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Timely Topics for Teens series
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Lesson 9: Beware the Hook
The devil made me do it!
No, he didn't! You did it, and you are responsible for it. The devil may have tempted you, but YOU made the choice.
There's nothing good about sin, but the devil deceives people into thinking it's good. In every temptation, there is this element of deception. That's the way the devil goes about his work of destroying people—he deceives them. It's the same thing a fisherman does to catch a fish.
Think of your favorite fishing lake. In it is a great big fish. For years, the fishermen have wanted to catch this big fish, but they haven't been able to do it. Why? Because that fish has a place of safety under a big stump. Nobody can get him there.
How does the fisherman go about trying to catch that fish? Does he go out there, build a nice fire, put a frying pan in it, dangle a hook in front of that fish and say, "Come on, fish, bite that hook, so I can catch you and eat you?" Of course not!
What does the fisherman do? He slips up quietly behind that stump so the fish can't see him. He puts something on that hook that he thinks will appeal to that fish—a nice juicy worm—he dangles that in front of the fish.
The battle is on! The fish is hungry—he hasn't eaten for days, and that worm sure looks good. But something warns him of danger. He's been tangled up with a hook before. Finally, his desire gets the best of him. He convinces himself that he can run out there, grab that worm, and run back under the stump.
He grabs it! He's got the worm. Yes, but he's got something else—the hook!
That's the way the devil deceives us. He dangles something in front of us that appeals to us. He knows us, and he knows exactly what 'bait' to use for each of us. The devil tempts me at my weak point; he tempts you at your weak point. The Bible says,
"each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed." (James 1:14)
Now, it's no sin to be tempted. Even the Lord Jesus was tempted. The Bible says that He "has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet [he] was without sin." (Hebrews 4:15) Just because you are tempted doesn't mean that you have to sin. When does sin come in? Sin comes when we give in to the temptation. We sin when we say, "Yes" to it.
Each time you are tempted you must choose between two things: God's will and your own lust. Certain definite results follow each choice. If you choose God's will, the result will be righteousness and life. If you choose your own lust, the result will be sin. The Bible says, "the wages of sin is death…" (Romans 6:23) The Bible also says, "Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death." (James 1:15)
Remember, in every temptation, there is a hook. There is nothing good about sin. It may look good, but since it comes from Satan, it is not good.
The Bible says,
"Don't be deceived…Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father…" (James 1:16-17)
Get that—Every good gift and every perfect gift is from God. And it comes in God's way and in God's time. If it doesn't come in God's time and in God's way, it's not from God, and it's not good.
Actually, it is the PURSUIT of sin that is so appealing to us. As soon as sin is committed, it is no longer attractive. Satan has you hooked, and he no longer cares to hide its ugliness.
For example, 2 Samuel 13 tells the story of Amnon, one of King David's sons. Amnon was infatuated with his beautiful half-sister, Tamar. He lusted after her. Finally he conceived a plan to get her. He pretended to be sick and asked Tamar to come and cook for him. When they were alone, he forced his attentions on her and raped her.
Afterward, how did he feel about Tamar? His 'love' turned to hate. But the story doesn't end there. Later on, Amnon was murdered by Tamar's brother in an act of revenge.
We can learn a valuable lesson here—there is always a hook in sin. Sex is a wonderful gift of God; and, in God's way and in God's time, it is a great blessing. But, if you reach out and take it outside of His will, it becomes a curse. If a boy really loves a girl, he won't try to take advantage of her; and if a girl really loves a boy, she won't lower her moral standards for him. It's a foolish girl who gives in to a boy 'to keep from losing him.'
But you ask, "How can I overcome temptation?" First, accept the fact that you will be tempted—we all are. Next, realize that there is a hook in every temptation—there always is. Remember, if it doesn't come from God, it isn't good, no matter how good it may look.
God will provide you a way out of every temptation if you choose not to sin. He promises to do this in His Word. You should memorize this verse, It will help you when you are tempted.
"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Are you tempted? Tell the Lord about it. Tell Him that you choose not to sin. Ask Him to keep you from sinning. Trust Him to make a way of escape for you. Then, take that way of escape.
"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out [an escape] so that you can stand up under it." (1 Corinthians 10:13)
God has a tremendous message for us in this verse and every teenager should get it. Let's look at the verse carefully and see what God is saying to us.
You will be tempted.
The Christian life is not a life free from temptation. When you become a Christian, the devil doesn't decide to take a long vacation. I wish he would. I would pay his expenses! As long as we are in this world we will be tempted. But remember this—temptation in itself is not sin. The Bible says of the sinless Savior, He "has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet [he] was without sin." (Hebrews 4:15) Sin comes when we say, "Yes" to temptation.
Everyone is tempted.
Remember when you are tempted that such temptation is "common to man." Christians are not a new order of angelic beings. They are made of the same stuff as other people and are subject to the same temptations and trials. Often, when we as Christians are tempted with unclean thoughts, we are prone to think that we must be the most wicked or weakest of all people. The devil likes for us to think that way. He likes for us to think that our case is hopeless. But this is not true. Others are tempted in the same way. Many of them have come through with flying colors, and you can too if you really want to do so.
God will not let you be tested beyond what you can bear.
Here is a fact that we can count on. [God] "will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear." God keeps His word. If we go down in defeat it will be our own fault. There are three steps down into sin, and the last two steps are ours.
Someone has said, "Temptation is like an egg—easily broken, but also easily hatched if we give it a warm reception."
There is a way of escape.
"But when you are tempted, he [God] will also provide a way out [an escape] so that you can stand up under it."
When an old black preacher was explaining this verse to his congregation, he said, "What the Lord says here is that He will never let the devil hem you up in a corner without leaving some little knot-hole that you can squeeze through." This is true.
- Sometimes the way of escape is to avoid a situation that you know will be dangerous.
- Sometimes, the way of escape is to break some friendship or association that is leading you the wrong way.
- Keep busy. Find something constructive to do. Idleness is the devil's workshop, and if you don't want to do business with him, stay out of his shop.
- Be careful about what you feed your mind. You cannot keep a pure mind if you feed it on all the filth that is printed and shown today.
- Don't neglect your Bible. A note in D. L. Moody's Bible reads, "This Book will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from this Book."
God is faithful.
Our verse says, "GOD IS FAITHFUL." When God says He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear, He means just that. When He says He will make a way of escape, He means just that. We may fail Him, but He never fails us.
But, suppose you do fail. Ocean liners carry life boats for use in emergencies. God has made such a provision for us. 1 John 1:9 says,
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."
When you do sin, come to God at once and confess your sin openly and frankly.
But you must not be expecting to fail all the time. If you expect to fail, you will fail. Determine in your heart that you will succeed in the Christian life.
Jonathan Edwards made two wonderful resolutions:
"Resolved first, that every man should live to the glory of God.
Resolved second, that whether others do this or not, I WILL!"
The young person who determines in his heart to glorify God in his life, no matter what others do or think, is more precious to God than all the starry universe.