Throwback: Dealing with Temptation

Rich Rudowske Sermon : Essentailly Translatable Podcast, Episode 9

In the fall of 2019, Rev. Rich Rudowske preached a sermon to students at Concordia Seminary on 1 Chronicles 21:1 and the topic of temptation. Rev. Rudowske explains how temptation is described in the Bible, “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 and examine in the light of biblical teaching.” (James 1:14-15)

a closeup of an open Bible being held by a man's hands

three ways to think about and deal with temptation 

1) Recognize that temptation always starts with something that is good. While it would be nice if the world were divided into good and evil with clear distinctions, the bad in the world is usually good being distorted. Rev. Rudowske summarizes: “Sin comes not in the thing itself, but in its wrong use.”

2) Deal with how the Bible talks about temptation. “[As Lutherans] we believe that we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us through our Baptism, but our flesh is at war with that,” Rudowske explains. This flesh is not a physical thing but our sinful nature. “Some may struggle with things that are sin and say, ‘it’s who I am and how God made me.’ That is forgetting about the reality that we have sinful flesh…just because we feel it doesn’t mean that it’s right. It’s our rebellious nature against God.” To battle this wrong feeling, we must remember the spiritual battle: “The answer to temptation is to find out what it is about me that is distorted. What about me is in pain?”

3) Remember God’s love is the chief weapon against temptation, Rev. Rudowske celebrates, “To know that I am 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, to reject the way of self-hatred which leads to despair, to know this love and to act out of this love.” God has the power to use our temptation as a testament to his greatness and grace, we need only to humble ourselves before him.

Lord, help us come before you in repentance, unafraid to experience the pain of self-reflection. May we die to the evil desires of our sinful nature. May we experience what it means to truly live. In your precious and powerful name, Amen.

Read the entire transcript and listen to Rev. Rudowske’s sermon on the Essentially Translatable Podcast.

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