Temptation | Sermon Series

Rev. Rich Rudowske

About The Episode

In this episode, Lutheran Bible Translators’ CEO Rich Rudowske and PR Coordinator Emily Wilson interview Dr. John Chesnut, the President and CEO of Wycliffe USA. They discuss the partnership between Lutheran Bible Translators and Wycliffe Bible Translators, which has spanned over several decades.

Tune in to learn more about the mission and impact partnerships between translation agencies. 


Rich Rudowske
Welcome to the Essentially Translatable Podcast brought to you by Lutheran Bible Translators. I’m Rich Rudowske, the Chief Operating Officer here at LBT. Today’s podcast is a sermon from our sermon series called Temptation. And in the sermon, which I delivered at Concordia Seminary last fall, we take a look at how temptation works in our lives and how it’s something that springs up from within us and what the Scriptures call us to do to battle temptation and walk in the ways of the Lord. So hope you enjoy this episode of Essentially Translatable. 

Rich Rudowske
Grace and peace to you from God our Father, from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. Text that we will reflect on is 1 Chronicles 21:1. Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel. And what a mess it turned out to be for Israel. All because David was tempted and gave in to the temptation. I want to talk a little about temptation, and to do that today, I want to ask you to not think about Entenmann’s chocolate donuts, okay? Don’t think about Entenmann’s chocolate donuts, which, by the way, my staff will be distributing to you after chapel, but don’t think about them. Okay? So let me ask you, what are you thinking about right now? Some of you are thinking, okay, I can see where this is going. 

Rich Rudowske
Others of you are saying, I don’t quite get it, but I’m sure he’s trying to make a point. And the rest of you are thinking about Entenmann’s chocolate donuts. Am I right? All right. Because you can see that dealing with temptation and maybe even this whole message is going to be hopeless. Whatever I say will probably be counterproductive. Because if I tell you not to yield to a particular temptation, I’ve also put the idea of it into your mind at the same time. This is what the law of God does, right? And now it’s there. And it can ponder. We can ponder it. We can dwell on it. Maybe we can even obsess over it. And of course, when you put Satan in the mix, like it happened in our text here, that complicates things even more, doesn’t it? It’s kind of weird. 

Rich Rudowske
I think we like to think of Satan as the arch-enemy, opponent of God, and the guy who is really the bad guy here. But he’s kind of a weird character when you actually read him as described in the Bible, for example, in the book of Job, he is with God’s servants, and he’s a rebellious servant. That’s kind of strange, isn’t it? I mean, I’d kind of like it to be a little more clear, simpler. We’d all like to live in a world where there’s no evil at all. But since that’s not the case, at least we could settle for a world where everything was pretty clear cut, either black and white, good or bad, but the Bible rarely points to Satan as the problem for us with our temptation, although he does have a part to play. 

Rich Rudowske
And the Bible doesn’t say, remove all sources of temptation from your life, as if that would be possible anyways. But it does say, James writes in chapter one of his epistle, each one of us is tempted by when by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. That’s the word that was used about David here. Satan enticed David, and somewhere in David there was already this desire, and Satan enticed him with it. Each one of us is tempted when by his own evil desire, he’s dragged away and enticed. It’s something inside of us that begins to be the problem. And for the follower of Jesus, temptation is not something we can deal with just on a surface level. It’s a deeply ingrained issue that we need to pull out in the light and examine in the light of biblical teaching. 

Rich Rudowske
Temptation, at its core, prevents us from following Jesus and being all that he would have us to be, giving into temptation repeatedly. The same temptation essentially prevents us or takes away our ability to be God’s instrument, his hands and feet, as often said, in the way that he would desire to use us. So how can we deal with temptation? It’s certainly not going to happen in a quick chapel homily, but we have to think about it. And for those of you who are going to proclaim the Gospel and shepherd God’s people provide dioconal care to God’s people. I’d like to propose in our time here together, three ways to think about and deal with temptation for yourself and for those that God will entrust to your care. First, remember, temptation always takes as its starting point something which is in itself good. 

Rich Rudowske
Entenmann’s donuts are good. A box of Entenmann donuts is maybe not good, but you can’t just divide everything in the world into either good or bad on its own. There is a distinction between good and evil. Sure, and some of you may. You guys are really smart, so one of you will probably think of something. But I can’t think of hardly anything or very few things that in and of themselves are bad, distorted, and abused, and changed into something bad. Yes, but in and of themselves bad? I can’t think of anything. Counting people isn’t wrong in and of itself. But David’s motive for doing it was chocolate and chocolate donuts are the creation of a good and loving God. Right? Just as much as bread is other things that tempt people, like sex. That was God’s idea. 

Rich Rudowske
Alcohol was such a great idea that Jesus went to a wedding, and when they ran out, he made a whole bunch more, and it was really good. Human emotions, such as falling in love, are so important that there’s a whole book in the Bible about it, to explore it, to celebrate it. The bottom line is this. Sin comes not in the thing itself, but in its wrong use. Evil comes in an attempt to use God’s creation like it’s ours, to just use however we want it, to twist it, to turn it, to abuse it however we want. There’s nothing wrong with sex, nothing wrong with alcohol, nothing wrong with food, nothing wrong with power in and of themselves. But when they get used and abused apart from the way that God intended them, that’s when we have a problem. 

Rich Rudowske
And that is where temptation begins. That’s what it uses. A second thing in trying to deal and think about temptation is to deal with how the Bible talks about. There’s a description over and over again about our flesh at war with the spirit. So you’re all good Lutherans, I guess, or most of you are, anyways. And so we believe that we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us through our baptism, but our flesh is at war with that and I think we at various times feel that. And the Bible talks a lot about this. But let’s be careful before we assume that if it’s spiritual, it’s good, and if it’s flesh, it’s bad. That’s not how it goes. Flesh. The Greek word sarx is translated often, is translated as ‘flesh’. 

