yet know the Lord. So the book is going to both equip you and motivate you to answer the biggest of all questions, Is God Real? We're offering this book to you this month for your gift of any size. Whatever you send will enable us to continue on bringing this radio broadcast where, as you know, we teach the Bible, but we also call people to Christ. So order your copy of Is God Real? from my friend, Lee Strobel.

Yeah, that's right. We have a copy here waiting for you. And thank you for your investment in these daily studies. We are a listener-supported ministry, and we couldn't be here each day without the generosity of our friends. So get in touch with your donation today and be sure to ask for Is God Real? You can call us at 1-800-821-3300.

We're here around the clock. Again, dial 1-800-821-3300. Or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514.

Or go online to Well, next time, Pastor Greg helps us consider the amazing things that can happen when we allow God to work through us. Well, see, Scripture is replete with examples of ordinary people who did extraordinary things for the kingdom. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher, Greg Laurie. This is the day, the day when life begins Hey, everybody. Thanks for listening to A New Beginning. This is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners. So for more content that can help you know God and equip you to make Him known to others or to learn more about how you can become a Harvest Partner, just go to
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-11 05:12:06 / 2024-03-11 05:23:09 / 11

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