Bad Apple: Part 3: Sin’s Devices

Bad Apple: Part 3: Sin’s Devices


  • “So that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Cor. 2:11).
    • I think Paul is thinking a little too highly of me—I’ve been outwitted by Satan.
    • But gives hope: we don’t have to be duped; we can be knowledgeable of his schemes.
  • One of sin’s schemes is to convince us that we can’t help but sin—that there is no barrier between holiness and sin.
    • Yet, scripture says there is always a point in which we can turn away and refuse; a middle ground where the battle is fought: temptation (James 1:14-15).
      • Temptation is when sin baits the hook, but we haven’t swallowed.
      • At this point, there is still hope; this is where things can turn around.
      • Scary fact: Satan can’t make you do anything that you don’t want to do (per previous lesson).
  • If that’s the case then we need to understand when temptation comes, how it works, and where it leads.
  • Continuing our series “Bad Apple: How Sin Spoils Everything.” So far we’ve seen definition and design, now we will examine sin’s devices.
  • As we do we will be look at the temptation scene of Christ (Matt. 4:1-ff).

When Temptation Comes 

  • Interesting: scripture condemns satan, but never underestimates him—because Satan has perfect timing.
  • Temptation comes to us when we’re
    • Winning 
      • Temptation scene immediately follows Jesus’ baptism and when he is full of the Spirit.
        • We would think temptation would be minor when we are winning spiritually, but that often isn’t the case.
        • In fact, its when we overestimate our strength that we fall the quickest and hardest.
      • Like Peter we find ourselves making declarations like “I will never leave you!” Only to find ourselves cursing and denying “I don’t know him.”
      • This is why scripture warns “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12).
    • Weary 
      • Satan waits till Jesus is hungry and tired before he baits the hook; interesting, but that’s often how temptation works.
        • You’ve had a tough day at work, you haven’t been getting enough sleep, worn down emotionally or physically.
        • Its at those moments that we let our guard down and temptation comes in; when our self-control and will is worn down.
      • This is why scripture is constantly commanding us to be awake and sober (1 Thess. 5:6), because temptation comes to a weary soul.
    • Wondering 
      • This temptation scene is placed right after the statement is given by the Father “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased” (3:17).
        • Then Satan’s temptations begin with “If you are the Son of God.”
        • He is questioning the identity of Jesus—who are you really?
      • Interesting because temptation often comes when we forget who we are; when we are wondering about our identity, value, and purpose in this world.
        • For example, if you doubt your worth as an individual you are tempted to find that value somewhere else (through sex, fame, money) which leads us to act in certain ways (to deceive, to manipulate, to get angry).
        • This is why its so important for a Christian to root their identity in being known and loved by Jesus; to understand that they have inherent worth as image bearers and saints.
      • Be aware that, if you find yourself in a place where you are questioning who you are, then Satan might use that as an opportunity to tempt you.
    • Yet, in those moments when temptation does come, we also need to know how it works.

How to Temptation Works 

  • Within the account of Jesus’ temptation we see three ways in which Satan tries to tempt:
  • Gratification 
    • Last lesson we discussed how sin’s nature is to hijack a natural, legitimate desire so that we will fulfill it in an unlawful way.
    • Here we see that Satan is trying to convince Jesus to forsake the disciplined pursuit of God’s way for the momentary pleasure:
      • To gratify the desire of the moment at the expense of the eternal.
      • Here’s the strength in this temptation: legitimate need. Jesus is hungry. He needs food.
      • Could easily justify it “I’m hungry, I’ve fast 35 days already, I’m the Messiah—I deserve this.”
        • This is how temptation works: convinces us that we deserve for our appetites to be filled no matter the cost. 
        • So a husband who doesn’t feel he is getting the intimacy he deserves from his wife can justify his pornography addiction; an employee who doesn’t get the pay or respect they deserve at work can justify their alcohol problem; a child who doesn’t get the love they need can justify their rebellion.
      • Sin gets a foot in the door through dissatisfaction and our innate need for gratification.
  • Exaltation 
    • Satan not only questions Jesus’ legitimacy but uses it as leverage: if you are the Son of God, no bad thing will happen to you; jump off the temple.
      • Just as a side note: notice that Satan is using scripture as a means of justifying sin; lets not be so naive as to assume that we only use scripture for its proper purpose.
      • Going back: Satan will often tempt us to commit acts which will make us look good in front of others and exalt the self—look at what lengths people will go to in order to be on TV.
    • Recent studies into the “herd mentality” and riots are now saying we all have certain thresholds.
      • that is, how many people it takes to do an act before we are willing to do it even though we know it is wrong.
      • We don’t want to look ignorant or unpopular and so temptation often comes in the crowd; whether present, social media, or dominant culture.
    • 1 Peter 2:9
  • Desperation 
    • At heart of Jesus mission: bring all kingdoms under the reign of God.
      • In order for that to happen, he had to be crucified.
      • His pray shows his desperation for God’s mission to be accomplished any other way: “Let this cup pass from me.”
      • Satan locks in on this and offers him his desired outcome, on one condition: worship of Him.
    • Temptation comes when we feel backed into a corner; when we feel as if there is no way out; that we have no choice but to sin.
      • So, we life on our taxes because we can’t pay them; we lie to a friend who asks us “Did you really say this?” We place ourselves in compromising situations because we feel we can’t get our desired end without suffering.
      • Many times we are right; reality though is there is often no other way.
    • Because here is the reality of temptation: its an illusion.
      • Satan couldn’t give the kingdoms to Christ; at least not in the way he desired them.
      • This is the true nature of temptation: deception.
      • It deceives you into thinking that the only way you can get what you want is by satisfying your desires and exalting yourself—when in reality it can never give you what you were looking for.
      • In fact, giving into temptation and sinning leads to one place: worshipping at the altar or self and satan.
      • Sin to a certain extent is worship: it promises that you will be exalted, when in fact, all it does is enslave.


  • As we mentioned at the beginning, sin often deceives us into thinking that we can’t help but sin.
  • Yet, what we see that within the story of Jesus temptation is that we don’t have to (Heb. 4:15).
  • Through the power of Christ you can defeat that persistent sin in your life, because “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).


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