Rich Rudowske
The NIV uses sinful nature, which is a good translation as well, because it’s what the text is trying to get at when it’s using sarx. In a lot of times, in the cases where it’s describing this battle between spirit and flesh, the sinful nature. Many of the works of the flesh listed in Galatians 5, for example, anger, jealousy, malice, and pride, especially pride, could be practiced by someone without a body, like Satan. Okay, so it’s not physical and spiritual, but flesh or sinful nature, refers not to a physical thing, but for us, the sinful nature. It is a human being in rebellion against God. A human being in rebellion against God. That’s the key. When we’re tempted, and it feels like whatever that temptation is appealing to the real me. 

Rich Rudowske
And we have folks, you may struggle, or folks in this world that struggle with things that are sin. And they say, yeah, but it just feels like it’s who I am and how I was made. Or they may even say how God made me. That is forgetting about the reality that we have sinful flesh. That is not the way it was intended. And even at the very core of how we feel and who we are, just because we feel it doesn’t mean that it’s right. It’s the sinful flesh. It’s our rebellious nature against God. 

Rich Rudowske
And so when I try to take something which is in and of itself good, but desire to elevate it out of its proper God- given context into a different setting where it gives me a thrill or a high, rather than the God design, satisfaction or sustenance for the journey that it was created to give, that’s where the problem starts. What feels like a part of the real that you desire, that high or that thrill, is the habit that we’ve gotten into of being rebellious, of the habit of rebellion by our nature, of using our God-given world, our God-given personalities, our God-given bodies, as if they’re simply ours to use and abuse. However, we like to give a boost to our low self-esteem. 

Rich Rudowske
So when you wrestle with temptation, when you’re wrestling with those entrusted by God to you, let’s remember how the Scriptures describe this sinful nature and the battle that happens. And we’re not going to find the answer to dealing with temptation in the thing that tempts us. The answer to temptation is to find out what it is about me that is distorted. What about me is in pain? What is it about us that draws us so easily into the temptations that so quickly entangle us? Why do I lose my temper with my family so easily? Why do I eat too many donuts? Why do I find gossip so appealing, so satisfying? Why do I find sex, apart from the way God intended it, to be attractive somehow or appealing? 

Rich Rudowske
Why do I look for the hidden motive in what people are saying instead of trusting them or putting the best construction on things? Why do I have that proclivity? Something in me, and this is bound to take a long time, probably will be painful at times. But if we approach the temptations that so easily entangle us from this perspective, we begin to know personally how God longs to help us to get that which is distorted. Back into clear focus. To get that which is bruised and in pain in our lives back to health. And that takes prayer, takes time. It takes the need to seek help, to struggle with temptation, knowing that its roots run deep into who we presently are, is to engage with it realistically and on its actual level. 

Rich Rudowske
And that may lead you to discover there are certain things you need to deny yourself, not because they’re bad in it and of themselves, but for you, there’s a reason to deny them, and so to deny them, but at the same time remembering who you are in Christ. So that self-denial doesn’t turn into self-hatred, because the problems and the struggles and the temptations that we all face, that the people that God will put in your care will face, any of them have the potential to be used for God’s glory as a testimony to his greatness by the power of the Gospel and the change lies that the gospel can produce. And although we stumble in many ways, God’s love never fails. In fact, it is God’s love, ultimately, that is our chief weapon against temptation. 

Rich Rudowske
To know that I am loved and loved deeply by God gives me security. To reject the ways of pride and fear, to choose the way of self-denial, if that’s what’s needed, which is also the way of self-affirmation. To reject the way of self-hatred, which leads to despair. To know this love and to act out of this love. That’s one of the key parts of following Jesus and our old pal David. We know that God wasn’t finished with him. He lived a life that was unusual, a lot of highs and a lot of lows. By God’s grace alone, David recognized God as the source of everything good in his life. We hear those expressed through the Psalms over and over again. 

Rich Rudowske
And God, even though David was a deeply flawed man, God called David ‘a man after my own heart’, and I wonder why that is sometimes. And this passage again reminds me. David, over and over again, does the stupidest things, the worst things. And as soon as somebody calls him to repentance, he never fights back, he never tries to justify it. He says, you are right. I have sinned. And I think that’s one of the things that makes him a man after God’s own heart and a good calling for us, too. By God’s mercy, may we deal with temptation in our lives by surrendering our desire for pleasure and for the self-gratification that comes apart from God’s will, especially in this Lenten season. 

Rich Rudowske
As we focus on repentance, may we not be afraid to experience the pain and self-reflection and prayer as we die to the evil desires of our sinful nature and in so doing, Jesus promises that we will experience what it means to truly live. Amen. The peace of God that surpasses all understanding. Keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen. 


Rich Rudowske
Thank you for listening to the Essentially Translatable podcast brought to you by Lutheran Bible Translators. You can find past episodes of the podcast lbt.org/podcast or subscribe on Audible, Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. Follow Lutheran Bible Translators’ social media channels on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter or go to lbt.org to find out how you can get involved in the Bible translation movement and put God’s Word in their hands.

The Essentially Translatable podcast is edited and produced by Audrey Seider. Our Executive Producer is Emily Wilson. Artwork designed by Sarah Rudowske. Music written and performed by Rob Veith. I’m Rich Ruadowske. So long for now. 


  • Rev. Rich Rudowske delivers a sermon on Temptation
  • through the power of the gospel, temptations can be transformed into testimonies of God’s greatness
  • Temptation requires self-reflection and prayer to overcome

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